Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Custom Rear Racks for Roadsters

As some have astutely observed in the previous post, my Raleigh DL-1 now has a rear rack! It is notoriously difficult to find racks that will properly fit these bicycles (without slanting), and the racks that originally came with DL-1s are almost impossible to get ahold of. This here is a prototype for a custom rack by Red Barn Classic Bicycle Accessories, designed and built by metalsmith Jon Gehman with some input from me, specifically to fit the vintage Raleigh DL-1.

The Roadster Rack was built based on the dimensions of the original racks that were typically used with the DL-1, but features some delightful add-ons.

The platform of the rack is fortified with a graceful arch - something the original lacks. There is also a handy light mount at the end for attaching a tail light.

Here is a detail shot. The Roadster Rack is made of 3/8" seamless aircraft chrom-moly tubing; brazed and silver soldered. It is enamel painted, and the matte finish is a good match for the aged paint on my bicycle.

The rack also features these nice loops for attaching bungee cords. Needless to say, these are extremely useful.

Though the functionality of the rack is impeccable, I have to say that - at least for me - the practical aspects are overshadowed by the looks. I am not sure how well my pictures portray this, but the lines of the rack are mesmerisingly graceful. The arch, the light mount, the bungee loops, and even the gentle curves of the platform itself - everything is perfectly proportioned and pleasing to the eye. It makes me feel like a criminal for having now attached a set of Wald folding baskets to my rack - but hey, I needed to carry my laptop bag!

If you are interested in commissioning one of these gorgeous racks from Jon Gehman, the price is $125. And keep an eye on his website for upcoming products, which will include French chainguards and other secret things. I am collaborating with Jon on some of the designs, so you will notice that his pictures are of the prototypes I have on my bikes. However, I am not involved in the sales of the products (nor do I receive any revenue from the sales) - so please contact Jon directly if you'd like to place an order or have questions about his other products. We would also be glad to know what you think of the design, so please feel free to post your honest feedback here.

31 comments:

  1. Velouria~ Once again you have inadvertently solved another issue I was having with my DL-1!! I'm going to contact Jon next month and order one and inquire about the chainguards(will they work with the DL-1?) I will be sure to post up reviews and feedback as I really really want to get more involved even if I am a great distance away:D

    Take Care,
    Fiona

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  2. I just send Jon an email asking how to order one.

    Thank you so much!!

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  3. Cool, I am glad you guys like them!
    Hope Jon is not too overwhelmed : ))

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  4. That is a gorgeous, gorgeous rack. I love the arch. Love!

    But looking at this post makes me feel even more urgent about solving the lack of dressguard problem on my otherwise perfect Retrovelo. I love the simple one on your DL-1.

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  5. Beautiful. However, from yesterday's photos, it seems like it's tilted back a bit? Is that the case? Personally, if there must be a tilt I prefer a forward rather than backward tilt.

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  6. Also, I feel like maybe the taillight tab is too long. Is it removable?

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  7. Herzog - Nope. It is 100% perfectly level.

    Neighbourtease - You already got the Retrovelo! Do tell, how do you like it?

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  8. Re the tail light mount, I think it is a personal preference and could certainly be adjusted as each rack is custom made. I think the prototype has this particular mount, so that it'd be versatile enough to fit a variety of tail lights. There are also several holes where the light could fit, and I intentionally positioned mine lower - I like the look of it being separate from the rack, as if on a little tray or spoon.

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  9. Velouria, I absolutely love it. I've only had it for about three weeks but It is truly my perfect bicycle. It is really everything I needed -- something a bit bigger than my Pashley, but also somehow more nimble and much faster. I can't stop riding it. I can't believe how thoughtfully designed it is. I don't really know enough to explain how it's blowing my mind yet, but it's blowing my mind. It's a very happy bicycle and I am a lucky and happy girl.

    I am thinking of crocheting a dressguard, though it will take me all eternity as I am much more of a knitter.

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  10. Cool, that is good to hear - but oddly contradictory to my own experience. I finally rode my friend's Retrovelo for a considerable period of time in Vienna, and did not find that it handled any differently from my Pashley back home - that is, my Pashley in its current reincarnation of basketless Delta-cruiserness and lowered handlebarness. I did like the Retrovelo; just didn't find its performance better than the Pashley. Neither was it lighter in weight than my Pashley.

    I wish I could crochet a dressguard, but I won't even pretend that I am willing to take on such a project. How about making a simple one, like on my DL-1 (but in cream) by simply threading cords through holes in the fender?

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  11. Wow, nice work! I'd love to learn metal work. (b/c I NEED another expensive hobby.) :)

    Speaking of crochet skirt guards, I am about 3/4 of the way through one side of my prototype! You can see a peak here:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sxp2KfAz-Ao/TC-Q4rDKVbI/AAAAAAAAAOA/6_fJ7DwpCxU/s400/crochetguard.jpg

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  12. velouria, will jon make versions for the 24" mens' DL1s as well (not that i need one for mine, but seeing as the co-habitant has a 24" DL1) ? your is a 22", right? since the front of the rack mounts directly to the seatpost binder, this will have to be accounted for in the design of the rack.

    what i'm really interested in are the french-inspired chain guards... i need one of them for my jeunet!!!!! when will the prototype be ready?

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  13. I love those crochet skirt guards..I can knit but crochet simply eludes me:)

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  14. Wow, I hope we had that level of craftmanship here, finding good racks is almost impossible :-D

    I'll buy a Tubus Fly (http://www.tubus.com/en/rear-carriers/fly) for my new bike, is the less nonsense rack I could find, but is expensive!.

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  15. Amy, that is beautiful.

    Velouria, I am guessing the difference is mostly attributable to the difference between a Shimano 8-speed and a Sturmey-Archer 5-speed. I find the former superior by a long shot and much faster. I think the weight difference is minor--about 6 or 7 pounds I was told at the shop, but for me that was significant, particularly given how much weight I carry.

    I have also found that the fat frank tires roll way way faster at lower psi. When I inflated them they became way slower. I need a physicist to explain that to me :)

    I do like the idea of threading a dressguard. Much of the time I have a bobike child seat on the back and the child's leg-protectors actually protect my dresses from the spokes so I have been lazy about this.

    So far I am keeping my Pashley, too, mostly for sentimental reasons, but I do also plan to get something that's fast and a beater.

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  16. Amy - damn that is beautiful!!!! Please be sure to post pictures when you have it installed on an actual bike! Will you be offering them for sale once you have a successful prototype?

    somervillain - Yes, the racks can be made for a men's 24" frame as well. The chainguard prototype should be ready within the month I hope; it is actually up to me as I can't make up my mind on the design.

    neighbortease - "something that's fast and a beater"... do I sense a vintage mixte purchase? : )

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  17. That is a very harmonious rack design. Good going, Jon & Velouria.
    I'll have to look toward getting one for my DL-1.

    I like the way the chainguard design is going, too.
    I have a few ideas toward those things as well.

    Corey K

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  18. Heh, looks like we're probably going to be checking into this as well, as we've been looking for a rear rack for our DL-1 as well :D

    He may be able to start mass-production, just from your blog readership! :)

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  19. Velouria - Thanks! Actually, I have 1/2 mostly finished and a picture up right now. I'm still pondering on the best way to attach it to the bicycle, and have thought of a few design changes as well. But, yes, once I have a successful design I would be happy to make and sell them to whoever would like one! :)

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  20. Amy - I just saw the pictures on your blog, and the dressguard looks great on the bike. I left you feedback, though don't know how helpful it is. The design is beautiful!

    Corey - The guards in the works are for a French constructeur-style bicycle, small and flourishy but not too flourishy. We'll try to finish it asap : )

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  21. @neighbourtease "I am thinking of crocheting a dressguard"

    Just say no to hookers.

    As for the tires (short answer); a tire works at its optimum with a certain amount of flex, either too much or two little and energy losses increase. There is an idea that higher inflations means "faster." This is only because skinnier tires need to be pumped up to high pressures just to support the load (to get the same mass of air into the tire) and skinnier tires are "faster" (because they are lighter and have a smaller frontal area. NOT because they are pumped up to higher pressures).

    Skinnier tires are thus less sensitive to over inflation losses because by the time they can support the load most of their ability to flex is used up. Not so with the fatsos. You've got to find the sweet spot, which is much lower than the "hard is fast" crowd realize.

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  22. I am sold on that rack. So elegant! It puts my flying pigeon rack to shame! Thank you for so beautifully showing off its details.

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  23. I love the rack and the dressguard. They are so elegant in their simplicity. And they work so well with the DL-1.

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  24. Although I think it's great that there's another custom rack builder (there are too few now). I'm going to hold out for the larger diameter tubing of Dutch racks- I just like the heft of them. The tubing on my rack is much more like the diameter of the seat stay, which I think helps integrate it with the bike.

    The arched support is a nice touch though.

    Putting a rack on a DL-1 is a trick though- The seatstay bolts are Whitworth thread, and just barely long enough to accommodate the extra thickness of the rack strut. I had to move my fender supports to the axle, as the bolt was not long enough for the combined thickness of fender wire, strut and seatstay , which ironically seemed to improve the fenderline. Since the "nut" is just a threaded inset in the frame, tapping it would be very difficult.

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  25. cycler-You are right about the length of the stock DL-1 bolt. It's not long enough, or barely long enough. But, the good thing is that nut comes out and can be replaced with a proper modern nut. I am planning to do that to both of our DL-1s at some point. It's a very clever system. I plan to buy the spares and would suggest Jon ships them with his rack to make installation really easy.

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  26. cycler - I know what you mean about the chunkier Dutch racks (which are probably also rated to carry more weight). For what it's worth, John can probably make those two. I just specifically wanted a design that would replicate the original racks, as they are so hard to find.

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  27. Thanks for the info, I have just recently received a Raleigh Tourist DL-1. The rack and lights are missing. Thanks for the info on the rack.

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  28. Any idea if this is still being produced? I've attempted to contact the manufacturer to no avail. Just picked up 1 '69 DL-1 and would love to get a rack. Thanks!

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  29. For what it's worth, I've used this rack on my DL-1 for some time:

    http://www.dutchbikebits.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=38&product_id=110

    It's worked out great. The tubing is really thick, so I've used the Dutch transverse panniers that are all one piece and hang on the rear rack (rather than being two separate bags that clip onto the rack).

    My bike stays parked outside 24-7, and someone at night (we live on a busy street with a lot of bars and restaurants open late at night) apparently jumped or sat on it really hard and bent the parking stand, so my bike shop was able to just drill out the rivets and remove the parking stand part of the rack, and I'm still using the rack. Whatever it was that bent the parking stand didn't damage the rack at all.

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