There has been a lot of talk lately about commuting, so I thought it would be good to cover some of the things that make my daily commute a lot easier.
I rarely get excited about something as boring as a rack, but this is a rare case of brilliance. The Rack is nothing special, but what it has is a metal channel down the middle that a Topeak MTX bag can slide onto. If you have ever seen the typical commuting bag, they are held on with a series of tie downs and they are a pain to constantly put on and take off the bike. With the MTX system, the bag just slides on and the latch clicks shut. 1 second to put in on, 1 second to take it off. Considering that you put the bag on the bike in the morning, take it off and bring it into the office, then replay that whole scenario when you get home, that is 4 moves, totaling less time than just one traditional attachment would take. This makes the bag very easy to take off and carry with you inside a store as well.
The Explorer rack comes in a 26” and 29” version and also has a disc model. I bought the 26” disc model and originally mounted it on a mountain bike. Eventually I bought a commuter and even though it was 27” (700c) the rack fit on with no issue. If you don’t have a disc brake, then get the regular rack, the mounting is more straightforward that way.
The bag itself is very roomy. The side panels unzip and panniers come out. With 2 huge saddle bags and the center area you have a ton of space. The center also expands with a zipper, rising up and giving you additional space. My normal work commute is a pair of jeans, shoes, socks, underwear, a belt, toiletries for the shower and a towel. That easily fits into the top (unexpanded) and one pannier. Clearly all of that is only taking half of the room.
The bag has lots of external room including a holder for a water bottle and a top mesh/bungee area that actually holds a U-lock easily. The sides and back feature reflective material and there is a spot on the back of both the bag and the rack for holding a tail light (so you could have dual lights.)
The bag does have a shoulder strap that you could use to better hold the bag, but I have never bothered with it, my walk to the building is short and the load is light.
I was able to put a large laptop computer in the pannier, wrapped in a towel and had no problems getting it to work.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Easy to install, seconds to attach and unattach
Cons: The horizontal dropouts on my Redline singlespeed get in the way of the rack mounting. It holds but some modification might need to be done.
Configuration: Mounted to a 700c Redline 925 commuter bike
Verdict: If you commute by bike, you must get this, it is worth the extra money