I’ll admit it – I have an inadequate rack. Much like actresses or models looking for an edge that resort to plastic surgery to enhance their frontal appearance, my rack could use some enlargement. With me however, it’s my rear rack – bike rack.
My rack problem has everything to do with me. It’s not the fault of the bike or the rack, but the combination of the two poses a dangerous problem. Take a look at the following picture:
What you see is a rack bag that is perilously close to spokes that turn at great speeds. Some of you readers can use my issue as a cautionary tale leading you to think twice before making assumptions about bikes and bike parts. My assumption was that since there are rack adapters (for bikes without braze ons) and most racks will fit almost any rack equipped bag that I would be perfectly okay with buying a rack and bag from an internet site to meet my needs. Oh how wrong was I . . .
First off, the bike in the picture is a Cannondale road bike. The last thing on the minds of the designers was some idiot putting a rear rack on such a bike – the geometry is just all wrong for a rack. I’m a practical bike commuter idiot so when I wanted to avoid sweaty bike syndrome by carrying a bag on the back of my Cannondale I naively clicked around the Interweb and ordered up a rack and bag that looked good.
I was able to install the rack no problem, the adapters worked just fine. However, after I proudly strapped on my bag and went on my first ride I ran into two problems within two minutes of trying to commute to work.
Problem 1: Within seconds I noticed that my heel rubbed against the bag as I pedaled. With racing bike geometry the rack sits closer to one’s feet than a rack on a touring bike might. So I hopped off and moved the bag back as far as I could. I practice pedaled and bit and with the bag adjusted back I had no more heel rub. Problem solved! With a satisfied smile on my face I once again began my commute, but . . .
Problem 2: . . . the first minor bump I encountered I heard a horrid, rapid grinding sound. I jammed on my brakes and looked back and as you might have guessed, by positioning the bag far, far back on the rack, the bag would swing into the spokes if jostled side-to-side.
The rack does come with an angled bar meant to keep the bag away from your spokes, however the angle on the rack I bought is what I would call too steep. Some racks solve this problem by putting in either a second bar, or a bar that angles straight down for a stretch, and then angles over to the bottom of the rack to keep bags from bouncing into the spokes like mine does.
I was able to temporarily solve the problem by using a
bungee net. I always carry a bungee cord
or net with me “just in case” and this circumstance was a “just in case”
moment. I was able to deploy the bungee
net in a manner that helped to keep the bag from swinging into the spokes when
I encountered road turbulence.
It was an okay hack, but not one that I wanted to employ each time I went on a ride so I began to think about how to correct my wrong doing. While at work I was doing some mundane data checking and a light bulb went off in my head as I was using a ruler to track my progress down a paper spread sheet. With a ruler and zip ties I came up with the following:
I am happy to say that it worked perfectly! For one ride =(
The ruler snapped when I encountered a bump on the way home, however I believe with a trip to the hardware store I can find a more permanent solution to my problem. I’ll post soon on what I discover. Any other ideas are also welcome . . . just don’t suggest that I take the rack off a bike that was never meant to have one or that I buy a better equipped rack . . . I’m pretty stubborn.