The Tortec Epic Alloy is the non-ferrous version of their highly adaptable touring rack designed to withstand similar hardship without failure, albeit with a 30kg, rather than 40kg maximum payload.
Made from 6061 rod and available in a choice of anodised silver or black powder coated finishes, it's a subtly clever set up designed to fit a full range of frame sizes, shapes and types.
The most obvious benefit of a rack with two levels of pannier attachment bars is faff-free access to trunk or sleeping bag with panniers on. It also sets luggage further back, improving heel clearance on bikes with short chainstays. My mile munching Univega tourer proved an obvious guinea pig. Ready in thirty minutes flat using the bog standard fitting kit and some precautionary licks of threadlock to fasteners, we were ready for some heavy hauling.
Neatly executed TIG welds unite 6mm rod for an aesthetically pleasing and moreover, super rigid effect that still entertains most popular Klick-fix hardware with two-second tweaks. Despite the five year warrantee, I wrapped good quality electrical tape round the contact points as experience says wear here can lead to premature failure.
The Epic Alloy's lateral stiffness is vastly superior to similarly priced competition, especially when loads sneak past the twenty kilo mark. This isn't immediately obvious on shorter runs but I've felt noticeably fresher after thirty miles or so with a halfway supermarket shop on board, since less rider effort is required to keep everything on course through hairpin descents, granny-ring climbs and dirt road short cuts.
The generous top plate affords better support to the more capacious Super C type rack bags than competitor models I've run recently, preventing annoying slouch or rear lighting being obscured. Similarly, there's been refreshingly little heel contact-even with my size nines and 20 litre expedition panniers en tow. A few weeks and 400 miles later, everything's looking extremely rosy.
I wouldn't subject this (or indeed any aluminium carrier) to continent-crossing blue-yonder stuff since warrantees are cold comfort in the event of failure in outer Mongolia. Its costlier Inox sibling (complete with 10 year warranty) represents better value for those determined to carry the proverbial kitchen sink.
Rugged alloy rack with bundles of charm particularly suited to smaller/compact frames.
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Make and model: Tortec Epic Alloy rack
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"An alloy version of our stainless steel Epic pannier rack. The Epic Alloy offers a lighter version of the steel racks' robust, streamlined design.
Supplied with long and short seat stay mounts to cover the maximum bike frame size range.
Also supplied with disc mount kit for disc equipped bikes (carrying capacity is unaffected when using this kit)".
Nicely made heavy duty touring companion, though its stainless steel sibling would be a better bet for back of blue yonder exploits.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
5 year warranty
Max Load 30kg.
TIG welded 6061 aluminium rod
Very nicely executed.
Should withstand plenty of heavy duty service and the five year warranty adds further piece of mind. However, resisting practices such as resting laden bikes down on their luggage wherever possible certainly helps.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
My preference lies with steel racks but Tortec's aluminium alloy epic is easy to fit, even to tricky configurations, superbly rugged and thus well suited to most types of domestic touring/general riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Extremely rigid two-tier design, top plate accommodates longer rack bags better than most.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for most duties bar full blown transcontinental touring.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)