Friday, August 12, 2011

The Phoenix Project - Nitto M12 Front Rack

Background on The Phoenix Project is available here and here.

The front rack I select for this project is the Nitto M12:

I've been getting so much Nitto on the 1985 Trek 620 frame the Nitto fairy finally stopped by and left me a cap:

There really was never much question which front rack I was going to buy, given that I wanted to avail myself of the cantilever post mount feature, seen here with the adapter bolts that replace standard cantilever brake arm mounting bolts:

I did go through a long flirtation with the idea of the Nitto Campee:

Even though the low riders are removable, I decided that I preferred the more minimalistic M12 and that if I did need low riders from time to time, I would get a set of Tubus Duos that I could also install and remove with about the same amount of effort:

Regular readers may recall that I was surprised to discover that the fork crown holes on my 1985 Trek 620 and that it posed some complications for the installation of a Nitto M12 rack:

I did some research into this.  Skip Echert, the creator of,  had never heard of this but was rather interested.  Some queries to vintage bike enthusiasts on the forums revealed a smattering of mid-80's Treks with this feature, but no clear pattern.  Eventually, we determined it was just one of those things.  Skip hypothesized that perhaps a few fork crowns for a special order for a custom framebuilder got mixed into a larger Trek order.

I pondered my options for a while, whether to drill the holes, modify the rack or go back to the Nitto Campee, which has no fork crown strut, just cantilever mounts.

Eventually, I got brave, cleaned and lubricated both threaded holes, and found that I could actually screw the rack all the way through both holes simultaneously:

That was one problem out of the way.  The second was that once screwed in, would there be enough space to use the brake mount adapter bolts or would I have to create my own solution.  As it turned out, there appeared to be enough:

With these problems out of the way, the M12 was a clear go:

Street Cred

Nitto?  And threaded through both fork crown holes?  You couldn't pull this rack off this bike with Jaws of Life.

Gizmo Lust

For not having any moving parts, the M12 does ok.  The brazings are nicely executed amidst the typical Nitto quality.  The cantilever mounting is super clean:



This rack is utterly conventional.

Tweed Factor

The M12 is off the charts for Tweedies.  Nitto attracts them like a pork chop does to pit bulls and the clean cantilever mounting just throws gas on the fire.

Phony Accent

Any mini-front rack incites deep longing in euro-cyclotouriste wannabes and suspicions of the owner being such a wannabe by observers.  But the extreme utility and elegance of mini-racks overrides this drawback.  The same cannot be said for things like leather mudflaps.

Lily Gilding

Penny pinchers take note.  A less expensive, virtually identical rack (coincidence?), but without the delicious aura of timeless Nitto goodness, can be had from Velo Orange.  Euro-cyclotouriste aura is their pork chop.  Anyhow, it is on sale at the time of this writing for about 20% less than the M12. 

Running Tally

$2698 USD

We bring forward an even $2600 USD.  The Nitto M12 rack was $79.99 USD and the adapter bolts $17.99 USD, but we'll just call it $80 USD and $18 USD, both from

The Sausage Factory

Mounted on the 1985 Trek 620, the rack sits a bit higher than I expected.  This does mitigate the cyclotouriste look a bit, as a rack directly atop the fender is the most desirable in that paradigm:

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