This Space for Rent

It comes as no surprise that p-clamps are not the most robust way to attach a rack

Now that I’ve finished the rando bag I’ve used it on several shopping trips to bring back bagels, bulk tea, and miscellaneous pieces of china (It’s been about 30 miles of travel, with about ½ mile of that being on gravel roads.) When I got home from my second shopping trip of the day today, I pulled off the rando bag (the bottom is starting to sag already, which is not particularly surprising because I’ve not yet cut and fitted a chunk of coroplast to it) and took a brief look at the rack to see how it has been faring.

It has tipped downwards about ¼th inch at the end; just far enough so that the front fender was proud of the rack in the center. And why did this happen? Well, it looks like when the rack is loaded and I hit a bump the p-clamps start walking down the fork legs.

Hmm. This is not a particularly desirable state of affairs. I wonder if it’s time to sell some more spare bike parts so I can go out and buy a cheap chromoly fork that comes with mid-blade mounting points? (I’d see if any of the local framebuilders would braze on some mounting points, but this is Portland and I’m afraid that it would cost more to have someone braze things onto a fork than it would cost to buy one, even if I then had to turn around and paint it red to match the rest of the mlcm.

I think for a short term solution that I’ll just scrap an old inner tube and wrap a layer of rubber around the fork blades between the p-clamp and the fork. That will beef up the diameter of the leg and get the p-clamp more tightly clamping so it will keep from sliding down on longer rides.


I’d be more worried about the little ping noise from the Pclamp as the – Al in the ones I’ve seen – wrap-around material gives out due to fatigue at some random future date.

I had half the rear rack come loose that way when I had a telescope+camera in the panniers; it was a long, slow walk home. Still thankful I correctly identified the awful shimmy as a real problem before the other leg went, because that could have been really expensive.

Fixed that by getting a new frame that could do disk brakes and had useful rear rack mounting points, but when all is said and done the most probable result of both of those going would have been expense, rather than a crash. Having a front rack go forward (or getting hooked under the fender) strikes me as potentially worse than expense.

The other thing is that if you need to repaint anyway, and the problem is finding a cheap threaded steel fork that has rack mount eyelets, it’s probably much easier to get the brazeons because there don’t seem to be any such forks generally available; cheap threaded steel fork, yes, rack mounts, no, not as such. Those – allowing for my potentially weak google-fu – all appear to be threadless.

Graydon Sat Jan 8 08:32:53 2011

There are at least a couple of fairly cheap steel forks that are not junk; The fork for the Surly Long Haul Trucker is somewhat heavy (2 pounds) but comes with cantilever studs and mid-fork rack mounts. The Cross-Check fork also has cantilever studs and mid-fork rack mounts, but it’s heavier than the LHT fork and is also really long (400mm axle to crown; the Tange fork on the mlcm is, I believe, 385mm) and would need to be reraked to lower the front end of the bicycle (which would give me a low-trail fork as an added bonus.) IRD sells a more expensive cross fork that’s also studded and mounted, and, of course, Tange sells basically the same thing which I can buy from a variety of outlets.

Given my druthers I’d like to have a fork that has the mid-fork mounts but doesn’t have cantilever studs, but I could always just hacksaw and file off the offending mounting points before I took the bicycle+racks apart for powdercoating.

David Parsons Sat Jan 8 12:17:04 2011

We appear to have been using a different definition of the “cheap” part of “cheap fork”; 100 USD is “value”, perhaps, but not cheap in my universe. (that would be the 30 or 40 USD ones. :) So, yeah, much easier around that price point, and if the MLCM is 1 1/8 threadless.

Granting that they’re especially plug-ugly with no brakes associated with them, canti studs make really good places to bolt front platform racks, provided you can get the canti bolts from your LBS without having to buy the brakes, too. The little Axiom pet-support platform thing I’ve got does this and has been very solid. It might not be the only place you want to bolt the rack, but you could do a support arch from canti stud to canti stud and braze that across the bottom of the centre two support rails of the platform rack? That would give a nice solid support and make it more or less impossible for the rack to creep forward (or back). The front supports than go down to the mid-fork points and you’ve got something that ought to be fairly solid.

Graydon Sat Jan 8 15:05:32 2011

I end up paying a premium, even on the cheap(ish) forks, because I prefer the looks of lugged construction. There are another half dozen or so unicrown forks out there that have, at the very least, cantilever studs on them, and which appear to sell for $40-ε (there are cheaper carbon steel forks, but (a) they’ve got ugly crowns and (b) don’t seem to have anything aside from a brake bolt hole and eyelets on the dropouts) but I don’t really like the looks of them so it’s not likely I’ll be taking advantage of those prices (one of the things that stopped me from buying a Surly Big Dummy frame when the gen-one versions were on sale last year is that the Big Dummy comes with a hideous unicrown+disk mount fork, and I’d have to buy an aftermarket fork to improve the aesthetics.

I could probably cut the brake mounts off a pair of cantilever studs, then drill and tap the bases for rack mounting points. That would make them less ugly (for my values of “less ugly”)

David Parsons Sat Jan 8 19:15:22 2011

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