Here at A-train Cycles we are very excited to be working with Eric Larsen to design and build custom bike racks that will journey to the south pole. Eric Larsen isn’t a stranger to Antarctica or the cold, he has been to the south pole several times but this time he will be the first one to attempt the journey on a fat bike. Read more about Eric and the Cycle South expedition here.
Now about the racks… There were three basic requirements that this rack needed to fill, they needed to be long, strong, and light.
Long- The rear rack has a platform that is nearly 17 inches long, the added length will allow Eric to strap his shelter to the top, but perhaps more importantly is that the added length will prevent any heel strike with his big panniers and big winter boots.
Strong- The tubing used for the is super strong aircraft grade 4130 steel. Beyond the material used the biggest advantage that these racks offer is that they are fully rigid, doing away with the adjustable struts that are a possible failure point. The rear rack mounts to the frame at six points while keeping easy access to the disk brake caliper. One of the big challenges was keeping the sides of the racks perpendicular to the ground. This typically isn’t a concern but due to the Moonlanders 28mm offset rear end if the tubing went from the top platform straight to the mounts you would end up with sides that were very uneven making hard to attach panniers. The photo below doesn’t show it but the tubing bends to compensate for the offset just above the lower braze-on mounts.
Light- The 4130 steel tubing used is hollow with a wall thickness of .035 inches, because it is hollow is is both lighter and stronger than if the rack were build with solid aluminum tubing. The absence of the adjustable bits and pieces also helps keep the weight down, fully rigid attachment points creats a stronger, more rigid attachment points while using less material.
Eric Larsen is also partnering with Granite Gear to make custom panniers for these racks. The panniers will be constructed with lighter weight materials than the ones commercially available. Antarctica is a desert and one of the driest places on earth, that said there isn’t a need for the panniers to be waterproof. Granite Gear will also be designing the panniers to be as aerodynamic as possible with rounded edges and contours. At first I thought aerodynamic considerations seem ridiculous on a fat bike but I have since learned that Antarctica is also the windiest place on earth, the annual average wind speed it 50 mph!