Design a universal rack to fit all bikes become quite a challenge. Unfortunately, LifeLine’s description “universally suitable for disc and caliper brakes, it’s compatible with wheel sizes from 26″ to 700c” is a little misleading; its rack is literally insufficient. If you can get it on the bike it has some merits, but it’s not without flaws either.
LifeLine alloy rear rack – construction
The rack is made from 10mm alloy tubing. There’s a spring-loaded luggage bar that’s reassuringly stiff, allowing the kit to be securely clamped between itself and the rack. The set tips the scales at 860g and has a maximum load guide of 25kg.
At the rear, a vertical plate with eyelets for mounting reflectors or lights has been added. I was unable to adapt anything; the wide, oblong carnation variety is not the easiest to work with. However, there may be ingenious ways around this problem.
A sleek matte black powdercoat was used to finish the rack. Well, it’s stylish until it’s scratched. Unfortunately, this happens very easily.
LifeLine Alloy Rear Rack – Fit & Ride
The rack is almost ready to be assembled. This is not a Krypton Factor company – most will reject the instructions. However, I did not receive the required four 12mm M5 bolts. In theory, these should be included…so maybe this is a Krypton Factor challenge after all.
There are three possible height settings for the rack. The arms securing the rack to the bike rest in a sliding bracket, allowing infinite adjustment. I always needed the support at the very end of the slider because the arms were so short.
Unfortunately, the bolts at these adjustment points are quite low quality and round off very easily. They must be of a higher quality material in order to withstand repeated tightening and unscrewing without deteriorating. I would personally look to replace them if I intended to tour with the rack; I wouldn’t want to risk an accident halfway through.
I tried the rack on three different bikes, all 700C wheels, and managed to get it on two of them. The arms were too short for the Triban RC 520, a bike I’ve managed to get every rack on so far. I had it on a Whyte Glencoe and a Whyte Clifton ER7. The fit on both was not perfect; Personally, I wouldn’t call this an “acceptable” fit on the Clifton, but some can.
I was happy with the rack itself, once it was on; it looks good and accommodated every pannier I’ve tried – Ortlieb, Topeak, Brooks, Cube and Chrome. For panniers with wider hooks, there is a trade-off with positioning due to the placement of the bars on the rack platform. In short, some saddlebags are forced to sit further forward than others. In the pictures below you can see how the hook of the Cube Travel Pannier does not fit in the gap, the whole bag has to move forward.
Unfortunately the powder coat finish is already fading – a bit of electrical tape would be advisable if you want the rack to stay looking good.
The rack platform is noticeably wide, 150mm at most, and tapers nicely towards the bike. It measures 395 mm at the most. It really lends itself to the strapping kit on top. A slight upward curve at each end also helps with this setup.
There are two vertical plates with eyelets positioned evenly along the rack. I don’t know what their destination is. On my tours I often elastic my tent and roll the pole up the support and these grommets fit nicely on the narrow elastic hooks.
The LifeLine rack has an RRP of £22.99 / US$32.14. Comparable racks include Decathlon’s ELOPS 100 bicycle rack 24″-28″, with an RRP of £12.99 and a compromise on maximum load (just 10kg). Halford’s £28 disc brake mount is extremely similar to Lifeline’s, although I can’t comment on compatibility or durability. A safer bet in this regard would be Topeak’s Uni Explorer, with an RRP of £44.99.
The LifeLine rack is affordable, but it’s still a big expense for something that isn’t guaranteed to fit. Personally, I think the rack looks great on the bike and does everything any commuter or hiker could also want. However, the problem of the bolts, both the lack of those provided and the doubtful ones already on the rack, hardly encourages taking a risk on its assembly.
- Weight: 862g
- Maximum load: 25 kg