Jack The Bike Rack is a simple new universal front bike rack that hangs off your handlebar to fit almost any bike with no tools needed. Pop it on and off your commuter bike to run errands around town, then swap it to a gravel bike for a weekend of bikepacking adventure. You can even strap it on the front of most mountain bikes to head deeper into the woods to explore new trails, outfitted for an overnighter.
Jack The Bike Rack steel strap-on front rack
WholeGrain Cycles is the new bike & component company that created the Jack bike rack, intent on making it easier to carry gear on almost any bike. Not wanting to have to rely on fork rack mounts that vary so widely from one bike to the next, and simply don’t exist on the majority of bikes, their solution is a simple porteur-style front rack that just hangs off your bar & stem.
How does it work?
tubular steel rod Jack bike rack simply hangs over your handlebar next to the stem clamp. Interchangeable plastic clips snap securely over 31.8mm or 25.4mm diameter bars (also carbon compatible), taking up around 6mm on either side of the stem. The inherent flexibility of the steel loop construction also allows it to fit almost any width stem.
Then, to keep Jack from rotating – and to get the ideal horizontal angle of the rack’s platform – you pick one of four yellow webbing lengths, that hook onto the rack’s bar hooks, and loop under the stem. This yellow webbing loop then keeps the bike rack from rotating when you load it up, transferring the weight of what you are carrying into the stem.
Lastly, a locking strap between the vertical rack supports and stem quill/steerer/spacer stack pulls the Jack the bike rack down and fastens it securely in place over bumpy terrain.
The result is almost universal fit to any bike old or new, with some round 25.4/31.8 space on the bar and at least 1cm or so of steerer exposed above the headset (best not to strap it tightly around a fixed part of the headtube, like I did below...) It also needs at least 220mm vertical space measured from the top of the front tire, up to the centerline of the handlebar.
The result is a super simple rack that WholeGrain says is easy for anyone to install on their bike – no need for any real bike mechanic skills. And you get a basic rack platform where you can lash down pretty much any bag you might otherwise carry on your back, or fasten a makeshift setup with something like a wire basket or milk crate.
Jack the rack is designed to carry up to 5kg of gear, and is tested using the industry standards for permanently-mounted bike carrier racks (ISO/BS/EU 11423-2016). But apparently it’s been tested to safely manage much heavier loads, but the added weight hanging off your stem will do wacky things to your bike’s handling.
Jack the rack – Setup & First Impressions
We just got a pre-production sample of the Jack in the office and have already put it to work, hauling a 4L of adult beverage cans, some salsa & a bunch of snack bars to get us through the weekend, strapped to my trusty Bombtrack Audax super-commuter gravel bike.
I also popped it onto a modern all-road bike and all mountain bike to check any real interference with external cable routing loops. Really the only real obstacle to Jack’s universal fit might be cables coming off the bar. But even there, I was able to carefully fit it around shift & brake lines without too much trouble.
Slammed stems will be harder to work with, but you likely can tighten the strap around the stem’s clamp on the steerer.
The rack itself is welded from 304 stainless steel
tubing rod, with plenty of loops to attach tie-down straps in addition to the 2-part mounting setup. On top of that basic steel outline frame, a durable 420D nylon fabric sling velcros in place to support your gear.
Actual weight & options
The official weight of the Jack rack setup is quoted at 550g including a set of bar shims and the required straps (probably without the fabric sling.) We weighed our rack setup at an actual 700g with the steel rack, shims, 2 securing straps, and the sling – since that’s how I plan to use it.
Add in the two included bungee cord tie-down straps and the pair of mini double-sided QR carabiners for another 63g and the ability to secure almost any bag or irregular load.
WholeGrain assures us that the Jack bike rack is essentially overbuilt a bit so you shouldn’t ever have to worry about it. Its cantilevered design is said to damp vibrations. Plus, the stainless steel construction is always easily repairable if you do manage to abuse it. All the small parts are also easily replaceable so you can keep Jack running for a long time.
While WholeGrain highlights the fit to both old & new bikes, I think the true versatility is just the lack of need for real rack mounts. Even though the growth of adventure bikepacking has led to many new gravel bikes with rack mounting possibilities, the vast majority of modern bikes still have no easy way to mount a front rack.
Using a simple cantilevered bar & stem mount (interestingly, the same mount concept as the great new Ortlieb bar bag) means tons of new bikes could get a simple, relatively light way to hang gear off the front end, without worrying about bikepacking bar bags that take away crucial bar top hand positions, push against your cables or rub your headtube, or risk bouncing down into your front wheel.
I’m certainly looking forward to taking Jack on some adventures, and he’ll likely join me for some around town urban errands, as well.
Jack The Bike Rack – Pricing & availability
The Jack rack is being crowdfunded now over on Kickstarter, with early bird pricing starting as low as $62 / £45 / 55€. That’ll go up about ten bucks in any currency once those first racks pre-sell out. Then, retail Jack The Bike Rack pricing will go up to $80 / £60 / 70€ once WholeGrain Cycles start selling them directly next spring.