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Kolossal said:
As anyone here ever experienced problems from an aluminium rack? I always read stories about repairability of a steel rack when you're out in a remote village in Patagonia, but is this really a legitimate concern? I mean, people haul pretty big loads on aluminium racks and they seem to be working well. Could steel racks be (while being very nice, good looking and adding a "little something" to a touring bike) a wee bit overkill in most situation.
Repairability is not the issue. Steel stretches before it fails, where aluminum tends to snap with no warning. Steel's stretchiness gives a longer fatigue window than brittle aluminum.

The amount of strength lost from a day of flexing decreases with time with steel, but aluminum's fatigue stays the same throughout the life of the rack.

Here's a review that talks about the higher failure rate using aluminum racks over a whole bike fleet when they were in the business of leading supported bike tours:

http://biketrailerblog.com/2008/08/the-tubus-cargo-review/
 
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