Making the switch to bike panniers with the Topeak Super Tourist DX

Stopping off at the supermarket recently I noticed something. Every bike around me had a rear rack for panniers. A strange feeling came over me. It wasn’t jealousy as I’ve always considered bike panniers an ugly addition to a bike and more the realm of bicycle tourists. It was intrigue.

Topeak Super Tourist DX rack review In the quest to avoid tube journeys and car ownership the bike has to become an all purpose vehicle. One of the tasks the bike is needed for is the weekly supermarket trip. Up until now I’ve thrown a big gym bag over my shoulder and cycled off to the supermarket. However, perhaps my bike snobbery has been preventing me from seeing the light. Perhaps all those other cyclists at the supermarket with their rear pannier racks are onto something.

So, as I reported last week, I’ve equipped myself with the Topeak Super Tourist DX F/Disc (Best price I could find: Chain Reaction Cycles – £31.99 delivered)

The hope is the rack will make shopping trips easier and longer 2-3 day cycling trips more tempting. At the same time I’m hoping to avoid a big extra weight on my bike that would make it harder to speed around London.

The Topeak Super Tourist DX was an obvious choice as it is a good price, it’s not particularly heavy at 739g and fits both normal and disc brake bikes (you never know when you might make the switch).

Front view over back wheel of Topeak Super Tourist DX

Different Models

Topeak Super Tourist DX F/Disc £31.99 – fits both disc and non-disc. Provides extra clearance from the brake callipers. 739g
Topeak Super Tourist DX £29.99 – comes in both black and silver. Slightly smaller. 700g
Topeak Super Tourist DX with spring £31.99 – comes with a spring on the top for holding bag

 

Installation

This is usually when I say installation was easy. However, I found it a little tough. Bike racks generally fit most common bike sizes and types as long as you have room for a braze on attachment. These are the holes you see on your frame. For me, with my Marin hybrid bike, it was tough to bend the metal up and over the brake callipers. For a long time I thought I was doing something wrong, so the whole process took an embarrassing two hours. Of course, now I know what I’m doing, I can have the Topeak bike rack off in 3 minutes and back on in 10.

Topeak Super Tourist Rack with shopping inside First ride

Combining the Topeak Super Tourist DX rack with the Abus Dryve pannier bag I set off to the supermarket on my first test run. Initially, I felt a little strange riding a bike which has just had its bum enlarged. I couldn’t help but look behind me all the time checking the bag had not flown off. However, everything was fine and I arrived at the supermarket and unclipped the bag.

Something worth noting about the Topeak Super Tourist DX rack is that it is compatible with the Topeak pannier bag range. This is a special range of bags that you can “slide, click and go” for very quick operation and ease.

I loaded up the pannier with all the shopping and clipped it back onto the bike. It immediately leant to one side and I learned my first bike pannier lesson: one bag on each side is much more effective.

Riding back up the hill towards home it felt good to finally be without the big gym bag on my back.

Overall Review

The Topeak Super Tourist DX rack is a good entry level rack which is well recommended by its users. If you choose to spend more then you can get slightly less weight perhaps with the popular Tubus racks. However, this doesn’t offer a big advantage.

The only downside I can see to this rack is that the black paint seems to chip easily. Whilst the initial installation was tough, afterwards it’s easy enough to remove the rack with an Allen key. The rack is designed to carry a total of 25kgs. As a comparison, this is more than you can check in on an EasyJet flight.

The Topeak Super Tourist DX has definitely made shopping trips easier and also I’m sure it will be helpful for longer rides. For now I’m still deciding whether to leave the rack on permanently or just attach it when needed. 

Topeak Super Tourist DX Disc rack showing on bike

What I like about the Topeak Super Tourist DX

  • Good price
  • Fits both disc and normal brakes
  • Quick and easy to remove – just undo 4 bolts

What I don’t like about the Topeak Super Tourist DX

  • Black paint already starting to chip
  • Initial installation a little tough

Where you can get the Topeak

Very quick 1 minute video review

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27 Responses to Making the switch to bike panniers with the Topeak Super Tourist DX

  1. chris zanf 22/06/2010 at 4:06 pm #

    What is the max load that you can carry with the Topeak?

    • Andreas 22/06/2010 at 4:07 pm #

      25kgs (i.e. more than you can take on an easyjet flight)

  2. Charlie 22/06/2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Top tip for pannier rack (assuming you leave the rack on the bike which I suspect you will!): keep a couple of bungee cords on the rack. That way, if you find yourself with a load that is too big for your pannier bag (or you don’t have the bag with you), you can secure overspill items to the rack

  3. botogol 22/06/2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I have – and much prefer – a luggage rack that clips onto the seat post.

    Advantages – it comes on and off in about 10sec (quick release lever) so I freely take it on and off, only having it on the bike when I am using it. Also it transfers from bike to bike (I have two) and so from family member to family member, so a lot cheaper than buying a luggage rack each

    Disadvantages
    - probably it has a smaller max weight than a fixed one, so possibly not so suitable for a week’s shopping – but easily handles a commuting/school load of laptop, clothes etc etc.
    - becasue there is less support the load does ‘bounce’ a bit if you hit a pothole, so need to secure it carefully. But I think that applies to all loads, really.

    Yeah – go with the seatpost rack, that’s my advice.

    • Andreas 22/06/2010 at 4:24 pm #

      I was looking at the seat post racks too because I know Topeak do them. Out of interest which one do you have?

      Perhaps something for another review..

  4. Corin 22/06/2010 at 4:29 pm #

    I fitted a rack and panniers for my recent c-2-c ride, to avoid having to carry three days worth of stuff in my backpack. I’ve kept the set up for everyday riding in London (but with only one bag as I don’t regularly carry enough to fill two), but I still haven’t decided if it’s for me. Even with Ortlieb bags, the clipping and unclipping to the rack seems to add to my already excessive amount of faffing whenever I need to set off or get somewhere.

    One question that is interesting: if you have only one bag on your rack, which side do you put it on?

    • Craig 22/06/2010 at 5:26 pm #

      on your weak side because you tend to push harder on the pedals on your strong side and that will lean the bike (notionally) the better your balance sense the less compensation you have to do.

    • Jules 22/06/2010 at 9:00 pm #

      on the road side – though it sticks out no further than your elbow it makes you look bigger and means cars give you more room. i recently gave up panniers – too much hassle with so many meetings in a day – and have noticed the difference in the room i’m given.

  5. botogol 22/06/2010 at 4:38 pm #

    andreas – an old one, which I don’t think is on the mkt now, and I wouldn’t recommend becasue ..
    corin – the LHS, because the rack is broken on the RHS (!)

  6. Craig 22/06/2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Andreas – glad you can now appreciate the sense of using a rack and panniers. I think fit a rack to any bike is initially a pain as they all differ from the notional normal bike use by manufacturers. So there is a lot a mucking around with different length spacers and bending to fit.

  7. Adam S 23/06/2010 at 11:27 am #

    Hey Andreas I have the same rack and it was pretty tricky to fix, so much that I wouldn’t like to take it off in a hurry. I’m considering one of the sliding panniers to get some extra shopping in.

    @Corin and Jules – I have a Vaude Wright pannier which takes seconds to fit or remove. It has clips which automatically close on contact with the rack, and a pull handle which you grab to take the bag off in one swift movement, so it’s really easy to use.

    The only downside with panniers in general is that it’s much harder to lift the back wheel over obstacles (such as kerbs) due to the extra weight on the back. Obviously I shouldn’t be doing that anyway so can’t complain too much.

    • Andreas 23/06/2010 at 1:13 pm #

      Yeah the Topeak Super Tourist DX was a little tough to install. Though I think the tough part was the metal bits that needed bending. That’s why its quick to remove and re-install now. The sliding panniers I think will be a good choice – I might try to get some to test.

      Agreed that it makes the back of the bike very heavy. Definitely some impact on the speed you can go.

  8. gibby 23/06/2010 at 11:33 am #

    This is the rack I’ve got and I have to say I have the same disappointment with the quality of the finish- my ortleibs have removed a lot of paint to leave exposed metal at each point of contact- but I guess that’s just what your always going to get at a point of friction (and perhaps it could be a good thing in terms of making my bile look a little more deceptively battered and lived in and so less desirable to potential thieves…)

    It certainly takes the weight though- after a rather overenthusistic stop at the Real Ale shop in Twickenham/ Richmond a couple of weeks ago the air pressure in my tires/ capacity of my panniers was far more limiting than the rack.

    On pannier racks in general though I find they beat rucksacks hands down (and with the right panniers clipping/ unclipping can take seconds).

    As to Corin’s question as to what side to put a single pannier- I always go for the pavement rather than road side. I’m quite a big bloke and ride far out so tend to get given room anyway so my consideration has always been that if for whatever reason I was unbalanced then the bike is more likely to fall over on whichever side the pannier is and i would want that direction to take me out of the road and not into it

    • Andreas 23/06/2010 at 1:15 pm #

      I like the positive approach of “makes it less desirable to thieves” – I thought the same when I saw the chipping.

      Also you definitely have to keep bike tires at their full possible pressure – which of course is tough if you just have a hand pump.

      So far I’ve been using the new Abus Dryve 20 litre bag and it clips on very quickly and easily.

  9. Chris 23/06/2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Using a disk rack does make the bike wider around the stays meaning it is sometimes more difficult to lock if your U lock is a narrow type.

  10. Jonathan 23/06/2010 at 2:31 pm #

    I think for a commute, rack and panniers are essential. Gone is the sweaty back, gone are the aching back and shoulders. After getting used to the initial weight offset then personally I did not notice that the pannier is there. The only time I really notice is when I hit and bump or pothole and the back-end of the bike ‘wags’ a little. I think this is down to the quality of the rack. Mine is a fairly cheap alloy offering.

    My carradice is placed on the LHS because when I bought it they only offered it that way. If I bought another pannier it would go on the left simply because I am now used to it like that!

  11. Raymond Parker 23/06/2010 at 6:23 pm #

    I have racks full time on all but my lightweight training bike (though it has braze-ons and eyelets to accommodate).

    I can see no downside to a rack and associated bags on a bike that one uses for errands, commuting and long rides. I never wear rucksacks on the bike — high centre of gravity, uncomfortable — and can’t understand why anyone would want to, unless they can’t afford a rack and bags.

    If you are not carrying a great deal, a racktop bag (“trunk”) is a good way to go. I have a couple and use those for trips to the gym and even on long brevets (audax), where impedimenta is kept to a minimum.

    The other approach is French front-loading. This has the advantage of easily accessible luggage. You can get to your stuff without getting off the bike. However, if you’re carrying much weight the bike will need to have low-trail geometry.

  12. Johns 23/06/2010 at 10:10 pm #

    All the arguments stack up in favour of the bike rack but I just don’t like the look and once on I suspect it would become a permanent fixture. Stupid I know, but there it is.

    Has anyone used a trailer buggy for shopping trips? Thought about getting one of those. Obviously trumps bike racks in the weird-looking category, but easy to detach and carries (I assume) a similar load to a small car boot.

    • Jonathan 24/06/2010 at 11:05 am #

      I haven’t used a trailer for shopping but am seriously considering buying a cheap mountain bike and doing an xtracycle long-tail bike conversion. It has several advantages over a trailer/pannier setup. 1. loads of carrying space 2. can carry an adult/child/anything else you think of! 3. no need to attach panniers/trailer, just get on and go!

      The downside is that the conversion costs around £400 and that doesn’t include the donor bike :-(

  13. Nicole 24/06/2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I have the Super Tourist fitted over black mudguards on my new black Globe Vienna, complete with black leather Brooks saddle and it looks superb! I’m feeling a bit smug…. It was tricky to fit over the mudguard and so I don’t plan on taking it off.

    I bought a couple of really cheap black nylon panniers from Halfords and I keep one of them of them on the LHS (Don’t know why) to keep all my locks and cables in and I use a elastic cargo net to secure my bag or rucksack to the top of the rack. Perfect! Not unstable but I can feel the weight. That said, I’d rather have it on the bike than on my back, where it was before. Never had a rack before, being more into lycra than tweed but it really makes the ride a lot more comfortable. I can fit loads in the bags and on the top. On Saturday I picked up my dry-cleaning, went to the supermarket and picked up a present for a friend, all on the back…..

  14. Guilherme Zühlke O'Connor 24/06/2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Well, if your supermarket of choice would have been waitrose, you may have not needed to buy anything at all.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/waitrose-launches-free-bike-trailers-19847

    I mostly shop at Waitrose, I haven’t tried this service yet. I usually go walking with a shopping trolley since is close enough but I’m interested in giving it a go.

  15. Klaus 25/06/2010 at 9:53 am #

    I actually prefer the type of pannier rack with a springy bracket so even with panniers in place (or not) I can fix something quickly, a rolled up newspaper, a small carrier bag, etc.

  16. zee 01/07/2011 at 7:52 pm #

    25kg ha ha 15 kg i cary every day and it is broken now, shit not a quality

  17. Sam 06/09/2011 at 10:37 am #

    I’m thinking about swapping to a pannier but I have a really steep hill I have to climb. Does anyone have experience of what pannier bags are like where one has to spend the whole climb out of the saddle due to its steepness?

  18. Sundance89 13/09/2011 at 5:50 am #

    I would look into getting some lower gears. Either by your cassette or going with a triple up front. Panniers and load aside, you shouldn’t “have” to be out of your saddle for an entire climb. Having a load only makes it insane. Get your spin back with the right gearing.

  19. Stephen 10/09/2012 at 7:55 am #

    Hello, Halfords has 20% off just now. So, if you reserve online and collect from store, you can get this for £30.39. Regards, Stephen.

  20. superrackss 21/12/2012 at 11:07 am #

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