Finding the right bits to prep a bike for touring, especially if the bike hasn’t necessarily been designed to do so, can be challenging. You really have be in love with the idea as it generally takes quite a bit of rooting around on the web to find something that works. Then there are the installation and teething problems, especially if something is designed as a “universal fit”.
For those interested in going further afield with their TU250, or just having the convenience of a bit of secure storage, I’m happy to report my research paid off. The two items in question proved to be a fantastic combo for the 2013 riding season, even though one item proved challenging to get sorted.
Cycleracks TU250X Rack
We’ve tested some real crap at CMG in the past – accessories that are designed to look appealing but fail miserably in the real world. It’s a drag when that happens, especially if you invest a load of cash and time into the process.
So better us than you – right?
I’m pleased to report there was no such pain associated with our Cycleracks TU250 rack. In fact, the process of getting, installing and using the product, was fantastic from start to finish.
Cycleracks is not a big company where you speak with help-line staff when you call for information. The people that pick up the phone at Cycleracks are the guys who design, make, and test their products. Along with getting fantastic service, Don and Marc give you taste of down-home Idaho character to boot!
When I received the rack in the mail, it was carefully packed to ensure no damage would occur, and it didn’t. I found no fancy instructions with our TU Cyclerack. They’re not necessary though, as the whole procedure is quite self-evident. Cycleracks even make the one potentially difficult part easy by taping the replacement bolts and spacers to the rack. How simple is that? For the complete idiot though (ahem), I even found this video on Youtube.
The rack only took about an hour to install and there were no surprises. Once installed, it was solid enough that I could actually lift the bike by the rack, although it did flex a bit when I did this (the rack, not the bike). There is no question that you can comfortably install a huge top box on this this rack without issue.
Speaking of top box mounting, if you are planning to do this, do request that Cycleracks turn the hump on the rear rail of the rack down, in order to facilitate the top box usage. Don and Marc have no problem doing this bit of custom work for you, although it will take a bit more time to receive the rack. If you’re using soft luggage, you can simply order the unmodified rack and you’re good to go.
As we planned on using our Enduristan saddlebags (review to follow) with the rack, we also requested the Cycleracks accessory bag supports. These are simple and well designed, and are fantastically easy to install and remove. In fact the whole process takes seconds, and they worked perfectly for our side luggage.
I was a bit concerned about the rack mounting tubes that bolt on the lower part of the TU frame, since they bow out a bit. I thought this might cause my passenger to splay their legs out a bit wider and not get their full foot on the rear pegs. And, with their legs potentially resting against these rack tubes, I thought this could possibly cause some passenger discomfort for in the long run.
This ended up being a non-issue, at least in the case of Fatima. She didn’t feel any different riding on the back after the rack installation.
As far as looks go, in some photos the rack looks quite big, and it is. In the flesh, I think it looks just fine, and for me, the practicality of it far outweighs any aesthetic concerns.
The simple square bag supports, although highly functional, don’t look too stylish, but who cares? You can remove them in a snap when you are not using them.
The only minor niggle with the whole rack system is that the Cycleracks down tube on the left side of the bike blocks the helmet lock. You could probably get around this by bending the top part of a spare key, if you really wanted to use the lock.
We weren’t too bothered by this as we rarely use a helmet lock, and we had a top box.
After a season of use, the rack still looked brand new. It’s powder coated, and its finish proved extremely durable. Nothing wiggled loose on the rack or caused us any concern. Definitely a quality product and highly recommended!
Shad SH40 Cargo Top Box
“Universal fitting”. That phrase now makes me twitch slightly…
I love this Shad top box and, over the 2013 riding season, we found it did everything as advertised, but mounting it – yikes!
After such a pleasant experience with the Cycleracks installation, I thought it would be a breeze to slap on the Shad “universal fit” mounting plate to complete my tasks du jour. Sadly, this was not to be the case and it would take several attempts to get it right.
When I opened the SH40 packaging, I found the box, a mounting plate, a plastic pack of hardware, and some vague instructions. It looked like the installation should be a no-brainer but, at least in the case of mounting it to the Cycleracks rack, none of the multiple iterations of hardware and mounting slots seemed to line up.
After mucking around for some time, I simply gave up and went to the hardware store and found some plumbing brackets that I felt would work better than anything Shad provided me with. Upon returning, I was able to cobble some of the Shad bits with my plumbing brackets and I was good to go!
A quick test ride had me chuffed and for the next few days all was well, until Fatima started complaining the box was slapping her in the back over the bumps.
Back at home, I discovered the problem; my plumbing brackets were too light a gauge, and two had become stretched and loose while riding over bumpy roads. Back to the drawing board …
To give you the Readers Digest version of making this installation work, my process required two more attempts, whereby I finally removed all my plumbing brackets, added a chunk of wood, thus allowing me to utilize the heavier gauge brackets that were provided by Shad. This third fix did the job for the rest of the season and we confidently went anywhere with this setup.
It’s likely impossible to make a product that works perfectly for all applications, so I can’t be too hard on Shad here. The moral of the story is, don’t expect to slap this box on a rack and ride happily into the sunset without testing it first.
That’s probably good advice for any “universal fit” product.
Once securely installed, the box worked very well. It can fit a full face and a jet helmet, or a whole pile of groceries, and we did not experience any water leakage problems. All good!
A unique feature of the SH40 Cargo is the rack on top of the box, complete with eyelets for a handy, supplied bungee cord. It’s a nice touch, and it works well, although I’d only consider loading lighter stuff, like a sleeping bag or tent, on it.
As with many top boxes, a backrest is available as an accessory, and Fatima was grateful for that as it worked well. And I’m happy to report that its installation was easy.
The SH40 box doesn’t feel like a premium product (and it’s not marketed as such), in that the keys are a bit rough going in and out of the slot, and it doesn’t have an overly solid feel to it. That said, it’s light and it handled some pretty heavy loads on rough roads without issue.
At the end of the summer, the only sign of aging was a bit of fogging in the rear lens. When I removed the box mounting plate, I also noted there were some small stress cracks in the thinner parts of the plate, where it was bolted to the rack. This was no big concern as the way the system is designed; it doesn’t look like anything would ever break.
If I was using this box on the TU250 over several years, I’d just shuffle the mounting bolts in their slots, every year or two, and I’m sure the rack would be fine for the long haul.
In the end, if the box cost a load of cash, I’d be a bit pissed that it was such a headache to finally mount it with some sense of security. It doesn’t, so I didn’t have any high expectations and, once sorted, it worked just fine. It’s also nicely styled and blended well with the TU250.
As such, I have no hesitation in recommending it, with the caveat that you take your time in the mounting process and get it right before you head off on an extended tour.
Enjoy the ride!
Cheers, Mr. Seck