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Kmart branded cast aluminum rack

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Kmart branded cast aluminum rack

Old 07-08-20, 06:09 PM
  #1  
reverborama
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Kmart branded cast aluminum rack

Arguably neither classic nor vintage this beauty came on a '76 Nishiki International I picked up quite a while ago. I thought it was hilarious so on the shelf it went. Due to the pandemic the August 1st Tour de Tonka, a very well-supported bike ride around the communities on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, was canceled. In its place will be a "virtual" tour in which we'll ride a similar distance as what we signed up for (like 70 miles) but with no rest stops. We're up for it but we'll need to carry more stuff with us. So I dragged the bad-boy up and looked at mounting it to my regular ride. First off, it was too narrow. The axle width on my bike is much wider than the Murray single speed this was probably meant to go on. I ground off the rivets and added some spacers so the supports would be in the same plane as the fender mounts. Even so, the supports were a little on the short side so it was canted back pretty bad. I picked up a 3-foot section of 1/4 inch aluminum tubing, cut it to length, pinched the ends flat and drilled them. Now the rack sits level and I can mount a bag to it. The tubes are a little lighter weight than the originals, which I believe are solid so hopefully they were a little over-engineered. Frankly, the whole thing is lighter than most of the modern ones I've seen. If it works out I might need to keep it installed.


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Old 07-08-20, 06:18 PM
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I have one just like it on my mountain bike. The salty air here is causing the aluminum to corrode, but it still works and yes, I had to engineer it to get it on the bike, (full suspension) but it also holds the panniers and a tail light. Cool!
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Old 07-08-20, 06:20 PM
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It's a Taiwanese "homage" to the Swiss Pletscher, the spring-loaded destroyer of groceries and snapper of fingers
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Old 07-08-20, 06:22 PM
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Neat! I think this would absolutely be considered classic (rat track rack) and vintage (this has got to be at least 25 years old.) Are there even any K-marts left?
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Old 07-08-20, 06:41 PM
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That looks like a rebranded Pletscher rack.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zombdog/5218776998

A friend of mine rode across Canada back in the early 1970s using a Pletscher rear rack to hold his gear. He enjoyed the ride and wrote a book about it = "JOURNEY ACROSS A CONTINENT" by David Gidmark.

Cheers
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Old 07-08-20, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
Are there even any K-marts left?
Strangely, apparently there are still a few left. There was an old K-mart here in LA until November of last year, when if finally closed. It was like a time warp to the 70s. I never thought to look at the 'bicycle' section, but it wouldn't have surprised me if they were still selling these 70s era Pletscher rack knock-offs well into the 21st century.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
That looks like a rebranded Pletscher rack.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zombdog/5218776998

A friend of mine rode across Canada back in the early 1970s using a Pletscher rear rack to hold his gear. He enjoyed the ride and wrote a book about it = "JOURNEY ACROSS A CONTINENT" by David Gidmark.

Cheers
I've got a Pletscher as well. The design is slightly different and the finishing on the Kmart one is much cruder which makes me wonder if it is a rebranding or a complete rip-off.


Last edited by reverborama; 07-08-20 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:19 PM
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There were Japanese copies as well, likely sold at K-mart before the Taiwan-made production.

The Japanese ones were just about as nice as the originals, I had one on a U08 for years and it held up to a lot of loading and off-roading.

I remember K-mart in the 70's having a lot of stuff made in Japan that turned out to be rather high quality, stuff like tools and even gloves iir.
I bought my timing light there back in the day and actually used it today! I've had two others burn out over the years, but the US-made All Pro from K-mart is the sole survivor.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:26 PM
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That's a cool rack, and the Kmart connection makes it even cooler, well, to me anyways. I'm sure I still have a Pletcher rack (or three) around in my shed, somewhere.
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Old 07-08-20, 11:38 PM
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Cheap, flimsy Chinese knockoff of a cheap, flimsy Pletscher; what's not to love?
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Old 07-09-20, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
Neat! I think this would absolutely be considered classic (rat track rack) and vintage (this has got to be at least 25 years old.) Are there even any K-marts left?
I have to agree, with Kmart gone now and with all the other renditions of the old Pletscher racks out there I'd have to put that one on a shelf.
I do seem to remember those years ago hanging on hook in the bike department at Kmart along side the bulb horns, mickey mouse bells, and various other Kmart packaged items. I've seen those racks with various names on them, Cycle Pro, Free Spirit, and a few others over the years. There was a time when Kmart was big enough to buy in sufficient quantities to have their own branding.
I've got a Taiwan made knockoff on one of my beater bikes, its held up just fine over the years.
I never really figured out what that rat trap like device on top was good for, anything that it would hold down would be too small to worry about needing a rack for. When I was in school, those who used them to carry books usually just used bungee cords, but in reality, most people wore a back pack. I had bolted a cooler down to mine and used to for my lunch and carried everything else on my back.
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Old 07-09-20, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by barnfind View Post
I have to agree, with Kmart gone now and with all the other renditions of the old Pletscher racks out there I'd have to put that one on a shelf.
I do seem to remember those years ago hanging on hook in the bike department at Kmart along side the bulb horns, mickey mouse bells, and various other Kmart packaged items. I've seen those racks with various names on them, Cycle Pro, Free Spirit, and a few others over the years. There was a time when Kmart was big enough to buy in sufficient quantities to have their own branding.
I've got a Taiwan made knockoff on one of my beater bikes, its held up just fine over the years.
I never really figured out what that rat trap like device on top was good for, anything that it would hold down would be too small to worry about needing a rack for. When I was in school, those who used them to carry books usually just used bungee cords, but in reality, most people wore a back pack. I had bolted a cooler down to mine and used to for my lunch and carried everything else on my back.
I've always wondered too. I can't say I've been able to think of or have seen a good use for that spring loaded portion of the rack. Anyone know what a good use is for those?
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Old 07-09-20, 05:20 AM
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Yeah, launching a bag of groceries onto the pavement
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Old 07-09-20, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
That looks like a rebranded Pletscher rack.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zombdog/5218776998

Cheers
I'm thinking Pletscher must have been the Schwinn Approved vendor that supplied Schwinn branded spring loaded racks....anyone know ?? This one was on my beloved '75 Continental when 1st bought.


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Old 07-09-20, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
There were Japanese copies as well, likely sold at K-mart before the Taiwan-made production.

The Japanese ones were just about as nice as the originals, I had one on a U08 for years and it held up to a lot of loading and off-roading.

I remember K-mart in the 70's having a lot of stuff made in Japan that turned out to be rather high quality, stuff like tools and even gloves iir.
I bought my timing light there back in the day and actually used it today! I've had two others burn out over the years, but the US-made All Pro from K-mart is the sole survivor.
Back in the day our Kmart sold all kinds of parts for BMX bikes, I bought a lot of upgrades for my BMX bike there and now the price of those parts in the collecting world have gotten pretty pricey.

Glenn
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Old 07-09-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
Cheap, flimsy Chinese knockoff of a cheap, flimsy Pletscher; what's not to love?
Marked "Made in Taiwan"?

I'll bet there are several re-brands. A Taiwan-made knock-off, branded Timberlin (WI-based '90s bike/component import start-up, eventually swallowed up by Pacific), came on a '70s Raleigh 3-speed we bought a while back.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
I've always wondered too. I can't say I've been able to think of or have seen a good use for that spring loaded portion of the rack. Anyone know what a good use is for those?
They held a sweatshirt just fine or a light jacket. Also a neat place to secure your baseball mit.
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Old 07-09-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
Cheap, flimsy Chinese knockoff of a cheap, flimsy Pletscher; what's not to love?
What is there to love? They were inexpensive way to add a rack to your bike. For many, they did a admirable job of carrying our books, book bag, and/or lunch to school. That's what there is to love. Not every rack was going to be tasked with carrying 40 lbs of bicycle touring gear. Those Pletcher racks were ubiquitous in the late 70's and early 80's, and during my years working at a bicycle shop in the 80's, I don't recall any of them failing unless they saw serious abuse.
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Old 07-09-20, 11:52 AM
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Besides the above mentioned items, mine would regularly carry a fishing pole.
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Old 07-09-20, 12:28 PM
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The spring loaded trap on these racks are the perfect size to hold a large krptonite u-lock. I found it very useful when commuting.

I really like the look of that Schwinn version. It's perfect for supporting a large saddle bag. The way it flows up the the seatpost will help keep the bag away from brake cable.
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Old 07-09-20, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
They held a sweatshirt just fine or a light jacket. Also a neat place to secure your baseball mit.
I used to hang my baseball mitt thru the wrist opening dangled from the handlebars of my knockoff Stingray. I wasn't gradiated to 10 speeds yet....
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Old 07-09-20, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Marked "Made in Taiwan"?

...
Taiwan, Republic of China, as they call themselves.

I know they have their fans here. But I managed to break two of those Pletschers without half trying. But what I hated most* was the unstable wobbling on those two spindly legs going down to the dropouts, even with a very light load.

* I didn't realize I hated it until I got my first Blackburn, with three solid legs going down on either side, and learned that a rack doesn't necessarily have to wobble side to side under moderate pedaling effort.
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Old 07-09-20, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
Taiwan, Republic of China, as they call themselves.
"You are in a helicopter." I.e. true, but irrelevant. It does not mean that something marked "Made in Taiwan" is "China made", any more than a product made in Mexico, which is in North America, is "American made".
* I didn't realize I hated it until I got my first Blackburn, with three solid legs going down on either side, and learned that a rack doesn't necessarily have to wobble side to side under moderate pedaling effort.
The very definition of a stable rack is one of the early Jim Blackburn SS-1 racks attached to a Trek sport-tour bike with braze-ons. Jim and the folks at Trek collaborated on spacing of the attachment points for a perfect fit. A rack so attached almost feels like an extension of the frame.
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