Curt and Gilbert,
Curt, I agree with you, for camping racks, the Nitto ones are lovely. Their rear rack is quite nice. But their bag support racks appear overbuilt - unless you carry your little sister in your handlebar bag...
And a high rear rack is easier to make to fit any tire, dropout, etc., but the higher center of gravity is not desirable. This is a problem especially with a front rack. The Nitto bag support rack actually goes up from the fork crown. But unlike with a rear rack, that extra "clearance" doesn't gain you anything: Any tire/fender still has to fit through the fork crown... It would have been easy to make a reasonably well-fitting front rack, but somehow they missed it.
Gilbert, the Herse bike with huge rear rack you describe is unlike any I ever have seen. Most French constructeurs would build what you ordered... even if it was weird. They might steer you in the right direction, they might modify what you requested a bit, but in the end, you are the customer.
My camping Singer was equipped with a rather ungainly rear rack. The original order documents show detailed drawings by the customer on how he wanted the racks. He does not seem to have used panniers, as there was no way to attach them! Just a huge platform with a bunch of loops to attach bungees.
Needless to say, Ernest Csuka scoffed when I told him which bike I had bought, and was more than happy to "make it right." So I sent him the frame, and he made new rear racks and low-riders. (So it no longer is original, but it's a 1985 bike, and not very representative anyhow. I have no qualms about the modifications. I left the two rear centerpull brakes as an homage to the previous owner...)
Huge racks were the domain of the porteurs, who carried 110 lbs. of
newspapers on their bikes. But those went on the front wheel.
Jan Heine, Seattle
Vintage Bicycle Quarterly
c/o Il Vecchio Bicycles
140 Lakeside Ave, Ste. C
Seattle WA 98122
>Mike Kone posted-
>> The reverse question is why are Nitto racks so large? They look like
>> something that fell off a motorcycle.
>I don't think the racks are any larger than a lot of French racks intended
>for the same purpose. The rack is intended for unsupported touring similar
>to the rack pictured on the Camping Herse in latest VBQ featuring the Herse
>catalog. I'm guessing your beef with the Nitto rack has to do with the fact
>that the rack platform is much higher off the top of the rear wheel compared
>to the French racks. I agree that the lower platforms on the French racks
>looks better but those are custom racks and the Nitto rack is a stock rack
>that must fit many different geometries. Also, the current rear rack
>"style" seems to be with higher rack platforms.