There are a lot of options for hauling your stuff on your bike. Baskets, racks, panniers and more. One of the leaders in creating innovative, quality products in this field is Topeak, and their MTX Beam Rack series continues in that mold. I have used the MTX Beam Rack for the past six months, and have been pleased with it in all aspects. It has so many features, it's tough to remember them all.
Look Ma, No Struts!
A main thing that differentiates the MTX Beam Rack from many other bike rack designs is that it is solely mounted to the seat post. There are no support struts to mount to the frame or rear axle. Not only does that reduce weight, but it looks cool as well. It also makes it very easy to take on and off. You don’t even need a wrench.
The MTX Beam Rack has a quick release attachment so that it can be mounted or removed from the bike in a matter of seconds. You don’t have to worry about leaving your bike somewhere and hoping that the rack hasn’t been swiped from it while you were gone.
Made of light-weight aluminum, it weighs only a pound and a half yet still manages to keep a stout 20-lb carrying capacity.
Best Used with a Topeak Bag
Sure, you can carry your stuff directly on the rack, securing it with the rubber bungee cord that is incorporated in the rack itself if that's what you want to do. But the MTX Beam Rack is clearly intended to be used in conjunction with one of Topeak’s Trunk Bags via the Quick Track system, a nifty design that eliminates the need for trying to lash stuff down with bungee cords all together.
The base of the bag fits neatly into a track on the rack, and an easy-to-use clip holds the bag securely so that your stuff doesn’t tumble off when you’re riding down the street, while still allowing you to remove the bag in seconds to take it with you.
This rack is available with several different neck configurations that allow it to fit to just about any bike. I use the v-neck bar on my road bike, which causes the rack to sit lower over the rear wheel, giving enough clearance for the bag to tuck in snugly below and behind the saddle, not crowding my backside as I ride. The e-type goes straight back from the seat post, and should work just fine on mountain bikes, while the MTX rack with the A-Type neck lifts the rack up higher, good for bikes where the rider is upright and clearance of the back tire might be a concern.
Topeak provides rubber shims with the MTX Beam Rack to go between the quick release mechanism and the seatpost. It is important that these are used -- and used correctly -- for a couple of reasons.
First, without any supporting struts, the MTX Beam Rack (and any other beam rack) is going to more prone to swaying back and forth when you pedal, particularly if you are carrying a heavier load. I have not experienced this in the MTX, but it was a minor problem in earlier versions of this design. Having the rubber shims allows the quick release mechanism to grip tighter and more securely around that seat post, and will eliminate that swaying.
Second, the rubber shims provide protection for your seat post, which is particularly important if yours is made from carbon fiber. I wasn’t as attentive as I could have been with placement of the shims one time when I mounted the rack, and when I later removed the rack, saw where the edges of the quick release bracket had started to cut just a bit into the carbon fiber seat post.
I am a fan of the MTX Beam Rack, particularly as it is used with the Topeak bags in the Quick Track system. I use this gear regularly in my commute, and it serves me well. It is well constructed and continues to impress me with thoughtful and innovative design features.
If you choose to go with Topeak and their MTX Beam Rack, my recommendation is to plan on buying it in conjunction with some version of the trunk bag to maximize its usefulness. Note that you won't be able to use a pannier with the beam rack. Having no struts means there is nothing to keep the pannier bags out of your spokes. Finally, pay close attention to which type of neck is best-suited for your bike, so that you're not having to exchange product types back-and-forth to get one that fits.