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How do bike carriers attach to bikes?

By Annette 2 years agoNo Comments

Being able to carry stuff with you when you ride your bike is key to using your bike more often.  We love the idea of people using bikes as transport as well as for leisure and it would be great wherever you rode to be able to carry gear.  Having the ability to load up your bike rather than your body is important for your comfort.  It also removes any barriers to using your bike.  Bike carriers – front or rear – are a great way to achieve this loading of the bike.  So if you are interested in using a bike carrier but don’t know very much about them, read on.  We are going to start by answering the question, how do bike carriers attach to bikes?

What does a bike carrier attach to?

Most bike frames come with additional screw holes called eyelets that allow you to screw things to your frame.  These things include water bottle holders, pump mounts, mud guards and front or rear bike carriers.

Most bike carriers will attach to eyelets on your rear seat stay (rear carrier) or front fork (front carrier).   See the photo below to know what an eyelet on your frame looks like.  There will also be eyelets on your rear & front dropouts.  This is the part of the frame that the middle (hub) of your wheel is screwed to.  See photo below.

You can also use the rim brake screws (front & rear carrier) or seat post clamp (rear carrier) as points of attachment for carriers.

Seat stay eyelet for mounting a rear bike carrier. goRide

Eyelet found on the rear seat stay – top mounting point for rear bike carrier

Rear dropout with eyelet for mounting a rear bike carrier. goRide

On the rear dropout look for screw holes (eyelets)

Traditional Rear Carrier Attachment Points

A traditionally designed rear bike carrier will have two different points of attachment to your bike.  The first – high – attachment point will need screw holes.  Your options are found on eyelets in the seat stays, or into the rim brake screws or the seat post clamp.  The second attachment point will be at the bikes rear wheel hub, usually by screwing into the part of your frame called the drop out.  Look for screw holes around the middle of your rear wheel that were designed for this.

For more info go to How to Attach a Topeak Explorer Rear Carrier

Top attachment point rear bike carrier. goRide

Rear bike carrier attachment to rear seat stay eyelets

Rear bike carrier attachment to rear seat stays & rear dropouts. goRide

Rear bike carrier attached to rear seat stays & rear drop out – Topeak Explorer Rear Carrier

Traditional Front Carrier Attachment Points

A traditionally designed front bike carrier can be one of 2 types which are distinguished by the number of attachment points.  A single front carrier will more than likely attach to the rim brake bosses (screws).  A double front carrier will have two different points of attachment to your bike.  The first will be at the bottom of the front fork on the front dropout.  The second – higher – attachment point being mid way up the front fork via a P-Clamp that would come with the carrier.  (For more on P-Clamps see below).

A single front bike carrier attached to the rim brake screws

Front bike rack with double attachment. goRide

A double front bike carrier attached to the front drop outs and front forks – Blackburn Deluxe Bike Carrier

Seat Post Carrier Attachment

These rear carriers have only one point of attachment to the bike at the seat post.  This means they can only be used for light loads and they can tend to sway around a bit.

Freeloader (Thule Tour Rack)

Designed in New Zealand and recently brought by Thule, this carrier can be attached to the rear or front of your bike.   It has its own unique clamping system so does not need eyelets.  It can clamp onto your rear seat stays or your front forks, allowing it to be used on a wide variety of bikes – up to 29″ x 2.5″ tyres, including full suspension mountain bikes.  It is meant for lightweight bike packing, carrying weights up to 11kg on the rear or 10kg on the front.  It can also be used with Thule panniers.

For more info go to How to Attach a Thule Tour Rack

Rear seat post bike carrier. goRide

A rear bike carrier with a single attachment to the seat post

Thule Tour Rack clamping system. goRide

A Thule Tour Rack is used for lightweight bikepacking

If you don’t have eyelets for carriers on your bike and you want to use a traditional style carrier, there is a solution.  Read the section below on P-Clamps & quick release kits.  Or if the style of carrier doesn’t bother you learn more about seat post carriers or the Thule clamp on carrier.


When your bike frame offers you no eyelets for attaching a front or rear carrier to, one option is to use P-Clamps.  Some bike carrier makers like Tubus, sell there own P-Clamps as accessories with their carriers.  Double front carriers will more than likely come with P-Clamps.  If you need P-Clamps and the carrier you are buying doesn’t come with them, take a trip to your local hardware store and buy some clamps.  Try not to over tighten them when attaching – it’s a good idea to protect your frame with some rubber.  Try a piece of old inner tube if you have one lying around.

Quick Release Kits

Another option is to purchase a bike carrier quick release kit which will allow you to attach your carrier to points where a quick release could be used.  For example if you have no lower screw points on your rear dropout a rear wheel hub quick release can be used.  Further up your bike a quick release on your seat post clamp will do the trick.

Tubus-Seat-Stay-Mounting-Kit. goRide

Tubus seat stay P-clamps

Rear hub quick release bike carrier system. goRide

Example of a rear wheel hub quick release attachment

Small & X-Small Bike Frames

If you ride a small bike chances are that a standard rear carrier won’t fit your bike without longer upper stays.  A good quality rear bike carrier will have adjustable upper stays giving you the ability to have your upper attachment point in a number of different places.  However, even this adjustability is not always enough.  Good brands will offer long upper stays as an additional option.

Heel Clearance

Once panniers are mounted onto rear carriers some people will experience heel strike which will interfere with a good pedal action.  Heel strike occurs when the chain stay is short on a bike – the distance between the crank (what your pedals are attached to) and the rear hub (middle of your rear wheel).  This needs to be remedied by placing the pannier further back.  This can be done by purchasing kits that position the carrier up & back or by using a rear carrier extension kit.

get Ready and goRide –  How does a bike carrier attach to a bike?

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Bike Carrier Buying Guide

How to Attach a Topeak Explorer Rear Carrier

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