US Man's Custom Rack Gets the Nod From UK Folder Fans
by mcget --
LONDON (Oct. 3, 2010) -- Brompton Bicycle Ltd. factory staffer Richard offers a thumbs up to a Rack and Roll folding rack prototype by Dan Niedziocha of the United States. "The brazing's good, innit?" Richard declared, after giving the folding front rack a close inspection. The rack was making an ad hoc debut at the Brompton 100, a cycle ride limited to just 100 fans, Brompton dealers and staffers associated with the iconic British folder's winning of the Queen's Award for Innovation. The ride was staged on Sat. Oct. 2, at the Guard's Parade Ground behind Buckingham Palace, and wound through the scenic Brompton Quarter (where inventor Andrew Ritchie first designed the bike three decades ago in his apartment) to the Brompton factory in Brentford, where the award was presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of London, Sir David Brewer.
Niedziocha is a bicycle mechanic who also runs Rack and Roll, a one-man handcraft operation in a former barn near New Hope PA, creating custom racks of steel tubing for bicycles and motorcycles. The rack was his response to a conversation with Trophy Bikes proprietor Michael McGettigan, who asked for a porteur rack that would be permanently mounted, carry a Domke F-6 camera satchel, and fold to allow the bike to fit in a standard Brompton box or case. Niedziocha finished the rack just in time for the Brompton weekend, despite recently becoming the new father of a baby girl.
Mr. Niedziocha dubbed it the "Bromke" rack and it attracted a fair bit of attention at the ride, and the next day at the Brompton World Championships, held at Blenheim Palace. This novel annual race, which requires business attire and features a Le Mans start, was part of the third annual Bike Blenheim Palace, which also featured a time trial, bicycle polo and stunt bike demonstrations.
A subset of Brompton owners enjoy customizing their folders and braved intermittent rain to check over one another's machines on the expansive grounds surrounding the Palace. Always on the lookout for the unique, many Bromptoneers expressed interest in Niedziocha's rack and disappointment that no price list or ordering information was yet to be had.
Niedziocha hopes to take advantage of the internet to reach such design mavens later on. Brompton's output is now over 25,000 bicycles a year, and while they themselves design and sell scores of practical accessories for their bicycles, a number of smaller cottage industries have sprung up in the UK and Japan making limited edition (and generally pricey!) custom items to fit Bromptons. Mr. Niedziocha's novel, US-made rack may soon be joining that exclusive and quirky queue.