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Old 05-17-09, 07:51 PM   #1
HawkOwl
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Bike Carrier??

OK, after doing a bit of shopping and searching I'm still left with just what bike carrier I want. I have an SUV that has a very sturdy built-in roof rack. It also has a built in trailer hitch receiver. I need to carry two bikes.

If I put down the seats I can carry them inside. But, that doesn't leave any room for anything else. So, they are going outside.

It is a bit awkward but they could go on the roof. But, due to the height of the rack it seems that will be a two person job. Not very nice when I only have one person riding and one bike to carry. But they would be cleaner and more secure.

It would be very easy to get the bikes on and off a hitch rack. But, they are more vulnerable and it looks like they would get dirtier and maybe even cause malfunctions due to the grime.


OK, from your experience what are the trade-offs? What do you recommend?
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Old 05-17-09, 08:26 PM   #2
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A hitch mount that supports the bikes by the wheels rather than hanging from the top tube. I use a Cycle on pro but there are others that are lighter and less expensive for one ot two bikes.
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Old 05-17-09, 08:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Latitude65 View Post
OK, after doing a bit of shopping and searching I'm still left with just what bike carrier I want. I have an SUV that has a very sturdy built-in roof rack. It also has a built in trailer hitch receiver. I need to carry two bikes.

If I put down the seats I can carry them inside. But, that doesn't leave any room for anything else. So, they are going outside.

It is a bit awkward but they could go on the roof. But, due to the height of the rack it seems that will be a two person job. Not very nice when I only have one person riding and one bike to carry. But they would be cleaner and more secure.

It would be very easy to get the bikes on and off a hitch rack. But, they are more vulnerable and it looks like they would get dirtier and maybe even cause malfunctions due to the grime.


OK, from your experience what are the trade-offs? What do you recommend?
I recommend this hitch rack.

http://hollywoodracks.com/hitch-rack...hitch-rack.htm
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Old 06-26-09, 09:18 AM   #4
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If I was just hauling bikes, I would go with a hitch rack for the sole reason that it's easier to load than having to lift the bikes onto the roof. I should add that we are two adults with 3 kids. So I am always loading (by myself) 1 touring bike, 1 road bike, 1 kid's bike, 1 trail-a-bike and 1 kid trailer. The main question would be whether I could find a tray style rack that would accomodate the one-wheeled trail-a-bike. Otherwise I would have to go with a swing-away that holds the top tubes.

However, we frquently travel fully loaded for camping and such. With 5-6 people in the vehicle, the interior cargo space gets filled quick. We already had one of those hitch mounted cargo trays which we absolutely love. We pack our loose gear into big square plastic boxes. The cargo tray will take 4 boxes or 2 boxes + large cooler. Chairs and tents are laid over top of boxes. We can usually pack this and still have access to the hatchback.

So the only space left was the roof. I recently bought 4 Yakima roof trays; 2 King Cobras and 2 Raptors. They really work well, but it's a major effort to arrange everything just right. I can't even pull into the garage with the racks on, so they get reinstalled and rearranged for every trip.

It's also a major effort to get the bikes up there, but I did work out a system. I can set a bike on the roof while standing on the road. I then balance the bike with one hand while I hoist myself onto the SUV tire. I stand with one foot on the tire and the other on the seat. From there I can set the bike into the tray and latch it down. I am 6'0". My 5'5" wife would never attempt this super human feat.

The only problem is that the roof trays are incompatable with the trail-a-bike. So I still have to resort to either laying it over the gear on the cargo tray or using an additional cheepo trunk rack just for it. We must look like a band of gypsies slogging down the road with our Honda Pilot bursting at the seams.

The short answer is: There are top quality solutions in every configuration. Your best setup completely depends on your "team" and your travel circumstances.

Last edited by aharong; 06-26-09 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 06-26-09, 10:19 AM   #5
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I have a so called four bike hitch rack from Thule. It will haul two bikes comfortably, three in a pinch, four if you don't care how bad they beat each other up. I do not recommend it.
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Old 06-26-09, 04:29 PM   #6
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I use VW's load bars and bike racks atop our Passat wagon, which is probably enough lower than your SUV to make bike loading and unloading pretty easy. If the car were any taller, I would be looking for some sort of rear bumper mount, instead. When there are just two people and their bikes, I prefer to put everything inside the car.
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Old 06-27-09, 06:03 AM   #7
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If at all possible I ride from my house ... that being said, if it's a short trip and the car is already full (like a few miles), I use a hitch rack with the bike standing on its wheels. For longer trips, if there is room, and I'm a great packer, the bike is in the car. I've gotten fairly adept at layering our luggage in the back of our X5 so that the bike can go on top. When we traveled north from Florida this year there were three layers in the back -- luggage, bike 1, bike 2. If I cannot manage to get the bike inside, I'll use a bike box on the roof.

I hate leaving the bike(s) exposed. At 80mph sand and water are pushed into all the bearings; grease is driven out. The bike is sand-blasted. If I had one of those hitch-mount luggage racks, the luggage would be out there; the bike inside.

With 140k miles on my 2004 X5, the bike will soon be worth more than the car, but not if I leave it out in the elements. Well, that's not completely true -- I would just end up replacing Groups more often.
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Old 06-27-09, 06:14 AM   #8
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I've gotten 4 bikes (standing up) inside our Caravan, with still a lot of room for luggage. However, we generally travel with the two rigid mountain bikes inside - which leaves a LOT of room for other stuff. Instead of laying them down, I stand them up, hook them to the inside of the car with a bungee cord. We now have a Town and Country which has the "stow away" seats, which makes everything more convenient, so if we want to carry 7 folks, it is an easy 3 step operation to restore the seats from the seat well.
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Old 06-27-09, 09:16 AM   #9
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I don't know if you're out west, but when I had uprights I used a BVG hitch rack. It holds the bikes by the top tube. If you have a step through frame there is an adapter that runs from the stem to the seat post to mount the bike. With my Giant OCR C2 I just used the top tube and let the front wheel ride down a little. The rack has a release that lets it tilt down for getting in and out of your back door. The top clamp that holds the bikes on locks, and you can wrap a cable lock around the frames and hitch for more security. For a bike with an exposed cable on the top tube, I wrapped a washcloth around the frame and between the frame and the cable so the cable wouldn't be clamped against the frame. It has an arm sticking out down between the bike bottom brackets that you run a strap through the wheels of the bike to keep the bikes from swaying against each other. It comes in 2" or 1 1/4".

http://www.racknroad.com/bvgthule-xe...7.html#tdImage
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Old 06-27-09, 12:43 PM   #10
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I usually leave on rides from the house but occasionally transport bikes for remote rides and also take bikes along camping. I have 3 racks. I have a Yakima 4 bike hitch-mounted rack. It is awesome, holds the bikes securely (I do bungee the front wheels to keep the forks from turning but the way the bikes strap into the rack prevents swinging); I have a roof rack for 2 bikes The type you remove the front wheel and clamp the forks) which works well; and one that attaches to the back hatch on our van which works OK (it allows us to carry 2 there & 2 on the roof while towing our trailer.

I have found the roof rack is where the bikes get the dirtiest as they are getting blasted by everything you are driving through.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:24 PM   #11
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Thanks For the Input - Here is the Status

After all your input I finally decided to buy a Yakima Double Down hitch mount rack for 4 bikes. I figured it probably wouldn't actually hold four bikes but would handle three. In the store it seemed to be a decent rack.

But, now that it is installed there is a problem I didn't see in the store demo. It moves around too much. Primarily it is sloppy around the oblong hole where the lowering spring pin goes. But, it also moves a wee bit in the hitch receiver.

I talked to Yakima about it and they are sending a shim to make the oblong hole for the spring pin smaller. That will take some of it out. Maybe even solve the problem. If it doesn't, I bought it at REI and they are willing to move me into a different brand that they claim will not do that (Thule).

The Customer Service person at Yakima says that it is not unheard of for a hitch mount bike rack to move around in the hitch receiver. Hitch receivers just aren't built to very exacting specs. She suggested maybe, if the shim doesn't solve the problem, putting something in there to tighten it up.


Anyone else have this kind of problem? What did you do to solve it?


(The system for fastening the bikes to the rack is outstanding. When I put my carbon fibre bikes on it they Do Not Move. So, if the movement of the rack can be remedied I think this will be just the thing for my appication.)

Last edited by HawkOwl; 06-29-09 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 06-29-09, 01:51 PM   #12
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I've had 3 reciever mount carriers and they all have wobbled a bit at the reciever end. After deciding that the bikes were safe I have learned to forget about it (until I read your post!). I never was comfortable with a rack that folded down. The pin looked like a very weak link to me. Also, I never leave mine hanging off the back when parked, major pedestrian danger! I just remove the reciever end lock and toss it in the back of the vehicle. Otherwise, wrap a big red cloth on the end.
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Old 06-29-09, 02:45 PM   #13
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I use a hitch rack that I got from Performance "X-Port Flat bed 2 bike" they make one for 4 bikes but I only wanted two.
Wheels sit in a cradle and bar comes down to secure them. Thule makes one I like better but it's more than twice the price. I even sit the bike in the rack to make minor adjustments and inflate the tires. Protects both my bike(s) and my car.
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Old 06-29-09, 02:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latitude65 View Post

The Customer Service person at Yakima says that it is not unheard of for a hitch mount bike rack to move around in the hitch receiver. Hitch receivers just aren't built to very exacting specs. She suggested maybe, if the shim doesn't solve the problem, putting something in there to tighten it up.


Anyone else have this kind of problem? What did you do to solve it?

This is one of the reasons I chose the Hollywood rack I linked in my above post.

Do you have 1-1/4" receiver or a 2" receiver?

http://www.etrailer.com/p-51942.htm

http://www.etrailer.com/p-51943.htm

http://www.etrailer.com/p-63232.htm

http://www.etrailer.com/p-F-315.htm

When they installed the 1-1/4 hitch on my wifes Mustang, it was so far up under the car that I had to buy a hitch extension to put the rack on her car. It fits my truck hitch just fine.

With the extension, there was hitch rattle so I bought the anti rattle device for it. Since the adapter was not hollow, I had to use the one that is a collar.
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Old 06-29-09, 03:45 PM   #15
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My Yakima used a bolt instead of a hitch pin so, when it is tight, it doesn't move.
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Old 06-29-09, 06:02 PM   #16
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Thanks for the links. I took a look at them and will follow up if the shim I posted about doesn't solve the problem.

Yes, my Yakima also uses a bolt that threads through the bike rack shank. But, at this time it is hard by myself to do a decent differential diagnosis. When the shim comes that should clarify things.
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Old 07-08-09, 08:31 AM   #17
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However, we frquently travel fully loaded for camping and such. With 5-6 people in the vehicle, the interior cargo space gets filled quick.
Here are a couple picks to demonstrate. We have 4 on the roof, a trail-a-bike on the back, and a full load of camping gear.

BTW - When the manufacturers state that their rack are not for off-road use, they mean it! We did some driving in the beach on the 4th of July. There had been lots of traffic and the wheel ruts were pretty deep. I was crossing ruts and going a bit too fast and shook up the bikes pretty good.

The roof racks are great at absorbing the force of stops and acceleration, but they don't do well with lateral force. Resulting damage: the two bikes that were in King Cobra racks got their front wheels bent so badly that they had to be replaced. Wheels are not designed to take lateral torque. The two bikes that were attached by their downtube to Raptor racks actually bent the racks. I was able to straighten them back (mostly).

So my personal observation is that wheel grabbers (like the King Cobra) are easier to use, but downtube grabbers (like the Raptor) are safer for the bike if ***** happens. I'd rather raplace the rack than high dollar rims.

As for the arguement that hitch racks turn your bike into an expensive bumper... I now contend that your bike is not likely to survive a fender bender on the roof, either! Oddly, the one bike that did the best was the trail-a-bike on the cheapo trunk rack. I'm just glad that it didn't smash through the rear window.
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Old 07-08-09, 08:54 AM   #18
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I use a Swagman XC2 without problems. Not too expensive and well built.
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Old 07-08-09, 09:09 AM   #19
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OK, after doing a bit of shopping and searching I'm still left with just what bike carrier I want. I have an SUV that has a very sturdy built-in roof rack.
What SUV do you have?
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Old 07-08-09, 11:29 AM   #20
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Check out Saris racks. They have both easy-on racks ( http://www.saris.com/c-15-.aspx ) and hitch racks ( http://www.saris.com/c-16-.aspx ) Saris has excellent customer support and their equipment comes with a lifetime waranty.

I have used their Cycle On hitch rack ( in the middle of the hitch rack page ) for 3 years and have been very happy with it.
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