09 September, 2011

Racks


We've seen a lot of interest in the VO camping racks so I thought I'd post a couple of more photos. These are prototypes and the attachment points will be shifted a bit on the production versions. The rear rack will also be a little taller. Note that the front rack has an integrated decaleur.

I'd also like to answer a few oft asked questions about our racks.

Why don't you make aluminum racks?

That's easy. They break suddenly due to metal fatigue if you use them long enough. Aluminum might be okay on a city bike where the rack is used only occasionally, but a broken rack is the last thing you want on your loaded touring bike when 300 miles from home. By the time you make an aluminum rack that's beefy enough it weighs about as much as a tubular steel rack and looks like construction scaffolding.

Why doesn't VO offer painted or powder-coated racks (or fenders)?

Painted racks may look nice when new, but it only takes a couple of months for the paint to get scraped and worn and look awful. After all, you're hanging panniers on your racks and strapping all kinds of stuff on top. Powder coating is tougher than paint, but it still scratches and wears off. Our stainless steel racks are hard to scratch and any scratches are easy to polish out.

Is stainless steel better than chrome plated steel?

Chrome plated 4130 steel is a little lighter for the same strength, but every well used chrome plated rack I've seen has some chrome worn off and ugly rust spots. Look at those classic touring bikes from Europe. Most have chrome plated racks that need to be re-chromed. And re-chroming is now ultra expensive. So we prefer stainless.

Why does the rear constructeur rack bolt to the rear fender?

Because that's the way the Constructeurs did it. Also, it makes for a really clean attachment and prevents any rattling between the fender and rack while getting the rack as low as possible. Our new rack also attaches to the seat stay bosses or canti-studs.

29 comments:

Christopher said...

Looks nice!

Anonymous said...

The racks are both lovely, and are clearly the result of much hard work by both the designers and the manufacturers. With such beautiful racks, I hope you're able to go the extra mile and develop a more attractive attachment solution for the rear rack; the current multi-holed piece seems more appropriate to an Erector Set than a classically styled bicycle.

Nitto/Riv offer an elegant solution of rods and clamping bolt

VeloOrange said...

The Nitto rod system is elegant and clean, but it would add about $25-$30 to the cost of the racks and it's rather heavy. We did test it and ponder it for many weeks.

Eventually we decided on our flat strut system because it's lighter, less expensive, and maybe more versatile.

Anonymous said...

I hate to judge from one photo, but the flat struts really are kind of a turn off. Maybe you could offer an optional Nitto style rod mounting kit. A true constructeur rack is/was built for an individual bike so I realize there has to be some trade offs to make a one size fit all model. Very nice work!

Anonymous said...

Absotootly brilliant! Thanks for doing this. Now, can you please give us a guesstimate on the prices?

dwainedibbly said...

I agree with the other commenters who dislike the flat struts on the rear rack. Please offer an alternative as an optional extra part. Please don't take this the wrong way (because I know everyone at VO pours themselves into your products) but as a loyal VO customer who wants to see you succeed, to my eye it's really quite ugly. I was considering this rack to replace the constructeur rack on my Polyvalent, but I'm having serious second thoughts.

ekr said...

Nice!!!
I like your changes, it makes the racks more usable.The other racks were a bit small, cute, but small.

Joshua said...

I agree, I dislike the "erector set" style hardware, but it appears at first glance that one could easily adapt the available nitto struts and bolts to mounting this rack. If people want fancy, they can find their own way. Isn't that half the fun of wrenching?

Justus Robert Gunther said...

The racks look great! Incidentally so does that bike is that a custom frame or one of the new polyvalent frames?

Justus Robert Gunther said...

The racks look nice and definitely unique when compared to other options.Incidentally is that frame a custom build or one of the new polyvalent frames?

Anonymous said...

+1 (or is that -1?) for the comments on the flat struts. They completely undercut the elegance of the racks themselves, plus greatly restrict how the number of possible positions. The advantage of the Nitto/Riv/Tubus systems is that the perfect adjustment can be had. At the very least, offer this system as a separate kit; you'll see a lot of buyers.

Anonymous said...

Very nice stainless racks , but I agree with most everyone else. I think that the flat struts on the rear rack ruin the entire look and will be a deal-breaker for many.
Allan Pollock

Eric said...

Regarding the attachment for the rear rack: I complained about the previous configuration, and I think you guys have solved it very elegantly! Like the others, I don't care for the flat bar, but now I have the option of easily customizing the attachment to my liking, or of using your hardware to attach it to the canti studs, brilliant! Very well done, I say :-)

David said...

I like the flat struts, for their simplicity and versatility, and I appreciate your desire to keep the cost down. And they look fine. If we're offering opinions.

Anonymous said...

The flat, multi-holed piece would be a deal breaker for me; perhaps they look better in real life, though.

On the grounds of aesthetics and function I'm more concerned by how far forward the front rack is sited, quite the gap between headtube and decaleur.

Perhaps there will be "Grand Cru" racks in the future to tidy things up?

Luke said...

Being a poor student, I appreciate your diligent efforts to keep the cost down, especially in the face of rising materials and import costs, but I have to agree with many of the other commenters, the system employed by Nitto is both more aesthetically elegant and also appears to be capable of a more "custom" fit on a wide range of bikes. I for one would not hesitate to pay $20-$40 dollars more to retain that option.

Cheers

Peter said...

I have a functional beef with the flat strut, rather than an aesthetic one. I've recently attached a Bruce Gordon rear rack to my frame (not an official touring frame, so I had to use P-clamps). Bruce uses the flat/twisted steel struts, and I find that the length/shape of the strut and the fact that they're attached to P-clamps means that the straddle cable to my centerpulls is just barely squeezing into the gap. I'm planning to replace the flat struts with Nitto or Tubus tubular struts, just to open up a little more space.

Offering a rod option for an extra charge, or referring them to a Tubus or Nitto source for one, would be a nice customer service gesture for people that need them for fitting purposes.

Not that I don't think the rods are nicer aesthetically. 'Cause they are.

Web said...

If I'm being honest, my first thought when seeing the rear rack was, "Wow, that attachment is seriously ugly - I hope that's temporary".
Every photo I've seen of the rear rack has been beautiful - definitely one of the nicest looking racks I've seen. I mean this only as constructive criticism but the strut style attachment heavily undermines the elegance of that rack.

Anonymous said...

While it makes sense that a paint or powder coating would wear off, I have been using an (ugly) black Tubus rack for years and the finish is still fine. The rack has endured many long, wet Portland winters. Perhaps it is anodized rather than powder coated.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so what's wrong with the flat struts? I feel like I missed something.

Anonymous said...

What price point are we looking at here?

Anonymous said...

Obviously the aesthetics of the flat bar struts are up for debate, but at what weight limit are the struts necessary? Or, how well will the fender alone support heavy loads? Maybe we're all used to heavy struts, because major manufacturers haven't specced heavy-duty fenders for bikes like this in our lifetimes? Maybe the support of the fender is sufficient for most purposes?

Anonymous said...

I expect you should be ordering some stainless flat stock to sell as custom struts, to be custom drilled, like honjo fenders. Have the Meccano struts as stock for those who don't care, and for those who do, two pieces of customisable flat stock in the same finish, for an additional $8-15.
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the idea of flat bars to attach the rear rack, but the multiple holes and slots aren't very attractive.

On the other hand, I don't think much of the asthetics of the Nitto rod system either.

How about an option of plain undrilled bars for those who want to do a perfectly customized installation for themselves?

Rich F.

Jim G said...

The front lowrider frames aren't detachable?!? That seems like a huge oversight.

Peter said...

If I remember correctly, the arguments detachable lowrider racks were:

1) Higher fabrication cost
2) Nitto already makes them

Jim G, I completely agree that detachability is a huge plus. But I don't think it's an oversight that the VO prototype doesn't have them.

For me, the current version of the Nitto Campee racks are just about the Platonic ideal. You can do loaded touring with full panniers suspended low enough and far enough back/forward to maintain stability and avoid kicking the bags. You can strip the lowrider racks off and do credit card touring with a handlebar/saddle/rack bag, and have an elegant constructeur look. And there's enough range in the brake mountings that you can bolt to cantilever or centerpull pivot bolts, a sore point for me since so few racks have any centerpull mounting option at all.

Of course, they're chromed instead of stainless, but you can't have everything. And they're expensive.

If I could have my fantasies fulfilled, I'd get a straight clone of the Campees with removable lowriders, but in stainless, and for half the price. I do not expect to get this, and I wouldn't think VO would do it. If VO were to modify the current design, I would have liked to see the rear rack with the same design as the front, for symmetry.

At the moment, the big outstanding issue is the pricepoint.

dwainedibbly said...

I find it strange that the front rack doesn't take advantage of the lowrider braze-ons on the fork. Still, I like it. It's a good alternative to a porteur rack for a low-trail bike intended for front loads.

And I'm starting to accept the flat plate mounting system on the rear rack. A little. So, I have to ask a question:

If someone wanted to replace a V-O rear contructeur rack with the new one, would the fender holes match up?

ablejack said...

/anyone really interested in tubular rather than flat rear rack stays can get them pretty cheap and cut them for a perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the previous posts. The flat strut would be a deal breaker for such a beautiful rack. I would purchase this rack in a heartbeat if the rack would be able to mount to the canti bolts using the Nitto Bolt/rod option. I've been using the Nitto Front Campee (lowrider) for around 4 years now and have endured many rough roads and long tours with it. I can attest that it is durable enough for the long haul. As with any bolt on the bike, it requires you to check and tighten as needed but other than that they're bomber. Still holding out to purchase a new rear rack and will wait until the new VO Camper rack debuts. I've decided that my Surly Nice Rack is just too burly for what I need it for and don't want to drop $200 on another Nitto rack. Please be in stock by summer touring season! ;-)