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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    Integrated Racks

    I was wondering why touring/commuter frames are rarely built with integrated racks like you would see on a cargo bike. Just curious is all.

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    They have certainly been done but, you are correct, they are not common. Intuitively they make sense but I think the biggest reasons, in my mind at least, is standardization and damage. An integrated rack mounting would need to be scaled somewhat for each frame size which would be a pain for builders and not really feasible for production bikes that always have to hit a price point. With aftermarket, the rack builder can add adjustability that bridges that gap. As for damage, if an integrated rack is bent or damaged, it's a big effort to fix.

    I'm assuming you're mainly talking about from a production bike standpoint which is where both issues are in effect. Custom builders can do it and add a bit to the price but, then the damage issue comes into play and I think many/most would recommend against it.

    Interested to hear from the Pro's on this as I've thought about doing it for one of my bikes - I can overcome both issues on personal bikes so, wondering if there are others I should worry about.

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    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duanedr View Post
    An integrated rack mounting would need to be scaled somewhat for each frame size which would be a pain for builders and not really feasible for production bikes that always have to hit a price point.
    OK, that makes sense. I imagined it was probably a cost factor (it usually is, right?), I just couldn't think of what it might be. And yes, I was talking about production frames.

    I had thought about potential damage being a factor, but I would think the sort of force that would permanently damage an integrated rack would have to be quite strong and you'd be looking at replacing more than the rack if that happened. Plus, if we think of an integrated rack as part of the frame, I would consider it just as likely to break as any other part of the frame (that is to say, not likely for most riders). Also, if we're talking steel, it seems like a damaged integrated rack could be repaired rather than replaced in most cases.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You are talking off the shelf common bikes sold in shops?


    As You should know Most Bikes in the US the rack is an after sale accessory.

    its becoming a bit more Euro by having a few companies making racks and mudguards part of the parts kit in the Box.


    some Custom Builds Like Ian Hibell's bikes evolved to be rather substantial Ian Hibell - 'Argos Racing Cycles' touring bike 2

    another top tube, pointed back.

    http://www.bikebrothers.co.uk/ianhib...1_files/06.jpg
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-12-14 at 01:12 PM.

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    As long as the frame has the standard mounting points I don't see any real advantage to having integrated racks. I'd prefer to pick the size, style, and strength of rack needed. And I'd also like to be able to remove the rack for ease of packing the bike for travel.

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    I think the removal for packing is a big practical problem.

    Marketing wise, when you integrate the rack, you have to sell the rack and bike combo as one. A guy might not like your rack, but like your frame, etc... But if the rack is part of the frame you are stuck with it. A lot of people seem to react positively to the fact that there is an integrated rack, it seems hard core, but do they actually like the result? Most cases they probably would buy it if only it was a little bit of x or y, and cost the same as a rackless bike.

    Another problem is that while I don't agree that standard points are all you need, an upgrade is clearly advisable if not necessary, but most integrated racks seem overbuilt. In essence you are sharing structure, but the integration is often there with heavier tubing that the bolt together racks.

    This English bike uses small tubing for the whole thing:



    The Hibell rack moreso than integrated is a "your-stuck-with-it-because-I-welded-it-on" thing. No load sharing or particular efficiency there.

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    That English bike is a winter bike, by the way, not a flat out touring bike. I wouldn't want that rack on a tourer.

    Last edited by MassiveD; 07-12-14 at 09:03 AM.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Ol Ian was the person to do AK to southern south america, including bush whacking through the Darian Gap Swamps .

    hardly a commute ..

    As everyone knows here, the way you solve the "your-stuck-with-it-because-I-welded-it-on" situation,

    is having more than one bike. N+1..

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    I know who Hibbel is, and I have seen the picture of the bushwhack in the Darian Gap: standing thigh deep in water with a machete. I respect his guts, but what the heck? The Darian Gap "ride" is like that old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight. For Pete's sake, if you can't avoid the area entirely, get a dang boat. If the guy had swum across the Atlantic dragging a bike, it would have been amazing, but not really a signal cycling or sailing achievement.

    His rack just has all the hallmarks of some guy who was savaged by broken racks. The reaction in such cases is not always an engineering marvel, and anyway time marches on, and new solutions appear. "Engineering" is a little like divorce: the first wife is too hot, the second is too cold, and by the third, you get it just right. Or maybe that is porridge...

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    I notice on that yellow bike that the rack is a bolt on...

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    Randomhead
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    I like custom racks, but racks that are not removable don't really appeal to me. Although that silly English frame in post 6 is an intriguing idea

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    I also really am intrigued by the English above with the rack built into the seat stays. I look at it and think 'way to flexy' but, I remember thinking the same thing about Bontrager's road lite rear end back in the day so, I'm not very confident in my eye's ability to assess such things. That would be a great bike for 75% of the year here in Seattle. I'd go with derailleurs rather than internal gears but that's just me. I love it's functional purity and how the top tube and chainstays are typically relatively thin on his bikes. Does the seat post extend down past that junction at the top tube? That part worries me...more because I don't know rather than having any math to back up my worry. If the rider is 135lbs, it's probably fine...I'm...uh...bigger than that so...

    I don't like how #7 has a removable rack but the fender mounts are on the rack so, you either have both rack and fenders or neither...I suppose there's no problem with it but logically it just doesn't add up. The user would end up with more versatility with a standard configuration of eyelets on the dropouts. Obviously this is purely a functional argument and reflects nothing of the amazing work and workmanship of the bikes he produces. great stuff...

  13. #13
    tuz
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    I think brazed racks are cool. In some instances you can be smart about it and make them part of the structure. Like on the old Singer frame that used thinner fork blades because the brazed rack added triangulation to the fork. Plus you save some weight. However I wouldn't do it on my bikes; I use cantis and centrepull brakes a lot and taking the rack off makes the maintenance MUCH easier.
    homebuilt commuter, mixte, road and track (+ Ryffranck road)
    bla bla blog

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    Randomhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by duanedr View Post
    I love it's functional purity and how the top tube and chainstays are typically relatively thin on his bikes. Does the seat post extend down past that junction at the top tube? That part worries me...more because I don't know rather than having any math to back up my worry. If the rider is 135lbs, it's probably fine...I'm...uh...bigger than that so...
    everyone else has trouble with construction details like that, so unless he's hiding some structure I assume these frames have a limited lifetime. OTOH, Bike Friday has very similar construction and few issues, so maybe I'm wrong. Of course, limited lifetime in this case might be 10 years instead of 50, who knows?

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    Quote Originally Posted by duanedr View Post
    I don't like how #7 has a removable rack but the fender mounts are on the rack so, you either have both rack and fenders or neither...I suppose there's no problem with it but logically it just doesn't add up. The user would end up with more versatility with a standard configuration of eyelets on the dropouts. Obviously this is purely a functional argument and reflects nothing of the amazing work and workmanship of the bikes he produces. great stuff...
    To me, function is the purpose of making custom touring frames. But if you actually meet the functional idea the client has in mind, it is not likely to be the most versatile imaginable ride. Ideally, the client knows what he wants, finds the builder that can do it, and they produce a pared back ride that has everything needed, and nothing that is not. Of the rack rides are marketed on their versatility (fits a ton of people other than you), because they can't meet a narrow aim. Having achieved that, other riders may have very good reasons for not seeing what they really want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    everyone else has trouble with construction details like that, so unless he's hiding some structure I assume these frames have a limited lifetime. OTOH, Bike Friday has very similar construction and few issues, so maybe I'm wrong. Of course, limited lifetime in this case might be 10 years instead of 50, who knows?
    As you know, Rob worked for Bike Friday, and has an engineering background, and he seems to make big and rugged use bikes that way. Also, the wall thicknesses I saw were thin, so whatever his numbers are telling him, he could have make them beefier.

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    Randomhead
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    engineers build things with inadequate fatigue resistance every day. That's why engineers like me have jobs

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    OTOH, Bike Friday has very similar construction and few issues, so maybe I'm wrong.
    But if the seat tube on my Bike Friday develops a crack I would just unbolt it and get a replacement part from Green Gear. Repair of the frame shown in post 6 would be a bit more involved.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    But Rob English is part of the Design team that makes the Bike Friday stuff ...
    & has his own custom bike company ..

    I expect if you had issues with one of his Custom Frames He would take care of you.


    You posted a pix of his Personal Bike.. and the guy is on not a Clyde ..

    so there is not a rider weight-stress issue.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-15-14 at 11:21 AM.

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    Since this thread has morphed from "integrated racks" to a critique of Rob English's engineering and design...

    duanedr- your concern about flexibility of the bike in post #6- it appears the top tube is "unusually" thin. The tube has been ovalized at the seat tube juncture, so from the side it looks thin, but this increases rigidity over a round tube. Not that the top tube adds much to the rigidity of a bike frame anyway.

    As for the seat stays- They add very little to the rigidity of the rear end. They are in compression so very little is needed. The triangulation of the chainstays coupled with the rear wheel mounted is what makes it rigid.

    Seat Post? I know Rob custom machines his seat posts (in house) to put the "butting" where it needs to be to eliminate failures in a critical area.

    This bike is Rob's winter training bike, and it ain't flimsy! He may not be a big guy, but he can put out some watts, and wouldn't personally settle for less than perfect. He was a racer and an engineer before building bicycle frame.

    unterhausen- "engineers build things with inadequate fatigue resistance every day. That's why engineers like me have jobs." You can over-engineer a structure, and a purpose-built bike ain't the place to start. I've seen a lot of projects that were "over-built" due to an overly-cautious engineer, that didn't work. Bridges and overpasses are on thing, but bicycles? You can't just add a hundred tons on concrete and rebar.

    Who knows the life span of lightweight bikes? That is not why we have them. Want a bike to last 20 years? Might as well as buy a Surly and drag around an extra 10 pounds or so.

    In closing- don't make an assumption based on what you see in the pics, unless you have some firsthand knowledge that there is a problem. Personally, I build my own frames (and have drawn a lot of inspiration from Rob,) but if it were within my budget, I'd kill for a bike from him.

  21. #21
    Randomhead
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    I think you guys are blowing my posts out of proportion

  22. #22
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    DSC01362.jpgI agree with Eric. I see no bashing on his part of the English frame. Perhaps a general comment about design choices and Eric's preference for such. If people don't thing that bike frames (and components) aren't made with a lifespan in mind then you're kidding yourselves.

    Back to the OP's question- There are many reasons to not make integrated racks on a loaded touring bike. Why make and charge custom fab fees for something that others make real well and for less? Why dedicate the load bearing parts that have a history of failure and therefore make tour side repairs much more involved? Why limit your rider's choices to only the current design or the current intended use?

    I don't have any third world touring experience but have done self contained tours for over 40 years and for 35 years on my own frames. I would never use an integrated rack for a loaded tour. I have made a few such racks over the years. From simple designed ones (using K&S brass tubing) to hold my spare sew up to this one on my errand bike. But I value the ability to repair or get a
    round problems while touring. All the possible repair methods that apply to a integrated rack also apply to a Tubus steel rack. Except for the ability to replace the rack with one that's available locally. Andy.

  23. #23
    Randomhead
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    Andy, so that rack is built into the frame? Nice bike. I keep thinking I should replace my '85 rockhopper commuter bike, but I figure it has another 30 years in it

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    In closing- don't make an assumption based on what you see in the pics, unless you have some firsthand knowledge that there is a problem.
    Easy there dude. This is essentially what I say in my first post. I don't trust my eyes to make such assessments anymore. :-) I go on to say things like 'love' 'great bike' 'amazing' etc.

    Now, knowing it's his personal bike, IMO that's a perfect place to try something new and innovative and take design/engineering "risks"* like thin tubes or truly integrated racks like the above. So, I suppose I could say that now it makes even more sense than the tons of sense it made before knowing that it is his bike.

    *By 'Risks' I mean both from a customer looking at it and saying 'Whoa, English's bikes are weird, I don't want one' or 'Whoa, that's so cool, I want to buy 1000 of them to give to all my Facesbook friends for Christmas this year'(ie may present production challenges) to a risk of mechanical failure. Again, not because I think it will fail but because sometimes when we try something new, it fails. If you never fail, then you're not trying hard enough.

    Rob, if you're reading this, nice solution to a rear rack. very cool.

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    One thing .. To get a Bike into a shipping carton, and thus into a container and the container on a ship
    the bikes are knocked down..

    to send a Transcontinental tourist's bike back for them, on the opposite coast.

    to fit into those cartons the rack often has to come off.

    I was wondering why touring/commuter frames are rarely built with integrated racks like you would see on a cargo bike.
    largely because the bikes are Imported from the other side of the Pacific, and come on a boat ..

    OP, if you go to the Port of Oakland You can see the ships being unloaded of their containers
    then the container is set, by a Crane onto a trailer frame .

    and driven to a warehouse ..

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