Topeak Explorer Tubular Rack (with Spring)
Pros: Currently costing about $40, this Topeak “Explorer” rear rack is exceedingly rugged, versatile and handy.
Cons: None for me. [But certain consumers might require a somewhat lengthier (alternatively available) Topeak model.]
In my prior review I discussed Topeak’s MTX trunk bag DXP. In this present review I’ll focus on Topeak’s compatible “Explorer” rack, whose “QuickTrack” design makes for quick and easy attachment/detachment of the trunk bag to the rear rack.
Via a nearby bike dealer, I bought this rack some years ago – at the same time that I purchased the aforementioned trunk bag. Since I’d taken in my Trek 7100 bike to that dealer, he courteously agreed to mount this rack to my bike at no extra charge (beyond the roughly $30 that I paid for the rack). Not that it would’ve been highly difficult to attach this straightforwardly configured rack myself, but I do advise the shrewd reader to consider availing herself of any and all such “freebies” from local shops. [In like manner, this “lazy” cyclist’s busy dealer freely installed his bike’s silvery fenders; its mirror; its extra-comfy saddle; and some inner-tire nylon rings (which help avert flats). Sure, I “could’ve” done it myself, but why bother when expert installation’s free for the asking?]
This rear rack has two features that particularly distinguish it from many competing products:
1. Its large, spring-tensioned “clip” is handy whenever you wish to carry a rather small load (e.g., a book or few) and thus won’t need to take the trunk bag along.
2. Its black, upright, tubular-aluminum “side frames” reliably prevent an attached trunk bag’s opened, dangling “pannier” compartments from interfering with the rear wheel during travel. [Those normally hidden, expandable panniers greatly increase the cargo capacity of the trunk bag. In fact, those capacious panniers can hold just enough groceries (or whatever) as to make it quite unnecessary for me to wear a backpack.]
This “MTX-QuickTrack-system-compatible” rack is fashioned of strong, lightweight, hollow “6061 T-6” aluminum. And its standard size and configuration mean that it should fit essentially any “hybrid” style – or, I assume, “mountain” style – bike frame. In any case, it fits my Trek model 7100 hybrid model perfectly. It measures approximately 13.6 by 9.3 by 16.1 inches (L x W x H). And its weight capacity is said to be 55 pounds; now, I’ve not scientifically verified this, but I suspect that it could hold considerably more weight than that without incurring any damage.
At the rear of this rack, there’s a bracket incorporating several holes that make it possible for you to connect almost any typical reflector. [Doing so might seem a bit like overkill, insofar as the rear of any compatible Topeak trunk bag already incorporates a strip of highly reflective 3M “tape.”]
And so, if you simply want to tote several books or other smallish items, this rack’s built-in, spring-tension clip should nicely suffice. But if you instead want to carry a rather sizable load of groceries, hardware, or library-media items, you can immediately and easily “slide-and-snap” any of Topeak’s compatible, highly expandable “trunk bags” onto this rack’s ingeniously designed “QuickTrack.” After several years of use (including countless trips to the supermarket or library), my specimen of this product remains in essentially pristine shape. Thus I’d confidently recommend this reasonably affordable Topeak Explorer rack to virtually anybody. Just be sure to select the particular version that does incorporate the occasionally handy “spring” clip! [One or more (confusingly similar) alternatively available “Explorer” models don’t.]