ARGUABLY THE MOST EMPOWERING ACCESSORY FOR THE “FRUGAL” BICYCLIST

Topeak MTX Trunk Bag DXP

trunk bag

Pros: This amazingly compact-yet-expandable bag has continually proved itself eminently versatile and durable.

Cons: Not cheap!

Some years ago, wanting to augment the load-carrying utility of my Trek 7100 “hybrid” bicycle but wanting to avoid the hassles of straps, bungee cords, duffle bags or backpacks, I purchased Topeak’s MTX Trunk Bag DXP via a local bike shop. At that time my cost was somewhat over $60, not including a roughly $30 Topeak “Explorer” rack – whose compatible “QuickTrack” design makes attaching/detaching this bag the proverbial snap. And I’m pleased to report that my specimen of this bag (not to mention the rugged, reliable rack to which it attaches) has remained in great shape to this day.

Beneath this bag’s solid base lies a contiguous, durable-plastic extension having beveled edges extending from front to rear. That modest extension firmly slides into a correspondingly shaped “track” on the compatible Topeak rack. Simply slide the trunk bag all the way onto the rack till the bag snaps securely into position. [A conspicuous yellow, durable-plastic clasp at the front end of the trunk bag reliably locks the bag into position during travel. To release the bag, press the clasp downward, then slide the bag backward with one quick-and-easy motion.]

Note that Topeak also markets an alternative “MTS” trunk-bag model whose construction features Velcro straps (instead of the above-mentioned durable-plastic extension beneath the bag’s base) such that connection is possible with almost any luggage rack. However, while it does appear that that alternative “MTS” version would be at least adequately serviceable, for anyone intending to use this bag with a specific bicycle (and who doesn’t mind paying extra for the requisite rack), I would definitely suggest opting for this “QuickTrack-attachment” version instead. For, not only is attaching/detaching it maximally quick-and-easy, but also I can personally attest to its long-term ruggedness and reliability.

This bag’s overall dimensions (in “unexpanded” mode) are only about 14.2 x 9.8 x 11.4 inches; and it weighs just 2.6 pounds. Its various separately zippered compartments provide up to 1,380 cubic inches of storage.

On the one hand, this bag can be remarkably conveniently compact when you need it to be. You can simply grasp it by its upper handle and carry it – like a purse or valise – into virtually any retail store. I’ve done that on many occasions at Walmart or the supermarket and have never been scrutinized – much less approached – by any suspicious “door guard” or employee. It’s likewise compact enough to easily fit into the bottom or upper portion of the typical shopping cart.

On the other hand, when you absolutely need it to be, this multifaceted trunk bag can be expanded to amazing proportions for carrying a rather substantial load of groceries, hardware or library items!

For starters, its main compartment is more than large enough (especially when in “vertically expanded” mode) to contain not only my heavy-duty antitheft chain and padlock but also such grocery items as a gallon of milk or perhaps even some eggs (in which case I’ve successfully used some layers of “bubble-wrap” as protective padding). Not that I myself have ever had any significant liquid leakage occur, but if necessary you could easily wipe up any spills from that compartment’s moisture-resistant lining.

trunk bag.jpg panniers
Behold those capacious panniers!

But even more impressively expansive are the (normally concealed) twin, zippered “panniers” that you can dangle on either side of your bike’s rear wheel. [Topeak’s compatible rear rack has side frames that reliably prevent the panniers from touching the wheel.] Each pannier is fashioned of surprisingly strong (seemingly rip-proof) synthetic fabric that, in my experience, is fully able to withstand the weight of many cans of food filling it virtually to capacity.

Additionally, this trunk bag’s various littler sections/compartments can collectively carry all sorts of relatively small stuff – including lists, books, caps, sunglasses and (at the rear exterior) a water bottle.

Moreover, all exterior sides of this bag (plus the aforementioned panniers) that are visible during transit feature 3M Reflective Strips for enhancing the rider’s safety.

Though the price of this Topeak trunk bag is currently about $80, it could prove to be money well spent when you factor how much “car expense” you could eliminate by (at least sometimes) pedaling – not driving – to and from an accessible store, park or library.

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