Carrying Cargo With Topeak BeamRack MTX System of Bags and Racks

Carrying Cargo With Topeak BeamRack MTX System of Bags and Racks

One thing that needs to be considered when outfitting your bike for commuting or errand running (or even longer recreational rides) is how you’ll carry your cargo. Whether it’s groceries, work clothes, your laptop or just lunch and a blanket to sit on, you need to find a way to transport those items with you.

Many folks use a backpack, or courier bag, but in general, I think it’s more pleasant, especially on longer rides, to get the weight off of your back and onto the bike. It’s both cooler when the weather is hot, and more comfortable for your back. Think about it: cowboys don’t carry their gear on their backs – it goes in saddlebags on the horses!

So, bike mounted bags are the way to go. However, many modern bikes, particularly full suspension mountain bikes, have no racks and no good way to mount them. In addition, electric bikes are somewhat limited by the rack that they have, as it’s already tasked with carrying the battery. Often, the rack is limited to a fairly low weight.

My favorite solution to the issue, particularly on the EVELO Aurora and Aries, is the Topeak BeamRack MTX. This a seatpost-mounted rack, which rides above the battery. It clamps in place on the seatpost of the bike, and doesn’t interfere with the battery. On the Aurora and Aries, the A-Type BeamRack is the model to get as it’s the best fit almost all riders. One thing to note: you do need about 3” of seatpost sticking out of the frame of the bike for one of these to clamp onto. Something to keep in mind if you’re on the shorter end of the spectrum.

Used in combination with one of the various models of MTX TrunkBags, you get a quick and easy solution to this issue. One of the great things about the MTX system is that it uses a very well designed quick-release mechanism. This allows you to remove or install the bag in just a few seconds. To remove, just push down the latch that holds the bag firmly in place, and slide the bag off. To install, just slide it in place until the latch engages. The bags come with handles, and, my favorite: a padded shoulder strap, so you can take the bags easily wherever you go. This is great for making sure your gear is secure if you’re going to be locked up somewhere and leaving your bike, and it also means you can carry it into the store for shopping and/or into work if you park outside. Many bags use an attachment system consisting of velcro and straps, as they’re intended to be used on different types of racks. While these are a great universal solution, by working with a complete system, specifically designed to be used together, you get a much faster removal and installation.

My favorite of the MTX bags is the MTX TrunkBag DXP, which is a expanding trunk bag that has two decent-sized, fold-out panniers. If you’re not carrying too much with you, just leave the two side pockets zipped up and the panniers up and out of the way, and if you find you need more room, unzip, and unfold. Presto, your cargo capacity just tripled! I leave mine installed all the time, with the basics in it: lock, multitool, small adjustable wrench, patch kit, spare tube, pump, and my emergency kit (discussed in a previous blog entry: What To Carry In Your Basic Bike Repair Kit), and have plenty of room for a jacket and rain pants, and the inevitable other “stuff” that I seem to end up carrying! Then, when I get to the grocery store, for example, I unfold those panniers, and can fit 2-4 small grocery bags worth of food and such into them. It’s very convenient, and it means that I can go shopping if the mood hits me when I’m out for a ride! If you’re using it for work, either of the two side panniers is big enough to hold a 15” laptop in a padded case, with additional clothing packed around it for padding.

Most versions of the MTX bag, with panniers, or without, also have a nice little, “net” on the top, just big enough for a single item of wet clothing that you don’t want to pack away, or something you want to keep handy, such as a map. They also have a water bottle holder on the tail end. While this isn’t particularly convenient when riding (it’s too far back to reach while in the saddle), it’s a great place to carry an extra bottle for those long rides.

Finally, the thing that I possibly like the best about this whole setup: it’s made by Topeak, who have great customer service and a policy of looking after their customers well. I have several bits of their gear installed on my bike, and they’ve always taken care of me when something went wrong. A quick story: I was once a bit “enthusiastic” about how much I could fit into one of the fold-out panniers of my MTX bag, and was definitely over it’s weight limit. The combination of this overstuffed bag and a really bumpy road at EVELO Electric Bike speeds was a bit too much for the bag to take and it came off. I called Topeak, fessed up, and asked how I could get the bag repaired. They said: “No problem, just give us your address and we’ll send you a new one.” While I can’t guarantee they’ll do that for you, I’ve heard other, similar stories. They’re a company that, like EVELO, cares more about happy customers than making every dollar possible. In these days where it seems like everyone is looking all the time at the bottom line, it’s always refreshing to work with a company that does otherwise!

So, set yourself up with a BeamRack and an MTX bag to go with it, and always be ready for that extra cargo you suddenly need to carry!