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Break your front rack

How to solve a broken rack when you're on the road

Break your front rack, my front rack came with my Koga Miyata World Traveler when I bought it. I have had broken the rack after an ample 1000km cycling. Koga had send me a new one, which broke another 1000 kilometers further. That was in Pakistan where I had been lucky to find an aluminum welder. Back in Holland Koga again gave me a new (and the same rack, and again it was too light). In China it went wrong again.

My broken front rack
The front rack broken at two places on this site.
The damage on the other side is not visible on this photo.

I had been cycling in Laos for some time and was on my way to Kunming in south China. It's about 1000 km from the Lao border to Kunming and the facilities are limited. With facilities I mean bike facilities. But if the bike is ok, why would you worry?

My front rack which was handmade in Simao
My present front rack which was handmade in Simao.
As I live nowadays in Malaysia, I have taken the
rack off because I don't need it for the moment.

The plan I had was to clean the bike (which actually now had a name too... Jim) in Kunming from top to toe, so to say. I had broken a few spokes which surprised me very much. But that can happen, isn't that right? It was just before Jing Hong, the capital of the southern areas of Yunnan where my front rack broke at different places. Fortunately I didn't have to cycle very far and in Jing Hong I found someone who was able to repair the problem.

more troublesHowever, it didn't last long. Simao is a town 2 days cycling from Jing Hong. Just before Simao it broke again.

When I arrived in Simao, I checked in a hotel and looked for a weld shop. This time however I didn't have the intention to repair the rack. I wanted a new one. A good tubus rack is easily over $50-60 and I wouldn't here in China (remember, this was when the internet was still young). Buying a new good rack, even a lousy one would be difficult. My only hope was to make me a new one

So rode all over the town until I found what I was looking for: a street with many weld shops. I stopped at one but they weren't able to help me. The second one however told me he could not repair the broken rack. I pointed to some iron pipes, found the Chinese word for new and pointed then at the rack again.

The man understood what I wanted and started to work. Contrary to normal I had not asked him the price. But whatever his price would be, I would have paid, I needed a rack anyway.

The man and his associate took a few iron pipes. Then they asked me to remove my old rack. With chalk they outlined the design on the floor and then they calculated what they needed. Part of the work was bending, part was welding. But in less then 2 hours, I had a brand new, silver painted (!) almost identical looking rack.

The paint didn't last long, the rack is still intact, after many years of cycling with heavy gear. I never suffered any problems with it. And the great thing is, if in case it ever breaks, any weld shop can repair it now since it just iron.

But, I can you asking, isn't that rack heavy? Yes, indeed it is heavier then an aluminum rack. I was cycling in South East Asia with about 35-40 kg luggage.

And the costs of this 2 hours work by 2 men? Altogether it costs me Y50, about $6. If you ask me if I ever want to change my handmade Chinese rack for a nice tubus, I will answer that I actually did get hold of a tubus rack which I gave away.

And the best part of the story, just in case the rack will break I can go to any weld shop and let it be welded.

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