Top critical review
222 people found this helpful
good rack, MTX is cool, but there are better if you don't need MTX
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.