Porters. You may know the word as a category of dark beer, as a railroad sleeping car attendant or as someone hired to schlep baggage. Let’s French-iphy that a wee bit and apply the definition to bicycles. Frenchiphying it is the easy part: just a “u” after the “e”. Porteur. There. Très bien!
But what does this have to do with bikes? Well, take a gander at this peloton:
It’s a fur piece different than, say, this peloton, jah?
You’ll notice that the bikes feature distinctly different handlebars (swept back bars in the B&W photo, drop bars in the color photo) and heavily laden front platform racks in the B&W photo. These bars are referred to as porteur bars and these racks as porteur racks.
Let’s say you want to be like these stouthearted giants and schlep–I mean really schelp–loads and loads of stuff up front where you can see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, then the porteur rack is the way to go.
This post will be updated with a table of porteur racks including platform size, pannier-ability, material, price, weight and attachment point. Oh boy!
Part 2 (which proves to be more challenging given my limited headspace) will cover commonly available handlebar options.
1) The super sweet porteur race picture hails across the Internet at, from my reading, the definitive classic porteur almanac, Blackbird, where site author and historian, Joel Metz has assembled a treat for the porteur obsessed reader to pore over. Specifically, this photo comes from a page dedicated to the 1947 Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux.
2) Our second photo is from the 1987 Paris-Roubaix race that I found hosted on Pinterest. Clearly, there’s a better source, but I thought it was a nice shot of the “Hell of the North” back when cycling pros still rode steel frames with quill stems. Specifically, the caption read, “Rudy Dhaenens leads Sean Kelly in the 1987 Paris-Roubaix” but our photographer and original source for this gem is unknown to me.