Commuting in 30 degrees plus heat has, for the most part, been a pleasure – especially given how long and cold winter was, and particularly, as colleagues have been complaining about the tube being hotter than the legal maximum temperature in which you are allowed to transport cattle.
But a downside is the fact that, carrying a rucksack, my top gets particularly sweaty. Without going into too much detail, let me say that putting on a wet top for the ride home in the evening isn’t particularly pleasant.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to try out the Topeak MTX TrunkBag DX, I was intrigued.
Here was an opportunity to transform my commute, and change the focus of my cycling: I’ve wanted to try out panniers or rear-load luggage for a while but the outlay is a fairly big commitment when you could end up deciding you don’t like them and reverting to carrying a rucksack.
The selling point of the Topeak MTX TrunkBag DX, and a number of other items in the range, is the ‘QuickTrack’ technology – which means your bag can simply slide on to the rack, click on at the end, and you’re good to go – and it’s easily removed once you’ve reached your destination, too.
You do of course need the compatible rack here, so I purchased a Super Tourist DX Tubular Rack (from £29.67 at Amazon), which is available with or without spring, and for disk brake bikes too, to go with it.
The rack is available in a simple beam attachment style, but I decided I wanted the sturdy security of the tubular variety.
Prior to trying it out on the commute I put the trunk bag to the test on a supermarket run, where I was buying some pretty bulky items such as milk and a loaf of bread. Even with the bag empty, I noticed its presence straight away, but I was quickly used to it.
As well as the simple attachment to the rack, the trunk bag has fold out panniers on both sides, meaning you can have the bag simply as a trunkbag, sitting atop your rack, or with the panniers open too – as I did on the return from the shop.
The weight was very noticeable of course, but I was pleasantly surprised at how I barely noticed it once I was riding along and in the swing of things. Of course, I was a bit more careful on taking corners, and was conscious when riding past traffic due to the slight extra width I had. But the best difference I noticed? Not having a sweaty back.
As well as the side stow away pannier bags, the trunk bag comes with an expandable main compartment, which can be separated with a velcro divider, an internal pocket for your phone, wallet or whatever you fancy, and an outside drinks holder. There is also a clip on for a rear light, and a detachable strap for use off the bike.
On the commute
Arriving at work this morning was a lot more pleasurable given I was a lot cooler, and, using the main compartment and one of the side panniers, the bag held my towel, wash things, trousers, shirt, wallet, glasses case and blackberry comfortably.
In addition, having the three very separate compartments, rather than the slightly-but-not-completely separate sections of my Rapha rucksack, being able to keep my wet towel separate from my clothes during the day is a bonus.
Retailing at anything from £54.95 on Amazon, the Topeak MTX TrunkBag DX is a great piece of kit for commuting. I lost no speed on my commute, but was certainly a lot more comfortable. The difference in comfort and space available made up, I think, for the difference in weight on my bike, but other people may prefer to have the extra weight on their body rather than their bike.
At just over 1kg empty, plus the weight of the rack, the weight difference is certainly noticeable. But then the main compartment (different sizes are available) holds 12l, and the bag and rack can support up to 25kg of weight. So for touring, shopping – and commuting – it’s a good luggage option that leaves you free and comfortable on the bike.
What I like
- Leaves you comfortable on the bike
- Easily and quickly attached to the rack
What I don’t like
- Heavy bike to lift up stairs
- Racks are (in my opinion) fairly ugly – and I’m unsure how easy it will be to remove/re-attach when I want to (for a long day ride, for example)
- Extra cost for a rain cover (unlike with the Rapha backpack)
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.