Front Touring Racks for Ease of Installation and Proper Handling
I love Old Man Mountain racks. Ten years ago or so I had one of their front racks on my Mountain bike with Rock Shox fork. As I chose different bikes over the years as my primary mode of transportation I used to transfer that trusty front rack to whatever it was I was riding. I eventually sold the rack with a bike I had for sale in our old bike shop. Since that time I have used a couple other much less expensive front racks such as the Axiom Journey DLX, Delta Megaloader with very satisfactory results. Neither of the racks broke or adversely affected bike's handling.
In keeping with the changing times and bike market finding a disc compatible front rack is a good idea and finding one that doesn't cost over $100 is an even better idea. I understand as well as anyone that the "you get what you pay for" applies to purchasing bicycle touring and commuting accessories as much or more so than any other interest. Keeping this in mind I tend to look for information from industry leaders who have proven track records of innovation and reputation. I like Kona, the company has helped in keeping bikes fun for a long time now. So, when I discovered the 2014 Kona Sutra (photo above) marketed as shown in photo with the Blackburn Lo Rider Rack, which doesn't claim to be disc brake compatible I thought, hmm is that the tried and true P2 fork? Yep. At a price tag on the rack of $40, beginning to seem like a good idea.
Not that there is anything wrong with those forks, but from a touring perspective having the multiple braze ons and brake bosses provide multiple rack, fender and or basket options. I contacted Kona to inquire about the front rack on the Sutra being just as compatible with the 26" P2 fork and I did describe the 26" model specifically despite his denial of that in his response. Here was the reply from tech department.
Hi, unfortunately I can’t say for sure. We have many versions of the P2 in 26”. If I had to guess I’d say it won’t be as easy a fit as the Sutra.
With a bit of work with clamps and fixtures a rack can be fitted to most forks.
The mid way threads featured on quality touring forks for low rider style racks are perhaps the most defining feature of a true touring fork. Based on personal experience carrying panniers at that midway mounting point provides better handling, particularly when considering the option of carrying more weight on the front than the rear for balance. Photo at left shows the Racktime Top It front rack which requires the midway mounting point I'm referring to. That design provides an easy solution in providing a front rack that doesn't interfere with the brake caliper. Also, the additional light mounting option keeps "handlebar real estate" open for other goodys. However, reviews are stating that panniers do not fit on to the rack. I found this rack on sale for $32! The fork shown is from Civia Loring but does not provide canti bosses like the Kona Project2.
Another Blackburn Rack pictured below left is also sold at a reasonable price ($40) and is described as "The Ultimate Mountain Bike Front Rack for off road touring".
I inquired with sales rep. on usage of the Blackburn MTF-1 with disc brake and he said:
"Yes, that will work fine with a disc brake fork".
Notice that the upper mounting stays also require use of midway mounting point on fork for this rack to mount properly. In reference to the reply from Kona where racks can be made to fit using clamps and what not, simple is best particularly when you want to do some off road touring with it. MTF-1 design accommodates most front pannier sets on the sides with top carrier deck. I like this rack design particularly for the price.
Funny to find that the best fork option for this application has been coming from Kona for twenty five years now. Happy Anniversary Kona Project2!
This rack can also be found at the Bike Tourings' Store check often to see if it's available as this rack sells quickly at less than seventy bucks you can't beat it.