12 May, 2006

Those Cute Little Mafac Racks

I'm glad to see recent interest in Mafac mini-racks.  These racks are not only adorable, but they're well made and effective, so long as your load is fairly small.

Of course, they do require that your bike have Mafac center pull brakes. But that's hardly a hardship. When I first started riding, the rule was, "Campy brakes for racing and Mafacs for touring." With modern pads Mafac brakes have superb stopping power and wonderful modulation. There are numerous models, most of which provide loads of reach and clearance for wide tires and fenders. They can be bought cheaply since so many were made and they will fit almost any bike. For many years the Mafac Racers were found on the cheapest gas-pipe clunker and on the finest constructeur specials. How many components can you say that about?

But back to the racks: the main complaints about them is that they don't mount level, they're very small, and they restrict fender clearance. Well they don't mount level; okay, fair enough. And they are small, but they are just perfect for supporting a handlebar bag. Which is what a front rack should do. They also have two thin bars that go under the calipers so clearance is restricted by a tiny amount. But my city bike has 27" wheels, it's made for 700s, and wide fenders-- there is still tons of clearance.

So if you want to spend $90 on a Nitto front rack, or a couple of hundred on a custom job, that's fine; I have. But I just bought my second new-old-stock Mafac rack for a lot less.

Here's a 1979 poster showing various Mafac brakes, quite a selection.


Jim G said...

What model of MAFAC brake do you have, that takes threaded pads???

Chris Kulczycki said...

That's the model S, which came in three diffrent reaches. I think this one is the medium or long reach, never measured. I'm told this model is common in Europe, but not many were imported.


Mike G. said...

Where do you find these racks for $12? I paid more than twice that for one on thebay.

Chris Kulczycki said...

I found it on E-Bay two weeks ago :<)


C said...

They will work on other brakes besides Mafac centerpulls. I had one of these racks mounted a Singer that had cantilevers.

Anonymous said...

While they're useless for doing anything else, these TA/Mafac racks are a good solution when you need to prop up a front bag. The main problem with all of the other decent racks you can get, including the Nittos, is that they require P-clamps unless by some random chance you have some threaded bosses. P-clamps on even a halfway decent bike are just gross. The Nitto M-12 rack is decent if you have cantis, but it sits up pretty high -- not sure they did the best job dialing the dimensions. In any case, these get the job done, are very elegant to boot, and having the bag tilted rearward slightly actually turns out to be a Good Thing.

Anonymous said...

Does the Velo Orange flashlight holder fit one of these TA racks?

Chris Kulczycki said...

If you go back to the post on the flashlight holders, you'll see a photo of one mounted on my TA rack. But I had to use a longer screw and a couple of nuts as spacers because the TA rack has that pretty teardrop shape.