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  1. #1
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    Permanently attaching bike rack without car damage

    A couple of weeks ago I asked for advice on how to permanently (or even for extended periods) attach a bike rack to a car without damaging the paint. The best functional solution suggested was to get a hitch mount rack but there is about a $400-$500 price tag attached to that by the time I get a hitch installed. Someone else suggested that I try "helicopter tape", a 8 mil, transparent and VERY tough film on the car at the contact points. Since I found that the tape wouldn't damage the paint finish and that I could try it cheaply ($10), seems logical to give it a try. Found that one of the main uses for "helicopter tape" these days is in applying essentially invisible car bras to protect paint on high end vehicles. I've got a few million miles of experience in driving around construction and gravel truck infested Atlanta and have collected many hundreds of rock chips. I can see the need for a product like this.

    Just installed the tape and the rack over it yesterday. Pictures below. You have to get up close and look hard to even see that there is a tape applied to the car so I can conclude that the tape works from a visual point. There are also pieces below the two contact points below the vertical supports. I'll give it several weeks and pull the rack to examine the tape for any sign of abrasion damage or tape release or whatever.

    One unintended result of the Saris bike rack always being on the car is that it gives me immunity from the red light cameras proliferating locally over the past few years. The bottom shot is a very close approximation of the angle from which the revenue generators shoot. Ain't that a heartbreaker?



    Last edited by TomD77; 07-07-12 at 10:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    Looks like a winner Tom, nice work on the tape and rack mounting.

    Bill

  3. #3
    MUP World Champ adamhenry's Avatar
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    In CA that could get you a ticket for CVC 5201 (obstructed plate) unless you are hauling a bike.

    A quick google found a similar law for Florida. Section 316.605, Florida Statute is very similar to the CA law and it seems a few people have received the ticket.
    Last edited by adamhenry; 07-07-12 at 06:37 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamhenry View Post
    In CA that could get you a ticket for CVC 5201 (obstructed plate) unless you are hauling a bike.

    A quick google found a similar law for Florida. Section 316.605, Florida Statute is very similar to the CA law and it seems a few people have received the ticket.
    Hummm, wonder what Saris has to say on the matter. I'm obviously using the rack as intended.

  5. #5
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    Do the laws say anything about a minimum size for the bike which you are carrying on your rack?

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    MUP World Champ adamhenry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by overthehillmedi View Post
    Do the laws say anything about a minimum size for the bike which you are carrying on your rack?
    The law doesn't say anything about bike racks: ........all letters, numerals, printing, writing, and other identification marks upon the plates regarding the word “Florida,” the registration decal, and the alphanumeric designation shall be clear and distinct and free from defacement, mutilation, grease, and other obscuring matter, so that they will be plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the rear or front ............

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Not only does it obscure the license plate, but in California you'd get another ticket for blocking the tail lights when you put the bike on it. What most don't know is the company that makes the rack can also be fined $50 for each rack like that they've sold in California.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  8. #8
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    FL 316.605 is one of those statutes, that if interpreted as written, almost every vehicle on the road would be subject to a citation. Any vehicle with a trailer in tow where the contents on or in the trailer (e.g. a boat) would be subject to a citation because the trailer or it's contents obstructs the license plate of the vehicle doing the towing. Also, any vehicle with a frame around the plate is subject to a citation if the frame covers any portion of the items listed in the statute. Any vehicle with a bar hitch bike rack could be subject to a citation since the bar obstructs part of the name of the state and also part of the numbers/letter sequence.

    I'm sure citations have been given for such a circumstance, but I don't know of too many LEO's that will waste their time with it, as it is one of those statutes that can easily be contested and won if you are properly prepared in court.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamhenry View Post
    In CA that could get you a ticket for CVC 5201 (obstructed plate) unless you are hauling a bike.

    A quick google found a similar law for Florida. Section 316.605, Florida Statute is very similar to the CA law and it seems a few people have received the ticket.
    But like here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, it is but one more motor vehicle violation for which you can be stopped and ticketed it the officer wants to find a reason.
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    I've read and believe that every one of us violates dozens of laws per day. As a practical matter, I've had this rack or its' predecessor pretty much permanently affixed to my car for several years without problem.

    In the meantime, here is what appears to may be an easy and cheap solution to the problem of paint damage with trunk mount racks.

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    My brother said he knows of no citation for "obstructed tag" written while he has been a deputy. A few years ago when people put the rainbows over the state outline they were made to remove them or receive a ticket. The smoked plastic covers people use to try and thwart a camera are actually illegal under this law but they are everywhere. Actually, Tom's tag is legible with the rack empty and no trooper or deputy I know would bother him with a bike on the car. they are too busy with real crimes and the speeders and reckless drivers we have here. Tourist gawking and texting are a much bigger problem.

    Looks good Tom, well done.

    Bill

  12. #12
    NewKidInTown AmFaeEmbra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomD77 View Post



    Caveat - I'm from the other side of the pond.

    Why don't the manufacturers make sure that the supports are wider than the widest plate? From that pic, it looks like you wouldn't see the full registration number even if viewed straight on. Or did Tom cut down the width of the bar . . . ? :o)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmFaeEmbra View Post
    Caveat - I'm from the other side of the pond.

    Why don't the manufacturers make sure that the supports are wider than the widest plate? From that pic, it looks like you wouldn't see the full registration number even if viewed straight on. Or did Tom cut down the width of the bar . . . ? :o)
    I got a written warning the other day for my bike rack blocking the plate.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    FL 316.605 is one of those statutes, that if interpreted as written, almost every vehicle on the road would be subject to a citation. Any vehicle with a trailer in tow where the contents on or in the trailer (e.g. a boat) would be subject to a citation because the trailer or it's contents obstructs the license plate of the vehicle doing the towing. Also, any vehicle with a frame around the plate is subject to a citation if the frame covers any portion of the items listed in the statute. Any vehicle with a bar hitch bike rack could be subject to a citation since the bar obstructs part of the name of the state and also part of the numbers/letter sequence.

    I'm sure citations have been given for such a circumstance, but I don't know of too many LEO's that will waste their time with it, as it is one of those statutes that can easily be contested and won if you are properly prepared in court.
    My brother in Pasco County got a ticket for this once because of the frame around the license plate, but it was combined with a citation for something else as well.

  15. #15
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    "Permanentely" attach?

  16. #16
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I bought a new 2012 Jetta TDI in February. Put a Yakima roof rack on it, no helicopter tape. I figure it's a permanent attachment; doesn't block any license plates. No paint damage at the aircraft rain gutters, but unless you use their plastic wind screen attachment, the rack howls like a banshee, especially with the sun roof open. The wind screen attachment has padded feet that rest on the roof. No paint damage so far, but I'm considering getting some of that there helicopter tape. Where does one obtain the stuff?

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    "Permanentely" attach?
    As opposed to removing the rack after each use, Rudy. We did this on our VW Beetle in the 70's so my wife and I could throw the bikes on and go when the chance came to us.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member Pars's Avatar
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    What kind of tape did you wind up going with (dimensions?), and where did you find it? I have the same rack and wouldn't mind trying this.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmFaeEmbra View Post
    Caveat - I'm from the other side of the pond.

    Why don't the manufacturers make sure that the supports are wider than the widest plate? From that pic, it looks like you wouldn't see the full registration number even if viewed straight on. Or did Tom cut down the width of the bar . . . ? :o)
    I would suspect that if you are directly behind the vehicle in another vehicle, the plate is fully visible, except when a bicycle is mounted on the rack. Where it is more difficult is toll roads where they use plate images for billing, red light cameras or photo-radar type systems might not be able to fully read the plate.

  20. #20
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    Tom's O.P. said he used 8 mil thickness "helicopter tape", cost him $10.00. I imagine you could call the auto parts stores or a home improvement center and see what size sheets they have. P.M.tom if you can't find it to see where he found it. Best of luck.

    Bill

  21. #21
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pars View Post
    What kind of tape did you wind up going with (dimensions?), and where did you find it? I have the same rack and wouldn't mind trying this.
    I have been using the same tape for years but in another context entirely, competitive ***** shooting. We call it stock tape and use it as a protector and friction reducer on any ***** stock that will be rested on something during the firing process.

    I bought 4 pieces 5" square of the tape for $9 total, postage included from Jim Peightal 724-349-5216. He doesn't have a website or even email, he'll just send you the tape along with an invoice, a common practice in the shooting world by the way. If any of you get the tape from him, don't even think about stiffing him, the karma would be extraordinarily bad. Get the clear tape.

    To install, you'll need a small decal type squeegee and one spray bottle with water with a couple of drops of dishwash soap and another with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol diluted to around 1:3 w/water. Clean WELL, don't want sand under it, spray soap solution on car and place tape, it will move around easily. Get bubbles and water/soap out with squeege and spray perimeter with alcohol, it will quit moving and stick. It won't hurt the paint. Some of the shooters spend thousands of dollars on custom paint jobs on our carbon fiber stocks. The stock below has the tape on it, look closely at the bottom front of the picture.

    Last edited by TomD77; 07-11-12 at 05:38 PM.

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