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Great Light Front Rack Option

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Great Light Front Rack Option

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Old 10-04-16, 09:01 PM
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mdilthey
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Great Light Front Rack Option

I saw a couple of comments this past month about front rack availability, and about some love for the old Blackburn-style front racks.

Just a disclaimer, I'm a bike tester for Soma, but I'm not currently testing/reviewing anything for them and I paid full price for this product. It's the Lucas Mini Front Rack:

Lucas Mini Front Rack | SOMA Fabrications



I love using a basket but the Racktime rack I was using placed my basket a good 3 inches over the front tire, which messed with my handling. I looked at a few platform racks but they were all 3+lb behemoths, like the Jandd expedition rack or the Surly Nice Rack. Too much rack for me. I really liked the look of all of Nitto's racks, but nearly all of them required cantilever brake posts or they were way out of my price range. Bummer!

I did stumble on the Lucas Mini from Soma, a company I already liked a lot, and it looked like a good value. Definitely a low-capacity rack, but my Wald basket only carries a duffel full of clothes or an occasional sleeping bag.

First off, this rack is not expensive. It's a very reasonable $35.99, but I found mine for $32 with free shipping.

The first thing I noticed was the build quality. Very smooth welds, an even matte silver anodizing/powdercoat (not sure which), and the center block has "S O M A" tastefully engraved in an awesome font. The hardware is all included, and there are very nice-looking stainless steel spacers, too. Nothing was skimped out on.

So, I mounted it up on my Double Cross, which has a Vaya fork, with the spacers to give my QR room to breathe. No bending and no futzing around, although I did use a longer bolt for the mount to the top of the fork to go all the way through the brake mount. I zip-tied a Wald basket on and took it out for a spin.

The rack sits very low. Tire clearance on a 41c Surly Knard is about 1 inch, room enough to squeeze a fender but that's it. I like this, because the weight is kept low. The rack feels very sturdy, and it is a lightweight rack, probably less than a pound. I carried a 6-pack of Pumpkinhead and a pint of ice cream in it and it was rock solid. The low placement was much more stable than my previous Racktime rack.

I expected this to barely check a box for me. Instead, it's a gorgeous piece of hardware that does its job very well. I am always impressed with the finishing touches on Soma stuff, you can tell they're cyclists and they seem to have one foot firmly planted in nostalgia, a lot like the Rivendell crowd. So, if you're pining for your Blackburn rack, the Lucas Mini is not the same thing but it might scratch your itch.

Hope this helps someone

Last edited by mdilthey; 10-04-16 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 10-05-16, 09:44 AM
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fietsbob 
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whats the nuts for?, [Guess you can directly mount 2 Kitty Litter Buckets just by screwing thru the bucket into the Nuts]


its just like the blackburn racks from the 70's.. Merry Sales Imports is who owns the Soma brand..

SF jargon: SoMa, South of Market st. [NY SoHo, South of Houston st]





'/,

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Old 10-05-16, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
whats the nuts for?, its just like the blackburn racks from the 70's, now copied and shipped back from China.

of course so is most bike stuff nowadays
So its almost not worth mentioning multiple times a day...
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Old 10-05-16, 01:42 PM
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So good for 5-10 lbs or so? Seems like it would be great for an extra qt bottle and sleep gear.
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Old 10-05-16, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
So good for 5-10 lbs or so? Seems like it would be great for an extra qt bottle and sleep gear.
5-10 how did you figure that?
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Old 10-05-16, 08:20 PM
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It looks great to me. Does it come with struts to be able to attach to mid fork braze ons? or at least a single flat piece of steel ribbon to attach to the center hole often found in forks? Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-05-16, 10:56 PM
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I used something very similar, actually a cut down blackburn rear rack, and like it with one caveat.
It's great for hauling something on top but not really for panniers as the front of the pannier will rub against the tire. However, you can counter that by adding a stay or strut to keep the bags off the wheel. I also really like a front basket and miss the one I sold with my last touring bike. Very versatile.
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Old 10-06-16, 08:56 AM
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I've been pondering purchasing this rack from Amazon and butchering it to mount on the mid fork eyelets. It's cheap enough that I won't feel to bad if it turns out to be a fail.
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Old 10-06-16, 09:05 AM
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Or try looking for a cheap Al rack at the thrift store or swap meet. You will probably cut off the mounting parts up top (or the rack will angle to far forward). On the Al racks you just drill a new hole in the top plate for a single flat bar that mounts to the central fork brake hole or fashion canti boss mounts as I did. Not pretty but they work.
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Old 10-06-16, 11:10 AM
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mdilthey
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
It looks great to me. Does it come with struts to be able to attach to mid fork braze ons? or at least a single flat piece of steel ribbon to attach to the center hole often found in forks? Thanks for sharing.
That flat piece of steel ribbon is there, and it was already bent to perfection for attaching to that center hole. I would not use this with mid-blade eyelets- you need a different rack for that.

I would not use this with panniers.

5-10lbs seems good, sleep gear is exactly what I intend to use it for. However, if I had a strap between the rack and handlebars for safety, nothing about the build quality looks like it would fail if I brought a 20lb turkey home from market once or twice....
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Old 10-06-16, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
5-10 how did you figure that?
? = guess? Looking for some feedback from the OP. What would be your guess for a minimal front rack? 10-20 lbs?
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Old 10-06-16, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
? = guess? Looking for some feedback from the OP. What would be your guess for a minimal front rack? 10-20 lbs?
How much does the rack weigh? My front rack is 1.5 lb, I wouldn't mind having a smaller one. I think I had a Blackburn of similar design a long time ago, held way more than 10 lbs. This would be just right for medium wt. packing.
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Old 10-06-16, 06:07 PM
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The old Blackburn high front rack indeed looked very similar to the Soma/Lucas rack in Max's picture. The main difference was that the Blackburn rack wrapped around the back of the fork crown and was supported by the fender bolt from the rear. That made it rigid enough for panniers. Wide enough to keep bags off tires. I used the Blackburn high rack back in the '80s. Mine is long gone but I found a picture of somebody else's...

https://bicyclebug.files.wordpress.c...budget-404.jpg

Here it is on my bike on a trip in 1983. It supported the weight of front panniers with a tent on top...

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Old 10-06-16, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Or try looking for a cheap Al rack at the thrift store or swap meet. You will probably cut off the mounting parts up top (or the rack will angle to far forward). On the Al racks you just drill a new hole in the top plate for a single flat bar that mounts to the central fork brake hole or fashion canti boss mounts as I did. Not pretty but they work.
Nice pic! Looks beautiful!
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Old 10-07-16, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
? = guess? Looking for some feedback from the OP. What would be your guess for a minimal front rack? 10-20 lbs?
Basically, there's no structural weight distribution on this thing. A good rack will have the struts strategically placed to distribute the load and keep the weight centered over the axle. This rack has two struts in a "V" shape and they can hold some weight, but mostly, they just keep everything in place.

So, I would not hesitate at all to put 10lbs in this rack. I had about 8lbs in it yesterday for a 20-mile ride, and it felt rock-solid. If I went and got a full grocery load, I'd probably wince a little, but I'd still put it in the rack.

That said, I would not, not, not mount panniers to it. It's not that kind of rack. Strap a drybag on? Sure. Basket? Absolutely. Pannier weight pulling from side to side over long distances - no, bad idea.
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Old 10-07-16, 01:11 PM
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Seems like a great accessory rack. The extra bottle, small bag etc. ( 6 pack)
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Old 10-07-16, 01:41 PM
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Any front rack should be overbuilt, given its proximity to the front wheel and the potentially bad result if it fails. Plus, it should be strong enough to carry at least a couple six-packs. One is not always enough.
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