akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review: Ibera beam rack with bag

Ibera Pakrak beam rak with bag
I heard about them only when I bought the rack and bag at Senawang. Perhaps you won't find these orange/black items quite easily in bike shops in Malaysia, compared to the more established yellow/black ones. Anyway, this review is to highlight the hits and misses, based on my usage. More importantly, is to assist those who are wondering if these are as good, for there are not many reviews around the internet.

Ibera RA-1 beam rack and Ibera BA-1 commuter bag.
It's a system of a beam rack and commuter bag, with push-lock and secure tab on the bag to fit on the beam rack.
The beam rack is secured to the bike's seatpost by means of tightening an allen bolt.

I paid RM228 (RM69 beam rack, RM159 bag) for the system. This system is priced quite competitively - I saved a bit more than RM100 for a comparable yellow/black one.

Bag is non-waterproof, but water-resistant, perhaps due to the zippers.
Nylon material is with waterproof layer backing.
ABS base for sturdiness. I like this part, but worried that it would crack some day. So far, it's still good except for scratches at the edges.

stainless steel allen bolt
This is the most important bit, so read carefully.

It is not a simple means of securing the beam rack to the seatpost, in comparison to a quick release system. You would need a 5mm allen key to tighten the bolt.

I have to mention that the one that comes with the rack is best kept in your spares case. The allen key slot on the head would give way and get rounded by the torque applied in tightening up the rack to the post. In my case, the rack is an on and off affair - I have to tighten and loosen up the bolt many, many times due to that. And the bolt did become a bit rounded.

Do get a stainless steel one for a replacement, even if yours is new. Ask for an M8x30 allen bolt (button head) at a hardware store, or bring along the one supplied with the rack to get the identical item. I paid RM1.80 for the bolt, complete with nut and washer. It's the least I could do rather than modifying it to a quick release (anyone have a tutorial DIY for this?).
seatpost size
I'm not sure what's the range of seatpost diameter for the beam rack. I've been using it on three common sizes over the course of 14 months. 2 rubber strips, thick and thin are supplied with the rack, for shimming. Check with your seatpost manual if it could take the load. I surely wouldn't ruin a carbon seatpost with the beam rack clamp.
  • 31.6mm seatpost is ideal. Reduced swaying, as it is secured quite tight due to the big diameter.
  • 27.2mm is okay, but would sway and wobble up and down a little (just a wee bit), due to the thick rubber strip.
  • 30.9mm gives the worst sway of all three. Perhaps because the rubber strip provided are either too thin (this one is used) or too thick (can't be used) for 30.9mm seatpost. That being said, it is not that much, as long as the allen bolt is secured very, VERY tight. That's why you have to get yourself the stainless steel bolt.
Extra: carry in the bag's pocket a 5mm allen key, just in case if it does need re-tightening (that's just me, being extra prepared).

max load 10 kg
weight and load
The 700 g beam rack is rated for carrying 10 kg load. Including the bag, of course. The bag itself is about 1 kg. So you have about 9 kg load that you can stuff in the bag.

I don't know how much weight I loaded into the bag, but I make sure that it is not too heavy so that the beam wouldn't sway as I ride the bike off-saddle. I don't want to carry a heavy bag when off the bike, either.
Carrying is by a grip handle on the rear pocket, or a padded sling provided with the bag. The bag itself is a bit heavy, so I seldom use the bag by itself to go to the office.

main compartment -
ample space for my daily essentials
bag space
The bag has a main compartment, 2 side pockets, a bungee cord on top of the main compartment lid and a zippered mesh underneath it, and a small rear pocket. There's also a zippered compartment on the lid top.

The maximum I carry at a time in the main compartment: a square Tupperware of breakfast, 750ml water bottle (occasionally), one khaki pants, one Endura rainjacket (quite thick when folded), one collared t-shirt and an underwear.

Side pockets are for storing tools and spares in one, and personal items in another. Rear pocket for small change and wallet. Zippered mesh is storing a handpump and spare tube. There's still unused compartment on the lid top. I spare that for extra breakfast (nasi lemak, or kuih for instance) or a face towel.
There you go, enough for everything, except a pair of shoes and toiletries. Well, I have those at the office.

lock-on mechanism on the rear
lock-on mechanism
The mechanism on the back of the bag provides a means for easy on and off of the compatible rack. However, the pushlock on the bag is not quite smooth, sometimes needing some fiddling due to some dirt lodged inside it. Once the tab on the front and the back (on the lock mechanism) are in place on the rack, there's minimal movement. It feels sturdy and solidly locked in place.

main compartment zipper
lined with reflector strip
Safety aspect is taken care of. The main compartment zip is lined with reflective strips, so do the grip handle. There's also a loop for attaching a rear LED blinker. The beam rack has a bracket to mount a reflector (not provided).

The bag and beam rack system is neat. It says "I'm a commuter" to whomever gazing at it. I like the shape of the bag. The shape is held so by the ABS base and the foam pad lining up the main compartment. The only thing that gave way is the bungee cord. The rubber cord is now expanded and not as elastic as new. I really recommend that the allen bolt to be replaced with a stainless steel one, if you're getting this system.

Is it worth the money spent? Yes.
Is it up for the job? Yes.
What can be improved? The weight of the bag, and perhaps to make it waterproof or at least a decent raincover.
Would I recommend it to you? Definitely.

more photos in here.

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