Meet Jack, a crowdfunded universal-fit front rack
Handlebar-mounted, built for all bikes, and blowing up on Kickstarter.
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The relationship between crowdfunding and the world of cycling has, at times, produced mixed results.
Some products have netted their creators millions of dollars – Knog Oi bike bells and The Babymaker to name a few. Some creators have been ensnared in elaborate handlebar-bag-related fraud. Others have disappeared into a puff of digital dust, their downfall sending multi-million dollar ripples through entire industries (hello SpeedX, my old friend).
For all of these torrid stories, it’s easy to forget what crowdfunding can do: allow small companies with a cool idea to raise enough capital to turn it into reality. Which is where Jack the Bike Rack fits in.
This little front rack is the brainchild of WholeGrain Cycles, a two person team comprising Miles Gibbons, based in London, and Luke Cardew, based in Shanghai. Cardew runs a creative consultancy called LCDC, while Gibbons spent three years in Shanghai working for the bikepacking gear brand Roswheel. Together – armed with their design chops and industry connections – they had the idea for a better bike rack.
Front racks – while tremendously useful – are not, as a rule, universal. They usually require some combination of a hole through the crown of the fork, paired with struts running down to the front axle or to eyelets on the side of the fork. Sometimes they require rim brakes. Often they’re heavy, and cause the front end of your bike to flop about.
Jack the Bike Rack – so named because it is a ‘jack of all trades’ – mounts from the handlebar and steerer. Its brackets are designed to fit any handlebar of a 31.8 mm or 25.4 mm diameter. There are some combinations of stem and angle that won’t work, but those combinations are pretty rare.
For most people on most bikes, this rack should fit. Bonus: it can quickly be swapped between bikes – which is absolutely not the case with other racks.
Mounted to the handlebar, the Jack is secured by a length of webbing under the stem, and a retention strap running around the back of the steerer. The frame of the rack is constructed from one length of stainless steel rod, with a fabric base and heavy-duty load straps with stainless steel hardware. It weighs in at around 700 grams, give or take.
Jack the Bike Rack has clearly struck a chord. Since launching on Kickstarter – with a modest goal of £6,400 (US$8,700/AU$12,000) – it’s taken off. With 24 days left for the crowdfunding run, it’s sitting on more than £150,000 (US$204,000/AU$280,000), from more than 1,700 backers.
Now, I’ll grant you, those aren’t Babymaker numbers, and crowdfunding always comes with all the usual caveats. But there’s also a lot less to go wrong with a bike rack than a bike, and this looks impressively well thought-out, practical, and an ingenious solution for a common problem.
I’ve asked for one for review when they’re available, but may well just end up biting the bullet before then. In the meantime, you can check them out on Kickstarter. Pledges for a rack start at £58 (US$79/AU$109), with an estimated arrival in the front half of 2022.
Nice one, Jack. I like the cut of your jib.