Ortlieb Quick Rack Review: Lightweight and Fleet-Footed
Quietly released earlier this year, the Ortlieb Quick Rack is a lightweight rear rack with an interesting lever-release mechanism and seatpost strap that make it easy to remove or install from almost any bike. It works with a dropper post, doesn’t require rack mounts, and can even be used with a full-suspension bike. Logan’s been testing the Quick Rack for several months, and you can find his full review and an additional video review from Neil here…
It never really occurred to me how much of a pain in the ass it is to install and uninstall a rear rack until I regularly did so on a recent trip in Oaxaca, Mexico. We were living there for a month and consistently switching between bikepacking mode and a “as light as humanly possible” setup for particularly climby afternoon rides just north of the city in the foothills of the Sierra Norte. Virginia had the Tumbleweed Mini-Pannier Rack, and I had the Tailfin Aeropack. Threading four bolts isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s particularly annoying once you realize that all you have to do is flick two levers at the dropouts and press a button on the quick-release seatpost clamp to unhook the Tailfin. Voila. Pop it on or off anytime. It’s equally as handy for shopping duties.
Ortlieb clearly came to the same conclusion when they created the Quick Rack, integrating a two-part quick-release system into a minimal pannier rack. According to Ortlieb, this came about when founder Hartmut Ortlieb wanted an easier-to-change solution for his daily work commute. For those unaware, this wasn’t Ortlieb’s first rack. In 2015, they collaborated with Tubus on a chromoly rack called the Minimal. They later scrapped that and made their own alloy racks called the R1 and R3, which later in 2018 became Rack 1 and Rack 3. These days, they offer the Rack 3, Quick Rack, and Quick Rack Light, which is similar to this rack but without the top platform—made for just panniers.
The crux of the Quick Rack is the lever-actuated release clamp on each foot. Instead of bolting in place, they hook onto specially designed lower-mount rack pegs. These small, T-shaped cylindrical plastic pegs thread into the lower rack mounts at the dropouts using extra-long M5 bolts. They’re fairly minimal, so they can be left on the bike without getting in the way or imposing any sort of weight penalty. If you don’t have lower rack mounts, you can use the Seat Stay Adapter kit to install the pegs, although I haven’t tried it—the photo below is from Neil’s video review, which you can find at the bottom of the post.
The hook levers are made from what seems to be a sturdy injection-molded plastic or nylon composite material. Each is fastened to an aluminum plate at the base of the rack with a steel riveted pin, allowing it to rotate and hook the rack peg to retain it within the U-shaped cutout on the plate. There’s a small bump in the lever that aligns with one of the holes in the plate to provide a satisfactory snap when it’s rotated in place.
All told, it feels quite secure, and I haven’t had any issues with rattling or loosening. I might be a little nervous about the integrity of the rivet on a rugged multi-month trip, but considering the durability of other Ortlieb products I’ve used over the years, I wouldn’t be overly concerned. Plus, in the event that it did break, I could always just bolt the rack on using one of the holes in the lower plate. That being said, I might consider carrying a spare rack mount peg bolt on a longer trip; a crash could bend one of them and a spare would be nice to have on hand.
The second part of the attachment system is a little more complex and has a few added parts. There’s a two-piece plastic assembly that’s molded from the same type of plastic as the rack peg levers. This encapsulates an interior bushing that clasps the front of the rack platform. The bushing is there to provide a flexible hinge and allow rotational movement, which Ortlieb claims can work with a full-squish bike. I haven’t tried that yet, but Neil did, and he talks about it a little bit in the video at the bottom of this review. There are two-nut-and bolt assemblies that hold the two parts in place and also serve as a clamp for the single aluminum strut. It’s worth adding that Ortlieb includes two struts in case you have to cut one to length, which I did.
On the other end of the strut is another plastic assembly that incorporates an adjustable-length strap to wrap and tighten to the seatpost using a rotating cam lever. This whole system seemed a little clunky at first glance, but after using it, I found that it works quite well and seems equally as sturdy and reliable. It’s also dropper-post friendly, which is a plus in my book. There’s nothing that seems like it could or would break in the seaport strap system, and it’s relatively simple to install and remove. That being said, if part of it did fail, it might be tricky to repair on the road, although doable with a little MacGyver-esque thinking.
Quick Rack Set Up
The Ortlieb Quick Rack is pretty easy to set up, although the seatpost strap mechanism feels a little clunky at first and may take a little trial and error to adjust the strap to the right length. I found that it’s pretty important to have the right tightness so it doesn’t slide up the post and had to adjust it a little after the first ride. Neil had the same experience with his Quick Rack. The other trick is the strut. When it’s angled down, it’s best to cut it to the right length to avoid it being too close to the rear tire. Neil chose to bend his in a table vice to avoid having to cut it, but I cut one of them to length since it comes with two. Neil’s solution is better if you want to switch between bikes, but pay attention to the location of the bend so the flat area can freely slide in the clamp.
Tubing and Tire Clearance
The rack itself is fairly simple and is made of 11mm aluminum tubing (10.7 to be exact) and has a relatively small 10 x 28cm (4 x 11”) platform. The platform is adequate for lashing on a dry bag, but when you start adding in multiple items like the medley shown in several of these photos (a camp chair, tent poles, and a Tenkara rod), it gets a little cramped. By comparison, the Tumbleweed Mini-Pannier Rack has a 14.0 x 31.8cm (5.5 x 12.5”) platform.
The Ortlieb Quick Rack has a clever design that features two sets of pannier rails: the top platform rail and angled lower rails. When panniers are mounted in the lower position, they tilt rearward to allow additional heel clearance. This is a nice touch not only for the sake of space, but also because it moves the weight lower. I used the Quick Rack on multiple occasions and switched from having the panniers mounted to the top rail to the lower one, and it functions well either way.
Ortlieb claims the Quick Rack has clearance for tires up to 29 x 2.35”. I don’t really get this claim, however. According to my measurements, it can easily fit tires up to 29 x 2.6”, with room to spare. I’d also wager that it would have plenty of space for a 29 x 3.0” tire. There are two caveats. One could be pannier clamps affixed to the lower rail. They could encumber the clearance, depending on how large and bulky they are. Second, vertical clearance could vary depending on the location of your bike’s rack mounts. Note in the main photo that the strut and plastic clamp aren’t too far away from the top of the tire. This will be different with all bikes and should be considered. For reference, the vertical measurement between the center of the rack peg clamp and the bottom of the platform rails is 35.6 cm (14”).
Ortlieb Quick Rack vs. Other Racks
Although the Ortlieb Quick Rack is completely different from the Tailfin Aeropack (or Tailfin Alloy Rack), it’s hard to avoid drawing a comparison between the two. They both use a lever-release mechanism for the rack feet and a strap mechanism at the seatpost. The two QR mechanisms on the Taifin Aeropack are a bit more sophisticated, in my opinion. The lower levers have a locking pin and are much more intricate. It also requires a specially-designed axle that has pegs protruding outward. This has one advantage in that it forgoes the need for rack mounts or an adapter kit. The Tailfin’s seatpost clamp is also a bit more elaborate as it has a spring-loaded locking button.
However, the Quick Rack system seems very durable and simple, and at a hundred bucks, it’s one-third the price of the base model Tailfin rack. And even then you’re locked into the Tailfin range of bags and accessories, whereas the Ortlieb Quick-Rack can work with any drybag, straps, and panniers. Disclaimer: those are the Tailfin 10-liter Mini Panniers used in these photos.
It’s worth adding that the Tailfin is about the same weight as the Quick Rack, which you can see below in the comparison chart of weights, prices, and load limits (taken from our Index of Rear Bike Racks). Note that the Quick Rack is the least expensive of these comparable racks, and almost the lightest—bested only by the Tubus Vega.
|Rack||Rack Mounts Req.||Load Limit||Weight||Price|
|Ortlieb Quick Rack||No||
|Old Man Mountain Elkhorn||No||
|Tailfin Alloy Rack||No||
|Tumbleweed Mini-Pannier Rack||Yes||
Load, Limits, and Durability
The Ortlieb Quick Rack has a maximum payload of 20 kilograms (44 pounds). I loaded it up with quite a bit of stuff on a couple of occasions and bounced down a lot of rough trails on a rigid bike. It never felt loose or wobbly and doesn’t feel any different from most other racks. On one overnighter, I rigged it with about 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms) worth of gear, including two 10-liter panniers stuffed with fly fishing gear, wading booties, spare clothing, vegetables, tortillas, and a tallboy can of beer, plus a camp chair, tent poles, and a Tenkara rod strapped to the platform. This was a lot for me, and I didn’t have any issues with movement.
I can’t imagine hauling 44 pounds of gear on any rack, ever, so I can’t claim to have tested the Quick Rack to its full capacity. I also haven’t put thousands of miles on it yet. However, my impression so far is that it’s quite durable, even for more rugged off-road use. Still, like most racks, I’d conclude that it’s probably best suited for relatively light loads up to half its limit on the chunky rough stuff.
- Model/Size Tested: Ortlieb Quick Rack
- Actual Weight: 569 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Germany
- Price: $100 at Ortlieb
- Manufacturer’s Details: Ortlieb.com
- Quick-release dropouts and seatpost mount makes it super easy to install and detach
- Lightweight design that’s very stable
- Works with a dropper post and even a full-suspension bike
- Great value at $100
- Two sets of horizontal rails provide multiple pannier mounting options
- Angled lower pannier mounts move bags low and out of the way for added heel clearance
- Might not work with some eyelets, like ones that are below or near the dropout or axle
- Although it’s held up so far, riveted QR levers might eventually break or wear out
- No bottle cage mounts on uprights, which would be a great addition to expand its versatility
- Rack platform is a little small if that’s your preferred packing method
In summary, the Ortlieb Quick Rack is an excellent solution for carrying small panniers or a rack-top load on light bikepacking trips or while commuting or grocery-getting. The lever-actuated lower peg system coupled with a quick-release seat post strap makes getting it on and off the bike super fast and simple. And if you like swapping setups between multiple bikes or regularly changing things up like I do, it’s a practical solution. It’s not without cons, as mentioned, but it’s a fair-priced product that is sturdy, easy to use, versatile, and has so far held up well. I’ll be sure to update this down the road if issues do arise or with more long-term feedback. Also, be sure to watch Neil’s review below for his findings.
Ortlieb Quick Rack Review Video
Neil Beltchenko was simultaneously testing the Ortlieb Quick Rack and put together a 10-minute video review on our YouTube channel:
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