Drive My Bike


The Unsung Hero of Bike Commuting Equipment
August 8, 2008, 12:47 pm
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I just got back from riding my bike over to a local fast food place to pickup my lunch. That got me thinking that I should tell you about one of the pieces of equipment I use that has become absolutely indispensable… my Bungee Cargo Net for my rear rack.Bungee Cargo Net on Rack

I don’t use it all the time, but whenever I need to carry something that won’t fit in my panniers, or that needs to be carried a certain way (like the take out plate of food I just got back with), I fasten it to my rear rack with my cargo net. It is made of bungee material, so it stretches to conform to whatever you are trying to hold.Bungee Cargo Net

It has 4 plastic hooks at the corners, so with a bit of creativity you can fasten almost anything. I have used it to carry my lunch, my floor pump that is about 3 feet long, two 12 packs of soda, and a few other oddly shaped things.

Mine is a Delta Cargo Net II that I purchased from REI, but there are similar ones available elsewhere.

If you don’t have one of these, I would encourage you to purchase one. They are not very expensive, and I have come to consider mine indispensable. I leave it wrapped around my rack when not in use, and I can attach my panniers without even removing it. It is always there when I need to carry something, and I consider it the unsung hero of my bike commuting equipment.

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Mounting a Rear Rack on a Schwinn Midtown

Wow, there has been a huge response to the article I posted a few days ago about my Costco Schwinn Midtown bike! Some of you have asked about the accessories I’ve added to my bike, so I’m going to start a series of posts highlighting each of these things.

I’m going to start with the Rear Rack and how I mounted it, because that was somewhat of a challenge, and I almost took my bike back to Costco because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it work. Reader Bill commented that he took his bike to a local bike shop and they told him that it was not possible to mount a rack on his Midtown. Well, it certainly is possible, and here’s how I did it…

The rack that I use is an Avenir like this. When I bought this rack I didn’t have a clue what I wanted or needed, I just told the guy at the shop that I was going to start commuting and needed a rack. He only carried this basic Avenir rack but said it would probably work. Now that I’m a bit more experienced I would probably purchase a rack that is a bit beefier like this, but I’ve carried a good bit of weight in my panniers when doing grocery runs, and haven’t had any problems. Here is a good side shot…Side View of Avenir Rack on Schwin Midtown

The difficulty in mounting this rack on the Midtown is that the bike has rear suspension, and no mount points, so there isn’t a “standard” place to attach the rack braces. You can’t attach the braces to the seat post, because the rear suspension lets the back end move up and down, separate from the seat post, so the braces would be unstable and would probably even bend with normal riding.Schwin Midtown Rack Brace Side Detail

The Avenir rack came with mounting screws and some clamps that had some rubber insulation on them, but they were too small to fit around the frame tubes, which at that point in the frame are approximately 1″ in diameter. I took the clamps to my local Home Depot and asked if they had anything like that. The first guy I talked to didn’t have a clue, but the second guy took me right over and showed me some insulated clamps like this. I tried those, and the first set I bought were too small, so I went back and got the next size up, which I believe were 1 3/8″ inner diameter. I honestly don’t remember the exact size, so if you want to save a trip back to Home Depot, buy a couple sizes and then take back the ones you don’t use. Also, I thought those clamps were in the plumbing department, but Bill commented that he found them in the electrical department. Here is a photo detailing the clamps…Schwinn Midtown Rack Brace Clamps When attaching the braces to the clamps I did have to bend the braces a good bit. The braces are made of aluminum and are not difficult to bend, and the instructions actually say that it is normal to have to bend and adapt them to different frames. The main part of the bending was removing some of the twist that the braces came with, so that the ends of the braces would match the angle of the clamps on the frame.

The bottom support legs of the rack are screwed directly into the frame, using the topmost of two holes adjacent to the rear wheel mount. I used the mounting screws that were included with the Avenir rack, and the frame holes are threaded, so I did not need to add a nut on the back. BE SURE TO CHECK THESE SCREWS REGULARLY! When I took this picture this screw had backed itself about halfway out, and was quite loose! I had actually been thinking that I should check them for tightness, but had not made it a priority, so I’m glad I had to take this shot or I’m sure the rack brace would have come loose in the middle of my commute. I will probably add a lock washer or some Loc-Tite to make things a bit more permanent.Schwinn Midtown Rear Rack Foot Mount

That’s pretty much all there is to it. I spent most of my time figuring this out and getting the right clamps, so the time spent actually doing the mounting was less than an hour. Hopefully this will help those of you that have purchased a Schwinn Midtown and need a rear rack. If this article is helpful then I’d love to hear about it, so please leave me a comment, and if you have problems or come up with better ideas then I’d love to hear that too.