Introduction: Bicycle Front Gear Rack for Bikepacking
I wanted to take up bikepacking and needed some racks to carry my tent and sleeping bags and gear. I also didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars! As a former scoutmaster, I have a lot of old packpacks in my garage which nobody would really use anymore if they any kind of choice about it. Rather than throw them away or send them back to Goodwill where I found most of them in the first place, I chose one that had a sleeping bag "shelf" bent out at a 90 degree angle. i cut it off and mounted it to my handlebar and it's a great front gear rack.
- Old aluminum backpack frame with a 90 degree shelf
- Hacksaw and screwdriver
- Four conduit clamps - $0.58 each - link
- One 6" long piece of 2" PVC
- A couple feet of 550 parachute cord
Step 1: Step 1: Cut the Backpack Frame
Hold the backpack frame up to your handlebars and figure out where you need to cut. You want to save the bottom part with the sleeping bag shelf, with an inch or so above the middle solid crossbar. The crossbar will eventually sit just above the clamps and keep the frame from sliding down.
If the backpack frame fits your bike and will work, remove the straps and backpads, etc and use the hacksaw to cut through the two vertical rails of the frame, again just above the middle horizontal bar. If your frame had plastic caps at the top, you may be able to remove them and push them into the ends of the pipe at the “new top”.
Step 2: Step 2: Clamp It
Take two conduit clamps at at time, remove the bolts and slightly spread the clamps. Each looks like the letter "U". Turn two towards each other and rotate one 90 deg so that they fit together with the bottoms together like ><. To keep them together, put a bolt/nut through the matched up holes (that you would normally use to mount to a wall). Now the clamps face outward, one opens vertically to hold the packframe and the other opens horizontally to hold the handlebar. The clamps should each be inside the other and the bolt keeps them from seperating from one another.
Wrap a piece of innertube around the handlebar to avoid scratches and provide some friction. You could put contact cement/rubber cement to hold the innertube piece in place while putting the clamp, but it’s not necessary. Put one clamp around the handlebar and the other around the frame and replace the bolts. Repeat on the other side.
If you want to spray paint it before it gets attached to the bike, tighten the clamps on the pack frame and remove the clamps from around the handlebar..
Tighten everything once it’s all in the right place.
Note: You probably could simply lash the frame to the handlebar, but my bike has hydraulic blakelines and the clamps keeps the frame far away enough.
Step 3: Step 3: Brace the Bottom
Angle the rack like you want it and then measure the distance diagonally from the center of the rack to the bottom of the head tube.
You want to fit a piece of PVC that will brace the bottom of the rack and keep it from swinging down under the weight of your gear. Cut a piece of PVC about a ¼” longer than you measured. Notch the top of the PVC at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock a quarter inch down and big enough for the rack to rest in.
Prop the PVC against the head tube, tie the cord securely about the frame and pass the cord through the PVC around the head back up the PVC around the bottom of the rack, back down through the PVC and around the top of the fork - It all needs to be very tight, and tie it off securely.
The PVC should prevent the rack from moving down and the cord will keep the rack and the PVC from moving up or sideways or anyway.
Step 4: Step 4: Make It Safe-ish
Pad anything sharp and that sticks out. Don’t put too much weight on it. In cold weather the PVC could become brittle, so maybe something else would be better there. You could add a piece of pipe insulation or pool noodle for padding if necessary..
Disclaimer: Proceed with caution, not designed or built by an engineer, use at your own risk, test it before you need it, etc., etc
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