£19.99 for pack of 2
The Restrap Rackstraps are a versatile, adjustable, and secure means of attaching luggage to a pannier rack or other parts of your bike.
Pros: magnetic closure, adjustability.
Context and Value 3.5/5
Like many cyclists, I started off using simple bungee cords for any temporary extension to my bikes’ carrying capacity: cheap and convenient, general purpose bungees come in many different lengths, and have a muckle great hook that can be securely anchored to your pannier rack. Later on, I moved to the more cycle-specific rack straps (such as Blackburn's), which improved matters with a more compact hook that was better suited to a rack, and a flat elastic that would not roll off luggage quite so readily.
More recently the Stretch Strap, from Rok Strap came to my attention as a rather different approach: the flat straps were even wider, and they dispensed with the metal hooks (with their associated risk of scratches and ballistic injury). Even more significant was the use of a central buckle, which allowed for lots of length adjustment. With the Commuter version, they scaled down their original motorcycle offering to something that was a more appropriate length and weight for cyclists, with pricing from £10 to £13 per pair.
Spec and Performance 4.5//5
The Rackstraps from Restrap on test here are a similar idea, but with some useful improvements born of Restrap’s experience in the luggage market – but you will have to pay a premium for them.
In its 10 years of operation Restrap has done rather well catering for the burgeoning bikepacking market, whose practitioners tend to eschew racks and prefer to mount bags directly onto their frames. The Rackstraps will be of use to both this new breed of tourist and those who prefer pannier racks.
The Link magnetic belt has been Restrap’s best-selling item for many years, and the Rackstraps owe quite a lot to that product – including the proven durability of the 30 mm wide flat elastic webbing, which is woven for them in the UK. This is wider and ‘firmer’ than any other elastic strap that I have seen, and undoubtedly costs Restrap more than a ‘lesser’ material.
At each end of the straps is a large O-ring that the rest of the strap will loop through as a part of the attachment process, which provides different mounting options compared to a hook. Since these are permanently sewn in and therefore can’t be replaced easily, they need to last well: made from a synthetic nitrile rubber, they feel very similar to the O-rings that I use on Garmin’s quarter-turn mounts (and other cycle computers before that) – and I have never experienced a failure with those. Nitrile was chosen because it is more durable than natural rubber, but at the expense of elasticity – which is perfect for this application.
A major difference over a bungee-style elastic is being able to ‘split’ the strap with the buckle – but it is not the Fastex-style buckle commonly seen on luggage, but rather a magnetic closure. I love the Fidlock magnetic buckles on my Restrap camera sling, and found that their appeal lies in the consistent ease of use – even when wearing thick gloves. The Rackstrap buckles are of a slightly different design, but have an equally positive action, and I remain a fan.
At some point you will want to adjust the straps for length, which is easy as one half of the buckle has a ‘ladder lock’ adjustment. However, don’t be misled by Restrap’s claims of a total length between 55 to 75 cm: it is partly true, but the range is actually much more than that, as you can see in the picture! The useable maximum length is indeed about 55 cm without tension, and you can stretch this out to about 75 cm if you pull hard enough. However, it is equally important to know about the minimum length, which I found to be about 10 cm without tension. The difference here is that the stretch runs out at about 12 cm, as there is less webbing available to be stretched. This setting does produce a lot of redundant strap, and the additional O-ring provided may not be sufficient
to manage the surplus on its own – but you will need to do something, as long lengths of flapping material do not mix well with whirring components.
Restrap claim a breaking strength of 50 kg: I have no reason to doubt it, as the straps feel reassuringly robust - but that was far more than I would ever want to strap on to my bike.
Restrap assure me that the product is Vegan-friendly, as the end tabs are made from a ‘PU leather’.
For some reason Restrap don’t promote their ‘Lifetime Warranty’, which seems a bit like ‘hiding your light under a bushel’: I have checked and it does apply to the Rackstraps, but obviously it comes with a bit of ‘small print’.
The Rackstraps would work equally well for attaching luggage on a regular basis, or to have available as flexible backup for any temporary needs. The magnetic buckle closure is one of the main attractions (being more user-friendly than the usual Fastex-style buckles), but is also one of the factors that contributes to a higher price than similar competitors.