Blackburn Expedition 1 Disc Rear Rack review

High quality, reliable rack for bikes without mounts

Main view
(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Blackburn Expedition 1 is a super solution if you want a rack but don’t have any mounts on your frame. It’s exceptionally easy to fit and will tolerate decent loads. Even if you have mounts, the quick-release attachment is a speedy, hassle-free alternative to conventional screws, providing you have a rear wheel with a 9mm QR axle. The finish is quite delicate, but this is far outweighed by the rack’s quality construction, affordability and modest weight.

For
  • +

    Easy to mount

  • +

    Quality construction

  • +

    Doesn't require mounts on frame

Against
  • -

    Removing rear wheel is no longer so quick

  • -

    Places luggage further out than most racks

  • -

    Only for a rear wheel with a 9mm QR axle 12mm thru axles are not compatible

Blackburn’s Ex-1 pannier rack has been around for years, in fact, it was designed by Jim Blackburn in 1975. While there may have been one or two refinements to the design, the primary functionality of it remains the same, for good reason. The extended, quick-release skewer makes it arguably the easiest rack on the market to mount.

Construction

Blackburn don’t give extensive detail about the rack’s material on their site, quite simply that it’s ‘aircraft-grade aluminum’. It tips the scales at 540g, a modest weight when compared to something like Topeak’s 820g Super Uni Tourist Rack (opens in new tab), which we tested alongside this Blackburn as part of a grouptest. 

Welding is tidy and the powder finish looks slick.

The rack is supplied with an extra-long skewer, two 1/2” seat-stay clamps and two 9/16” seat-stay clamps.

Dismantled

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)

The ride

The Ex-1 is the easiest and quickest rack I’ve personally ever fitted. The quick-release skewer replaces your wheel’s existing skewer, with its extended length accommodating the racks disc brake adapters. The skewer needs to be clamped tight; any slack might result in it flexing under a load, so compromise the rack.

There are various options for attaching the extenders- frames mounts, supplied P-clips, or an adapted seat-post clamp (opens in new tab).

I’ve only actually had the rack on one bike - a Triban RC520. My other disc-brake road bikes use 12mm thru axles, so the QR mechanism is redundant. However, the clearance and scope for adjustment that I have on the Triban makes me think that the rack should fit the vast majority of 29er and 700C wheels, even with wider tyres. The only thing that might pose problems is the length of the quick release, ensure that it is long enough before investing.

Having said all of this, the rack is not limited to mounting (with the QR) at the drop-out, it can be mounted on the frame too. Its versatility is most definitely a selling point. 

Once on the bike, the rack feels sturdy and secure. I've had no problem getting any of the panniers I've been testing on it; the platforms construction gives plenty of positioning options for panniers hooks. 

The adapters, used to make the Expedition 1 sit proud of the disc, result in the rack being much wider than most. While I noticed the panniers sitting further out, it didn't bother me at all, or noticeably affect handling in any way. 

Value and conclusion

At £54.99 / $54.95, the Blackburn Expedition 1 Disc fairs well against other brands with similar reputations for quality. Topeak’s Uni Super Tourist is £44.99 / $73.49 and Tubus’ Disco has an RRP of £135.99 / $135.99, though perhaps it’s not a perfect comparison; it’s made of steel, so it’s likely to last longer and is repairable too. It’s worth noting that the Expedition 1 encouragingly comes with a lifetime warranty.

The versatility of a direct frame mount, or a quick and easy drop-out attachment, coupled with the fact that it fits the vast majority of quick-release disc-brake bikes with 700C wheel, make it easy to recommend the Expedition 1. It's a competitively priced option for anyone wanting a reliable, well-made rack.

Specifications

  • Capacity: up to 45 lbs/20.5kg
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Frame mount compatible
  • Rear dropout compatible
  • Product Weight: 535 grams

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