Installing Velo Orange bicycle racks

by Raymond Parker on April 28, 2011

in Technical

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VO Randonneur Front Rack

Constructeur inspired

Before you begin

First, a warning: this is definitely not a job for the faint of heart!

In particular, the beautifully crafted front “Randonneur Rack” (for use with caliper or centre-pull brakes), calls for metal-working skills, as it comes with a plain, unfinished tang that requires shaping and drilling to fit your particular frame and its angles.

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VO Constructeur Rear Rack

Here I will attempt to make life easier by describing, as best I can, how I tackled fitting these fine racks to my Rivendell Bleriot.

This project will inspire appreciation of the work of vintage and modern “contructeurs,” who expertly integrate all components with design and geometry of the individual velo.

Front randonneur rack

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Drill tang

First, measure the brake-bolt hole at the fork crown in order to position the hole on the rack tang precisely.

Measure, mark with punch, then drill rack tang, using tapping lube to prevent overheating.

Velo Orange recommends the tang be attached to a fender boss under the fork crown or, lacking that, a crown daruma. Alternately, the tang may be bent up and attached to the brake bolt. Since a fork crown daruma holds my Honjo fender and maximum tyre clearance was desired, I chose to bend the tang down, over the brake caliper.

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Bend tang

Use a vice to bend the tang into an appropriate shape to clear the brake caliper. This is where your original measurement comes in. The whole process should be preceded by careful analysis of all angles required to position the rack appropriately with other elements, e.g. tang over brake, support struts and their relationship to the fork blades and rack height over front fender.

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Shape tang

Careful strategy (I spent hours measuring, eyeballing and re-measuring) should line everything up nicely.

The short head tube on my 49cm frame however required exacting measurements, in order to properly accommodate all elements, including the decaleur (see below).

Judicious shaping will produce something like the illustration at the left. Again, it’s imperative that you begin this procedure with a plan that considers all variables. Visualize the big picture.

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VO Randonneur Front Rack

The rack is installed by sandwiching the tang behind the brake. The difficult part—if you are using a daruma to hang a fender—will be threading all these components together.

Minor adjustments can be made after this procedure to line up support struts, but avoid repeated bending of the tang. Attach struts to braze-ons, or use (supplied) P-clamps to secure around fork blades.

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Front Rack stabilized

The rack incorporates threaded bosses underneath. Once in place, it is possible to stabilize a mudguard by bolting from the underside. Notice leather washers.

Stem-mount Decaleur

The traditional decaleur also comes uncut and undrilled, enabling precise placement of your bag in relation to rack and handlebar. Your first job will be, as above, to determine the exact placement (length) of the unit, depending on the length of your headtube.

First mark and cut the tang. Once to length, the front of the tang, as seen here (L), should be ground at an angle to fit the stem. With the handlebar binder bolt removed, centre the tang and mark with small felt pen through bolt hole.

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Drill decaleur tang
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Bolt decaleur to stem

Drill, as front rack. The tang takes the place of the wedge behind the binder bolt on a quill stem. You’ll likely need to replace the original bolt with a longer one, discard threaded wedge (Nitto Technomic Deluxe) and install a nut in its place.

The bag mount can now be bolted to your bag and you’re ready to roll.

Constructeur Rear Rack

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Attach to eyelets

The rear rack—designed to be stabilized (via threaded bosses) by a sturdy metal mudguard (see above)—will be a simple job with skills honed by the rando rack and decaleur job.

Balance the rack on the mudguard (once the mudguard is at the exact height you want it) by spreading the stays over the dropouts. This will require removal of the rear wheel. Mark the tang at the dropout eyelet, making sure you’ve left enough tang (10-20mm) extending below the planned bolt hole. Measure twice (maybe thrice). Mark with felt pen. Measure again. Cut. File the ends, rounding corners.

Once you have bolted the stays to the frame eyelets, carefully level the rack. Mark the fenders with felt pen precisely under the threaded bosses. Drill fender and bolt to rack (don’t forget leather washers). If your measurement was off by a millimetre or two, use washers or spacers to fill the gap between fender and rack.

Note: If you bought chromed steel versions of these racks, it’s prudent to seal cuts with rust inhibitor. Nail polish will do. You’re done. Ride on.

Go to VeloGarage

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