Rack ’em

One of the things that drivers rarely think about is carrying cargo in their vehicle.  After all, when you have a bunch of horsepower available, who cares about carrying things?  And on top of that, even the smallest cars have ookoodles (that means “a lot”) of space next to what a cycle can offer.

This was a problem for my particular bike.  Not only was it propelled by my admittedly lackadaisical propulsion, but it also had no way to carry cargo other than in a bag.  After once again trying to fit a week’s worth of packages into my European Shoulder Satchel (totally not a man-purse), and ending up tying packages to the handlebars, I bitterly vowed to find a better solution.

The problem was than my bike is old, and lacking any sort of braze-on where I could affix a cargo rack.  After perusing the various options, I settled on this rack from Amazon.  After all, it was universal, and rated for a whopping 170 pounds!  Surely a few packages would be okay…

Well, I went to install it, and was a little underwhelmed.  First, there were no instructions, not even a hastily cobbled together, poorly translated mimeograph.  But I eventually figured it out and got the thing together on my bike to mirror that shown on the internets.


However, the “universal” attachment proved to be unworthy of use.  Even a slight push on the rack was too much for the supports to bear, and the apparatus swayed drunkenly (even unloaded!).  I pondered this for a moment, and after a few minutes of making sure everything had been attached properly (and no small amount of grumbling), I decided to discard most of the supplied rack.

I had a little bit of 1 ¼” wide, 1/8″ thick steel lying around, so I decided that if I replace the supports with something more substantial, I could probably get the cargo rack to work.  I started by cutting out a piece of steel.


Then, I marked out where I needed the attachment holes to be and used my brace to spin up a drill bit–

Okay, not really.  I draw the line at metalwork.  And anything that seems really difficult.  So I harnessed some electrons and drilled out where I needed the holes.  Cutting fluid is important here because it keeps you from overheating (and ruining) your drill bits.


To attach the braces to the frame, I used a couple of holes that were already in the frame (presumably for just such an application) and tapped them for ¼-20 threads.


After I had the first piece all figured out, I could use it as a guide for the second piece.  Notice that in order to properly fit, the top of the stays have to be beveled.


A couple of bolts (make sure they’ll clear your spokes before you start riding!), and the rack was attached.


Once that was done, I painstakingly attached the bespoke cargo basket I zip-tied a milk crate to it and called it good.  It’s held up so far, under a fair bit of weight.  So though the factory settings were pretty abysmal, it ended up being pretty useful with a bit of modification.  It also has the added benefit of being so ugly that no one is likely to steal my bike…