Trolley racks are an indispensible part of every folding bike commuter’s arsenal. They save our arms from having to heave a foldie around (many of them weighing as much as a large bag of rice or more), allow us to ease our bikes through gantries and crowds, and perhaps most importantly, help disassociate our foldies from the recognisable image of a bicycle, allowing them to be rolled it into places where we would likely be yelled at for doing so.

The mo:Rack from :klappen, is a lithe, minimalistic trolley rack that features a swing-out trolley wheelbase. Thanks to William and Vincent, the inventors of the mo:Rack, I got a chance to take the rack out for a spin, and put it through its paces as a commuter tool.

The mo:Rack (Patent Design) is a culmination of 2 years of product research and development. The brothers were inspired to design it after searching for a rack that offered high mobility without a huge weight penalty. Apart from proprietary systems that come stock with specific brands, they were unable to find any other product that offered a stable rolling experience to a variety of users, so they decided to make one.

My existing trolley rack installed on my Tern Link P24h offers passable service, but comes with a heavy weight penalty. I am by no means a weight weenie, but my behemoth of a commuter bike weighs in at a hefty 16.8 kilograms, rack included. The two wheeled-design is also very unstable on anything but flat ground, often tipping over with little or no provocation. I was honestly excited by the prospect of testing out the mo:Rack, which promised to solve a number of problems plaguing my existing model.

Proudly designed in Singapore, the mo:Rack was designed to address some of the concerns plaguing folding bicycle commuters everywhere, chiefly, offering increased mobility while folded without adding excessive bulk and weight, and allowing for easy deployment  and transportation of their bicycles. When deployed, the rack stands on a rectangular, 4-point frame that bears the load of the vertically-standing bicycle. Rounded plastic roller wheels mounted to each of the 4 points offer mobility.

When not in use, the trolley frame swings back up and nests snugly into the main frame, putting the small plastic roller wheels upright and away from any swinging/moving parts. It’s an ingenious design vaguely reminiscent of the trolley system Brompton owners might be familiar with, but much more adaptable to other bike systems as well.

The mo:Rack is compatible with most 20- inch wheeled foldies like the DRAKE folding bikes, and other popular brands of folding bicycles for local commuters. However, it is recommended that any installation work be done by an official dealer, as some degree of adjustment is needed to ensure proper centering and performance due to its adaptable nature (more on this later).

For this test, I chose to install the mo:Rack on my Tern Link D8.

I took the mo:Rack out on several outings, mostly errand runs and my daily commutes to work, to see how it would stand up to the stresses of commuting.

Performance

Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed about the design of the mo:Rack is that it does indeed make folding/unfolding more smooth. The swing-out lower trolley frame had the unexpected benefit of elevating the folded bicycle to around waist height, putting the seatpost/trolley handle comfortably within reach for folding and unfolding duties. This definitely had some well-thought-out engineering behind it. All that was needed to establish a good grip on the essential anchoring points for folding/unfolding was a foot placed under one side of the rack’s wheelbase to stabilize the bicycle. I could even do away with the normally-essential first step of dropping my seatpost to the ground to prevent the folded frame from falling over, effectively taking 2-3 steps out of the entire process.

The 4-point wheelbase of the mo:Rack ensured a stable vertical stand on both even and uneven surfaces, which is definite improvement over a two-wheeled design, which works fine in a stationary position on level ground, but often results in catastrophic tip-overs and heart-wrenching falls on moving ground like trains and buses. Oh, and if the area is on a slight incline? You are out of luck too; be prepared to spend your time compensating for the imbalance with constant pushing and pulling.

With the well-distributed wheelbase of the mo:Rack, I had much more confidence in the stability of my folded bicycle vs. my current 2-wheeled rack. It felt easier to handle in tight confines, as long as the ground was smooth and relatively even. Slightly more uneven ground like weathered concrete or uneven tiling offered a fair bit more resistance, but not more so than with previous racks I’ve tried.

I quickly learnt that the mo:Rack operates best with a forward-rolling motion. Dragging your folded bike behind you will result in the bike flipping open, and requires much more effort. Once you get used to the motion though, maneuvering through tight spaces becomes a breeze. I even managed to get the whole setup through the regular passenger gantries at the MRT station, something I would never even dream of attempting with other trolley racks.

On buses and MRT trains, the dimensions of the rack really shone through. Travelling on public transport, it is not uncommon to be met with eye-rolls and general distaste from people who feel inconvenienced by the idea of shoving a bicycle into tight confines. Again, the stable wheelbase and relatively small footprint made it easy to quickly slip the bicycle into a free corner, averting any adverse reactions from fellow commuters. In fact, none of them seemed to notice that I was rolling a bike around. I think this might have had something to do with the fact that the nimbleness of the rack enabled me to navigate my way around them, instead of sheepishly requesting for pardon, followed by clumsy, fumbling attempts to stick my bicycle somewhere.

Making my way around MRT stations and bus stops became much simpler too. The relatively light weight and space-efficient upright orientation of the mo:Rack made it easy to slip my foldie into lifts and through the oddly-designed “lanes” seprating the entries and exits of buses. The narrow wheelbase also made it simple to balance my bike on steps. This was one of my favourite things about the design, in fact, it was so good at this that I didn’t even think twice about taking the escalator anymore. Ordinarily I’d wait for the crowd to move on before I attempted an escalator ascent/descent, but again, the mo:Rack provided me an elegant solution.

Materials & Construction

The mo:Rack is formed from shaped 6000 Aluminium. This was chosen over the more traditional rolled construction to ensure strength, durability and the proper amount of stiffness. The rack is tested and rated to a 25kg load, comparable to most trolley racks available today.

The only components not made of Aluminium are the two load-bearing support struts that anchor the rack to rear fork of your bike frame. These are formed from Stainless Steel, to allow for some flexibility in accommodating the different geometries each brand of foldie might possess.

These support struts need some fine-tuning by someone familiar with the design of the rack, to ensure proper centering and installation. This is because minute adjustments to either one can dramatically alter the positioning of the rack. This by no means a bad thing; with most other designs the angle of the rack is determined by the geometry of the bike and where the rack can be anchored along the frame or rear fork, with little or no room for fine-tuning to achieve a more desirable angle. In the case of the mo:Rack, a much larger degree of flexibility may be had, as the steel struts can be bent and shaped for a custom fit, without sacrificing the structural integrity of the system.

At no point during the test did I doubt the sturdiness of the rack. It felt solid without any excessive flex or vibrations, even while riding over punishing graveled terrain and strapped down with a fully-loaded backpack. The rack held up like a champ, albeit a slightly choosy one. The nested wheelbase made it a little difficult to secure larger loads without some shifting and prodding. Without some kind of bag to hold everything together, this might have been a much harder undertaking. One loaded up though, it took the weight like a trooper. I felt no instability or “fishtailing” despite its deceptively thin structure, even in strong headwinds.

Aesthetics

The mo:Rack is definitely an eye-catcher. This past Sunday I took it out for a quick trip running some errands around the East. I was stopped by several people who wanted to know where they could get one for themselves, and with good reason; where most other racks end up being bulky and unsightly, the mo:Rack cuts a sleek, almost Bauhausian form, only taking up just enough space to fulfill its intended purpose.

The clean lines and uncluttered outlook of the mo:Rack will appeal to cyclists who want the convenience of a trolley rack, without the unsightly bulge that other designs might impose on the form of their folding bicycles. The neutral black-on-grey colour scheme of the rack is attractive, without drawing too much attention away from the looks of most folding bicycles.

Issues

The tiny wheels however, were something I was left less than enthused with. In principle, the small, hard plastic forms moulded with rounded edges similar to those you might find on a skateboard’s wheels, are supposed to provide some level of nimbleness. On flat, even ground they performed well enough, offering a smooth roll with barely any resistance. Rolling the rack over the metal-beveled paths for the visually handicapped that line the passageways of MRT stations however, proved to be a challenge. They were simply too small to overcome higher obstacles, and the even fit right between two raised bumps.

According to Vincent, this could be overcome by exerting some downward force to shift the weight distribution on the wheelbase slightly higher, allowing some leeway for the wheels to roll over with decreased resistance. This was easy enough to achieve in a store demonstration with relatively smooth bumps, but in a real-life setting, after repeated attempts with varying degrees of pressure, I often found it easier to lift the entire bicycle off the ground and carry it over. In my opinion, these issues could be solved with the inclusion of larger urethane wheels, which offer some “give” and have infinitely more gripping power than the squeaking, unforgiving plastic.

The lack of any kind of stopper for the wheels also made sure that constant vigilance was essential every time I left my bike standing in a folded position. Not that anyone should ever take their eyes off their bikes for an extended period of time, especially with other commuters around. At the same time however, after countless heart-stopping moments where I took my eyes off my bike for a second only to find it rolling away, I ended up having to grip the seatpost like my life depended on it, to prevent a potential disaster for someone’s shin. Some way of locking the wheels would have been a nice addition.

The personal deal-breaker for me was lack of compatibility with Panniers, or at least, my Ortlieb Front Rollers. I suppose if you possess a hang-over system like Topeak’s, which are not secured with plastic hanging struts and hooks, or are not partial to pannier use, this would be a moot point.  I would have also loved to see some sort of bungee cable or binder system to help hold and stablise loads in place. I ended up using my trusty 2-dollar chameleon-green bungee cable for the job.

Conclusion

While I did have some issues with the rack, my overall experience was a positive one. Stowing and rolling the Link D8 became an instinctive, fluid movement, with minimal fussing and fumbling to achieve the desired effect.

In my opinion, the mo:Rack is definitely not a piece of gear for the long-haul truckers who need their bike to bear the weight of massive amounts of gear. Rather, it is a precision implement, meant to help your foldie transcend the boundaries set for you by tight spaces and tired appendages. Is it the ultimate commuter rack? No, but it comes pretty close, especially for people who mix it up by making some legs of their daily journey by bus/train. At the end of the day, if hauling large quantities of gear is not a primary concern influencing your choice of rack, and mobility is your focus, then the mo:Rack is right up your alley.

The mo:Rack is available at all Rodalink retail outlets in Singapore (Tel. 6749 3239), E-Walker (Tel: 6742 2003), Cyclecycle (Tel: 6366 0348) and mo:Rack Authorized dealers. The mo:Rack retails for $SGD255.00.

For more information on the product, kindly sent your enquiries to sales@klappen.com.sg.

Cyclecycle is located at:

30 Woodlands Ave 1, #02-06
The Woodgrove
Singapore 739065
Tel :+65 6366 0348
Email : sales@cyclecycle.com.sg

E-Walker is located at:

3005, Ubi Ave 3, #01-52
Singapore 408861
Tel: +65 6742 2003
Email: contact@ewalker.com.sg

Rodalink Singapore outlets are located at:

Rodalink One Commonwealth
1 Commonwealth Lane
One Commonwealth #01-14/15
Singpaore 149544

Tel: +65 6475 4833

Rodalink Jurong East
Blk 18, #01-98D Tradehub21
Boon Lay Way
Singapore 609966

Tel: +65 6795 4320

Rodalink Upper East Coast
166B, Upper East Coast Road

Singapore 455270

Tel: + 65 6242 8330

Rodalink Jurong Kechil
110 Jalan Jurong Kechil,
#01-02 Sweebi House
Singapore 598606

Tel: + 65 6465 6330

Rodalink Upper Thomson
910F Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 787112

Tel: +65 6552 1330

Business Hours :
11:00am – 8:00pm (Monday to Saturday)
11:00am – 4:00pm (Sunday & Public Holidays)