Racks and Bags

The Grand Bois M-13 racks now come in two versions: One for bikes with narrow clearances (usually for 700C tires) and one for bikes with wider clearances.

With this choice of two racks, it becomes much easier to fit your existing bike with a front rack, provided it has cantilever brakes.

The frontal view above shows the difference between the two versions best: The “narrow tire” rack (on the left) is for bikes with narrower fork crowns (and thus fork blades that are closer at the cantilever posts) and less tire clearance (distance from cantilever posts to fork crown). Remember that you can adjust the rack fit slightly by bending the diagonal supports.

The Grand Bois racks are fillet-brazed from steel tubing by Nitto, with many small details that make them nicer and more durable than Nitto’s basic M-12 racks:

  • Tabs brazed into slots where the rack connects to the cantilever posts instead of a welded-on plate with a hole.
  • U-shaped loop for the fork crown connection instead of a single arm.
  • Polished and chrome-plated instead of a matte finish.
  • At 187 g, they are among the lightest racks available today.

The Grand Bois racks come with custom hardware. We especially like the bolts that replace the bolts of your cantilever brakes (center and top left). Instead of sandwiching the rack and brake on the same bolt, these bolts feature a smaller forward extension onto which the rack is mounted with a nut and lockwasher. This pretty much eliminates the risk of the bolt coming loose from the vibrations as you brake. There also is a domed nut to attach the rack to the fork crown, and a nut and leather washer to attach a front fender to the rack. The bolt on the lower left is for attaching a “hanging” Edelux headlight to the rack, if you want to equip your bike with lights. You also can attach other lights using a longer bolt and spacer that we sell separately.

Speaking of headlights, the light mount on the M-13 rack now is on the left side, which many riders prefer in countries where traffic drives and rides on the right. The light mount is positioned so that a “hanging” Edelux headlight bolts directly to the rack, without a spacer. This reduces the risk of the light coming loose from the vibrations of the road.

The first “hanging” Edelux lights had the wire exit on the right (above right), so they were ideal for mounting on the left side of the rack (as on the new Grand Bois M-13 racks). To make the lights more versatile, we asked Schmidt to have the wire exit in the center (above left), so they work on either side. For now, we offer both versions.

To go with these racks, Compass Bicycles now carry Gilles Berthoud handlebar bags. These bags are classics that have proven themselves over decades of hard use. My own Berthoud handlebar bag has been in almost daily use since 2000, yet it still remains waterproof and fully functional. Where synthetics often look shabby after a while, these bags acquire a beautiful patina.

Click here for more information on our racks and bags.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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17 Responses to Racks and Bags

  1. Ty says:

    Great price on the GB Bags too!

    I wish you had these four months ago when I bought by GB28 ;)

    Love the bag, it does everything and more I could hope for. I rode through a major storm on my last 115k Populaire with it, and it everything was bone dry in after hours in pounding wind and rain.

    Good job on the new front racks. I have a Salsa Casseroll with a built-in front rack that I love, but could not understand why the eyelet for the headlight was on the right side. Made absolutely no sense to me. Nice to know there is an alternative, and when I go to generator lighting (soon I hope) I will probably switch to this rack.

    Thanks again Jan!

    On a side note: Loved the latest BQ, particularly with the focus on riders who aren’t exactly cookie-cutter tour-de-france bodies. As a 6’1″ 195 lb randonneur, I am definitley not your standard distance rider. I appreciated this perspective and gives me hope for the day when I do possibly uprgade to a more “rando-specific” bike that incorporates “planing.” Due to my weight, I was worried that the lighter, more flexible tubing might not be a good idea for me. Glad to see that the builders will work with me, and make sure the new bike works right for me and my riding style.

    Safe Riding,

    Ty

    • The older Schmidt hubs had the power take-off on the right for reasons unknown. (In Germany, most bikes put the light on the fork crown, so I guess it doesn’t matter where the wire comes up.) With the newer SON28 and Delux hubs, you can run them facing either way, so you can put the wire where you like it.

    • Steve Palincsar says:

      I outweigh you by anywhere from 5-10lb and am perfectly happy with my std diam 8/5/8 VO and M.A.P. Randonneurs. Unless you know for a fact you prefer super-rigid bikes, I wouldn’t worry.

  2. sdloveless says:

    Hi, Jan. How long is longer end of the double threaded bolt, and do you think you’ll be able to offer them separately? Thanks!

  3. Bubba says:

    What is your thinking on the lean of the tombstone? That backstop on the rack. I have several Nitto front racks and the tombstone leans back. It looks nice on the bike with no bag, since it runs parallel to the head tube. All my front bags, though, have a square 90-degree angle in that area. It’s not a signifcant problem, because the bags are flexible, canvas and leather. That Grand Bois rack has a tilted tombstone and that Gilles Berthoud is as square as they come. Why not have the tombstone vertical to fit the bag better? If it’s important to have a tilt on the tombstone, why don’t bag makers sew them tilted? Or is the tilted rack + square bag superior in putting some tension on the attachment to help hold it in place?

    • The racks are designed so the bike looks good without them, too. As you say, it doesn’t really matter, as the bag is flexible. On my own bike, I made the backstop vertical and connected it to the stem.

      • Shu-Sin says:

        It probably doesn’t hurt to have the back-stop tilted, especially if you are not using a decaleur, as the bag would have to travel backward before going up and over the back-stop. and, yes, when bag is not in use, it looks very nice to have it parallel with HT.

  4. Dustin Purcell says:

    Is there any chance you’ll be importing the larger Alex Singer/Gilles Berthoud bag?

    • No plans to import this right now. From what I remember, it’s a very old-fashioned bag, which means that the flap opens the “wrong” way (toward the riders), so you cannot access the contents while riding. Sometime around 1950s, most handlebars bags reversed the flap, so you could open it while riding.

      • Dustin Purcell says:

        The mini bag also opens the “wrong way.”

      • The Alex Singer mini bag is so small that you cannot reach the flap when riding.

      • Gary says:

        I often hear people say that a bag with a flap that opens the “wrong” way cannot be opened while riding. I have a bag with a flap that opens toward the rider, and I open it and close it all the time while I am riding. It may be easier to access your bags contents with a flap that opens away from the rider, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you can’t access the contents with a “backwards” flap.

      • If you are going at any speed, the flap will blow backwards and be difficult to close. With the flap oriented the “modern” way, the wind will blow it closed. You don’t need to latch it unless the road is very bumpy. You can retrieve or deposit things and as soon as you remove your hand from the bag, the flap is closed.

        Like anything you do while riding, safety has to come first. If it’s not easy to retrieve something from your bag (no matter which way it closes), then stopping is preferable to crashing. Based on that, I wouldn’t recommend opening a bag with a forward-facing flap while riding. (This is not to say that you cannot do so safely…)

  5. Leaf Slayer says:

    Jan, it’s nice to see Compass Bicycles growing. I like that the selection of products is unique, of excellent quality and relevant to randonneuring. I also like that besides managing Compass, publishing BQ and riding, that you manage to post to this blog frequently. Keep up the good work!

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