The Lifeline Alloy Rack looks great on a bike and is capable of carrying a decent load. The spring-loaded bar is a practical addition to a wide platform. However, the rack's definitely not compatible with all 'wheel sizes from 26" to 700c'; the arms connecting the rack to the seat stays the lack length to make this possible. The bolts on the rack are not the best quality either.
Easy to mount
Affordable - RRP £22.99
Won't fit all bikes
Bolts easily round out
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Designing a universal rack to fit all bikes is becoming quite a challenge. Unfortunately, LifeLine's 'universally fitted to disk and calliper brakes, it's compatible with wheel sizes from 26" to 700c' description is a little mis-leading; its rack falls short, quite literally. If you can get it on the bike, it's got some merits, but it's also not without flaws.
LifeLine Alloy Rear Pannier Rack - construction
The rack is made from 10mm alloy tubing. There’s a reassuringly stiff spring-loaded luggage bar, allowing kit to be securely clamped between it and the rack. The whole lot 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 have been unable to fit anything; the variety of large and oblong-shaped eyelets aren’t the easiest to work with. There are possibly some ingenious ways around this however.
A sleek, matte black powder coat has been used to finish the rack. Well, it’s sleek looking until it gets scratched. Unfortunately this happens very easily.
LifeLine Alloy Rear Pannier Rack - mounting and riding
The rack comes pretty much ready to mount. It’s not a Krypton Factor undertaking - most will cast the instructions aside. However, I wasn’t supplied with the four 12mm M5 bolts required. In theory these should be included... so maybe it’s a Krypton Factor challenge after all.
There are three possible height settings for the rack. The arms attaching the rack to the bike sit in a sliding bracket, allowing for infinite adjustment. I always needed the bracket at the very end of the slider due to the arms being so short.
Unfortunately, the bolts at these adjustment points are pretty low grade, rounding out very easily. They need to be of a better quality material in order to resist the repeated tightenting and unscrewing without deteriorating. I’d personally look to be replacing them if I intended to tour with the rack; I wouldn't want to risk a mid-tour mishap.
I’ve 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 that I’ve managed to get every rack on to date. I’ve had it on a Whyte Glencoe and a Whyte Clifton ER7. The fit on both wasn't perfect; I personally wouldn't call it an 'acceptable' fit on the Clifton, but some may.
I was happy with the rack itself, once it was on; it looks good and has accommodated all the panniers I’ve tried - Ortlieb, Topeak, Brooks, Cube and Chrome. For panniers with wider hooks, there's some compromise with positioning due to placement of bars across the rack's platform. In short, some panniers are forced to sit further forward than others. In the photos below you can see how the Cube Travel Pannier's hook won't fit in the gap, the whole bag has to shift forward.
Sadly, the powder finish is wearing off already - some electrical tape would be advisable if you want to keep the rack looking good.
The rack’s platform is noticeably wide, 150mm at it’s widest, and tapers nicely towards the bike. It’s 395mm at its longest. It really lends itself to strapping kit on top. A gentle upward curve at either end help with this set-up too.
There are two vertical plates with eyelets positioned evenly along the rack. I’m not sure what their intended purpose is. When I tour, I often bungee my tent and roll-matt to the top off the rack and these eyelets accommodated narrow bungee hooks well.
The LifeLine rack has a RRP of £22.99 / US$32.14. Comparable racks include Decathlon's ELOPS 100 Bike Pannier Rack 24"-28", with an RRP of £12.99 and a compromise in maximum load (only 10kg). Halford’s £28 Disc Brake Rack is extremely similar to Lifeline’s, though I can’t comment on compatibility or durability. A safer bet in this respect would be Topeak’s Uni Explorer, with an RRP of £44.99.
The LifeLine rack is affordable, but it’s still a sizeable outlay for something that isn’t guaranteed to fit. Personally, I think the rack looks great on the bike and it does everything that any commuter or tourer might want it too. However, the bolt issue, both the lack of supplied ones and the questionable ones already on the rack, is hardly incentive to take a risk on it fitting.
- Weight: 862g
- Max load: 25kg
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