Customer Reviews: Topeak Explorer Bike Rack
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on August 31, 2009
If you need a rack for your bike, this appears to be a decent rack. However, I honestly have to say that it's not quite as nice as my old Bontrager "Back Rack 2" that this one is replacing. Let's start with the good:

- STURDY. My old rack only had two vertical supports, this one has three. Feels much more substantial. That's bad if you're a weight weenie, but good if you want to carry stuff and feel secure that it's not going anywhere.

- MTX track system is awesome. This is the whole reason that I got this rack, so that I could use a Topeak trunk bag. This is also one of those good/bad things however, as the Topeak trunk bag forces you to use the Topeak rack - there are no attachments on the Topeak trunk bag at all other than the MTX rail (if they still included velcro tie-downs, you could strap it to *any* rack, which would be nice if you had more than one bike, wanted to loan it to a friend, etc.) I haven't actually used it yet (so I'm holding off on reviewing the bag) but it was highly recommended by someone who uses it every day and I was so impressed with his that I had to get my own - both because it looked sturdy and useful and also because you can literally remove it in seconds and just carry it with you, rather than leave your tools, spare tube, pump, etc. out on your bike when you lock it up somewhere. Trek/Bontrager has their own similar system, and I was tempted to go that route and keep my old rack, but reviews of the security of the attachment were not as good as of the Topeak, and just the bag alone cost as much as buying the Topeak bag and rack together. Also I was unable to find a store that sold the Trek bags, while several stores near me sell Topeak.

- a nice byproduct of the MTX dovetail mount is that it covers your rear tire somewhat, so if you don't have fenders, it'll still catch some of the road debris that would otherwise be flung onto your back even without a trunk bag.

But then there's the bad:

- no height adjustment, which my old Bontrager rack had. This would be nice to be able to "tune out" slight heel strike if you happen to have panniers that are a little too long/far forward for your particular bike/rack/pannier setup. If you have a touring frame this is probably not going to be an issue for you, but if you have a road bike that you just want to put a rack on, it may be a problem.

- screws and washers provided appear to be plated steel, not stainless. They're stamped "9.8" which means that they're high strength - this is good, but I hope the plating is good too. Rust = bad.

- Only comes with one pair of straps to mount to your seat stay braze ons. And they're LONG. I'm either going to have to whack these down or just make my own out of some thick stainless sheet. I don't really need that long bit of steel hanging out over my rear tire not doing anything useful.

- Lower mounting points are really chunky - good for strength, but they interfere with the heads of the screws that mount the derailleur hanger to the dropout, so I am going to have to get some more 5mm washers to space them out slightly so that they can be fully tightened down. Obviously I have not yet mounted the rack on my bike, only test fit it to see what I'm going to have to buy/make to make it work. If you don't have a bolt-on derailleur hanger this won't be of concern to you.

- because of the lack of height adjustment, I'm going to have to put a really interesting bend in the straps to clear the straddle wire for my rear cantilevers (or again, just make my own) If it were height adjustable, I could just raise it another half inch, but...

- taillight mount for a standard two bolt taillight is nice, which my old rack didn't have - it just used a single bolt for a reflector. However, you can get an adapter from Peter White for less than four bucks to convert the single bolt reflector mount to a taillight mount, and the Bontrager rack has tubing that overhangs the taillight to keep it from getting beat up. The Topeak rack on the other hand hangs the taillight mount way out in back with no protection, and in fact when the rack arrived the taillight mount was already slightly bent. It bent back OK and the powdercoat held so no real worries, but I'll have to be more careful not to knock it into things.

So in short - if you want to use the MTX system, you need to get this rack (or other Topeak rack.) However, if you aren't mechanically inclined, you may want to just buy it from your local bike store instead and have them deal with fiddling with it.

If you aren't buying MTX bags and don't think you will in the future, and just want a light duty rack, I'd actually recommend the Bontrager Back Rack 2 instead. That's the only rack I've seen with adjustable height and it can really solve some problems. I'm hoping that I'll like the MTX feature enough that I won't regret not keeping my old rack and buying a universal trunk bag instead.
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on July 30, 2006
It seems to me a very good choice, Hard, good paint.

You can atach the painners at the sides of the rack, and in the top, the sleeping bag, a mattress or something else
It also hace a special atach point for your RED BACK LIGHT

A very very helpfull accesory for your bike when you travel

PAY ATENTION if you need it For DISC BRAKES BIKE or NOT, there is a diference in the way you atach it to the bike and also in the PRICE There are two models, almost exactly the same
Be carefull!!!
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on May 17, 2010
Just to start off, i should say that i am not really a 'hardcore' cyclist. If you're the kind of person who can put an entire bike together from memory, or the kind of person who commutes every day on a 900$ road bike and always wears spandex, your level of commitment and bicycle knowledge is probably years ahead of mine. I know enough to be able to name all the parts on my bike and do light maintenance, but i don't ride every single day, i don't tour, and i find road bikes kind of intimidating.

All that said, i like this rack a lot so far. It fit perfectly fine on my hybrid bike. I have a step-through frame, so the top of the rear tyre is actually several cm higher than the bosses on the seat stays, so i did have to bend the little rods on the front of the rack down quite a bit to get them to reach. But it's fine, it just requires a little effort; if i can do it, anyone can.

This might be self-explanatory, but just in case it's not, i do have one tip regarding those rods: If you do have to bend them, bend them only as much as you need to to get the holes on the rods to line up with the holes on the seat stays. Don't try to get it perfect, just keep it in place with one hand and use the other one to screw it on. The tightening of the screws will easily bend the rods the rest of the way.

Other than that, installation is pretty straight-forward. The instructions were kind of confusing to me at first because they're in a dozen languages, but actually there are only four or five steps. Partially screw the rods onto the rack, then screw the rack to the drop-outs, then bend the rods and/or screw them to the seat stays. You can then optionally install a rear light mount on the back of the rack. All the screws are standard hex bolts (i think #5 but i'm not positive), except for the one that attaches the light mount (it's a Phillips).

As far as quality and usability, i've only recently got 'serious' about bikes, so i don't have experience with any other racks. But from my experience just with this one, i'd say it's pretty good. I use a Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EX with my rack, and i have no complaints. There is a 'foot' on the bottom of the bag that slides into the rails on the bike rack, which holds the bag down and prevents it from moving side to side. Then there is a clip on the front of the bag that clamps down on the bar at the front end of the rack, which keeps it from sliding off the back. It seems very secure and there is almost zero movement.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who needs a rear rack. My only disclaimer is, again, what i said at the beginning -- i'm not a hardcore cyclist and i don't know much about the things that they'd be likely to worry about, like weight and carrying capacity. But for the average person at least i think it's great.
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on February 18, 2008
I love this rack. Sturdy as all heck once installed properly. Unfortunately I didn't realize the rack was made for bikes with seat stays which my Trek didn't have. After a couple of trips to the local outdoor store, I finally stopped by a proper bike shop and picked up a Blackburn Monostay Rack Adapter. It took me nearly an hour to get everything properly installed but once installed the rack didn't move. I use this rack with a Topeak DX bag (with panniers). The bag has QuickTrack and is super-sturdy on this rack. Highly recommended.
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on August 10, 2007
I bought this rack to put on my wife's beach cruiser with the Topeak rear basket. It is adaptable to all bicycles as advertised, but is designed to fit bicycles with threaded seat-stay bosses. If you're bicycle does not have threaded rack mounts, installation will require some type of adaptor. My wife's bike is an Electra and Electra sells a seat clamp with rack mounts which installs easily; other companies might sell a similar item. Installation was easy. Rack is very sturdy. The rear basket goes on easily with the MTX track system.Topeak MTX Rear Bicycle Basket
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on September 23, 2011
This is a very sturdy rack. Unlike some others, it has three (not two) support legs on each side and can support loads up to 55 pounds (according to the manufacturer). I've now installed this rack on two bikes- a Specialized Crosstrail Sport and a Trek 7000. It fits well on both.

Installation can be a little tricky, so here's what you need to know:

First, two optional plastic taillight mount pieces are included. You can pick one and screw it onto the rear of the rack. There are two holes but only one screw provided; best to get a matching screw from your local hardware store. The piece attaches from the inside of the rack, so you should screw it on BEFORE you mount the rack to the bike, otherwise it'll be difficult later on. Screw it on tight but not too tight, or else the screw will start poking out through the plastic.

Next, depending on the location of the upper seat stay holes, the mounting brackets that secure the rack to the top of the seat stays may have to be bent downward a little. It's best to temporarily screw the rack into the bottom seat stay holes, make sure the rack is level with the ground, and bend the mounting brackets by hand until they reach from the rack to the upper seat stay holes.

At this point you could screw everything in. You'll need a 5mm Allen wrench for the bolts, and a crescent wrench to hold the locknuts that secure the mounting brackets to the rack. However, if getting those four bolts through the locknuts is too difficult or time-consuming, you could unmount the rack and turn the locknuts using a socket wrench with a 5/16inch bit (holding the bolts steady with the Allen wrench).

Do a final check to make sure all 8 bolts are tight, and you're done forever! This rack will last longer than your bike. Even Bruce Lee could flying kick this rack and it won't come loose at all.
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VINE VOICEon June 16, 2008
I recently purchased an entry-level Schwinn bike to ride to work and to run errands in the face of $4 a gallon gas. I bought this rack because I liked the idea of the bags that slide and lock into place. It took about half an hour to install this rack on my bike. My seat post was pre-tapped but at an odd angle, so I had to bend the silver brackets slightly. Once attached it is solid, I have been riding about ten miles a day for the past week with it and I harldy notice it is there. I have not tested the 55 pound weight limit yet but I bought one of the smaller bags with no panniers. This is a great everyday rack, especially for this novice.
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on January 29, 2012
This bike rack is very easy to install. I have read a lot of reviews of other racks and had to return a rack I got at REI because it just wasn't going to fit my panniers, and was a bit too wide (go figure - should be a standard hub width).
I installed the rack in under 5 minutes, and can take it off and put it back in a matter of a minute or so - all it takes is remove 4 screws where the rack mounts to the bike. Make sure you have eyelets for the bike rack.
The top thin aluminum rails may need to be adjusted (=gently bent) to accomodate your frame. The forward/backward position of the rack can also be adjusted by the bolts connected to the rails. If you use panniers, I would recommend sliding the rack as far back as possible to avoid kicking panniers with your feet as you pedal. These adjustments only need to be made once.

The rack appears to be very sturdy. With 4 mounting points it is not going anywhere. I loaded 30-40 lbs onto the bike and the rack handled it just fine, even though the balance was obviously off (all weight on the back wheel). I also test-ridden a bike with one pannier on the side, about 25 lbs or so, and it also handled it fine.

The rack is not super-light, but lighter than average for this type. The mounting holes for lights/reflectors in the back are a nice touch. It is compatible with Topeak bag lock-in system but I have not tested it yet. Yet another plus, even though it's a great bike rack and a good deal even if you use it for non-Topeak bags.
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on May 16, 2008
A great value! Detailed directions. No extra parts - don't drop any of those tiny washers. I was lucky - my bicycle has threaded attachment points. If yours does not, be prepared to make a trip or 2 to the hardware store.

Also, the rack does not come with an Allen Wrench. Hopefully you have a set of Allen Wrenches on hand.
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on August 23, 2013
This review combines 3 Topeak products: The Topeak Explorer Bike Rack, the Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP Bicycle Trunk Bag with Rigid Molded Panels, and the Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP & DXP Bicycle Trunk Bag Rain Cover.

I would give each of these products 5 stars on their own, but I am reviewing them together because I thoroughly recommend them as a set.

The rack is rock solid. Several reviewers mentioned the need to bend the arms to fit their bikes, which nearly put me off. I am so glad I took the chance, as absolutely no bending was necessary on my Trek 7.2 FX. Easy to install, and allows you to use the Topeak range of slide-on products.

The trunk bag really is superb. I much prefer putting stuff on a rack than in a backpack, as I hate getting sweaty back and having to carry around a wet back pack afterwards. But so often when attaching items with bungees, they are pain to put on, and then you spend the whole journey looking behind you to see if everything is still there. With this setup, it slides onto the rack in about half a second, and feels absolutely secure.

The side panels fold completely away when not needed into zip-up compartments, which is fantastic. The main compartment is not too big, but carries everything you would normally need to take with you to work. When transporting clothes, laptop, shoes etc, you need to use the side panels. It is deceptively cavernous when fully utilized. Sometimes I only realize how much stuff I've put in there when I take it off the bike to carry it. Luckily they include a shoulder strap for those occasions.

The waterproof cover fits like a glove whether you have both side panels out, or just one, or neither of them. And it folds up into it's own, integrated pouch, which fits perfectly into the mesh compartment on top of the Trunk bag, so it's always there when you need it.

All in all, this package makes my commute to work completely hassle-free and I am very glad I bought all three items. Fantastic work, Topeak.
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