Bontrager's BackRack Lightweight will fit pretty much any bike, and with its ease of fitment once set up is ideal for daily use or just bunging on for the odd excursion. For such a lightweight design it's surprisingly sturdy too.
- Pros: Solid once fitted, easily converts a race bike into a load carrier
- Cons: Can be quite a bit of cutting and fettling to achieve the first fit.
Initial fitting of the BackRack can be a bit of a faff. That's not totally the rack's fault, as the bikes I tried it on ranged in seatstay heights and angles, different brakes and everything else.
The bars used for attaching the top half of the frame to the bike are quite long to accommodate large frame sizes, but this means they can catch on the cross-section bars. It takes a bit of faith to start cutting things with a hacksaw before you are at that final fit stage.
With a bit of 'measure twice and cut once', though, you can make this rack fit pretty much any bike provided it uses quick releases and has a brake bridge, if it doesn't have specific mounts at the dropout or seatstays for fitting a rack. Oh, it can't have carbon dropouts, though.
First off, if your bike doesn't have rack mounts at the dropout then you need to use the stainless steel adaptors, through which you thread the quick release.
In the box of spares provided by Bontrager you'll find an extended quick release skewer just in case your original one is too short to cope with the extra width. The adaptors will add about 6mm overall.
To attach the top of the rack to the frame, Bontrager provides two bars, one for each seatstay if you have mounting points. If not, you just use one and attach it to the bracket that fits to the brake bridge. (Each bar is fixed to the rack with a grub screw; undo completely to remove one bar and loosen the other to slide the second bar to the centre, then tighten.)
The bracket is a neat little solution and it's certainly sturdy enough to take the maximum weight load of the rack at 22.7kg (50lb). It's knurled front and back to replace the star washer you find behind the brake calliper, and it has a thin rubber coating to stop paint rub should it touch the frame.
With everything fitted, you don't really notice the added weight when the rack is empty – after all, it's only 406g thanks to its hollow alloy tubing. Considering the weight, or lack of it, I was very impressed with how sturdy everything felt. It's rock solid.
With a usable length of about 35cm and 10cm at its widest, there are plenty of bags available on the market that you can attach, although I mostly just used a couple of bungy straps for carrying various things, and with plenty of attachment points had no issues.
Loaded up with a bag carrying plenty of tools and spares for a day ride, or popping to the shops for a few essentials, there was little issue with the weight I was carrying. Even riding off to a barbecue with a crate of beer and a couple of bottles of wine on board I didn't feel any sway or movement from the rack.
The only real downside with a rack of this style, if you are using the quick release, is that if you have a puncture you have to fully remove the skewer to drop the wheel out.
My bike is running tubeless at the moment, and punctures are few and far between, but even so I'd consider this a minor inconvenience rather than a real issue.
Value-wise, the Bontrager looks to be reasonably priced at £49.99. It's the same as the Blackburn Central Rear Rack that we reviewed a little while back, which scored very highly. It looks to have a slightly easier fitting system than the Bontrager, but despite being lighter, the latter does have an extra couple of kilos of weight-carrying capacity.
The quality is certainly up there with a smart, hardwearing finish and the welding looks neat enough. You get fixings for a rear light or reflector, and the legs kick out at the bottom in case you need clearance for a disc brake.
Ideal rack for commuters or weekend escapees, especially if your bike doesn't have proper mounts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager BackRack Lightweight
Size tested: 46-62cm
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?
Bontrager says, "Turn any bike, including most road bikes (with the included adapters), into a touring or commuting beast. The alloy, bag-compatible BackRack Lightweight rack is our lightest without sacrificing strength or utility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight, only 465g (16oz)
Includes adapter kit for mounting to most road bikes
One size fits most
Compatible with Interchange trunk bags
Long-lasting, corrosion-resistant, stainless steel hardware
Do not use with carbon dropouts
Frames must have brake bridge or seat stay eyelets
Max load is 22.7Kg (50 lbs.)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Gives you a very good solution to carry a load on pretty much any bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very sturdy for something so light.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fiddly setup on some frames.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Blackburn Central Rear Rack is the same, £49.99, while at the other extreme the Tailfin T1 on its own is £249.99...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The original setup can be a little fiddly because of frame angles and brake positioning, but once fettled the BackRack is very secure in use, easy to fit or remove in a couple of minutes, and good value.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.