What's The Best Topeak Commuting Bag For You?
Commuting to work by bicycle is growing in popularity, many people are opting for a bike over public transportation or driving a car. In some cases, riding a bike to work can be faster than driving your car or getting the bus/train and let's not even mention the health benefits or money saved in doing so.
Having the right setup can be the difference between a brisk and enjoyable ride to work or a small headache that will get your stress levels up. The Topeak rear pannier bags were exclusively designed to cope with the demands of millions of bike commuters worldwide that need an efficient, quick and practical bag system keeping contents organised, dry and accessible.
What are my options?
Topeak commuting bags are divided into 3 groups:
MTX - the most popular one, works seamlessly with Topeak racks that are compatible with MTX. This features a clip and rail "QuickTrack" to the bottom of the pannier bag that makes installing and removing the bag super easy and super quick, so you can leave the bike in the office's garage and carry the bag to a change room.
Strap - essentially the same bag in size, function and volume as the MTX ones but these do not require the pannier rack to be a Topeak one, meaning you can install it on any rack that may already be fitted to your bike.
RX - road specific racks that will NOT work with MTX rear racks, as these require a specific RX rear rack. The RX range is slimmer on your bike, features less volume and is significantly lighter than the MTX bags. These are ideal if you want to commute on a road bike and like the idea of only carrying the essential items you'll need for that day.
What about rear racks? Which one is best?
Explorer - simple, practical and enough for commuting. This racks comes in many sizes and configurations, to fit 26 to 29 inch wheel bikes, disc or non-disc. This racks requires your bicycle frame to feature standard rack mounts.
Super Tourist - the most popular rack from Topeak. Users enjoy the extended drop and support on the rack's sides, providing better side pannier stability, ideal for longer rides, heavier loads, loose items or high wind conditions. This racks requires your bicycle frame to feature standard rack mounts.
Beamrack - a smart and simple option for bikes with no standard rack mounts, dual suspension mountain bikes and carbon framed road bikes. These racks clamp to the seat post and extend back, over the rear wheel. Due to the single mounting point, the max load on them is about 7kilos, just enough for a change of clothes and a pair of shoes. Have a look at the different frame size options and get one that matches your size. The RX version is slimmer and only works with RX bags. Lastly, you can have them fitted to a carbon seatpost, albeit not recommended.
RX roadie rack - this racks fits on any road bike with rim brakes, where the rear brake is mounted just below the seatclamp. It's a super sleek rack that is easy to install and remove, ideal if you have a higher-end bike that you use both for commuting and weekend rides. This rack only works with RX bags.
DXP, DX, EXP, EX: What's the difference?
DXP - largest volume of them all, expandable top, full size side panniers, bottle holder and elastic straps
DX - expandable top, bottle holder and elastic straps. (No side panniers)
EXP - full size side panniers, bottle holder and elastic straps. (No expandable top)
EX - bottle holder, elastic straps. (No expandable top nor side panniers)
Okay, got it but which one should I get?
It all depends on how much you want to carry. Start by thinking when will you use the bags, is it just for home-work-home commuting, or will you likely venture out on the weekend and explore?
Then think about what is essential you bring along with you, what items, clothes, shoes you will definitely need to carry with you. Put them all together and see how much space you need for those essential items. Then consider extra space for items you might want to take with you on occassion, like a rain jacket or a thicker sweater.
That is the size bag you should get. If you get a bigger one, you'll find that it's easy to just start throwing stuff you don't really need into the bag just because you have spare space to fill.
The easy option, if your bike allows for it, get the Topeak Super Tourist rear rack and the Topeak MTX DXP pannier bag. This will give you the most flexibility for commuting and even light touring (long weekend away for instance).
However, if you have specific needs and know what you'll be carrying at all times, you can save some weight by choosing a pannier bag that better suits your individual preferences. By having a smaller bag, you'll carry less "junk" that never gets used, the bike will be lighter and your commute will be quicker.
If you're a road cyclist and always wanted to do weekend trips where you cycle to a scenic location, stay in a hotel for the night and ride back home the next day, I truly recommend the RX combo as a way to open the possibilities to lightweight road touring. The bike will almost have the same performance and handling as it currently has plus you'll get a much broader area you can explore by bike.