Last October I biked up to a football tailgate party at my Alma Mater with a swinging musette bag full of craft brew cans. As we tipped our cans to our favorite team and regaled college days of yore, the awkwardness of carrying beer in a bag bothered me. I could only think of how I needed a better way to “enjoy” my riding. I needed a beer bike.
All of my bikes to date had a purpose. Mostly for going as fast as my Masters level legs could pedal them, sans cargo. I recently handed down my 1990 Rock Hopper grocery bike to my growing son, and needed something to replace it. The lure of the “slow ride” had secretly been set. True to my lightning fast decision making, in two-ish months, I pulled the trigger and texted a bike shop owner in Phoenix.
“Joe, I need a Surly PugSS, 2 Salsa Carry Anything cages, and a bike bell. Full retail.”
“Is this still Mark? Seriously?”
He knew my previous ways. Although my most recent exploits involve Grifos and gravel, I was still a leg-shaving, matching kit wearing, espresso drinking, embro-huffing roadie. Intervention time. In a few weeks, I was rolling fatty-style, and actually smiling as I rolled. For the uninitiated, the Carry Anything cage perfectly holds a 32oz beverage vessel. With one cage mounted on each fork leg, I was ripe for such choice trail comments as, “Nice jugs, Bro,” etc. Game On. Time to slow down and enjoy the ride.
But I still sat in the conundrum about carrying more stuff. A couple of 32oz growlers are great and all, but I still couldn’t carry my groceries home. Fatbike forks do not accept normal front racks due to their 135mm axle spacing. Rear racks can work, and a quick interwebs search revealed many varied workarounds for making a rear rack fit the fork of a fat bike, but I could not find what I was looking for.
In my mind, proper rack platform sizing required the ability to hold two 6-packs of “soda,” plus have a receptacle for a beverage container that did not reduce the cargo carrying capabilities within the top rail. In a world of handmade, bespoke, steel-is-real, one-off bicycles, I finally put pencil to paper and stopped asking what I could get and told myself what I needed to make.
I know a guy. A coworker of mine is a jack-of-all-trades and handy with a TIG welder. I have built a number of devices from wood in my days, but never anything involving fire and metal.
“Mock it all up with some stuff from around the garage, or at least make some detailed drawings with measurements and we can start bending metal and cracking a torch,” Darren told me.
Okie dokie. Visualize the concept: a low rider bar for carrying panniers, a flat deck supported in three dimensions that won’t fall over when side-loaded, a red solo cup holder.
Measurements on paper are nice numbers to reference, but when we got right down to the business of clamping and bending 1/4″ steel tubing, the real life form took shape against a cardboard scale drawing made from TLAR (That Looks About Right) engineering concepts.
The magic happened, however, when we clamped the 2-D flat, bent parts together on the bike and started tacking them all together. Frame supports bolted to fork bosses, then a rack tray tacked to the supports. IT’S ALIVE !! This isn’t just an aspiration in my head anymore. Removed from the fork, it held together on its own, structurally sound. It actually looked like something.
Originally I planned to powder coat the finished rack to match my Pugsley’s “Grape Soda” sparkly purple. But as I cleaned up the finished welds with a grinder and some Scotch-Brite pads, the luster of the stainless steel tubing shone through. Rustic, slightly unfinished. TLAR. Back in my garage with the finished frame, I still needed to make a deck for holding the groceries and, more importantly, a red solo cup. Searching through piles of odds-and-ends that would come in handy some day (I know you all have them), I found the wooden slats from a broken folding chair. JACKPOT!
After a couple hours of hammering, mitering, coping, and filing, MY new deck rest securely on my new, metal, custom, handmade fatty rack. MY rack! MINE!
The only function left to test is the pannier carrying capability of the low rider bars. But I don’t have any front panniers, so … AHEM!! But this thing can carry the groceries, or beverage six-packs and a red solo cup, or a beautiful pink box filled with delightful goodies made from egg yolks, shoogar, and other ingredients. No more one-handed, wobbly cargo canal rides, no more swinging musette bags. Just slow rides and miles of smiles.
“Nice rack, Dude!”
Thanks. I made it myself, with a little help from my friends.