12 February, 2009

Rackaleur?


A year or two ago we found a case of new-old-stock handlebar bag supports. They are a sort of combination rack and decaleur. A Rackaleur? I had one of these in my youth and really liked it. It allowed me use a TA bar bag on my old French racing bike. There were several version of these made, but I think the model in the photo was best. The original instructions show how the rackaleur works:



The rackaleur allows you to carry a traditional handlebar bag on just about any bike with a quill stem. Of course the weight is high and on the handlebars which is not ideal, but I've found that with light loads it's fine.

That case of new-old-stock rackaleurs sold out very quickly, but I kept one for myself. And I've been thinking that they should be made again. Is anyone interested?

70 comments:

reverend dick said...

10-4, bon ami.

C said...

An interesting design - reminds me of the Blackburn bar mounted water bottles from the 80's. One thing I'm not seeing is any sort of retention to keep it in place and stop it from bouncing around on rough roads. On the Blackburn cage the vinyl covered part that went over the bars and stems had more of dip to it and in that dip was mounted a small strip of metal with a tapped whole in the center. A simply thumb screw went into that whole and was tightened against the stem to keep the cage firmly in place. Not a bad design feature to incorporate. Much more elegant than wrapping a bungie cord around the head tube.

robatsu said...

Yes, I'd buy one, or perhaps several for the whole family, provided it worked well, rather than having to install front racks on all my bikes.

Anonymous said...

YES

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who is kind of wierded out by its crypto-medical appearance?
mb

ezra said...

An old cannondale handlebar bag I toured with had a similar support design yet used shock-corded straps to the fender eyelets on the fork to keep downward pressure on the bag and support bar to keep it all stable... - I'd like to see a demountable rack such as this especially if it didn't need the extra shock-cord retention...

Anonymous said...

Yes. I ride vintage racing bikes without eyelets for racks and this would work well and look good. A small sized bag to go with it would be nice too!

Anonymous said...

oui, absolutement!

erik said...

wonderful.

erik said...

maybe another model that allows the use of a rack, but provides an easy decaleur in lieu of a bolt-on model? I like most the weight on my M12 rack, but some stabilization would be great.

laowhy said...

looks great. but i don't really understand how it stays stationary. it looks as if the bottom end would swing into the bike.

Mr. Beattie said...

Yes, do bring it back. I think this sort of 'aleur saves a lot of hassle with front mounting racks and supports. Looks very handy indeed.

Gunnar Berg said...

They're heavy steel rod,which makes them...heavy. S/B tubular stainless maybe?

Dominic Dougherty said...

What sense does mounting a handlebar bag on the handlebars make? Handlebar bags are meant to be on the front rack.... wait... what?

Yes! Please bring these back!!

Gunnar Berg said...

laowhy,
the back of the rack hooks under the stem, then rests on top of the bars, cantilevering it out in front. (And I'm drawing pictures in the air with my hands to explain it.) It works.

bsk said...

Would be great if it would allow me to occasionally use my handlebar bag on my race bike. Perhaps it could be modified to work on a wide range of stems (quill variations, threadless) and bars (25, 26, 31, etc).

Anonymous said...

A wonderful product.

Back in Missoula, Montana in the 1970s just about every serious cyclo tourist used one with a TA HB Bag.
We would secure them with a small bungee going around the bottom headset cup or going down to the fork eyelets (as already mentioned).

The suggestion to do them in stainless tubing is awesome.

Keep up the good work VO!!!

Anonymous said...

"They're heavy steel rod,which makes them...heavy. S/B tubular stainless maybe?"

The bends are almost certainly too small in radius for tubular stock, not to mention the expense.

Tom said...

another vote in favor.

Anonymous said...

I used to use one of these in the 70's, and it works. Big caveat, though: it's pretty hard to mount with aero brake levers, because the cables near the stem get in the way. It might not even be possible. - Mark, CO

robatsu said...

If you weren't worried about supporting bikes with safety levers, you could probably shorten how far the mount is in front of the stem.

This would have two benefits.

The first would be shorter lever arm for the weight of the bag pivoting around the steerer axis. This is good.

The second would be that w/some clever geometry, it may be possible that if you cinched the handlebar straps around the rack and the bars, as the straps are tightened, it draws down on the mounting loop around the stem, sort of locking it in place.

Arthur said...

I hate to be a nay-sayer here, as I am in favor of most other of your VO ideas. I just see absolutely no logic for this... I would assume that anyone with a nice, serious handlebar bag (such as the VO Ostrich) would prefer a much better mount. It seems to call for attaching a quick, inexpensive bag. With said bags, there are so many of them available that have their own mounting mechanism and would cost (in all likelihood) less than this mount itself. From my practical perspective, it seems like retro for retro's sake. Feel free to disagree!

Le Cagot said...

I think this is good because you can use your bag on more than one bike, like on a fixie. I would still want a front rack and decaleur on a randonneuse or touring bike.

I have used a similar support with aero levers and it worked fine. Not sure about using it with brifters though.

Anonymous said...

Not interested! (for same reasons Arthur stated). Rather see the time go into VO crankset R&D!

Anonymous said...

Any plans to develop replica 'Twin Stik' shifters to go alongside this rackaleur?
mb

Anonymous said...

How about a detachable-faceplate quill stem with optional dual-purpose faceplates - headlight, decaleur, air horn, bottle cage, map holder?

If you want any of these things in that general area this would actually mean LESS visual (and actual) clutter, contrary to the popular perception of the removable faceplate. There is a systems integration thing going on that should please a "constructeur"... :-)

Probably slightly over the top, but it was a fun thought. And I must admit this was what inspired it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 16:41. Your idea excites me.
Think it's great!
Preston

patates frites said...

Another yes vote!

dW said...

Many years ago my partner now husband made a fitting for me to use with such a rack to allow me to prop a book or magazine while pedaling away on the wind trainer in the winter. It is a piece of thin plywood that is notched to slide into the horizontal slot in the "rackaleur", creating a level cantilevered platform that gently slopes up away from the rider/reader. Quite excellent. I am drawing pictures with my hands, too!

Lee said...

At first glance, I thought it was a Keith Haring tribute mount.

greatpumpkin said...

I got the last one of those from you in 2007 to replace the one I used to have for my Touring Cyclist Shop handlebar bag (the TCS bags were as good as anything made today and better than most). I have found only one drawback--it will not fit properly on anything but a traditional 7-shaped threaded quill stem. So I would like to see it made again, perhaps in two versions, one a replica and the other made to fit modern stems. I could bend it to fit my threadless stem bike, but then it wouldn't work on my other bikes. By the way, TCS also sold what I still think was one of the best rear carrier racks ever--I get many compliments on the one I have on my bike. I'd really like to see anything of theirs made again.

greatpumpkin said...

I got the last one of those from you in 2007 to replace the one I used to have for my Touring Cyclist Shop handlebar bag (the TCS bags were as good as anything made today and better than most). I have found only one drawback--it will not fit properly on anything but a traditional 7-shaped threaded quill stem. So I would like to see it made again, perhaps in two versions, one a replica and the other made to fit modern stems. I could bend it to fit my threadless stem bike, but then it wouldn't work on my other bikes. By the way, TCS also sold what I still think was one of the best rear carrier racks ever--I get many compliments on the one I have on my bike. I'd really like to see anything of theirs made again.

John D'oh said...

I have seen similar wire things, and used one for a while. They work well for their intended use, but they are also heavy. Bending stainless steel tubing is not difficult with the right equipment, but the solid ones would be stiffer.

I like the stem cap ideas presented here. Supergo used to sell a two-bolt cap that would hold a bottle cage, and one that would take a headlight or other bar mounted accessory. Sadly, Supergo was assimilated by the Borg before I got around to buying any.

Joel said...

Yes please. I got one the last time you had them up and would like a couple more.

Anonymous said...

I've got a couple of these. They hold the bag to high for my liking and you've got to cinch the bottom down somehow so they don't bounce around. Still, they're better than nothing. Combine with Rivendell's Silver hoop for a full quick-release baggage system!

garrett b said...

Yes!

Anonymous said...

I'd purchase one with an affordable handlebar bag.

Anonymous said...

sign us up for two...

-currently using the "serious" ostrich bag with vo front rack (every day)

p.s. a "serious" ostrich bag with a "serious" vo constructionist rack still flexes plenty. happy, but additional front-loading options will be purchased by this car-free household....and the old "strap a short bungee to hold it to the handlebars" is no worse than "strap a nylon strap to hold your ostrich on the rack."

Anonymous said...

I've got a name for the multi-purpose faceplate stem: le Modulor.

Anonymous said...

I better put mine up on ebay before VO floods the market ;-)

lee.watkins said...

YES! But make them very heavy-duty please. Stainless is already less strong than regular steel. It's already going to be heavy regardless, so you might as well make sure it can't be broken.

Anonymous said...

I would think a lot of people would find uses for them. . . come to think of it, I had an old Cannondale bag that had a mount like that. It worked fine, but had the two elastic straps. I guess we'd have to see if it needed the straps, if that could be addressed it would be a winner . . . because everyone would like to have a front bag for a sack lunch.

mw

Anonymous said...

I would think a lot of people would find uses for them. . . come to think of it, I had an old Cannondale bag that had a mount like that. It worked fine, but had the two elastic straps. I guess we'd have to see if it needed the straps, if that could be addressed it would be a winner . . . because everyone would like to have a front bag for a sack lunch.

mw

Spencer Salmon said...

I would totally love a rackaleur!!

rory said...

I ote in favor of this, and in all seriousness, I would be interested to see it done in titanium.

Gunnar Berg said...

A few thoughts:
-This could be made out of stainless tubing with reasonably small radii.
-Without getting into all that "modulus of elasticity" and "polar moment of inertia" B.S., rod is not necessarily much stronger than tubing. Rod is just tubing filled with stuff where it doesn't any good structurally.
-Stainless can be as strong as "regular steel". "Stainless" is a number of different alloys all having some chromium added. In addition you can add a bunch of other things to control hardness. Throw in a little carbon its hard - a bunch,
it's razor blades, etc.
-The above are all generalities, none of which I will defend.

Brian said...

Funny- I actually made one of these things for myself a couple years ago before I knew what a decalleur was.

I'd say yes, make them as anything that can make more bikes more functional is a good thing.

As someone else suggested, you'd probably need to make 2 versions, one for traditional quills and one for fat threadless stems...

Serge Gainsbourg said...

I would buy one, but only if it was designed to carry a pack of Gauloise and a copy of Le Fac Porno behind the bag in an easy to reach location.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd buy one also. I had one just like the one in the picture that I used on my '71-ish Gitane TdF. It was a bit springy, but was great for carrying along a 35mm camera on rides. The "give" helped keep the camera from getting messed up on rough roads. The old bag I had back then had a strap that rent around the head tube and reduced the tendency for the bag/rack to flip up over bumps.

john k novack said...

the rackaleur is nice, i've had a few of these over the decades.

now it can be told.

lately, i like to search for vintage "coach" leather bags, they made tons of them, uniformly high quality, danged beautiful, some happen to fit just beautifully as seat or handlebar,or racktop, or shoulder bags, and can be had for 30 bucks or less at second hand. matches my honey brooks just fine!

Steve said...

I had something like this on my Paramount back in the day. I loved the convenience of the handlebar bag. Then one day it broke and I had to remove it, and I was shocked to see how much it had affected the handling, and how badly. It put me off handlebar bags for 20 years.

Then I discovered front racks and decaleurs, and I'm back to handlebar bags. These don't hurt the handling, though.

Steve said...

My wife has one of these on her 1978-vintage Sekai 2500 Grand Tour bike. It holds an old Colorado Touring handlebar bag. One would think it is fairly unstable but the bag has a small elastic cord, hooked on two bottom-mounted D-rings, that passes behind the head tube and holds everything quite still. As noted, it does hold the bag up high and weighs a TON (solid steel rod!) but it a nice way of occasionally carrying a handlebar bag while allowing quick mount-dismount. If Chris could replicate it in an alloy rod, he would have the perfect solution. When you do this, sign me up for two of them.

Anonymous said...

Would the rack-a-leur also work as an antenna for my Radio Shack handlebar-mounted AM-FM transistor radio (and safety horn)?

I love to listen to Casey Kasem and the Top Forty Countdown as I roll along on my Team-in-Training group rides . . .

Pete said...

Bring back the Krebstar 2000 bicycle radio.

Anonymous said...

You could make a lot of money from having these made.
Don't do it.
This is a Gresham's law type
device.
It is suboptimal but easy.
I have used these and variants.
I wish I had known the pleasures
of a good rack and a decaleur
long ago.
These handlebar things
get the load high and out front.
The physics of the leverage there
are negative compared with low
and tight to the head tube.

This type of rack will cannibalize the decaleur and risk its re-extinction.

This type of rack leads people away
from fenders.

There are also issues gettng the
right bend for the stem-
newer stems are a different shape
from forged 7 stems. Angles are
variable.

jury-rigger said...

I would love to have one of these, provided that they can be made to work with cross brake levers, which seems to be the case.

I doubt this would cut appreciably into the demand for proper decaleurs. They may overlap, but anyone who's willing to pay for a better decaleur will continue to do so, whereas the rackaleur would appeal to those looking for an inexpensive and potentially short-term solution. I also like that the rackaleur can be moved from bike to bike.

meade said...

crypto-medical appearance? Good gracious...what ya been watching on tv?

John D'oh said...

Well... I thought it looked like a giant Gumby skeleton. It has been a long winter.

André Citroën said...

I have no interest in the contraption, but then I don't have a collection of road bikes without front racks. I do think you need to come up with a better design. It's not good enough to just reproduce something from the golden age of ballooning. There is a enough fashion-ering already.

Anonymous said...

As far as the rackaleur's semi-medical-apparatus appearance, may I suggest that it should be referred to as the "I.U.D. Rackaleur"

Marc said...

I had something like this years ago and it worked great. Who knows where it ended up after moving all over the country for 20 years. Despite the comments, I had no problem with it bouncing around, it seemed the weight in the bag was enough to anchor it. I would buy one simple because it allows one to use the same bag on several bikes without a permanent installation.

Ev said...

My favorite light-weight front rack is the Pletscher crown-mounted. It attaches to flat-crowned forks only with a bolt/wedge system on either side of the steer tube and it provides room for a front brake behind the load-bearing area. There's a small latch that pops up to keep your cargo off the brake and it comes with a bungee attached to the front so you can strap stuff down between the front and the latch. They still sell some at various online vintage shops. Here's a picture ...

http://www.yellowjersey.org/pletfr1.jpg

squig said...

I'd get one, unless you began adding a cable stop to the decaluers.
The latter would be my preference since it would be a nicer piece of equipment.

Anonymous said...

YES!!!!! and YES to the rear rack version that Rivbike has...

christopher lee said...

yes, please! this is a great solution for any cheaper bike or old ten speed frame and if the price was right, i'd recommend anyone wanting to gear up an older bike to this site and just say, "here's your solution!"

Euromancer said...

Funnily enough, I found a faceplate bottle mount adapter. Looks like you could easily kludge together some rackaleur-type thing that mounts to those holes.

Craig said...

Add me to the list of people that would buy.

paul said...

Yes please.I'm doing a few mods to my Montague Paratrooper for touring here in Australia and later on in Japan.No rack on front and no trailer (yet)but would love an ostrich bar bag or similar on front.Even for a smaller bag this looks ideal.

Micke N said...

Chris,
yes I want one. The rackaleur together with the Silver Hupe from Rivendell would be a great way to easy attach a small front and rear bag to my Starnord racer.

Michael from Sweden

Micke N said...

Chris,
YES I would love one. The rackleur together with the Silver Hupe from Rivendell would be an easy way to attach a front and rear bag to my Starnord (by Bernard dangre) racer.