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What was actually carried by Jim Blackburn front racks?

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What was actually carried by Jim Blackburn front racks?

Old 12-23-20, 12:46 PM
  #1  
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What was actually carried by Jim Blackburn front racks?

Another nagging question that keeps me up at night... and not to veer to far off course from the 2nd tier touring bike thread...

What are those cool vintage front racks actually used for? They certainly look cool and certainly make a bike look like a serious touring machine.



For context, I have a 1982 Miyata 610, the one with caliper brakes and "the good" tubing, so maybe a bit closer to a Sports Tourer. My intention is to out fit it as a "period correct" "playing dress up" light tourer. I have a Jim Blackburn style (CyclePro with diving board) front rack that I was going to put on it, but then got to thinking. What would I actually use it for? I have a Cannondale handlebar bag, the mounts directly to the handlebars, so I don't need the rack top for that, and while the matching Cannondale front panniers look like they'll fit the rack, it seems ride wise, that I would be better off with a set of low riders. I'm also inclined to leave off the rear rack and use a matching Cannondale saddle bag. I guess I'd need the rear rack to carry a sleeping bag, if I was doing an overnighter, but I have other bikes for such ventures. Here's the bike, the last time it came down off the ceiling:



And here's some of the vaguely relevant literature I've found.

"The Project" Looks like they tried the high mounted Pannier position and didn't like it.



Similar racks, with a front rack with low riders mounted. So what go's on top?


Similar bags, with panniers mounted high. My handlebar bag is a bit smaller. I haven't found any vintage bags made for the top of this style rack, at least for the US market.



Here's the 1982 Miyata catalog

and the 1982 Cannondale catalog for good measure.

So the question remains, Blackburn front racks, Functional or Fashionable.....
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Old 12-23-20, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
What are those cool vintage front racks actually used for?
"What is 'a six pack of beer' "

I'll take 'other random vintage bike trivia' for $600 Alex.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:10 PM
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I don't know that they were particularly popular in the United States in the 80's, but randonneur bags have been a thing since at least the 40's in Europe, and the rack has the tombstone for such a style of bag. Is there a chance it was modeled after rando racks?
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Old 12-23-20, 01:32 PM
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Apropos of nothing, I rode across the USA in 1980 with a pair of those blue Bikecology Class I rear panniers. I used them on a few other tours since and still have them in my basement. The retention system was less than perfect, but I made it work. They probably would work okay even now.

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Old 12-23-20, 01:33 PM
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I’ve been using one of those since the 80s...much more stable and solid fitting than the French racks that attach to brakes. Mine is currently fit with one of Rivendell’s small trunks...I could but don’t use the tombstone in this application as the bag cinches down plenty tight and nicely spans the bracing of the Blackburn (so no sway or sliding).
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Old 12-23-20, 01:37 PM
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I used to strap my tent to one of those.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by hazetguy View Post
"What is 'a six pack of beer' "

I'll take 'other random vintage bike trivia' for $600 Alex.
I actually typed " besides a sixpack" edited it out...

Last edited by bark_eater; 12-23-20 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
Another nagging question that keeps me up at night... and not to veer to far off course from the 2nd tier touring bike thread...

What are those cool vintage front racks actually used for? They certainly look cool and certainly make a bike look like a serious touring machine.



For context, I have a 1982 Miyata 610, the one with caliper brakes and "the good" tubing, so maybe a bit closer to a Sports Tourer. My intention is to out fit it as a "period correct" "playing dress up" light tourer. I have a Jim Blackburn style (CyclePro with diving board) front rack that I was going to put on it, but then got to thinking. What would I actually use it for? I have a Cannondale handlebar bag, the mounts directly to the handlebars, so I don't need the rack top for that, and while the matching Cannondale front panniers look like they'll fit the rack, it seems ride wise, that I would be better off with a set of low riders. I'm also inclined to leave off the rear rack and use a matching Cannondale saddle bag. I guess I'd need the rear rack to carry a sleeping bag, if I was doing an overnighter, but I have other bikes for such ventures. Here's the bike, the last time it came down off the ceiling:



And here's some of the vaguely relevant literature I've found.

"The Project" Looks like they tried the high mounted Pannier position and didn't like it.



Similar racks, with a front rack with low riders mounted. So what go's on top?


Similar bags, with panniers mounted high. My handlebar bag is a bit smaller. I haven't found any vintage bags made for the top of this style rack, at least for the US market.



Here's the 1982 Miyata catalog

and the 1982 Cannondale catalog for good measure.

So the question remains, Blackburn front racks, Functional or Fashionable.....
Don't use this photo as guidance, these chumps put the front rack on wrong.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Markeologist View Post
Don't use this photo as guidance, these chumps put the front rack on wrong.
You can see where they put the front pannier's hook on the mounting strut to make the bag level. "No one will notice", going on 39 years..

Last edited by bark_eater; 12-23-20 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:37 PM
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If I had that rack on my Trek 720, I would use it as a bottom support for an Acorn rando bag, but I do have a long-rake/low-trail fork I can install.

That bag and the Berthoud GB28 are designed to sit flat on such a flat rack. you would need to rig up something on the bottom and at the handlebar to secure the bag. The Acorn has provision for a bottom attachment. For either one you could use the decaleur sold by Somerville (Anton Tutter) and designed by Tom Matchak. The Blackburn rack does not have a tombstone, which would be optimum.

Last edited by Road Fan; 12-23-20 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:54 PM
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I think that I mostly saw the front racks as stabilizers for low riders. And probably carry some stuff on top. I think most people that toured in the '70s just used rear racks, which is less than ideal. Certainly most everyone that I saw riding bikecentennial only used a rear rack. Usually an overloaded pletcher rat trap. I don't think I saw lowriders without a front rack until much later. I'm sure some people hung panniers off of the front rack, but it doesn't seem like it would work out too well.

Last year I rode part of the Bikecentennial trail near Waynesboro/Afton. That must have been fun fully loaded. And when I say "fun," I mean not fun.
We skipped the side road to the cookie lady's house though.
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Old 12-23-20, 07:20 PM
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I saw some larger Carradice handle bars that just strapped to the handle bars on British Ebay this spring. I assume they had some other straps to to keep it from swaying, and might have enough depth to rest on a Blackburn style rack.

I remember seeing a Japanese home market Bridgestone catalog online at some point and I think they had some Randoish bags that strapped to the bars with out a decaleur. I think its a little weird that these racks where built with out a specific piece of luggage in mind. Of course they could have been made "in the style" that people expected to see in high zoot touring bikes.

On my Miyata 610 I can't use a Blackburn wrap around front rack because it will interfere with the caliper brake quick releases. So I would have to use a Cyclepro rack that has no vestigial tombstone. It would stabilize a set of lowriders and maybe provide a good spot to mount a couple of dynamo headlights.

Last edited by bark_eater; 12-23-20 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
On my Miyata 610 I can't use a Blackburn wrap around front rack because it will interfere with the caliper brake quick releases. So I would have to use a Cyclepro rack that has no vestigial tombstone. It would stabilize a set of lowriders and maybe provide a good spot to mount a couple of dynamo headlights.
Or get a Nitto or Velo Orange rack.
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Old 12-23-20, 09:53 PM
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One of my friends carried around his Dachshund on a little Blackburn rack like that. The dog would ride in a styrofoam cooler he'd bungeed onto the rack, with the lid open of course. Sassy little pup.
Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
On my Miyata 610 I can't use a Blackburn wrap around front rack because it will interfere with the caliper brake quick releases. So I would have to use a Cyclepro rack that has no vestigial tombstone. It would stabilize a set of lowriders and maybe provide a good spot to mount a couple of dynamo headlights.
If you don't need a handlebar bag support (or to carry a Dachshund), then what's the need for a front platform? I would use the stock low-rider "hoop" for stabilizing the low riders. It'll allow your fork to flex more.
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Old 12-23-20, 10:37 PM
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I think most, if not all C-Dale front panniers like mid-fork mounts but it's an easy mod.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:06 PM
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My U-lock with a bunge strap.
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Old 12-24-20, 07:26 AM
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Here's a photo from my 1983 cross country tour. This must be from Wyoming or Montana, on a day when we expected to be camping out somewhere where water might not be available.

https://flic.kr/p/51hd9W
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Old 12-24-20, 07:32 AM
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I used my RB-T for touring and used the front Blackburn with and without lowrider rack attached. Here's without. With the Eclipse bag above there was room for the tool roll and spares on top of the front rack.
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Old 12-24-20, 07:47 AM
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I appreciate this thread. I pulled one of these off the pile at the co-op for a sort of gravel-ish/touring-ish project and have been wondering about how I should use it.
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Old 12-24-20, 08:20 AM
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I've still got my old touring racks in use (about 40 years and going strong). They're on my errand schlepping bike. I zip-tied a repurposed office letter tray to the top of the front rack, so I have something that's a little wider than the rack, with a lip on it, to hold a typical grocery bag or two.

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Old 12-24-20, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
I used my RB-T for touring and used the front Blackburn with and without lowrider rack attached. Here's without. With the Eclipse bag above there was room for the tool roll and spares on top of the front rack.
Good i
mage to show the diversity of bike size configuration or opportunities or lack thereof
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Old 12-24-20, 09:56 AM
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I always hate threads that talk about the blackburn front rack because I packed the bike mine was on carelessly on a cross-country move and whatever the rack was touching wore halfway through the upright strut. I still haven't gotten rid of it, probably should give it to the metal recyclers.
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Old 12-24-20, 10:29 AM
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I had one of the wrap around Blackburn racks that had grid of saw marks on the top, that I assume came frame a basket attached too loosely and allowed to chafe.

Last edited by bark_eater; 12-24-20 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 12-24-20, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage_Cyclist View Post
I've still got my old touring racks in use (about 40 years and going strong). They're on my errand schlepping bike. I zip-tied a repurposed office letter tray to the top of the front rack, so I have something that's a little wider than the rack, with a lip on it, to hold a typical grocery bag or two.

This is correct. I've got a front rack on the cruiser MTB I built over the summer and plan to mount a metal basket on top of it. Something bigger than your letter tray but smaller than a full size Wald basket.
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Old 12-24-20, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bark_eater View Post
I saw some larger Carradice handle bars that just strapped to the handle bars on British Ebay this spring. I assume they had some other straps to to keep it from swaying, and might have enough depth to rest on a Blackburn style rack.

I remember seeing a Japanese home market Bridgestone catalog online at some point and I think they had some Randoish bags that strapped to the bars with out a decaleur. I think its a little weird that these racks where built with out a specific piece of luggage in mind. Of course they could have been made "in the style" that people expected to see in high zoot touring bikes.

On my Miyata 610 I can't use a Blackburn wrap around front rack because it will interfere with the caliper brake quick releases. So I would have to use a Cyclepro rack that has no vestigial tombstone. It would stabilize a set of lowriders and maybe provide a good spot to mount a couple of dynamo headlights.
This maybe a silly question but arent these front racks purpose built to carry front panniers?
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