Published by Lyn on 18 April 2016
If your bike can't take normal pannier racks, then this review is for you. Richard Peace takes his bike for a spin with a Topeak RX Beamrack and trunk bag.
Topeak RX Beamrack with side frames and RX trunk bag
Rack and sideframes RRP £46.99
RX Trunk Bag and Panniers £54.99
Official website: topeak.com
Also available from Chain Reaction Cyclists and Wiggle (discounted at the time of writing)
Some bikes won't take regular pannier racks – notably many road bikes as they are race machines with frames smoothed out to the max for aerodynamic advantage (so no mounting bosses for racks) – and full suspension mountain bikes, where the pivoting rear frame makes mounting a conventional rear rack impossible.
My full-suspension Focus e-MTB was in need of carrying capacity and Topeak's RX Beamrack seemed to fit the bill. With a carrying rating of 9kg, it looked good for light touring and everyday carrying jobs.
The side frames allow you fit full size panniers whilst the top can of the rack can be used to bungee on extras or you can use one of Topeaks RX bags that handily slide and clip on. I used it with the EX Trunkbag, adding 2.8 litres of carrying capacity. The whole setup added around 1.5kg to the bike (1kg rack and 500g for the bag) but it has transformed its capabilities.
Fitting is simply a matter of adjusting the quick release clamp spindle to the correct length and clamping securely onto the seatpost (fits posts between 25.4mm and 31.8mm). Rubber 'shim' fitting is available for smaller posts, though I didn't need to use this.
In use the rack stayed put – previous beamrack designs I've tried had a tendency to slip on the post meaning you overtighten them and quickly overstress and wear out the quick release fitting. The Topeak rack looks well-engineered and designed and doesn't need overtightening to stay put. I've done around 100 miles with it on and it's still solid.
The only real cons are that it is easily stealable if left on the bike (so a longer than average lock – or a secondary one – might be advisable to stop constant dismounting and mounting of the rack) and the fact that the RX rack bag could not be used along with conventional panniers whose mounts fouled the mounting track.
The standard trunkbag used on its own will let you carry enough to keep you going on a long day ride; pump, spare tubes, toolkit plus drinks and food. If you want a more serious load carrier check out the larger 7-litre DXP version with even larger 'rollout' side panniers. As long you are careful with load weight, the Beamrack should also take fully loaded standard panniers like the Axiom ones I reviewed here.
In summary, this is a great set up if you can't fit a conventional pannier rack to your bike for whatever reason.
Richard Peace is founder of Excellent Books, specialists in cycle publishing. He is author of Cycling Southern France (UK, US), Cycling Northern France (UK, US), and Electric Bicycles: The Complete Guide (UK, US). He is a regular contributor to A to B magazine, Bike Europe and writes for Eurobike Show Daily.