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review

Bontrager BackRack Deluxe MIK

6
£39.99

VERDICT:

6
10
Solid rear rack with MIK compatibility, but the finish is easily damaged and it can be a faff to fit
Nicely made
MIK compatible
Solid performance
Easily damaged finish
Can be a faff to fit
Weight: 
650g

Bontrager's BackRack Deluxe is a smart and capable rear rack with integrated MIK technology, meaning that compatible rear bags can clip solidly and securely into place. Simply as a rack, though, the finish is a bit delicate and it can be a faff to fit.

The rack is apparently both clever and easy to fit. The clever bit comes from the fact that it is designed to accept the mounting system of Bontrager's MIK range of bags – a technology similar to the bar-bag 'KlickFix' system, albeit for rack-mounted kit. As for the 'easy to fit' bit…

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The packaging says the BackRack Deluxe is compatible with 18-22in frames. I fitted it to my regular test mule for road.cc tests, an Islabikes Beinn 29. Although it's ostensibly from a children's bike manufacturer, as you will guess from its name, the Beinn 29 runs on full size 29in/700C wheels, has a 20in frame, and fits me: a creature that, physically at least, just about passes as a fully-grown adult male human. That said, the Beinn does have a relatively high rack mount at the rear dropout, and that caused some problems.

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe on bike.jpg

The BackRack Deluxe MIK rack comes with unbendable upper mounting arms. I do not have a problem with these in theory, and if your bike comes off the shelf with such a rack fitted, so much the better. However, it's worth remembering that the upper arms are not weight bearing, they are simply there to stop the rack moving fore and aft, so they really don't need to be as strong and rigid as those found here.

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe MIK - stay fixing.jpg

In the case of the BackRack Deluxe, if it doesn't fit your bike out of the box, getting it to is likely to be a case of trial, error and some fiddling with the arms and removable receptacles that connect them to the main body of the rack (and which seem to suffer from hyper-gravity, such is the attraction they have for the floor).

If this is the case, once you think you know what you're doing you will need to head to the shed to start sawing away any excess upper arm tubage. Bontrager has helpfully started things off for you with a succession of indents at suggested cutting points along the upper arms. When you've cut them down, you then need to file the ends and bung on the rubber socks to make it all look tidy. Talking of which, treat those arms with kid gloves because, as you saw, the black finish on them and the frame isn't the toughest in the world and you'll find it flaking off with every little ding.

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe - damage2.jpg

Then it's back to the bike to finish fitting. Except, if you've fitted those rubber socks in a moment of unbridled joy and satisfaction that all the sawing was finished, you'll now find the arms no longer pass through the rack receptacle holes. So you'll have to faff some more, removing the rubber, passing the arm tubes through the holes, and fitting the socks again.

But then it's all done, right? For most people, hopefully yes.

But you'll remember I mentioned I had some difficulty fitting the rack to my bike. The only way I could do it was by sawing at the lowest delineated indent and then positioning the excess arm length in a gap in the rack frame upper plate. I thought it was ingenious, until I tried fitting a Bontrager MIK-compatible bag and realised that the arms now hampered the clever attachment mechanism (as I suspect they might in the pre-test setup shown in our 'studio' photos).

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe first effort.jpg

So it was back to the shed to cut some more off of the rack arms and start the merry-go-round again.

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe - damage1.jpg

Eventually – eventually – it was all fitted.

For all my complaints, the rack itself is actually a nicely made bit of kit. The tubes are svelte aluminium, construction quality is excellent, and, at 650g, weight is in the right ballpark despite the top plate being engineered to be MIK-compatible. There is also a rear-facing plate to fit lights…

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe MIK - back.jpg

…and a cutout just above the lower mounting point gives you somewhere to attach your pannier bag hooks.

2021 Bontrager BackRack Deluxe MIK - fixing.jpg

Other than in the fitting, there's really not much to go wrong on a rear rack and, once happily affixed to the bike, this is a smart, sturdy and competent accessory.

Value

What can you buy for £39.99? In truth, not much, despite the fact that rear racks are far from the most extravagant aftermarket purchase. The Blackburn Central Rear Rack is an almost faultless option but costs £10 more at £49.99. Slightly cheaper, £35 gets you the Vavert Metro Lightweight rack, although we weren't hugely impressed with it.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best bicycle panniers and racks

If you have a bike that doesn't have rack mounts, Bontrager also makes the sturdy BackRack Lightweight for £49.99. It's possibly an even greater faff to fit than the Deluxe but then, if you haven't got rack mounts, that extra effort is probably the price you expect to pay.

Conclusion

In truth, I'm not a massive fan of firms introducing proprietary technology to products that have spent decades happily doing their job without it – in the case of MIK tech, I would argue it adds unnecessary weight and complication. However, to Bontrager's credit, you can use the BackRack Deluxe MIK with bags and products that don't feature MIK mounts. In any case, the MIK ingredient isn't the rack's biggest problem – that award, for my bike at least, goes to its fitting – but as a straightforward rear rack, it is solid and well priced.

Verdict

Solid rear rack with MIK compatibility, but the finish is easily damaged and it can be a faff to fit

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager BackRack Deluxe MIK

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?

This is a rear rack with added MIK compatibility for the secure fitting of bags. Bontrager says: "Increase hauling capacity and add versatility to your bike with the BackRack Deluxe MIK. It has an additional rail that's compatible with boot bags and panniers, an MIK system that offers secure mounting of compatible boot bags, and threaded accessory eyelets for extra functionality and easy light installation. This rack is designed for proper weight distribution and bag positioning on larger-sized bikes."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Bontrager lists:

Aluminium construction

MIK mounting system provides secure, integrated mounting with compatible bags

Integrated eyelets make it easy to mount lights or other accessories

Compatible with MIK, standard boot bags and panniers

Single-bolt strut mounts allow maximum adjustment and easy installation

Compatible with inboard style disc brakes (brake mounted between seat stay and chain stay)

Additional side stays allow for mounting of both trunk and pannier bags

Max weight capacity 25kg (55 lb)

Max weight capacity 25 kg (55 lb), not intended for use with child carriers

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Nicely made, although the black finish is a little bit on the delicate side and is easily damaged.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Solid and secure.

Rate the product for durability:
 
5/10

As a bit of kit, it is tough and will last. However, that finish will leave it looking it tired and old before its time.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
5/10

In the right kind of area for a solid rear rack. Without the MIK top plate, it could be even lighter.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Actually pretty good value. The Blackburn Central Rear Rack is an almost faultless option but costs £10 more at £49.99. Slightly cheaper, £35 gets you the Vavert Metro Lightweight rack, although we weren't hugely impressed with it.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It's fine as a rear rack, and once fitted, it performs as well as you'd hope. Fitting, though, is another story.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Solid and well made.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Fitting.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not really 'enjoyed' as such. It does a job.

Would you consider buying the product? Nope

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Nope

Use this box to explain your overall score

Bontrager's BackRack is a solid and dependable rear rack that also offers the extra benefit of MIK-compatibility. However, the easily marked finish and potentially frustrating fitting process mean it's far less than perfect.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'0  Weight: 16 stone

I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29  My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy

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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure

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