Author Topic: Front rack on a carbon fork?  (Read 6150 times)

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Offline peterharris

Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 13, 2011, 09:04:51 pm »
A year and a half ago, I bought the first bike I've had since college. I assumed I'd just be interested in using it for fitness and general riding around so I got an aluminum-frame hybrid with carbon forks. I joined a bunch of friends last October for a weekend-long "credit-card" tour - bought a rear rack and smaller panniers for that trip. I had a fabulous time and I think I'm hooked. I want to do my first solo trip this summer (4-5 days) and I'll need a front rack and larger panniers for the rear as well. The panniers are no problem, it's the rack that I have questions about.

Should I really be using a proper touring bike that can easily accept front racks? Probably, but it's not in the budget. I can swing a new front rack and rear panniers but a whole new (or used) bike is out of the question right now. I've done some reading and have asked the place where I bought the rear rack so I sort of know the "official" answer but I'm hopeful I have options - is it at all possible to somehow adapt a front rack to work with carbon forks? I've seen adapters and clamps that help a front rack fit front forks that either don't have fittings for mounting or don't have them in the right place. But in every case there's a warning that says NOT to use them on carbon forks. I do understand that over-tightening clamps could crush the carbon forks. But is there no way at all I can make this work?

I'd appreciate your advice and help. Thanks!

Offline Susan

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 01:42:25 am »
Hi Peter,
Tubus Smarti is the solution, mounted on brake mounts and front axle:
        http://www.tubus.com/en/lowrider/smarti

Happy trails!  Susan
 

Offline peterharris

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2011, 07:44:25 am »
Susan - thank you!

The dealer I bought my other rack and panniers from doesn't appear to carry the Smarti. Sounds like that's exactly the one I need - and no need for special clamps, etc. I appreciate the info. And my rear rack is a Tubus - love it.

Offline DaveB

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2011, 09:50:27 am »
Does your fork have cantilever or V-brake mounting bosses?  The rack Susan referenced requires them as mounting points. 

Offline briwasson

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2011, 10:27:24 am »
You could also buy a new or used steel touring fork and just switch out your carbon fork when you are going to tour. You'll need a second crown race to fit your headset, and you'll also need to switch over your front brakes.

Offline peterharris

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2011, 12:20:16 pm »
DaveB: the bike has V-brakes so it should work unless there are some nuances about the particular set-up of my brakes/bosses. I've been to the Tubus site and the photos they show of the Smarti installation shows V-brakes.

briwasson: I had been thinking along the lines of permanently replacing the carbon fork so I wouldn't have this problem but actually hadn't thought about buying a steel (or even aluminum) fork and swapping it out for tours. A steel touring fork would have the advantage of all the mounting points I'd ever need, I guess! The bike is a Trek 7.5FX. I'm not sure but I imagine I could buy the fork for a 7.3FX which is aluminum. I bet the fork and headset dimensions and brake/boss set-up are identical to the 7.5FX. Could be a good compromise.

Thanks again for the help!

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2011, 02:37:15 pm »
So you have fender braze-ons.  You could fit a Constructeur Front Rack to your bike, too.
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Offline RussSeaton

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2011, 10:29:50 pm »
Do you really need a front rack and front panniers for a 4-5 day trip?  Long ago, people toured with everything on the rear rack.  No front panniers were used.  Its definitely better when heavily loaded to have four panniers.  But you can get by with just a rear rack and rear panniers.  Maybe add a handlebar bag too.  Pack as light as possible.

Offline cgarch

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 12:17:52 am »
I've been faced with the same dilemma. Woundup, probably the best carbon fork manufacturer around, does make a CF fork for mounting a rack, in addition to v-brake and a disk brake mount. It's on my shopping list but going to have to wait until I have an extra $650 around - at least for the tandem version. I have a Tubus rack mounted on the rear of our tandem. The seat stays are around 17mm dia. and we've had no trouble with about 35 lbs of gear. Will get rack mounts added next winter. YMMV

Craig

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2011, 09:38:52 am »
Do you really need a front rack and front panniers for a 4-5 day trip? 
It might be a load-distribution issue (I'm just guessing about that).  The FX bikes (and most modern, "revisionist" geometries) tend to be heavily biased to the rear. 
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Offline Susan

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2011, 02:22:51 am »
Do you really need a front rack and front panniers for a 4-5 day trip?

If I'm camping, I carry just about the same load on a multi-week cross country tour as I do when I'm out for 4-5 days.
I find that distributing part of the weight onto the front wheel gives me better traction and a smoother ride, particularly when it's raining.   
Susan 

Offline peterharris

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 03:32:32 pm »
Great input, everyone, and I do appreciate it. Since I think I'm hooked, I view this 4-5 day trip this summer as a prelude to longer trips in the future ... call it a shake-down cruise, if you will. I plan to tack this 4-5 bike tour onto the beginning or end of a 4-5 day hiking trip in the White Mountains in NH. Since the far eastern leg of the Northern Tier route goes right through Conway, NH - about 10 miles from where I'll be staying - it seems like a natural fit.

I see this eventually morphing into 7-10 day trips (and maybe one day after I retire, a cross-country trip) so I'm considering buying gear now that I can use in the future, too. That said, I suppose If I get that serious about bike touring I'll probably get serious about buying a more suitable touring bike. But in the meantime, I need to make do with what I can use or adapt for my existing bike. I'd like to buy good stuff now and be able to use it indefinitely.

So far, the Tubus Smarti looks like it could work.

Thanks again.

Offline rvklassen

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 03:50:40 pm »
I'm not sure but I imagine I could buy the fork for a 7.3FX which is aluminum. I bet the fork and headset dimensions and brake/boss set-up are identical to the 7.5FX. Could be a good compromise.

Thanks again for the help!

While that would work from a functional point of view, one reason that carbon forks are pretty much the first thing to go carbon on an otherwise aluminum frame (meaning the first thing to upgrade) is that the ride improves significantly.  I wouldn't choose to tour on a pure aluminum frame with an aluminum fork - too stiff, too much road vibration transmitted into the hands.  While a steel fork will add significantly more weight than moving to aluminum from carbon, it won't degrade the ride nearly as much, if any.

Offline peterharris

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2011, 09:42:06 am »
Good thought, rvklassen!

I did check the Trek website again and have discovered their 7.2FX is aluminum frame with a steel fork w/lowrider mounts! I am assuming - although it's not necessarily fact - that since these bikes are all in the same "family" the frames are all the same from a geometry/dimensions standpoint. I'll check with my LBS. It could be that this is a simple switch! Potentially solves a lot of issues.

Offline pedaler

Re: Front rack on a carbon fork?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2011, 02:07:30 am »
I'd follow Ross's suggestion, travel light.  I'll be doing a camping trip this year on the Sierra Cascades route with only rear panniers and a bar bag.  I used to use front panniers but stopped that years ago.  Assemble all you think you'll need and leave half of it at home.  save money and more importantly effort.  Those hills will be a breeze!

P