When we got back from Tibet I reassembled the bikes and decided to keep the “lowriders” on my Rodriguez. (FWIW, Nitto calls them “hub area racks.”) During the trip I’d mounted them directly to the fork and they overlapped the axel so that I had to remove the skewer every time I needed to dismount the front wheel. Back home I used P-clamps which moved them forward enough to avoid that problem.
I liked the way it looked and performed and bought a pair of small panniers from Swift Industries to match my rando bag. Unfortunately, the clips on the panniers were spaced too widely for the hub area rack, so that wasn’t going to work. However, I still had an extra large size rando bag that would work on the Franklin and I could set it up with matching panniers if I mounted front racks.
In the mid 1990s I bought matching front and rear Topeak racks for two mountain bikes – and I think we used them for exactly one trip. The rear racks were big and beefy (they had an internal cleat to store a Kryptonite U-lock) and both of them failed when welds cracked. I salvaged the square aluminum clamps that held them together before I junked the rest. The front racks were not so beefy and they had a spindly hoop that didn’t inspire confidence but the triangular hub area part was probably better designed than the Nitto ones for hooking into panniers.
I thought that I might be able to mount the bottom part of the front racks on the Franklin, sort of like the way the hub area racks mounted on my Rodriguez. I discovered that the hub area part didn’t detach, but the hoop did. With a couple of my salvaged clamps I used Nitto struts and rack bolts to rig a brace to the front rack in place of the hoop. I worked hard to get the angles right and to avoid that erector set look, but the curved light mount didn’t give me many options – I ended up clamping onto the canti strut right where it joined the rack.
The only problem was that the clamps were intended for a larger rod than the stock used for the rack. I didn’t have any shim material handy, so I folded several thicknesses of tinfoil into a shim and figured I’d come up with something more permanent if I decided to leave the rack on the bike. (The folded tinfoil was too wide and when I trimmed off the excess it looked like it had been chewed off.)
A year later I took the Franklin in to get the oil in the Rohloff changed. The rack was still on the bike and I thought it looked ok and it rode fine. I noticed a chain rub (or rather more like a fender rub) on the downstroke on the non-drive side and I asked the guys at R+E to take a look at it while they had the bike. They called me to say they’d traced the noise to a broken clamp on the drive side of the front rack! I swapped it out for another clamp and the bike rode silently – inspiring me to mount the second of the two front racks on the Ibis. (I didn’t spend as much time on angles and parallel lines – this time I clamped to the rack stock and not to a strut so it kind of crosses over the lowrider. the spacers I used to line up the mounts give plenty of space for the clips, though.)
When I put the struts on between the rack and the low rider I used a couple of pieces cut from a beer can as shims. That worked well enough that I went back and replaced the tinfoil on the Franklin with similar beer can shims.
here are the rear wheels, closer:
And here’s what got me started: