My Kona Jake has been my commuting and utility bike since I bought it a year ago. I’ve hauled lots of cargo on the rear rack, pulled children in a trailer and even used it for a couple of weeks of winter riding when my mountain bike was out of service. It’s been reliable, versatile and fun to ride. Still, I wanted to increase its utility capabilities. A front rack seemed like the next step.
I picked up a MEC Mountain Front Rack. For only $13.00 I thought that if it didn’t work out it wouldn’t be a big deal. The first problem was that the Kona P2 fork didn’t have eyelets for attaching the rack. I could have attached it with clamps to the fork blades but that would have positioned the rack higher than I wanted. Instead, I picked up a replacement fork at a gear swap. As an added bonus, the new fork has bosses for a lowrider rack if I need one in the future. I spray painted the fork black to match the bike (and, boy, did that take longer than I thought it would).
Next, to install the new fork I improvised some headset tools to replace the old headset with the better one that came with the new fork. I hadn’t ever replaced a headset before but I was able to manage it without too much trouble. Cobbling together the tools only took about 15 minutes.
Finally, I was ready to install the rack. Not having done this before (and because the MEC rack comes WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS) I tried researching the task on the internet. To my surprise there is very little information and few detailed photos. Nothing showed a similar setup to my bike. Since this rack seems to be a copy of the venerable Blackburn front mountain rack I was surprised by this lack. Maybe this is considered to be such a basic task that nobody would bother showing their setup. I must just be dense, because I had to do some head scratching to figure it out.
The metal tang that attaches the fork to the rack was formed in such a way that I had to reshape it considerably to install it so it would work with my fender and not interfere with my cantilever linkwire. If I had a straddle cable instead this would have been a little easier. Just now, looking at the picture on the MEC website of the tang in the hardware kit, I see that the slot is longer than on the one I received. That would have made things easier as well.
Instead, I channeled my inner blacksmith. I had to re-bend it several times before I got it just right. I was worried that it might break because of this but it seems solid so far. After that, the installation was straight forward. The mounting kit supplied DID NOT CONTAIN a bolt long enough to fit through the top of the fork. This wasn’t a problem for me as I was able to use the bolt from my fender. There was some leftover hardware that is doubtless useful for installing the rack in other configurations.
Once installed, the rack is solid. Certainly it is enough to carry anything I might reasonably want to put on the front of my bike. My MEC 40L front pannier set fits securely and I’m looking forward to putting them to some serious use.