Thursday, May 22, 2008

CETMA Rack for the Commuter

Even with the new road bike, I am still using my single speed mountain bike for most of my commuting, old habits die hard I guess. One of the problems I am still having is how to get all the shit I need on a daily basis (clothes, shoes, lunch, books, papers, laptop, etc.) to and from work. I usually use a messenger bag or backpack, but now that the weather is getting warmer, I am looking for a way to get all this stuff off my back. I thought of buying a rear rack and panniers, but instead decided on a front-mounted cargo rack made by Lane Kagey of CETMA racks in Eugene, Oregon. His 5-rail powdercoated rack seemed perfect for commuting; very utilitarian, simple, and able to withstand the day to day abuse that comes with riding. A front rack has many pros; the load is up front where you can get to it quickly if needed, and there is no issue with heel rub as there often is with rear panniers. I've been using the rack for about a month now, so I thought I'd post a few pics and comments:

The rack attaches to the handlebars and fork ends. The rack is hand-built by Lane, but the stays and hardware that attaches the rack to the bars appear to be cheap (and heavy) Wald parts that you'd find on a much cheaper rack. I wish Lane would fabricate some better hardware, because his work on the rack itself is top-shelf.

The 5-rail rack measures 11"x11", perfect for strapping on a backpack, 12 pack of homebrew, or a 5 year-old.

The galvanized stays are designed to attach to the axles, but I really wanted to utilize the eyelets on my forks so that I could still take the front wheel off without disturbing the rack. The solution was to use some chainring bolts (as spacers) and rack bolts to connect to the eyelets, and grind down the ends of the chainstays a bit to make room for the quick-release. Super custom.

It took some time to get used to having a load up front, and I am still searching for the perfect bag, but I like having access to everything while on the bike. The rack does add some weight to the front end, which can effect the steering while cornering, but I don't notice it much anymore.

In the future, I'd love to see Lane design some lighter weight hardware and stays, and this may seem minor, but I also wish the stays were powdercoated the same color as the rack. Overall, the CETMA racks seem almost perfect for commuting, the current design is practical, strong, utilitarian, and I do enjoy hearing "nice rack" from other cyclists.

Listening to: The Black Keys- Attack & Release


fern said...

a five year old. that was good. it looks like it would also be perfect for a milk crate. very nice rack!

JMH said...

My daughter loves to ride up front on it, I just need to figure out a way to strap her on so I don't run her over if she falls off. Bungies are good for bags, bad for kids.

Rambling Canuck said...

"Nice rack" indeed. Too funny. Glad to see the Stumpjumper still in action. You had that in Cheney, no? You might want to think about getting one of those water-tight kayaking sacks for a bag. My panniers are made of of the same material, with the roll-and-click closure, but you wouldn't want the plastic hooks of a true pannier getting in the way.