Tumbleweed Racks Review: T Rack and Mini Pannier Rack

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The Tumbleweed T Rack and Mini Pannier Rack are incredibly useful for both long trips and local “bike glamping” overnighters alike. Find out why Logan and Virginia have become devotees over the last year, and read the full review of both Tumbleweed racks here…

It’s been a while since I’ve had any interest in using a rack. I generally pack light and haven’t cared to revisit memories of loosening rack bolts or the couple extra pounds of weight racks entail. However, after using the Tumbleweed T Rack and Mini Pannier Rack for a while, I’ve become quite hooked. Full use of a dropper post and a very versatile storage system are a couple of the reasons. Read on for the full review.

Over the past year we’ve been going on quite a few short overnight trips around our local national forest. And during the COVID-19 lockdown we’ve been fortunate to be able to roll out our back door and escape into the woods for a good mental reset a few times a month. During these trips, we’ve become quite fond of bike glamping, or at least bringing a few luxury items along for the ride—fishing gear, camp chairs, pajamas, cold beer, and good food. A little extra carrying capacity makes all this possible.

Enter Tumbleweed’s two accessory friendly racks: the minimal T Rack and slightly more versatile Mini Pannier Rack. What separates these racks from most others on the market is that they each come with a three-pack of threaded mounts on both sides. They also each come in two different lengths for bikes of different sizes. Several of us have now put thousands of miles on these racks with no issues to speak of.

Tumbleweed T Rack

The T Rack is a simple Chromoly steel rack that features a set of “three-pack” triple bottle mounts on each main strut and a 120mm wide by 300mm long top platform that can be used to support a large saddlebag, or to secure a drybag in lieu of a seat pack. With the option of using cargo cages or bottle cages on the struts, it’s a fairly unique rack that offers a few different options for carrying extra gear and water. The T Rack can clear large tires (up to 29 × 3.5″ or 26 x 4.75”), making it perfectly suited for dirt-road touring or bikepacking.

Tumbleweed T-Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T-Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T-Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T-Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T-Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T-Rack Review>

The T Rack comes with two sets of upper mounting struts—100mm and 300mm long—and is designed to work on either the front or rear of most bikes. It’s also offered in two leg lengths to accommodate a variety of bikes, as long as they have standard upper and lower rack mounts. If used as a support rack, taller riders may opt for the larger 380mm T Rack to get the platform high enough for their bags. However, I chose the 355mm version to keep the weight low. The two optional leg lengths are a nice touch, although not perfect. And while they were positioned perfectly low on the Why Wayward, they were a bit high when mounted to the Kona Unit X. I prefer the rack platform to sit just a couple inches above the tire as it keeps the center of gravity low.

The rack also has a dual-hole plate light mount on the back and two additional eyelets that can also be used to mount lights.

Versatility

The T Rack and Mini Pannier Rack are two of only a small handful of racks available with a set of 3-pack triple bottle mounts on each main rack strut. I was particularly enamored with this feature since I had modified a Tubus rack back in 2015 to accomplish the same task. The beauty of this solution lies in its versatility. On one hand, you have the ability to mount extra water bottles in this location, which is largely beneficial on desert bikepacking routes like the Baja Divide. Theoretically you can carry an extra two or three liters worth of water with two cargo cages, like the King Cage Manything Cage, and two large PET bottles you source along the way. Simultaneously, you have the ability to switch from carrying extra water to small cargo bags for overflow food. We’ve used this method with fork mounts time and time again and it’s an incredibly versatile means to toggle the setup for stretches without resupply and those where water is hard to come by. In addition, carrying weight in that low position allows you to keep the bike handling well, even with the added load.

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In addition, you can also use the Dr. Jon Bagworks Strapdeck, Problem Solvers Bow Tie mounts to lash on a fishing rod (as shown on the Kona Unit), tent poles, or a lightweight camp chair (as shown below on my current touring setup that I’m using to scout a route.

  • Tumbleweed T Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T Rack Review

The Perks

Being able to carry a little more stuff isn’t the only thing to love about these racks. They also make a great dropper-friendly solution. Virginia uses her Mini Pannier rack with Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers, and I simply strap a dry bag and some sandals to the platform. Both of these setups allow the full use of a 150mm dropper post, which makes riding singletrack all the more enjoyable. Another thing to love about a long dropper post is the ability to drop it when you stop for a break on the trail or at an intersection to rest your back and legs. Most dropper-specific seat packs don’t allow full use of a long dropper. For this reason, I decided to use the T Rack on two scouting trips this summer on the Salsa Cutthroat (one that I’m currently on as I’m typing this).

These racks are also pretty easy to attach and detach. There are just four screws, so I usually remove them and hang them from a couple hooks of in the workshop between outings. You can also leave the Microwave Pannier holsters intact, which is about as simple as removing a normal bikepacking seat pack.

  • Actual weight (with struts) 617 grams
  • Heights available 355mm and 385mm
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Price $130
  • Manufacturer’s Details Tumbleweed.cc

Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack

Like the T Rack, the Mini Pannier Rack has a 120mm x 300mm bag support platform and three-pack bottle mounts. However, it also gets an extra pair of side struts and a small horizontal tube connecting them to provide stability for small or micro panniers. It works with a variety of panniers with adjustable hardware or an elastic lower hook attachment. We’ve tried it with the Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers, as shown here. The Mini Pannier Rack also comes in 355mm and 385mm platform heights and two sets of upper mounting struts—100mm and 300mm—which can be cut to length to fit your bike.

Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack Review
  • Actual weight (with struts) 746 grams
  • Heights available 355mm and 385mm
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Price $140
  • Manufacturer’s Details Tumbleweed.cc
  • Virginia's Why Cycles Wayward
  • Virginia's Why Cycles Wayward

The Differences

There’s not too much to add about the Mini Pannier Rack beyond what’s been said about the T Rack above. Most of the same benefits apply to both of these racks. However, there is one key difference between the two, aside from the 130 gram weight difference and the Mini Pannier’s ability to mount panniers. The Mini Pannier Rack has a closed curved rectangle platform, while the T Rack has an open-ended front. This allows the T-Rack to work with bikes that don’t have upper rack mounts—like the Cutthroat—using a seatpost mount like the Salsa Rack-Lock seatpost collar, as shown below.

Tumbleweed T Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T Rack Review
  • Tumbleweed T Rack Review

Pros

  • Unique three-pack mounts allow a versatile system for storing extra food or water
  • Nice design clears plus and even fat tires
  • Provide a sturdy mounting platform to allow full use of a dropper post
  • Proven to be very durable

Cons

  • Factoring the rack plus a bag and straps add up to a little more weight than most seat packs

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