I find myself needing to buy a rear rack (old rack stolen along with the bike it was attached to) and replacing a failing pannier all at once, and I am being seduced by the apparent ease of the Topeak Quick-Track bag and rack systems. Anybody have any noteworthy experiences with these bags and racks? Specifically, I'm wondering about the differences between the Explorer rack and the Tourist DX rack. The MTX Trunk Bag EXP has panniers that expand from the sides and I'm concerned about the panniers swinging in toward the tire and spokes with the basic Explorer rack.
Both my wife and I have had the basic Topeak Explorer racks on our bikes for 4 or 5 years.
She uses a MTX EXP trunk bag as well, and has never had a problem with the panniers swinging into tires or spokes. The panniers on the MTX EXP trunk bag are fine for grocery runs and for packing all she needs for a 2 or 3 day credit card trip. She keeps the panniers folded and stowed when not in use.
We also use the Explorer racks for longer trips with regular panniers, like Arkel GT 54 or GT 18 bags. With a 55lb capacity, the rack will hold more weight than I'm willing to carry on the back of my bike.
It is not possible to mount regular panniers, like the Arkel GT 54s, and the Topeak MTX trunk bag on the Explorer rack at the same time. When installed, the trunk bag blocks the pannier mounting rails. If you want to carry both external panniers and the trunk bag at the same time, you would need the Topeak Super Tourist rack, where the pannier mounting rails are below the trunk bag mounting plate.
That said, there never was a time when I wanted to carry both external panniers AND the trunk bag at the same time.
( http://topeak.com/products/Racks for those wondering we're talking about. )
An enthusiastic "ditto" on Larry's endorsement of the Explorer Rack and the MTX EXP trunk bag with panniers - I've been using mine for commuting for about a year now without any issues. I really like the Quick-Track system - easy on/easy off.
They do a great job of hauling a couple days worth of clothes and work items, and never problem with getting tangled up in tires or spokes, even when stuffed.
True, you can't add separate panniers next to the trunk bag, but if you need to move that much more stuff (big-touring loads) you're probably better off using the top of the rack for tent/sleeping bag/larger items (instead of the trunk bag) with larger panniers.
Nice bonus - the side zip-ups that hold the folded panniers are great for keeping thinner items, like your phone, maps, smaller items.
For me, this has been a very convenient and reasonably priced solution.