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review

Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type

7
£56.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Good easy-to-fit option that opens up more adventurous riding to people who can't fit standard racks
Easy to fit
Very stable
9kg capacity
Easy to remove
Only works with Topeak bags
Weight: 
743g

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The Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type is a robust, affordable and simple solution if you need extra carrying capacity on your bike and aren't able to fit a standard rack.

It's quick and easy to attach to your seatpost and offers a 9kg load capacity. That may not match the 25kg maximum load that I have on my touring panniers, but it makes this a viable option for commuting and longer day rides. Used in conjunction with a bar bag and frame bag, this could easily be part of a luggage setup for lightweight bikepacking adventures and credit-card touring. Check out our guide to the best bikepacking bags for ideas.

2024 Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type on bike 2.jpg

The quick-release (QR) system means it attaches to your bike in seconds. It comes with two different sized shims to ensure a snug fit on a range of seatpost sizes.

2023 Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type - quick release clamp.jpg

When it's securely fastened, you simply slide your chosen Topeak MTX bag onto the QuickTrack rails until the plastic locking system clicks into place. The rail-and-lock combination will ensure your luggage stays where it should, no matter how hard you ride or how rough the terrain.

> 15 easy ways to carry stuff on your bike

There are three different MTX Beamrack options depending on the size of your bike, so it's worth selecting carefully. The A Type is designed for smaller frames, the V Type for larger bikes, and this E Type for medium frames.

There is also the option of a more affordable MTX Beamrack EX for £46.99 but it's limited to a lighter 7kg load capacity.

Fitting the rack

Out of the box, the E Type feels well engineered and suitably robust. Its two different shims fit into separate 'triangle' and 'circle' fittings, and it comes with a large rear reflector that can be swapped out for one of two light fittings.

2023 Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type - reflector.jpg

There are two bungee straps that run the length of the rack that could feasibly secure a medium sized roll bag or small daypack. That might be useful for short journeys, but won't offer you the stability and security of Topeak's own proprietary luggage with its QuickTrack locking system.

2023 Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type - rack bed.jpg

The company says: "QuickTrack is an ingeniously simple attachment system which allows our TrunkBags to interface securely to an MTX or RX rack. Simply slide your TrunkBag forward in the track until it locks in place. Push the release button and your TrunkBag slides off the track and goes with you."

And this brings us neatly to problem number one. Buy this rack and you are locked into the Topeak luggage range. That isn't a massive problem, because the company produces excellent kit, but it should be a consideration before you commit.

I paired this one with an MTX Trunk Drybag (full review to come) that offers 12L of storage, some handy side pockets and, most importantly for this review, a shoulder strap.

2023 Topeak DryBag MTX Trunk Bag - on rack side.jpg

My first test ride came on a morning commute on my old Specialized Langster. I am happy to leave the bike locked outside a station, but with the QR clamp, I wasn't going to leave this rack attached to the bike. It's just too easy to remove, and it possibly has a higher street value than my battered fixie.

So I simply unclamped it with the bag still in place and used the shoulder strap to carry both onto the train, doing my best not to wallop it into fellow commuters. On the way home, it wasn't so easy to attach to the bike with a loaded bag already in place but it was satisfying to have the rear light already where it needed to be.

2024 Topeak DryBag MTX Trunk Bag on rack 1.jpg

Topeak suggests this rack is a good option for commuting, but then you need to select your luggage wisely. If you carry a laptop or anything substantial for work you would need to buy something with sufficient capacity, such as the MTS Trunkbag DXP.

And if you do this, you probably need to invest in an additional pair of MTX Dual Side Frame pannier supports, another £32.99, although they are available for less if you hunt around.

I quickly stopped using this on my commutes and switched back to a rucksack, for all the reasons outlined above. But I was keen to test it on longer days out.

Longer distance day rides

I used a similar Topeak system in 2015, when I was tackling my first two-day ride. I had a Trek road bike that had no available rack mounts and I needed to carry enough kit for a 600km route. I used it with a Topeak trunk bag with side panniers and it performed brilliantly.

Switching the new MTX Beam Rack E Type to my audax bike, it was clear that a different seatpost required a little more tightening. As I descended my first hill, centrifugal force saw me emerge from a tight corner with the rack at a 30-degree angle. So I had to stop and tighten the bolt more than I had realised.

2024 Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type on bike 3.jpg

And on this bike, the QR clamp started to rub against the inside of my thigh and needed a bit of fettling to get it into a better position.

When I got to my first stop, I struggled to open the clasp on my bag, as it was positioned right under the saddle and there was little hope of getting my fingers in the right place to unlock. So I ended up having to slide the bag back on the rack's rails and then click it back into place when I'd found what I needed. It was a bit of a faff, but not a deal-breaker.

2024 Topeak DryBag MTX Trunk Bag on rack 13.jpg

I alternate between 56cm and 58cm bikes and would probably have found this easier with a V-Type rack designed for larger frames. But one of the joys of having a QR system like this is that you can easily swap it between bikes. And in my house, it has been used by everyone in the family, from my wife's commuter to teenagers' mountain and road bikes. We found that it worked well on a good range of frame sizes.

And I couldn't fault the stability and comfort that comes with this carrying system. When you've got it tightened and in place, it really doesn't move. There's no wobble when you're out of the saddle and hauling yourself up a hill. You don't hear any rattling or vibrations – everything stays exactly where it should be. I'd happily shift to this as my regular luggage system for longer days out and multi-day rides.

Value for money

I originally thought that buying Topeak's rack system was an expensive way to get a rear carrier. Compared with the Carradice Bagman (£42) support and 9L Carradice Super C Audax (£78) combination that I normally use, paired with the trunk bag on review (£84.99) it does come out slightly more, but the Ortlieb Quick Rack that Suvi reviewed on off.road.cc – which she thought was an 'excellent temporary option for carrying a decent amount of cargo' – costs £100. It isn't as quick to set up as the Topeak, though it does allow you to fit panniers.

Competition at the prestige end comes in the form of a Tailfin Alloy Rack, with prices starting at £140. When Mike reviewed it for off.road.cc he said it was the 'last word in being adaptable, light, fast and practical'. The decision here comes down to your aspirations and the state of your bank account.

But the Topeak does struggle to compete in terms of value for money when you compare it with the Elops Seat Post Pannier Rack 500 that costs just £24.99 and scored 9 in our recent review. When Simon reviewed it, he found that this system worked with a host of panniers and trunk bags, and it even comes with detachable side frame pannier supports. Honestly, if I was going to invest my money anywhere it would probably be with the Elops setup, though the Topeak might still be a better buy if you value the ability to switch quickly and easily between bikes.

For a more cost-effective approach, you could buy a rear saddlebag like the Zefal Z Adventure R11 that I reviewed last year, for £67.99.

Conclusion

While I don't think the MTX Beam Rack is ideal for commuting, it's a great choice if you need occasional carrying capacity on a range of bikes that don't have scope for standard rack and pannier setups. It's also worth considering if you want a rack that allows you to carry kit for bigger days out – for credit-card touring, audaxes and bikepacking adventures. It's solid, stable, easy to use and can unlock a world of more adventurous riding.

Just remember that you need to add on the price of a Topeak bag and potentially the MTX Dual Side Frame pannier supports if you opt for one of the larger bags with collapsible side panniers.

> Best bike pannier bags and pannier racks

> Cycling luggage for beginners

Verdict

Good easy-to-fit option that opens up more adventurous riding to people who can't fit standard racks

road.cc test report

Make and model: Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type

Size tested: E Type

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 aimed at people who want extra carrying capacity on a bike that doesn't allow you to attach a standard pannier rack.

Topeak's UK distributor Extra says: "Designed for the tough world of mountain biking. Great for touring with full-suspension. MTX deck accepts all Topeak Trunk Bags."

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

This aluminium rack comes with a 9kg load capacity and quick release clamp to allow you to attach it easily to any bike.

From Topeak:

QR mechanism is secure and easy to use. 9 kg (20 lb) carrying capacity. Compatible with all MTX TrunkBags. Includes two rubber bungees and safety reflector.

From Extra:

Tough 6061 T6 alloy construction

Hinged seat post clamp with alloy release lever

One size fits all seatposts with included shims (25.4 - 31.8mm)

Integral bungee cord

20lb carrying capacity

680g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

It comes with shims that allow it to fit to most seatposts. You may need to tension more than you might expect but when it is on tightly it delivers a very stable ride. There are three size options depending on the size of your frame so make sure you select the right one.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

This is solidly built and the simple construction means there is little to go wrong; it is likely to give you years of excellent service.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
5/10

I did find the QR clamp rubbed against my thigh on one particular bike. This was easy to sort out with a bit of adjusting.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

It's not bad value compared with a host of big brands, but there are options out there that seem to offer much more for far less.

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

I didn't find this a great addition to my commuting setup, but on longer days out it performed really well. I particularly rated it when riding my fixie as it felt super stable on long climbs when I needed to get out of the saddle.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Quick and easy to install, and the bag stays exactly where it should thanks to the QuickTrack system. I was a real fan of the light fitting at the back.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The QR clamp means I couldn't leave this attached to the bike if I left it outside my local train station.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It compares well with some big brands, but the Elops rack that we reviewed recently seems to offer much more without tying you into a single luggage system.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – really enjoyed it on long days out on my fixie.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I was looking for a bag and rack setup for a road bike then this performs as well as any other I have tested.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely to someone who needs to fit luggage of this nature to a bike that won't take a standard pannier rack.

Use this box to explain your overall score

I didn't feel it delivered as a commuting option for me, but I did love using it on longer roads where I would otherwise have been using my Carradice bag and support system. Buying this locks you into the Topeak bag range, which might be an issue for some, and there are other products out there that do offer better value for money. But the real joy of the Topeak MTX Beam Rack E Type is that you can move it from one bike to another, so for someone who regularly switches between bikes for audax, gravel, bikepacking and longer trips, this is a really excellent option. That, to me, balances out as good overall – not quite living up to the commuting claim, but great to open up bigger adventures on bikes that can't take standard racks.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 0  Height: 180cm  Weight: 83k

I usually ride: Specialised Langster (fixed commuter)  My best bike is: Condor Fratello (new – Audax rides)

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, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax

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2 comments

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Flintshire Boy | 4 months ago
0 likes

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What a super review! A model for how clear and well structured such reviews should be! Excellent. Thank you.

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kevgravelkev | 5 months ago
0 likes

Purchased one of these over 20 years ago. I used it on the Australian versions of the Polaris Challenge in the early 2000s for quite a few years.

The design is still almost exactly the same...

I didn't buy any Topeak bags I simply strapped drybags onto the rack and off I went.

It's a great rack.

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