I remember riding through downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada on my first self supported bike tour with homemade rear panniers which, when the bike hit a rough patch, bounced around and came un-hooked from the rack. Luckily they didn’t fall completely off because the gang of homeless men accosting me from a vacant lot as I rode past would have been happy to relieve me from my load and probably my bike if I had stopped. Needless to say, since that tour I am a little more finicky about my equipment.
On my up-coming tour I am using front and rear racks made by Nitto in Tokyo, Japan. These are made of nickel plated, tubular Chrome-moly steel with simple and solid attachment hardware.
The Nitto Campee front rack comes with detachable low-rider panels for attaching panniers. I have removed those, because I don’t have low rider panniers. The panniers and bags I will be using are the subject of another post. The aluminum struts attaching the rack to the fork eyelets in these photos are sold as separate accessories. The struts which come with the rack are made to attach to cantilever brake posts.
This seems like as good a time as any to look at a couple different fork blade/eyelet/brake combinations. Eyelets are the small, threaded holes drilled into the sides of the fork or into tabs which are then welded onto the dropout (the piece on the end of the fork blade…where the wheel axle attaches). Some bikes have one eyelet on the fork dropout and some have two. There is only one on each dropout on my bike, so the rack and the fender strut clamps will share the same hole. A bike with two dropout eyelets allows a little more flexibility in attaching racks and fenders.
Not all bikes have eyelets on the forks. What? How can that be? Well, some people don’t want to carry stuff on their bikes, believe it or not. For the person who actually uses their bike, however, the more eyelets the better. OK so how about the mid-fork eyelets? On most touring bikes these are located to facilitate “low rider” racks such as the Tubus Tara or the Tubus Duo. And on really well designed touring bikes, like Surly’s Long Haul Trucker, there are two mid-fork eyelets on each fork blade…one on the outside and one on the inside. The Tubus Duo was actually made with that bike in mind. On some bikes, like my Rivendell, the eyelets are located higher on the fork, and these will not work with low-rider only racks. Bikes such as Rivendell, with higher fork mount braze-on eyelets seem to work best with the Nitto type hardware and designs.
Many touring bikes will also be designed for cantilever style brakes. These brakes are mounted on special posts which are welded on to the fork blades. Some racks like Old Man Mountain brand Cold Springs and Ultimate Low Rider models attach directly to these posts with provided replacement bolts. Others, like some Nitto models attach to these posts with a special, double ended brake bolt or stud.
I got a little carried away and off topic with this post, but it felt like a good time to get into some rack details. Hopefully it might give you, good readers, some things on which to cogitate. In the next post I talk about my dual Schmidt E6 headlight setup, about which I am unnaturally excited.