Arkel Randonneur Seat Post Rack Review
In the world of quick release seat-post racks there appears to be only one that has 3 point attachment system. The Arkel Randonneur Seat Post Rack connects both to the seat post and to the seat rails, making a strong 3 point connection.
Most quick release beam seat-post racks connect directly to the seat-post. In our experience this method is far from optimal. When you are carrying a heavy load, the rack will have a tendency to swing left or right. Those racks simply can not compare to traditional fixed racks and are much less secure than Arkel’s 3 point connection rack.
So why would you need a quick release seat post rack?
Well for starters some bikes don’t have the option for a standard fixed rear rack. Some people don’t like the look of a permanent rack and want the option of a quick release rack instead. And Lastly sometimes people may want to ride occasionally without a rack, so being able to remove it quickly using the quick release is a perfect solution.
Arkel’s is owned by Paul McKenzie and was founded in 1988. The goal was to make the best bicycle pannier bag available to cyclists period! As the company grew, so did their product lineup. Now the company sells cycling panniers, backpacks, handlebar bags, saddle bags, bike trunk bags and pannier racks. Arkel uses top grade materials including Cordura (made in USA), YKK zippers, aluminum hook systems with sound designs, that work.
On With The Show
Being a big bicycle enthusiast and not liking the current lineup of quick release beam seat-post racks found in local Austin stores like REI, Mellow Johnny’s and Bicycle Sport Shop, I knew there had to be a better solution. After doing a bunch of research I came across Arkel and their Randonneur rack. The fact that it was quick release and had a 3 point connection system was super appealing. A few emails back and forth with Kevin Ryan from Arkel and we would soon find out how this rack stacked up against other seat post racks we have used.
Randonneur Rack Overview
- Retail: $99
- Weight: 454 grams
- 3 point attachment rack (Seat post and both Seat rails)
- Quick Release
- Minimum Requirements – Seat rails and the top of the bicycle seat tube is 4 inches (10cm)
- Maximum Requirements – Seat rails and the top of the bicycle seat tube is 7 inches (18 cm)
- 2 rail adapters (Brooks saddles require an additional adapter)
- 2 rail extenders and hardware
- 1 quick release lever
The rack comes with basic instructions, but to be honest we found the videos to be much easier to understand. When setting up the rack I made a few mistakes, which I will talk about later. The rack requires a minimum of 4 inches, which is measured from the seat rails to the top of the bicycle seat tube. Most bikes, if the frame fits the rider properly, will have much more clearance than 4 inches.
** IMPORTANT – If your bike doesn’t have 4 inches from the seat rails to the top of the seat tube, the rack will not work.
Tools You Will Need
- Hex keys
- Small adjustable wrench or pliers
Initially I tried setting up the rack with the standard 4 inch setup to see what that would look like, but I quickly decided that I wanted the rack lower down the seat post. You will notice that the rack isn’t horizontal in the picture below and that is because I didn’t attach it to the seat post. This was just a quick visual to see how it might look.
So since I didn’t like the 4 inch setting, my next option was the 7 inch setting. Doing this requires the use of 2 different size hex keys and an adjustable wrench or pliers. The pliers are needed to hold bolts while fastening them to the rack extenders.
7 Inch Rack Setup
Using the 7 inch rack setup requires removing the seat clamp and adding the rail extenders and hardware. You will need a wrench and hex keys to tighten the rail bolts and connect the rail extenders to the mail rack unit.
Mistakes I Made
When attaching the rack to the seat I thought I had to use extra wide seat adapter. When using it, my rails were too close together for it to fit properly. Obviously this was a mistake and it wasn’t needed. It also made trying to use the quick release more difficult. After watching the video, I had an Aha Moment as I realized my mistake.
Another issue you might run into, which I did, was to attached the rail extenders pointing forward, but by doing this it moved the seat post clamp further away from the seat post. Even when I adjusted for the length difference using the slider bolt, the seat post clamp was still too far from the seat post to clamp on. Switching the rail extenders going away from the seat post solved the problem.
Once you have your rack setup properly, it is pretty easy to take on an off. I plan on just keeping it on for most of the time, but the convenience of the quick release option is nice. If you live in a high bike theft area, you may opt to replace the quick release bolt with a security bolt.
Here is what a bike looks like when the rack is properly setup. As you can see there is plenty of clearance under the rack for my 29ers.
Arkel did their homework with the Arkel Randonneur Rack. It’s a solid component to add to a bike. The 3 attachment points are key to eliminating rack swing and work exactly as we hoped they would. The combination of the seat railings combined with the soft polymeric seat post bracket act like shock absorbers to dampen shock from rough road conditions. The optional Arkel TrailRider bag is the perfect mate to the Randonneur rack. It’s super easy to attach and take off and holds just about everything you could want for a day trip.
With the rack in the 7 inch setting, the Arkel TrailRider bag sits below your saddle and out of the way. For people looking to add extra storage to their bikes, without adding permanent racks, the Randonneur is an excellent choice and realistically the best choice.
Are there any negatives? The only negative in my mind are the bolts. I am not exactly sure how they will hold up over time. With the Randonneur rack there are 7 bolts that could come lose over time, so you may need to tighten them occasionally. So far we haven’t experienced any mishaps with bolts coming loose. I did have to use 3 tools to setup the rack (2 different size hex keys and a wrench). Swapping out the slider bolt for one that is the same size as the others, would reduce the number of hex key sizes needed.
While being quick release is really handy, thieves find them very easy to steal. Maybe including some sort of theft protection/security bolt to replace the quick release bolt would be a nice option for those that want more security.
Check out https://www.arkel-od.com for the latest ARKEL Panniers – designed for cyclists by cyclists.