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Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP...Thumbs Up?

Old 12-06-15, 10:56 AM
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Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP...Thumbs Up?

Hi.

This is the trunk bag/pannier I want to purchase as a replacement for what I've got. While I enjoy reading people's opinions about all kinds of bike accessories, I would appreciate if you do not try to sell me on another brand or another model.

So, for those who own this exact item, am I safe in assuming it's a good choice for commuting and short overnight trips? And which rack, exactly do I need for this? Is it the Topeak Explorer?

Last edited by Papa Tom; 12-06-15 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 12-06-15, 12:39 PM
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I've had a couple of them, they are ok. The zippers and stitching on the expandable panniers are weak points.
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Old 12-06-15, 12:43 PM
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Carried tools in my trunk bag.

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Old 12-06-15, 04:19 PM
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I really like mine for commuting and light shopping trips. The explorer rack works fine for me. Don't know what you want to carry for overnight trips. I would not expect the fold down panniers to hold up to being crammed full to the point of having to force the zippers to close. I really like the mtx system and rack. If I were planning on using the rack for something besides one of the mtx bags, such as a full sized pannier, I would recommend the tourist version.
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Old 12-06-15, 05:19 PM
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Definite thumbs up.

Definitely pair it with one of the fancy topeak racks for easy mounting, though. It's a package deal, and don't pretend otherwise.
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Old 12-06-15, 09:12 PM
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For less than $20 more, you can get the DXP bag which has ~22 liters of space (versus ~16 for the EXP). Looking at the pics, they look almost the exact same; but almost 30% more space is really nice. I have the DXP, and think it's the perfect size bag/pannier for commuting and quick around-town trips. And yes, you need the MTX Explorer rack.

Originally Posted by downwinded
I really like mine for commuting and light shopping trips. The explorer rack works fine for me. Don't know what you want to carry for overnight trips. I would not expect the fold down panniers to hold up to being crammed full to the point of having to force the zippers to close. I really like the mtx system and rack. If I were planning on using the rack for something besides one of the mtx bags, such as a full sized pannier, I would recommend the tourist version.
x2. The Tourist rack has sidebars mounted lower so that you can use an MTX slide-in trunk bag and full-size clipon panniers from anyone else. If you think you'll ever want to use the MTX bag as a trunk bag and bigger standalone panniers, go ahead and grab the Tourist rack.
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Old 12-06-15, 10:19 PM
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I own this exact item along with several other Topeak bags and racks. I originally got it with a beam rack and the dual side frame to go on an early 90's mountain bike that I wanted to be able to take the bag and rack on and off easily. It worked very well for that purpose. Could be a perfect fit for your 96 GT Outpost. I like the trunk bag and the QuickTrak system, but the Zip-Down Panniers are pretty light duty. Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.
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Old 12-07-15, 10:54 AM
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you can have mine, LOL. I never use it.

It is just a PITA to take off the bike. something like an Ortlieb (or any decent pannier) just lifts off the bike, while these are just too fussy for me. I would rather have my weight low than up high any way. I got the one with the fold down pannier bags. That is nice when I need extra room, but not something sturdy enough to use too often. Its OKfor stuffing the occasional spare jacket in (or something light) when I need a little extra room.

But, for weight, balance, and ease of use, I use either a frame bag, or panniers, but not the Topeak.
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Old 12-07-15, 11:06 AM
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I have one, it works well, and has been durable. The only downsize is it's HUGE size. It is easy to remove and reset. I found a couple small trunks at Performance that suit my everyday needs better, at about half size of a normal tail trunk.
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Old 12-07-15, 12:08 PM
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>>>Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.<<<<<

Whaaaaaaa**********? You mean I can't just take the bag off the rack with the panniers stuffed with socks and shorts? That's a deal-breaker!!!!

Please elaborate...

Last edited by Papa Tom; 12-07-15 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 12-07-15, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom
>>>Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.
I've never tried to take it off with the panniers loaded so I can't say for sure but, I can't think of what would interfere with sliding it off the track. Maybe the stiff outsides of the panniers contact the rack and keep it from sliding?
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Old 12-07-15, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom
>>>Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.
I haven't had that experience. I take mine off the rack with a laptop in the pannier all the time.

I've had this bag for about three years and use it most work days. The MTX system is nice for quick attachment, but it rattles a bit if you don't have anything in the panniers holding down. My solution to this has been to carry a small shim and push it under the bag once it's attached to the rack. If you don't mind a little rattle when you hit a bump you don't really need to do anything.

The top of the bag has two zippers that start at either side and meet somewhere in the middle. After about two years of use, one of the zippers on my bag started to be flaky -- about half the time the zipper comes undone behind it. If I leave this zipper fully open and just use the other zipper everything is fine.

The bag doesn't come with a rain cover, but I've found it to do a pretty decent job of keeping the water out if you get surprised by a light rain. I have an old pannier rain cover that I pull over it when the rain gets heavy. My improvised rain cover fits inside one of the folder up pannier flaps along with my pump and tire levers, which lets me get to these tools without exposing the main compartment to the weather.

I definitely recommend the Super Tourist version of the Topeak MTX rack. It's the only way to go if you ever want to use panniers with your trunk bag, and it works fine if you don't. The only downside I can see is that it is slightly wider.
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Old 12-07-15, 01:31 PM
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I really like the Explorer rack and MTX with drop down panniers. The ability to expand to carry a laptop and extra clothes/food makes it very flexible. Installing or removing the bag with stuff in the panniers is not a problem. I have the version with a pocket on the back, which is nice for a little extra storage or for carrying a water bottle to and from the bike. I added layers of black cloth friction tape to the deck to eliminate any rattling.

I also bought the matching rain cover made by Topeak, and carry it in the side pocket. Thinking about having Lynskey build a custom made Topeak compatible rack in titanuim in the next couple months to match my commuter bike. It would need to be a little shorter than a standard rack to compensate for the higher than usual mounting points on the frame. Now that's a real a endorsement for a product.
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Old 12-07-15, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by psy
I've had a couple of them, they are ok. The zippers and stitching on the expandable panniers are weak points.
I have one specifically for commuting and I find it's configuration serves me well for commuting purposes. I do agree the stiching and zippers are the weak points. Having said that, I have now commuted with it for a 5 years and has held up except one of the zipper pulls which recently let go and zippering on the main compartment has gotten more difficult. because of these weaknesses, I tend to be very careful with it.
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Old 12-07-15, 03:13 PM
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I have the Topeak MTX truck bag without the expandable panniers. I also have several other brands of trunk bags, Louis Garneau, Banjo Bros., Performance. I like the Topeak bag because it has relatively stiff sides and does not "flop" like many trunk bags. Mine attaches with Velcro straps, and like all bags with this type of connection, how well it works depends on the rack. The Topeak bag fits my Tubus Cargo Classic rack well, but not as well on the Tubus Cargo Eos model, which has a narrower platform. The Topeak bag does not hold as much gear in the main compartment as my Garneau and Banjo bags, which are both expandable.

For comparison, here are two photos of my Soma Saga with Tubus Eos rack, one with the Topeak bag and other with the Garneau bag.
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Old 12-07-15, 04:35 PM
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Been using the MTX rack and EXP trunk bag for nearly 2 years for all commuting duties. Works great. Any of the racks will do, either the Super Tourist or the Explorer.
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Old 12-07-15, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom
>>>Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.<<<<<

Whaaaaaaa**********? You mean I can't just take the bag off the rack with the panniers stuffed with socks and shorts? That's a deal-breaker!!!!

Please elaborate...
I guess it depends on how much crap you stuff in the panniers. There is nothing mechanically preventing you from removing the bag with the panniers down. It's just that if they are loaded with stuff it isn't easy to remove the whole thing from the rack and then very cumbersome to carry it once you do. I used it this way for a very short time with the beam rack before I got a regular rack and some normal panniers that are much easier to use if you are carrying a bunch of stuff. It works, there are just better systems out there for that purpose.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom
>>>Another problem is that you have to empty the panniers to remove the rack from the bike which kind of defeats the purpose of the system.<<<<<

Whaaaaaaa**********? You mean I can't just take the bag off the rack with the panniers stuffed with socks and shorts? That's a deal-breaker!!!!

Please elaborate...
I can take it off.

For commuting, it was just a pain.
For me, fiddling around to find the latch under my seat bag is a pain. With stuff in the panniers, it isn't that convenient to carry around. Getting the rails in alignment to put it back on is a pain (especially if the rails are not clean). Doing it twice a day was awkward.

I found it much, much easier to use Ortliebs. I usually just drop a shoulder bag in it, so on and off the bike, and carrying in the office is a breeze. The Ortliebs themselves are simple to put on or off the bike if I want the whole bag. And, they keep the center of gravity of the bike low. (any will designed pannier will do all of this). For a small load (i.e. Topeak w/o pannier option) I prefer the weight savings and balance of a frame bag.

Sure, the Topeak works. I just found it too irritating to put on/off and carry every day. I put it on the tandem and just leave it on the bike so the wifey has a trunk. It works great if left on the bike 90% of the time.

Just my experience, others will have different perspectives.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
I haven't had that experience. I take mine off the rack with a laptop in the pannier all the time.

I've had this bag for about three years and use it most work days. The MTX system is nice for quick attachment, but it rattles a bit if you don't have anything in the panniers holding down. My solution to this has been to carry a small shim and push it under the bag once it's attached to the rack. If you don't mind a little rattle when you hit a bump you don't really need to do anything.

The top of the bag has two zippers that start at either side and meet somewhere in the middle. After about two years of use, one of the zippers on my bag started to be flaky -- about half the time the zipper comes undone behind it. If I leave this zipper fully open and just use the other zipper everything is fine.

The bag doesn't come with a rain cover, but I've found it to do a pretty decent job of keeping the water out if you get surprised by a light rain. I have an old pannier rain cover that I pull over it when the rain gets heavy. My improvised rain cover fits inside one of the folder up pannier flaps along with my pump and tire levers, which lets me get to these tools without exposing the main compartment to the weather.

I definitely recommend the Super Tourist version of the Topeak MTX rack. It's the only way to go if you ever want to use panniers with your trunk bag, and it works fine if you don't. The only downside I can see is that it is slightly wider.
My experience is the same as Andy's, right down to the rattle except for one thing - the zipper is still okay on mine. But I probably use my bike less than Andy - haven't commuted much since my son started kindergarten (my job to drop him off). The shim I used to push under the bag the last time was too tight, and now the bag can't be pulled off the rack anymore - but that doesn't affect me much because I park in my office. If you don't need the quick release, I would suggest using a generic rack. Topeak has/had a bag similar to the EXP which attaches to a regular rack. I think I saw one on Nashbar.
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Old 12-09-15, 01:38 PM
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The rattle is my only complaint on mine. I use it many times per week, zip and unzip the top and at least the left side pannier on every commute, put it on, take it off, switch it between bikes, take it on and off at the grocery store. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries or a closer look to get the bag started in the rail, but honestly it's not THAT big of a deal at all. The convenience of the built-in panniers far outweighs any inconvenience of sliding the bag onto the rail.
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Old 12-09-15, 09:31 PM
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I use a piece of inner tube about 3"long and let it slide in between the rack and bag the last couple of inches as its locking to the rack. That seems to take care of the rattle.
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Old 12-10-15, 09:00 AM
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I like my set up. The only issues are the rattle and a zipper "handle" coming off.
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Old 12-10-15, 01:25 PM
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I used this for a long time for commuting. Easy on, easy off, and easy to carry so long as you keep the shoulder strap on the bag. Put the shoulder strap on, unclick and slide if off while your shoulder holds the weight. Same story putting it back on the rack. I have the touring rack with the extra bars. I still use the trunk bag occasionally, but no longer the expandable panniers.

This worked for me for 3 years of year-round commuting 2-3 times per week. I agree with others on stitching and zippers being weak. My zipper broke after a year and I just let it stay open. That's all well and good until it rains. Even before the zipper broke this bag would require a rain cover.

I now use either an arkel bag dry bag on a randonneur rack or an ortlieb dry-bag on the same topeak rack. The dry-bags work better for all the time use and seem to be more rugged. They are only marginally more work to get installed securely.

In short, I like the system, it worked well for me, but if it rains a lot consider alternate cover to keep your stuff dry.
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Old 12-10-15, 08:27 PM
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This is all great information, folks. Thank you for staying on topic and not throwing a million alternative brands and models around.

The trunk/pannier set I have used for two years of commuting and four summer tours is a Schwinn-branded product (almost an exact copy of the Topeak model) that I picked up at Walmart for $24.99! The first one had a zipper problem within a short time, but the replacement has been just fine. The Topeak would be a step-up for me, regardless, and the easy on-off feature closes the deal.

I think I'm going to take a shot!
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