|B. Second time's a charm to refit a Racktime Topit to a Rivendell Clementine.|
After two wrench sessions and some creative engineering, the Racktime Topit front rack is installed on Miss Clementine. Before I explain the difficulties I encountered with fit, first let me present my view of front racks in general and how I expect them to carry a load.
History: In the past I've done extended tours with Blackburn low rider front rack in conjunction with a rear rack, distributing the weight approximately 30% front, 70% rear. In recent years, I prefer 50/50, still using the low rider front rack. Funny thing is, I've also lightened my gear since those lengthy tours plus cut back on riding days, now only gone for up to a week. My needs changed. I've explored using simple front racks like the Sunlite version attached to cantilever brakes, which have worked well on both my commuter bike and Miyata 610, allowing a 10 lb. load over the front wheel.
Once the Clementine entered my house, though, I contemplated Rivendell's low cost alternative to front rack: a Wald basket (sans rack) using provided brackets attached to braze-ons near the wheel. While I like baskets, I preferred instead to use a rack for it's versatility and lighter weight. Benefits include the ability to mount small panniers and/or strap baggage on the platform. Thanks to various suggestions on RBW Google Groups, I contemplated other options, including the full coverage Soma Lucas alloy front rack. However, the Racktime Topit won out in the end due to attachment to mid-fork eyelets, an appealing trait, which reminded me of low riders, plus when I found the rack at half price, I couldn't resist. At the same time I ordered another Sunlite mini-rack, either as back up should the Topit not work, or as an alternative on another bicycle.
Needless to say, the search for the perfect front rack - neither too heavy or costly, chrome-colored, and the ability to carry a sizable load - had become an obsession.
|A. First attempt placed the rack at a steep angle.|
A mechanic was, thankfully, able to remove the bolt using vice grips (now why didn't I think of that?). He said I'd stripped the threads on the end of the eyelet by screwing the bolt at an angle. However, for a few bucks they tapped both eyelets and repaired the damaged end by entering through the reverse side. Phew! Lesson learned!
|A. This photo displays the longer bolt and spacer required to clear the rack from the rotating headset.|
As my online research indicated, the Racktime Topit can sit traditionally lower, depending on where the mid-fork eyelets are positioned. However, it's not uncommon to see the rack propped higher, much like on Miss Clementine. If the rack platform is horizontal users have reported that hauling gear works out just fine without adversely affecting handling. I suspected however that a steeply angled front rack, as my first attempt turned out, panniers might be awkward and possibly shift while in transit.
It wouldn't be too terrible to live with it's current set up, but after thinking and scrounging in our collection of bike parts, I came up with a manageable retrofit.
|B. Second time around, this fix should work (I think).|
As an aside, the fork crown "eyelets" have always intrigued me, this being my first bicycle with this feature, though I didn't imagine I would use them quite so soon! It's a handy option, as I discovered, should you need another mounting point, and two points of contact as opposed to the one longer bolt through the fork should provide more stability to the rack.
terrible twine job with a couple wraps of leopard print duct tape that better suits my style.