Short John Motobecane

Years ago I thought it would be a good idea to make a clamp-on front rack for bicycles.  The idea was to turn any bike into a Short John style cargo bike.

SCO Baker´s Bike / Truck

The main advantage of those bikes is that the load is over the front wheel (already stronger than the back wheel, and carrying a smaller share of the load) and the load doesn’t turn with the fork, so the fork has a lower “swing weight” and light-feeling handling.  I thought that it would be relatively simple to make a universally adaptable rack that clamped to the downtube and turned any bike into a big front cargo hauler.

Unfortunately for my plan, it turns out that having a smaller (usually 20″) front wheel is pretty damn important to that design.  Otherwise your handlebars interfere with whatever you’re carrying as you turn, unlike a regular old front-platform rack (like a cetma) which turns with the bars, and can actually use the bars as a helpful support and strap-on-point.

As you can see from this box mock up, once bars are there they are stuck pointing the bike straight ahead.


Anyways, I got to have some fun welding, which I hadn’t done in a while.

I used some pieces of an old motorcycle frame I found on the side of the road as the two main supports.  They looked like bullhorns at first.




I spent way too long fabricating a relatively weak platform.  It turned out that using a power drill plus an angle grinder as a makeshift router is rather painstaking, barely worth it.  Simple plywood would have been easier, faster, stronger, maybe even lighter.  Hindsight.  Learned to bend some tubing though.



Even with the swept back bars and super high stem (stylish, at least) the loads had to be pretty short.  I had the fun of custom bending an old brake lever to match the curve of the reverse-chopoff-bullhorns.

It did work well for carrying other bicycle frames:



I used it as a townie for a few months, it inspired feelings of gentlemanliness.  Eventually I gave it to a gypsy type who was badly in need of transportation.


Oh, last problem with that design: impossible to fit a front brake, except a disk/hub brake.