Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Surprise from Taiwan; the Ducas "Bicycle/City Bike front Steel Carrier"

The Ducas rack even comes with a bag!

I've been toying with the idea of putting a "Rando" style front rack on my new Mercian lately. However, there was a problem, my Mercian came with cantilever brakes and the fork crown had no hole where one would insert a brake bolt on a conventional bike. I wanted to keep the installation clean, so I intended to install a rack using the cantilever brake mounting bolts to secure the arm, as in the Nitto M12 or Velo Orange Pass Hunter. Unfortunately, both of these require the hole in the crown, and I couldn't bring myself to drill the crown so I searched for a long time. The V/O Randonnneur rack has a metal tang that would work with the front fender bolt, but it requires brazed-on eyelets or worse, "P-clips" stuck on your fork. I finally found a rack that may work on Amazon, from a company on Taiwan, Ducas, who seem to be pretty new. They offered a cantilever mounted rack with a tang bent for fit on a brake bolt, but it looked like it could be modified to fit my bike. Best of all, the price was $21 shipped! I figured it was worth gambling on at that price!

 Ducas' shipping dept needs some help!

Ordering through Amazon was pretty routine, although Ducas does state on their page that it will take several weeks to be shipped. I didn't worry about it but apparently Amazon did as they threatened to cancel the order after a while since Ducas hadn't shipped in a timely manner.  A day or so after the Amazon note came Ducas' announcement that the item shipped! Anyway the rack arrived via Taiwan airmail in not so attractive packaging, (see photo above). Fortunately, the rack was not scratched! 

 The price of economy!

Well, the rack itself is not anywhere near Nitto or even V/O quality. It seems rather heavy, the quality of the welding is so-so, I've pictured the worst of them. They seem strong enough, just not very pretty.

 A view of the rear tang which I modified.

Despite these quality lapses, the rack is a decent example of this style rack at an uber-affordable price! The view above shows the tang that I would have to bend to work with my fork's configuration. It turned out to be a fairly simple job, I simply put the tang into my bench vise and pressed it flat. The metal bent pretty easily  and the finish was too badly marred, I did note a few small flakes of chrome were lost.

The not-so-perfect fit on the Mercian.

I then attempted to fit the rack to my new Mercian. As shown in the photo above, you can see the rack does not level out properly, and the vertical part rubs the brake cable. Definitely not optimal! This was after I had already bent the tang a couple of times to make it fit. I decided that maybe this was not the rack for this bike.

I thought that maybe this would be more appropriate on my Surly LHT, so I gave it a try...


By fitting the tang to the "Daruma" bolt which fixes the front fender to the bottom of the fork crown, the rack fit onto the LHT almost perfectly! (I think the quality level of this rack may be a little more in line with the Surly too).

My next project!

With my new Rando rack now fitted to the LHT, I can now begin planning my next project, converting my old Rivendell/Carradice "Boxy" handlebar bag to use on this rack. I will have to add a strap or two to the bottom of the bag, and one to the back in order to secure it to the rack. 

Stay tuned!

Update-07/13/2014-- I just checked on Amazon, the price for the Ducas as of 07/13/2014 is now $58!!  you can get a Nitto M12 currently  for around $65 shipped, so I don't think these guys are gonna sell a lot of these now!! Incidently, I finally got around to modifying the Rivendall/Carradice Boxy Bag, it's currently on my Mercian atop a Nitto M-12. More about that later...

Mercian with Nitto M12 and Carrradice Boxy Bag