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Portland Design Works Loading Dock Rear Rack (and Parquet Floor Flashbacks)

by Ted Johnson

Back when I was single… back when I still owned a car… back before the housing bubble… (Yes, this was a long time ago in Internet years.) I bought a condo. It was the first piece of real estate I’d ever owned. I was very proud and began gleefully nesting like a little girl with her first doll house.

The condo had old hardwood parquet floors that looked like the previous owner over the course of 20 years had cleared his nostrils on every tile. So I decided to have the floors sanded and coated with polyurethane.

The results were beautiful. I can show you pictures. (Think about that next time you’re stupefied by someone showing you wallet photos of their children.)

Parquet Floor Tiles

This is not my floor. You can tell because there are no smudge marks from my kisses.

And soon after I moved all my furniture onto these floors, the fear and worry set in. I began to see the foot of every chair as a hostile enemy. Anything perched on a table clearly had malevolent intentions to jump off and gouge my precious floors. I’m onto you and your wicked plans, you little bastard bookend. Their leader was the top-heavy wrought iron end table from Kenya with the unattached rough stone top.

I learned to live with these menaces. But I also learned the true meaning of Jefferson’s famous saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of nice flooring.”

Monticello must have tormented that man.

“Martha! Would you tell that slave to wipe his feet before coming into the house!”

“Which slave, Thomas?”

“That young one with the bright red hair.”

But I digress.

For a few months I’ve been using the Loading Dock, a rear rack from Portland Design Works. And dang, is it a looker — from the graceful curve of the aluminum tubing to the double-ply bamboo deck.Portland Design Works Loading Dock Rear Rack

It would make a great accessory for a pretty bike with lots of classy accents — the kind of bike I do not own.

So I put it on my old mountain bike, the one I use for winter commuting. (Sorry, Portland Design Works)

And after a few weeks of winter commuting, with a rack-top bag bouncing on it…Portland Design Works Loading Dock Rear Rack

…or being left out exposed to snow, ice, and rain…

Portland Design Works Loading Dock Rear Rack

…it started to show some wear.

Maybe wear is not the right word. It started to show signs of use. Grime, dirt, and other stuff that I’d never even notice on a metal deck.

Portland Design Works Loading Dock

Nooo....!

Crap! It’s the parquet floors all over again!

No. It’s just a rack, Ted. It’s just a rack.

But it was so pretty and new!

Settle down, Ted. But remember this internal dialog for when you write your review.

Well, it is bamboo. It’s a sustainably-grown wood, harder than pressure-treated pine, etc. It can handle weather. But it will require maintenance if I want to keep it all pretty looking.

I had to make a choice. Would I get all high-maintenance: clean it, oil it, let it sleep inside in its own bed?

Or would I treat it like any other rack? Tighten the mounting hardware, and put stuff on it.

I chose the latter. If I were to start taking special care of my rack, I might have to deal with my squeaky breaks. Then I’d be cleaning my chain on a regular basis, and doing other routine maintenance. I stepped back from the slippery slope. It is just a rack. And, in contrast to my beautiful former floors, nothing that I do for this rack will help the resale value of my house.

Pannier Mounting on the Portland Design Works Loading Dock

Mounting Vaude QMR Upper Hooks

So how does the Loading Dock work as a Just-a-Rack? Great.

It came with a nice little bag of hardware that included the p-clamps I needed (because my bike doesn’t have any kind of eyelets for mounting racks).

The bamboo deck has slots to accommodate the hooks on a variety of panniers.

I mounted a Vaude Eva’s Shopper (a fashionista pannier befitting the Loading Dock) and Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers (a totally utilitarian mismatch) to the rack easily without having to reposition the top hooks.

If you have panniers with non-adjustable top hooks, these slots ought to work for you. If they don’t, what the hell kind of panniers do you have anyway?

The Loading dock costs $95, and can carry up to 35 pounds, which is fine for most commuting loads. Other racks that carry the same weight, such as the Jandd Lite Duty Rear Rack, costs a lot less, but are rather homely by comparison.

If you need to carry more weight than that, you’re probably going on a tour. (So why the hell would you be considering a rack with a pretty bamboo deck?) You need something beefy, like an Old Man Mountain Pioneer Rack, which has a bit of pretty to it, if you insist. It also costs nearly twice as much.

So it’s just a rack, and a fine rack it is. But secretly I hope one day it’ll draw a compliment. You know the one. And I will blush.

 
BOB Trailer Sale

11 Responses to “Portland Design Works Loading Dock Rear Rack (and Parquet Floor Flashbacks)”

  1. BluesCat says:

    I love the Vaude QMR quick release system like on your Eva’s Shopper. Only problem is with a single-rail rack, like that purty Portland, if you mount a rack top bag on it you just negated the “quick release” part of the QMR system; you have to remove the rack top bag FIRST, and THEN you can release the Vaude. Hardly quick release anymore!

    You need to cowboy up, Ted, and git yerself that Old MAN Mountain Pioneer rack. It has that second set of lower side rails which are MADE for the QMR system and won’t interfere with it!

    Even if it DOES cost twice as much, your Better Half surely wouldn’t deny you the chance to have a REAL MAN’S RACK, would she? (Uh, did that come out right?)

  2. One word = stickers. Stickers protect everything Ted, I’ve got a whole bag of crazy stickers and you can cover that whole thing up so it never sees the light of day again.

  3. That would look great with some of those Planet Bike Bamboo Fenders!

  4. My philosophy is that stuff is made to be used. But I’m abusive that way.

    When we had nice wooden floors my wife insisted on felt padding on every piece of furniture we owned.

  5. Ted Johnson says:

    @BluesCat: I was experiencing that rack-top bag frustration this AM. For only about $50, there’s the Racktime Addit with a lower rail — and it can handle more weight. I may look into that.

    @Tom: I’m way ahead of you. When I start reviving my Schwinn Varsity, I think that’ll be my fashion bike. I’ll put the Loading Dock on that bike along with some bamboo fenders and other vanity accessories.

  6. Joel says:

    Waaaaayyyy too pretty. If I leave this wrought iron classic with fine bamboo wood work on my bike at the bus park and ride, then my bike will be lifted from the rack faster than a pint of beer in an Irish Pub on Saint Patrick’s day.

    They would remove this fine piece of detailed iron work, sell the rest of the bike for scrap, and mount this to the front of their row home as a showpiece (or trophy of their bike conquest) with some potted plants on top of it. It would be the talk of the neighborhood to the point that the owner will have to bring it inside the house every night. I would tirelessly pedal everyday looking for the rack that got away.

    I do like good iron work (I used to work in a Steel plant years ago)and the bamboo compliments it well. I would be proud to have this on my bike if there was a way to KEEP it on my bike!

  7. bergerandfries says:

    Ok, FINE, I’ll be the one who does it:

    Nice Rack!

  8. David Supple says:

    3M helicopter tape :)

  9. Calvin says:

    Nice review. What do you think about the steel rack version from Portland Design Works? How does that compare to this aluminum version? Slightly heavier, but higher payload.. so how does that weigh in on choosing one rack versus the other?

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