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review

Topeak TetraRack R2

8
£89.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Excellent way to carry luggage on pretty much any metal bike – stable, removable and adjustable
Adaptable to any metal bike with seatstays above 40 degrees
No rack mounts required
Works with all Topeak QuickTrack bags
Mount straps can come loose after time
Stays need taping
Not recommended for carbon forks or stays
Weight: 
880g

The Topeak Tetrarack R2 is a solid way to carry up to 9kg on the rear of your touring/gravel/road bike without needing rack mounts. There are a few caveats, but overall it's a class bit of kit.

Topeak has a well-earned reputation for solid racks – if you've done any cycle touring or commuting, chances are you've used a Topeak rack or bag at some stage. With the evolution of frame designs and changing use cases for commuting, touring and bikepacking, the company has developed the Tetrarack series to allow the quick fitting and removal of a rack capable of a fairly hefty load.

> Find your nearest dealer here

The R2 road version reviewed here is for seatstays steeper than 40 degrees. The M2 mountain bike version takes an extra 3kg and fits flatter stays above 30 degrees. There are versions for road and mountain bike forks too.

The differences in angle come about because the Tetraracks' load-bearing surface is adjustable – it slides back and forth on the curved rails, allowing it to be adjusted horizontally. The flatter the chainstay, the longer the curved rails have to be to allow a horizontal load – hence having two models for different angled rear stays. The difference between the road and mountain bike fork models is for the width of the fork itself.

2020 Topeak Tetrarack R2 - detail 1.jpg

Topeak advises the rack is good for stays spread between 75 and 105mm apart, and of at least 15mm diameter. They don't have to be parallel either, as the rack body itself is adjustable. You do need 200mm of clear seatstay, so check there aren't any cable bosses in the way. It's easy enough to pass the straps under any brake or shift cable occupying the stay.

Topeak says the rack is for tyre sizes up to 1.5in/38mm – but I ran it over 47mm tyres no worries, and there's 3in/76mm between the sides of the rack.

Topeak cautions that the Tetrarack is not recommended for carbon stays or forks – due to their often being very thin, and not great at handling compressive forces or anything out of the specific plane they were designed to flex or be rigid within.

Fitting

After loosening off all 10 adjustment bolts, you attach the Tetrarack to your bike's seatstays using four thick, non-slip Velcro straps. Six of the 10 bolts allow you to splay the rack out to perfectly match the width and angle of your stays. Once the dimensions are correct, wrap the straps around the stay, using the chunky slotted metal loop at the end. This loop secures over a hook, then the Velcro is pulled tight and loops back on itself through the other side.

2020 Topeak Tetrarack R2 - detail 2.jpg

The party trick of the Tetrarack fastener is that the whole assembly – the hook, and the other side that the strap loops back through – is then pulled upwards, away from the frame, thus tightening the now-fixed Velcro strap further.

This tightening is achieved by a bolt that passes through the sliding metal assembly. The bolt stays still as it rotates, winding the assembly away from the stay. It's a clever system, and gives about 5mm of tensioning. The bolt is treated with a Loctite-looking substance, and never shifted during the review period.

The instructions call for a 3mm Allen key, but the actual bolts are all 2.5mm – and there's a 2.5mm L-shaped Allen key with a ball head included in the box. I'd highly recommend using a ratcheting driver for this, as doing the tightening by hand with the provided key gets tedious real fast as there's no room to freely spin it.

I found you really want to be pushing down on the rack as hard as you can when doing the Velcro strap pulling-tight phase of installation, or you can too-easily max out the subsequent tightening with the bolt. Again, the application of force in a small space makes using a ratcheting tool almost essential. An important point is the recommended torque – 1.5Nm is 'not very much at all'. A 2.5mm bolt is very easy to strip if you get excitable with the welly.

> Beginner’s guide to carrying stuff on your bike

Once the straps are tight, you can tighten the six rack-dimension bolts, and then finally loosen the two bolts holding the load plate, slide the plate to horizontal and secure, again with a 2.5mm hex. Like the others, these bolts are treated with Loctite, so only minimal force is needed – 2.5Nm max.

Topeak doesn't mention this, but I seriously recommend using helitape or electrical tape on the stays before installation – it is inevitable that grit will get in between the rubber mounts and the stays, and over time, even with imperceptible movement, this grinding paste will eat your paintwork and, if left long enough, the stays themselves.

Also in the box is a small plastic bracket that fixes to the rear of the rack, to accommodate the optional Topeak Redlight Aura rear light.

Load up...

Once everything's installed properly, the Tetrarack is solid. I maxed out the 9kg load capacity by strapping a kettlebell to the rack and then seeking out the very worst farm and estate tracks plus some riverbed for a few hours of really unpleasant 'riding'. Didn't budge a millimetre.

The load plate is designed to accept Topeak's widely established QuickTrack bag system (full review of the new MTX Trunk Bag DX coming up). The Tetrarack has two adjustable sliding hooks on the lower legs, which can be used to secure panniers. The QuickTrack system is good, but for off-road use you may want to duct-tape a short strip of inner tube down in the centre of the load plate, to prevent any rattling of the plastic bag base against the alloy load plate.

2020 Topeak Tetrarack R2 - rack bed.jpg

Over two months of riding, battering about rocky estate tracks, singletrack and gravel roads, the Tetrarack was a solid performer. I only struck one issue, where one of the Velcro straps came loose after snagging on something and needed retightening mid-ride.

Opting for Velcro gives pretty much infinite adjustability and allows for a fast removal – or a fast install if you are doing a quick run to the shops and don't need to cinch things down super-tight. But it does then mean that if the Velcro strap end gets snagged on something, it can pull loose. For long, adventurous rides or where you want a semi-permanent installation, I'd recommend using some electrical tape or even a zip-tie to hold the end of the Velcro down against itself.

Once you're happy with your install you can also trim the Velcro straps short – there's a pretty generous amount spare when new.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best racks and panniers

The R2 rack adds 880g to your bike, but then can hold ten times its weight without swaying at all. Topeak is known for its 'beam racks', which clamp around the seatpost, weigh about the same and can hold similar weights. Being quick release they are easier to fit and remove – but then also easier to nick if you're parked outside a cafe or in a bikeshed at work. If you're on a full-suspension bike a beam rack adds the weight to the suspended part of the bike (which is good if you're riding really rough stuff as it is sprung weight vs. unsprung weight) but also means it's a lot higher up all the time to afford tyre clearance under full suspension compression as opposed to a seatstay rack which isn't suspended. If you're riding a smooth-ish trail or road, particularly with fat tyres, having the weight lower down is likely of more benefit than having it suspended.

The Tetrarack also gets the mass lower on the bike, which aids performance by reducing the pendulum effect of having mass secured higher up. And if you run a carbon seatpost, clamping a rack is out anyway.

Yes, the standard Topeak racks are only one third the price of the Tetrarack – but they are reliant on your frame having decent rack mounts that may well be missing from your bike. And if your bike has suspension, a traditional rack is ruled out by the need to accommodate rear wheel travel.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best bikepacking bags

An alternative to the Tetrarack is the Thule Pack'n'Pedal Tour Rack – it's heavier, doesn't have the QuickTrack mount, and needs additional side frames to support panniers.

Conclusion

The Topeak Tetrarack is a great bit of kit that can fit to pretty much any metal bike and will hold a hefty 9kg load without moving. There are some caveats to be aware of when installing, but overall it's a great option if you need to swap regularly between bikes, with or without rack mounts, or to a suspension frame.

Verdict

Excellent way to carry luggage on pretty much any metal bike – stable, removable and adjustable

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Topeak TetraRack R2

Size tested: 39.5 x 30 x 12 cm

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?

It's for anyone with a full suspension bike, or a bike missing rack mounts, or wanting an easily-removable rack.

Topeak says: 'The perfect quick-mount rear rack system attaches to road, cross, hybrid or touring bike seatstays. This one-size-fits-all front rack features an innovative top plate that adjusts to level independent the seatstay angle. Integrated QuickTrack® system allows Topeak TrunkBags to slide and lock into place and release with a the push of a button. Innovative hook and loop strap mounting system cinches down tight to keep the load stable and allow mounting on a wide range of bikes.

'TetraRack is not recommended for carbon forks and seat stays'

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

Topeak lists:

ATTACHMENTS

Seatstays with hook and loop straps

ADJUSTMENT

Strut slots

MATERIAL

Aluminum / Engineering grade polymer / Nylon straps

COMPATIBILITY

Topeak MTX / RX TrunkBags

MAX LOAD

9 kg / 20 lb

ADDED FEATURE

Clamp for rear reflector, Tail Light Mount

SIZE

39.5 x 30 x 12 cm / 15.6' x 11.8' x 4.7'

WEIGHT

870 g / 1.92 lb

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Usual high Topeak quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

When fitted it's totally stable, not moving an inch. The Velcro straps may want securing further if you are going extreme.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Early days, but everything oozes durability.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

It's a good weight, about on a par with other rack solutions.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

£90 is pretty steep, but there's a lot going on to justify the cost.

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

Really well. It held the heaviest-possible load over very rough surfaces.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The tilting load plate, to get itself perfectly level.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The tiny 2.5mm screw heads will easily fail if mistreated; 4mm would be better in my opinion.

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

It's definitely at the higher end of the price range. The Thule Pack & Pedal Tour rack is a heavier option that lacks the Trunk Bag track mounts or pannier side frames, for about the same price.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Overall it's a great rack, let down by a few niggles with the straps and bolts. If Topeak could fix those it would be even better.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.

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