[The following guest post was written and photographed by our friend, Mel Hughes. —ed.]
By Mel Hughes
Nitto Mark’s Rack + Nitto PlatRack
My new Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen has given me too many opportunities to experiment and try to decide what types of racks and bags would best suit my needs. In particular, the front Porteur type racks were very attractive to me. My first addition was a Nitto Mark’s Rack. I found the design attractive but a bit small for the kind of things I wanted to carry back and forth to work, so I added a Nitto PlatRack extension to the Mark’s Rack to increase its carrying capacity. Both are constructed and finished in the high standard we all expect of Nitto. They are like chromo jewelry.
The Mark’s/PlatRack combo gives the owner a lot of flexibility. The extra-wide platform (16″ x 9″) is great for baskets, bags, and especially for Rivendell’s Sackville SlickerSack (though it makes maneuvering the bike in tight quarters a little cumbersome). The PlatRack can be removed quickly, leaving the Mark’s Rack in place for smaller, lighter loads or small bags like the Rivendell Sackville Trunksacks or Nigel Smythe Li’l Loafers. The Mark’s Rack can even be installed in the rear, if needed. The SlickerSack and PlatRack were designed for each other, but I would have to secure yet another bag on top to carry my laptop and office stuff. And I am still undecided about the odd shape of the PlatRack; I suspect that owning a SlickerSack would certainly improve my impressions.
Pass & Stow
I had admired the Pass & Stow rack that Alan has used on several different bikes. It was a more classical shape built on a bit heavier frame than the Nittos. I also found that there were at least two bag makers who had designed and produced bags specifically to fit the Pass & Stow (Freight Baggage and Swift). After consulting with Matt Feeney, who is Pass & Stow, I ordered one of the new three-piece racks in silver.
When I received the Pass & Stow, my first impression was of the industrial strength quality of the components. The platform of the Pass & Stow is 11″ wide x 12″ long, a more traditional rectangular shape with a raised rear package rail that extends the full width of the rack. This shape and dimension makes it easy to secure all manner of things on the rack. The right front support tube of the Pass & Stow is pre-drilled for dynamo wiring and the light mount has its own support tube designed to accept an M6 fastener. Both drop-outs have an extra set of mounting holes for fender mounting, if needed.
In use, I found the Pass & Stow to be a real work horse. Strapping a Wald basket on it, using a cargo net to hold my helicopter helmet bag, or packing a Freight Baggage or Swift bag with clothes and “stuff”, it carried my things effortlessly. The lack of adjustable rods makes it an extremely rigid rack with few critical parts to fail or be lost. I am really taken with the overall utility and strength of this rack.
If you decide to buy a rack like this, be prepared to wait a bit as you are dealing with a custom steelworker. Having said that, one of the great benefits of choosing a piece of equipment like the Pass & Stow is the pleasure of dealing directly with a craftsman like Matt Feeney. He was extremely helpful and patient with my questions and additions.