Anatomy of an Adventure Bike: it's better with a nice rack

Anatomy of an Adventure Bike: it's better with a nice rack
Bianchi Volpe equipped with a set of rear panniers and a trunk bag, ready for 3-days of adventure riding.

Life is better when you have a nice rack.

People notice you. They can’t help being drawn to you. You pique their curiosity. They begin making assumptions about your proclivity. There is a sense that you are going places. They are compelled to meet you. Before you know it, they are awkwardly chatting you up.

Even if you carry excessive baggage, people are still anxious to hear your story. In fact, the more you expose, the more likely you are to garner unsolicited admiration.

What is it about a nice rack that creates such arousal?

Is it the rekindling of a forgotten fantasy? The reminder of a secret, unspoken desire? Confrontation with an unfulfilled longing? Lust?

A bicycle equipped with a nice rack is just plain appealing.

The rear cargo rack symbolizes an adventurous spirit. The presence of a rack identifies the rider as a true adventure seeker. The more items hooked, strapped, bungeed, and stacked, the quicker the cyclist becomes the “most interesting man in the world” (or at least on the bike trail).

I saw a lot of nice racks over the Memorial Day weekend.

No two racks were equipped alike. The day trippers had their trunk bags loaded with snacks and sports drinks. Campers, like myself and my buddy Joel, had overstuffed pannier bags with tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and pillows stacked high above the saddle. We witnessed everything between and a few beyond.

5-25-13 Volpe fully loaded

On our trip along Missouri’s Katy Trail from Sedalia to Washington (a town, not the state or Capitol), we witnessed many different approaches to adventure riding. We were passed by a family of five with each parent carrying a full load – front and rear – to accommodate camping gear for the whole family. We camped alongside a father and son who utilized a mountain bike equipped with an Extra Cycle conversion to add folding chairs, a cooler, and sound system to the usual camping gear required for a weekend away.


We met a man at a hostel (yes, the Katy Trail sports a Euro-inspired bunkhouse in a tiny town called Tebbets) that had managed to whittle his cycling and camping gear down to an impressive thirty pounds for his trek along the Lewis and Clark Trail. There was even a minimalist Romanian emigrant who was riding from New Jersey to California with only a seatpost mounted rack and a carefully stacked assortment of gear protected solely by trash bags.

5-25-13 Romanian tourist

If one is willing to rack it and stack it, the adventures will follow. Installing a rack serves as the catalyst for excursions, treks, and tours. Judging by the wide variety of trunk bags, panniers, and improvised attachments, there is no right or wrong way to carry whatever it takes to get you through day or night while out on the bike.

Everyone can have a nice rack.

Draw attention. Be envied. Inspire. Experience new destinations. Live minimally. Get there on your own terms and under your own power. Stop and smell the flowers along the way. Eat at quaint cafes. Drink craft beer. Tour wineries. Sample cheese. Enjoy the scenery.

Rack it. Stack it. Hit the road (or trail).

Keep riding and be safe!

To see more images of my Katy Trail tour from Sedalia to Treloar, Missouri, visit my Facebook fan page’s photo album.

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