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Old 07-08-14, 11:56 AM   #1
mark03
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Folding bicycle with front rack on a bus carrier?

So I have a 20" folding bicycle to which I have attached panniers on the front. I wanted them up there to improve the weight distribution. But now I have a problem: My commute distance is pretty long (~ 20 miles) so I've been taking the bus one way and riding back. And although this is a folder, our buses are *really* crowded, and with bike-carrier space usually available that's where it goes. The spring-loaded arm is supposed to fit over the front wheel, but now the pannier rack is in the way. If I turned the bike around, it seems like it would fit fine over the back wheel.

Hence my question: Does anyone know if those bike carriers are labeled "front wheel" and "back wheel" just by convention, to fit two or three bikes handlebars-to-seat-to-handlebars? Or is it really important that the steering end of the bike be the end clamped down?

Last edited by mark03; 07-08-14 at 12:24 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old 07-08-14, 01:10 PM   #2
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I don't know, but your question is an interesting one. FWIW, I like my steering light and would not have tried to slow it down with the extra weight. If you ask your carrier they are going to give you the safe answer which protects their bottom line. Myself, I would risk an experiment and put the bike in backward and see how it goes. I'll even go first and try it this weekend with my folder, how's that for putting one's money where their mouth is.

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Old 07-08-14, 01:42 PM   #3
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I work in the industry and have seen people do everything imaginable with their bikes on those racks. I've seen bikes that were only resting in the cradle - no support arm at all. And since 2007 I've never heard of a single bike falling out of a rack. I'm sure it's happened, but it's not very common.

That said, I would make a decent effort to resolve your problem so that you can load your bike the "proper" way - support arm over the front tire. If your fork has in-board mid-blade braze ons you can use something like a tubus duo without any problems (this was my front rack of choice when I was bus/bike commuting). Tubus tara is probably the next easiest / most compatible.
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Old 07-09-14, 09:08 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. You've inspired me to try it backwards and report back. Part of the problem here is not wanting to delay the bus by fiddling around for > 30 seconds, otherwise I might have figured this out already.

The intended use of the bike (a Swift) is airline travel and touring, so I don't have any problem with slowing down the steering. Coming from a full-sized bike it's a bit twitchy, unloaded.

Front racks designed for 20"-wheel bikes and designed to carry real loads are extremely rare. I wanted the bags the same distance off the ground as a low-rider would achieve on a 26" or 700c wheel. I'm using a Bike Friday rack which was the closest I could find. Unfortunately I don't have mid-blade braze-ons and there aren't any alternate forks available for the Swift, so I'm using P-clamps and some custom hardware. Long-term I may look into getting braze-ons added. Anyway, top bars of the rack end up almost level with the top of the tire and fender, so there's no way to fit the bus spring hook there. I could possibly hook it way out in front past the fender and the rack; it would be behind the vertical tangent to the front wheel, but just barely. The back wheel is a safer bet, I think, unless I run into a driver who's a real stickler for the rules. (This is Seattle, after all, the nation's capital of rule-following.)
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Old 07-09-14, 09:11 AM   #5
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Yes, Spring hook comes down on top of the front wheel .. bare wheel is best ,

but since it folds You can take it aboard, Right?

Front rack on my Bike Friday Pocket Llama is part of a travel bike, not a quick folding bike , functionally ..

Front rack on my Brompton pops right off .. the front carrier block ..

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Old 07-09-14, 09:16 AM   #6
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As long as you take the panniers with you on the bus, will arm fit over the rack? If it's tucked up against the headtube and rack, should be the same stability as the front wheel.

Only thing I could see as an issue with placing it in the rack backwards is the instability of having a hinge -- fork/headset -- at the rear of the bike, but if there's a chock keeping things steady, I'd assume it would work.

I've wondered about this myself -- main commuter has a VO Passhunter front rack and fenders. Even if the rack wasn't there, the fenders would be in the way. Is there some way you could get the bike in the rack with the bar clamping down on the frame?
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Old 07-09-14, 11:13 AM   #7
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I put my bike on backwards taking it home from shop 2 weeks ago. Needless to say, it did not fall out. As long as you get a good grip on one wheel it should stay secure. This was the lever type, and not the spring type. I never had to use the lever type before so i just slapped it on and boarded. Second bus of that trip had the more familiar spring clamp that ive used a bunch.

So, yea, you should be fine putting it backwards.

- Andy
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Old 07-09-14, 11:23 AM   #8
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As long as you take the panniers with you on the bus, will arm fit over the rack? If it's tucked up against the headtube and rack, should be the same stability as the front wheel.
The rack is too wide (side to side) for the arm to reach the head tube. This is a consequence of the fork being quite fat where it narrows to the front dropouts (and the dropouts being at the "back" of the tube instead of in the middle). The bottom rack mounts are cantilevered ~ 20 mm out from the M5 screw hole using spacers, which bothers me a little, although I think this is common.

Last edited by mark03; 07-09-14 at 11:24 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-15-14, 08:50 AM   #9
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I've loaded the bike "backwards" twice now. Seems secure, and the bus driver didn't comment, although the first time he did look at it a little funny We have at least four distinct bus-bike-rack designs here in the Seattle area, so I certainly haven't tried this on all of them yet.

Thanks for the comments.
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Old 07-17-14, 08:42 AM   #10
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My swb recumbent fell out of the bus bike rack once.... 20"/26" wheels. I had the 'swing arm' over the front wheel, not over the boom. The bus driver was driving like a total jackass, turning at speed, hard braking, speed bumps at speed, etc, so that did not help. Luckily it jumped out on a speed bump going fairly slow so the only damage was a bent bolt on my chain pulley which was replaced. I now keep the arm on top of the boom and put some bungee chords around my rims and the rack to stop the bike from jumping again.

My 700x40c wheeled bike doesn't sit that well in the wheel wells on some of the older looking racks. It has trouble swallowing up the diameter. Seems like they are designed for 700x23c and 26x2.0 tires. I also have a Racktime Topit front rack which prevents the arm from resting on my wheel (too be fair, so does the fender). I wedge the arm in the nook created by the mounting tab of the front rack and fork. More gratuitous usage of bungee chords. No issues even on the interstate... yet.
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Old 07-20-14, 11:10 AM   #11
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My swb recumbent fell out of the bus bike rack once.... 20"/26" wheels. I had the 'swing arm' over the front wheel, not over the boom. The bus driver was driving like a total jackass, turning at speed, hard braking, speed bumps at speed, etc, so that did not help. Luckily it jumped out on a speed bump going fairly slow so the only damage was a bent bolt on my chain pulley which was replaced. I now keep the arm on top of the boom and put some bungee chords around my rims and the rack to stop the bike from jumping again.

My 700x40c wheeled bike doesn't sit that well in the wheel wells on some of the older looking racks. It has trouble swallowing up the diameter. Seems like they are designed for 700x23c and 26x2.0 tires. I also have a Racktime Topit front rack which prevents the arm from resting on my wheel (too be fair, so does the fender). I wedge the arm in the nook created by the mounting tab of the front rack and fork. More gratuitous usage of bungee chords. No issues even on the interstate... yet.
User experience may vary?

I think most bike racks on buses are designed by someone or chosen by someone who never rode a bike. They need to be more adaptable to different sized wheels, tires, and frames. The kind with hook that hooks over wheel is the best ive seen, i do not know why they even make the lever type.

- Andy
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