The Blackburn Central Rear Rack is a no-frills choice that should fit just about any bike imaginable. With a 20kg weight limit it's good for touring as well as commuting, and with a lifetime warranty it should outlive you.
Pity the rear rack designer. Bikes are coming in an ever-more complex array of configurations, dimensions and use cases. At least five popular wheel sizes, three braking systems and more life's-rich-tableau two-wheeled roles than you can shake a commuting-touring-gravelgrinding-schoolrun-audaxing-sportivist's minipump at. And the rack designer has to try to accommodate them all while keeping weight down, rigidity/load capacity high and price reasonable. Tricky. The Blackburn Central Rear Rack manages to pretty much hit a home run on all of these fronts.
Most rear racks use flexible metal strips for the upper forward mounting, to line up with the seatstay braze-ons. Blackburn instead uses infinitely adjustable clamped alloy arms with a nifty swappable eyelet that screws into either end of the reversible arm.
As seatstay mount points are not universally fitted to bikes, Blackburn offers two alternatives – the traditional fix-all P-clip and a fairly unusual option securing to the bolts that hold your cantilever brakes in place.
In the fitting guide it's suggested that after fixing to your bike, you trim down the unused end with a hacksaw – but I'd leave them as is. Saving a few grams of weight will likely mean when you come to fit the rack to a new/different bike with a different mount configuration, you'll then be stuck with no option at all.
At the lower mount the rack can be fitted to standard braze-ons, or used with a (not-included) £10 extra-long quick-release skewer to fix at the axle. The height of the rack is adjustable in five steps over a 75mm range, accommodating all wheel sizes and mudguards. One unplanned bonus here is that unless you're using the lowest setting, you then get an M5-thread hole or four for mounting mudguards to (see photo below).
The 25mm-wide step out from the mounting point should clear even the chunkiest disc brake calliper – although it then could foul other accessories such as trailer attachments. In my case it obstructed a Followme Tandem frame that fixed to special axle nuts for towing a child's bike, because of the close proximity of the lower rack boss and axle. But that niche case is hardly Blackburn's fault, and I could just opt for a standard lower rack arm like the one we've used for years on that particular towing bike.
In the parts bag you get 20 assorted nuts, bolts, washers and P-clips (two sizes), the bolts handily treated with threadlocking compound and the nuts of the nylock variety – critical for a rack installation. I can't envisage an installation scenario that Blackburn hasn't covered with this assortment. The washers and bolts are concave/convex, allowing for installation where angles aren't square on – again, neat touches that help ease installation, and minimise stress and the chances of a fracture under load.
At the rear of the rack there's a simple two-hole plate for affixing a rear light or reflector – you could use it to hold a simple, easily removed pocket-clip-style light as well. There's no Topeak-style sliding platform to slot a top trunk bag onto, just four evenly spaced cross-members and a slightly raised front bar for bungee cords or the like.
Being aircraft-grade alloy with black paint over the top, the frame showed signs of use immediately – the very first time of clipping/unclipping one of Blackburn's own Local Panniers (review to come), the catches scratched through the paint revealing gleaming alloy. It would be nice to see this rack offered in a bare alloy finish instead of painted, and I'd possibly spend £5 to get it shotblasted clean if it were to live on a nice bike that needed to look good.
In use I couldn't fault the rack. No rattles, shifting or other issues. The Loctited bolts held fast, as you'd expect, and apart from the lost paint it performed perfectly.
Overall, this is a utilitarian workhorse of a rack that's pretty much infinitely flexible in installation, and with a lifetime warranty should be one of the things you hand on to your children.
An excellent fit-any-bike choice for carrying heavy loads
road.cc test report
Make and model: Blackburn Central Rear Rack
Size tested: Mounts with 26', 700c or 29' wheels
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a rack to fit any bike, for carrying daily or touring-grade loads.
Blackburn says: "The goal for our racks to outlive the bike. We want them to be the gem that you keep... even when you move to a new bike. Beautiful design, excellent fit and ease of installation set this rack apart from its peers."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Blackburn Fit System – mounts perfectly with 26', 700c or 29' wheels, disc compatible and will work with most brake or frame mounts
* Performs great with trunk bags
* Light and reflector mounting loop
* Aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum tubing
Only let down by the paint.
Apart from the paintwork, extremely tough – with a lifetime warranty.
Pretty darn light for the options available.
Not overly cheap, but given the lifetime warranty and near-infinite installation options, it's great value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The mounting arms. Genius.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The paint comes off easily.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If the paint was more robust and it cost a bit less it'd be five stars.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling