Double Down Low

I installed one of Matt Feeney’s Pass & Stow racks on my LHT back in April, and after using it for a few months I’m convinced it has to be the best aftermarket front cargo rack available. It’s solid, just the right size, relatively lightweight, and super attractive. Besides the obvious benefits that come with adding at least 100% more carrying capacity to a bike, a front rack also makes it possible to balance a load front and rear which improves stability.

An added plus is that Matt offers an optional light mount that bolts onto the rack. The mount is convertible to accept either a Euro-style headlight like a Schmidt or Busch & Müller, or a clamp-on U.S.-style headlight, which in my case is a Fenix L2D. What Matt doesn’t mention on his website is that the rack comes with braze-ons for mounting a light on either side, so it’s possible to order an extra light mount and run double lights. I did exactly that. Now I have a pair of L2D’s mounted on the rack, and my usual “be seen” light, the B&M Ixon, on the handlebar. (My Ixon is the older model with the wide angle lens; it makes an awesome “be seen” light when mounted high and pointed straight forward.) This is a killer set-up, though I do plan to eventually add a dynamo hub and replace one of the L2D’s with a Schmidt Edelux as my primary light. More info below…

Pass & Stow
Pass & Stow Review
Busch & Müller
Fenix L2D

14 Responses to “Double Down Low”

  • Hercule says:

    The vogue for front racks that mount the load above the front wheel, on the fork, seems to be a particularly American one – I must admit to some suspicion of putting a load above the front wheel that’s also subject to the vagaries of steering. Most European bikes either go for front low riders, keeping the mass at or below axle height, or have frame-fitted racks that don’t affect the steering (like old fashioned butcher’s or delivery boy’s bikes).

    My Moultons have front frame-mounted racks, but I must admit that I rarely use them – and if I do, I only keep light but bulky loads on the front (like sleeping bags and such).

  • Alan says:

    The cool thing about the Pass & Stow is that besides providing a nice wide platform on top, it also accepts standard touring-style lowrider panniers on both sides.

    Alan

  • A Bike Commuter says:

    “The vogue for front racks… seems to be a particularly American one.”

    I think I must disagree on this one. Have you checked any photos of French delivery bikes from almost any time in the 20th century? They universally used front racks. Maybe it’s just a case of what’s old is new again, or maybe it’s a case of using a time-tested solution.

    At any rate, the P&S racks are magnificent if pricey. If you are looking for the same functionality with a slightly lower price of admission, check out the CETMA racks. No matter what you choose, however, you can sleep better knowing that a rack will increase the utility of your bike more than you can imagine.

  • Andy K says:

    pricey – that’s all I got to say. This makes something like the xrtracycle seem like a bargain.

  • Lush says:

    Yes, I have to disagree with Hercule as well. If you do some research on the porteur bike in Paris you’ll see that they were always fitted with a front rack. I have a P&S rack on the way from Matt for my new Kogswell P/R. The P/R (porteur/randonneur) is modeled on the Parisian bikes. Pics here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lushmojo/sets/72157620927931213/

    Will update as soon as the rack arrives this week or next. Really looking forward to it based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere.

  • Alan says:

    @Andy K

    From one perspective, $250 for a rack is a lot of money, but in my case, my LHT replaced a car that was costing me at least $8000 per year operate, maintain, and pay for, so the price of a P&S cargo rack is miniscule in the larger scheme.

    Regarding the Xtracycle Free Radical – it’s an awesome product, as is the Surly Big Dummy. Longbikes do have their limitations though. The extended wheelbase of longbikes makes them problematic for multi-modal commuting because they won’t fit in bike lockers or on many bus racks. They can also be cumbersome in tight quarters; in this they remind me of long-wheelbase recumbents.

    A high-quality rack will last many years and is a sound investment for someone like myself who needs the cargo hauling capacity but also needs a compact bike that plays well with transit facilities, takes up as little space as possible while parked, and handles well in tight quarters around pedestrians.

  • Alan says:

    @Hercule

    I don’t mean to pile on here, but just for the record, I haven’t had any problems carrying relatively heavy loads on the fork.

    Alan

  • Russ says:

    The Fenney Pass & Stow is a beautiful rack, but I agree with Hercule. I mounted the Huge Wald basket from Rivendell over the front wheel of my older Raleigh and found the handling was negatively affected enough by a couple of bags of groceries that I removed it. I now use folding wire baskets hanging from the rear rack where a heavy load does not affect handling so much.

  • Lush says:

    Russ, I think Matthew Grimm at Kogswell has something to say about how front loads work with the fork. I’m a novice, but it seems that if you have the “wrong” fork then handling will definitely be affected negatively.

  • Alan says:

    The photo is circa 1955 – nothing new here. Lush is right; the particulars of front end geometry are important when carrying a load.

    OT – Those cobbles look excruciating… LOL.

  • Scott says:

    @ Russ

    Did you give the front basket a long trial period? My first few times with a heavy-ish load in a front (Wald) basket seemed pretty unnatural and even unsafe. But I’ve grown accustomed to it now, and have no problems. It’s just a different feel.

  • donald stewart says:

    remember those steel strap baskets we used to carry our newspapers in yikes! Those affected handling even when empty but we all used them until about 1966. I’m not recommending just reminiscing. It’s amazing what one can get used to but that doesn’t make it good.

    donald

  • Mohjho says:

    Paul Component Engineering out of Chico, Ca makes an excellent rack similer to the Pass & Stow. I agree with others that a load over the front wheel gets rather awkward. I like it low and behind the saddle.

  • Alan says:

    @Mohjho

    The Paul Flatbed is another nice one. I considered purchasing one, but the P&S offers the advantage of also taking panniers, which the Paul doesn’t. I also prefer tubular cromoly to aluminum for racks (the Paul is Aluminum) – it’s a tougher material that will better withstand the rigors of carrying heavy loads.

    I think it’s important to balance a load front and rear if possible. If I can avoid it, I never just attach a heavy load to the front rack. I mostly use the front rack for overflow when the load is too heavy or bulky for the rear panniers alone.

 
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