|Location last seen: holding rear rack on a commuter bicycle|
For a longer time than I am prepared to admit, the rear rack on my commuter bicycle felt as if there was a screw loose, particularly when going up or down a curb. I would stop, check for loose screws on the top connections, which felt like (for some unknown reason) the likely location of loosening, yet everything would be tight. This is, mind you, with my commuter pannier attached, containing at least a few pounds of clothes and stuff, along with a laptop computer. Something wasn't right, but a quick glance and wiggle couldn't locate the problem. I think I must have had a mental block, or lacuna, about the probability of the actual problem.
Taking a closer, more thorough look, eventually, though, I found that one of the lower attachment screws was just completely missing! How is that even possible? That was what I was wondering. That's not a rack screw next to the gaping hole, by the way, that's a rear fender screw. With that rack screw missing, there were only three other screws holding the rack onto my bicycle. Checking them, one of those three was also slightly loose. It just seems remarkable to me that the whole thing didn't just tear off the bike entirely, embedding my pannier w/laptop through my rear wheel, sending me cartwheeling into the swirling slightly salty waters of the Arizona Canal. I chalk it up to the really solid top mounting brackets on this rack. Unlike others I have seen, these are beefy hunks of steel, which appear to me more than up to the task. Thank you, beefy hunks of steel rack bracket designers for the overly generous margin of safety. The replacement screw has been installed, this time with thread locker. And I spent a good twenty minutes checking the rest of the screws, nuts, and fasteners on the bike. Before the whole thing just falls apart on me.
Next time I get that slightly wobbly feeling back there, at least I'll know what's going on, and not keep riding around with only three screws between myself and an unplanned canal swim. Now I just have to make sure not to try to tighten them TOO far. I've already posted enough about excess torque.