Completing the all-weather commuter

With the Longboard fenders installed, Hyro got one step closer to my folding bike Bino as a commuter machine.

One major difference between these two bikes is the riding position. Riding Bino lets me ride straighter and more upright. Hyro, on the other hand, requires a sleeker, more hunkered-down stance, even when riding on the top of the handlebars.

Now imagine trying to ride both bikes with a loaded backpack on the spine. In both cases, the bike’s center of gravity is raised because of the added load, so ultimate handling suffers. Even more damning is how the lower back is strained when riding a road or ‘cross bike with a backpack, due to the rider already being bent over the bike. I felt this within the two or so weeks I tried it, even on a relatively short ride. An alternative means of carrying my cargo therefore was imperative.

As with the fenders, rear racks are frustratingly hard to find in the Philippines, so I ordered both from the same US-based bicycle shop via its eBay presence. For Hyro, I chose an Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rear rack.

The “Streamliner” name is supposedly due to how the rack sets its mounted panniers a little more inboard compared to others, to the improvement of aerodynamics. Uhh, okay. Maybe for the rim-brake version. Mine doesn’t look like it. Fortunately, the 700 g, matte black aluminum rack delivers better on the capacity stakes at a rated capacity of 50 kg.

Unusually, the feet of this rack are set back by a few centimeters. I assume this improves fitment for bikes with disc brake calipers on their seatstays, as well as reduces the chance of heel strike on mounted panniers while pedaling. I mounted them to the same eyelets as my fenders.

Up top are a couple of very adjustable arms which serve as the rack’s upper anchor points to the bike. The only downside is the adjustments require at least three different sizes of hex keys, which is overkill for a rack.

Hyro’s build kit came with a rack block adapter and spacers that sit over the seat post clamp plate, so these parts came into play when the rack was installed.

Finally, the rack has a plate to hang a light over. I mounted a Cat Eye Reflex Auto safety light here. Any of Cat Eye’s rear lights with the square foot will work with the mount, though.

Mounted and loaded up with my small waterproof panniers, Hyro proves up to the task of commuting to work, grocery shopping and light touring. He seems to struggle with heavier loads; I can feel a bit of flex and shimmy on the rear triangle when riding heavily laden with, say, a couple large sacks of tube ice. Most likely this is due to the lack of chainstay and seatstay bridges.

With the rack installed, Hyro’s transformation into a full all-weather commuter bike is complete. Unlike with the fenders, removing the rack is easy, requiring only that I change out one bolt for a shorter one to clear the chain and cassette.

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