Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sucky Bike Racks: #2 and #3

Sucky Bike Rack #2
You see this rack everywhere. I think it's so popular because organizations that must have racks like the looks of this one. It's just kind of neat looking.

I picture some low-level bureaucrat being handed a book or maybe being pointed to a website with some instructions, "according to corporate policy 1-3B-L6, 'Cheap amenities to add to building projects that portray perception that our org is green,' you must pick out one of these bike racks for the front of the new store." To a non-cyclist this one is a no brainer. It's just so swoopy.

While not as bad as Sucky Rack #1, it is still mostly silly. That rack takes up a sizable footprint and I think you'd be lucky to lock up more than 4 bikes. Again, the designer didn't think about front racks or fork-mounted lights. And actually, the light I have mounted atop my bars here must be minded or it will go crunch as you pass the wheel under the arch. You can see the clearance in the picture above.

At least I can lock up with the U-lock on this bike. If I was riding my Trek with the giant front rack, I'd have to lock up to the outside bar of this rack. So you must ride a bike that fits the designer's idea of what a proper bike should be.

Sucky Rack #3 - That is such a depressing picture. And it's not just the rack.

This one is so bad that I feel mean for even having it here. It's like bullying someone with Down Syndrome. But, here goes.

This rack design is straight out of the 70's. It's great, if:
  • your bike has a kickstand or you're running 20" or smaller wheels. Otherwise the wheel holders are intended to sort of "hold" your wheel. If you have any kind of weight on your bike, it won't stand up. And the wheel is unnecessarily stressed (laterally) by the weight of the bike leaning against the rack -- this is nitpicky, but it's unnecessary and lateral durability is the Achilles heel of wheel strength.

  • your front wheel is attached to your bike with bolts (For the youngsters: in the old days you attached your wheels to your bike with a strange thing called a solid axle. This "solid axle" ran through the hub like a normal hollow axle, but instead of quick release, it had big nuts on it that you would tighten. This came in very handy when you locked your bike to this rack, since all you had to do was run your plastic-wrapped chain through the front wheel and your WHOLE bike was secured.)

  • you use a chain or cable to lock your bike. I think the only way to make a U-lock work with this would be to lay the bike down just so and hook the front wheel/frame to the rack. I should've tried that.

  • you like to block 1/2 the walkway with your bike, thereby engendering even more bike-love from car people that already think you're a freak for riding your bike to the store.

This rack is outside Super 1 on the south hill. Here's how I ended up locking:

Once again, the shape of that cart holder is eerily similar to the simplest and most effective rack design in all of human history:


Mark H. said...

I agree with you about the super 1 rack. I have a small U lock(gram shaving roadie!) and the only way I could figure out to secure my commuter was to put the lock through the chain and the rack. Maybe if the cart corral was full of bikes they would fiqure it out.

Ken Paulman said...

I wonder if one reason #2 is such a popular design is because it deters skateboarders.

We have one of those at work, and it seems to work pretty well. You have to lift the front of the bike up and over to get it inside the "U", but it also leaves enough space between bikes that you can get in there to lock/unlock without having to do a Chinese contortion act.

There's a #3 at the General Store. In order to use it, I have to pull the whole rack out from the wall, park the bike sideways behind it, and run the lock through the chainstay.

Anonymous said...

The Hastings one takes the cake hands down. 29th and Southeast blvd. The only piece of metal to lock your bike to is a handicapped parking sign.

But on the other hand, has anyone found a rack they actually like? I was actually in charge of picking out a rack to buy at my old work and I scoured the internet to find one that made it possible to lock your front wheel and frame to a non-wimpy piece of metal.

The only place I've ever been that had such things was UC Berkeley, but seriously, these "racks" needed a training manual attached:

Anonymous said...

I've got a photo of a bike rack that they've got installed around Honolulu, HI. I don't know if you'd consider it a sucky one. The rack looks like a bicycle. I could send it to you if you want. I don't know how to send it in the comments.

Travis A. Wittwer said...

I like the rail racks as well. However, what I have noticed is that most of the rail racks leave out that horizontal cross bar, and go for just a "staple". My bikes love the horizontal rail because its height works so well for my frame/wheel lock combo.

Great post.