The Chainlink

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.

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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.

I have to agree with these guys. I have been using the MTX and the Explorer rack for over 3 years now. I sprayed the bag with some commercial waterproofer (Kiwi, I think) like I do some of my bags and hikers. It really helps out in the big storms.
The expandable "panniers" have little adjustable loops at the bottom that hook onto the bottom of the rack frame. So you shouldn't have them swinging into the tire. I have gone grocery shopping (for a family of 4) to include in the winter (we didn't have a car) and have loaded the panniers to the brim. I guess I have beaten that thing up pretty well, it is still up and running. That rig is on my Beast (2009 Schwinn Frontier mountain bike) that was my sole commuter for 3 years. With a little TLC, I expect it to last me another few years. Plus the fact that you can just slide the bag off and on (there is a good hook that keeps it secure during just about any ride), put a shoulder strap on it and use it for a satchel type bag is also a a positive thing. I have even made some shoulder straps from 550 cord after last year's Bike The Drive, so I could walk around with it.

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