What kind of front rack will work on my new Rodriguez?

This is a question that I get a lot these days. Our forks have the 180mm standard braze-on on them, but that standard is often ignored by front rack makers.

The short answer is: Any front rack will work on a Rodriguez if we are using our steel fork. We may have to put custom braze-ons on your fork (for a small fee) if your rack is not on the list at the bottom of this page. For custom rack braze-ons, we may request to have your rack here for the build so as to get it right.

For carbon fork and aluminum fork options, we can't really put custom braze-ons on them, so it's either the racks below, or some crazy clamps.

The long answer: I can't count how many times as I've typed that short answer in emails over the last two years. It's often followed by another volley of emails with folks who'd like a longer answer. For those of you who want the long answer, read on.

In the past, way back in the 1970's or so, there was no standard front rack. This meant that your rack either had to have a lot of crazy hardware and straps to hold it onto the fork, or, if you were having a custom builder make your bike, you could have them put braze-ons in appropriate places for your front rack.

Eventually (sometime in the 1980's it seems like) the choices narrowed to a few different racks that used approximately the same mounting position. I remember the Blackburn Lowrider specifically, but most of the other brands (Cannondale, Jannd, etc...) also got referred to as a 'lowrider' rack as well (pictured at the bottom of this article). This design worked for forks that had an eyelet on the dropout, and braze-ons on the fork blades approximately 180mm above that eyelet (see picture to the right). An attractive feature of the lowrider design was that it could mount onto a fork that only had the eyelets on the dropouts because it could be clamped onto the fork blade with easily hidden 'U' clamps. As a manufacturer, it was great to see some kind of 'standard' adopted in the industry so that we could all put braze-ons on our forks that would work for almost any brand of front rack.

Well, in the mid-1980's or so, Blackburn decided to mix it up a bit and make a 'custom lowrider' front rack. This rack eliminated the 'loop' that connected the left and right sides of the front rack, but required a different braze-on. This rack only worked on a bike with the right braze-ons, and there was no 'clamp-on' option. Soon, more rack companies followed suit, and the 'standard' began to weaken. For the most part though, 90% of front racks out there still worked with the 180mm standard, and that's what we stuck with for all of our 'non-custom' builds. Eventually, the 'custom lowrider' went away as an option and so did most of the copies. By the year 2000, we were back to the 180mm standard again and rarely saw anything different.

Back to the Future:
Now, we're seeing a resurgence of the creative front rack designs again, and along with it, the need for putting custom braze-ons onto the fork for proper mounting. There is no standard at this point anymore. Rack manufacturers are showing pictures on their websites of beautifully mounted front racks on forks that have the appropriate braze-on positioning, and it looks like there's some kind of standard. Well, there's not, and even within a single brand there will be several different braze-ons specifications for their front rack designs.

Not to Worry
At Rodriguez, we can make your fork work with any brand or model of front rack. If you don't see your rack on the list below, for a small fee, we'll have to do it the old fashioned way. That means just like the old days, we'll need to have your rack here to position the braze-ons during the build.

List of known compatible racks

These will work with the 180mm standard and require little or no modification. We have used all of these successfully on Rodriguez bikes with the standard set-up. I'm sure there are more, but these are known to work well.

Jandd Lowrider
This rack works very well for standard touring bikes and commuters. It's sturdy, fairly easy to mount, and a proven design. For travel bikes, this rack takes up a lot of room in the case. Also, because of it's design, it doesn't sit very level on the bike, so if that bothers you, go to the next option.

Tubus Tara
This rack works extremely well for travel bikes as it folds up flat for easy packing. Simply the best option for travel bikes as it will pack extremely small. It's very easy to install and remove, and sits level on the bike. Some panniers have a 'hook' style attachment at the bottom that doesn't always play well with the Tara. Keep that in mind when shopping racks and panniers. The Tara looks simple, but is kind of expensive, and that's the only drawback I see to this rack.

Tubus Nova/Ergo
Available in stainless steel (Nova) or alloy (Ergo), this rack is a heavier duty version of the Tara. It doesn't pack as flat as the Tara, and is quite expensive as well. This rack works with some panniers 'hooking systems' that the Tara will not.

Old Fashioned 'Lowrider'
Many copies of the original Blackburn Lowrider design exist. Like the original, they all work for the 180mm standard. If you have one these already, it should work on your new Rodriguez. We don't sell these any more, and they certainly don't pack 'small' in a travel case, but you can slap it right onto your new bike.

If you'd like to use a rack that is not pictured above (there are hundreds of them now), we'd be happy to make that work for you. It will more than likely require us to have the rack in our shop at the time of the frame build so we can make sure to get the braze-ons in the right place.