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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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:

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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.