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Old 09-06-12, 06:50 PM   #1
GeorgeBMac
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car carrier for hitch mount???

There is a lot of collective experience on this forum so I'm looking for some advice....

A nice friend of mine -- the one who got me into biking by giving me her old Cannondale road bike -- is getting back into cycling herself. But she needs a car carrier...

She has a Toyota Highlander SUV that can't handle a trunk mount type of carrier because of a wing type thing that sticks out above the back window. So she is planning to have a hitch installed and then buying a carrier.

Neither of us have any experience with these... Is there anything we shold be watching out for? Or features that would be helpful? The LBS suggested getting a 2 inch hitch.
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Old 09-06-12, 06:59 PM   #2
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I agree with going 2". I've got a Yakima King Pin. The things I like are that the bikes are secured so they can't swing; there is a buit-in lock for the bikes and it locks to the receiver; the arms fold down when not in use; the rack uses a bolt instead of a hitch pin so it is very solid; and the rack folds down to access the rear of the vehicle. Oh, and I got it for $50 off of Craig's List in brand-new condition.
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Old 09-06-12, 07:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
There is a lot of collective experience on this forum so I'm looking for some advice....

A nice friend of mine -- the one who got me into biking by giving me her old Cannondale road bike -- is getting back into cycling herself. But she needs a car carrier...

She has a Toyota Highlander SUV that can't handle a trunk mount type of carrier because of a wing type thing that sticks out above the back window. So she is planning to have a hitch installed and then buying a carrier.

Neither of us have any experience with these... Is there anything we shold be watching out for? Or features that would be helpful? The LBS suggested getting a 2 inch hitch.
A two inch receiver certainly increases the options, but if you are only going to be carrying one or two bikes, there are lots of options for 1 1/4"
If the cost differential is not too great, I'd definitely go 2"
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Old 09-06-12, 07:11 PM   #4
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George,

When I got into cycling last year, I bought the Thule "Helium" hitch-mounted bike carrier. (I drive a compact SUV--a Hyundai Santa Fe). I have used this carrier heavily over the last year, and I haven't regretted buying it. Here are some of its features:
  • It is very light weight.
  • It is very easy to install and remove.
  • It has an innovative locking mechanism to prevent the carrier from being removed from the hitch.
  • It has a lever-activated tilt mechanism to allow access to your SUV's rear hatch.
  • The "arms" which hold the bikes can be easily lowered out of the way when not in use.
  • The carrier has a built-in cable lock for locking your bikes to the carrier.
  • The carrier holds the bikes safely and securely.

The only downside to this carrier is its price--but to me, the long list of features made it worth it. It has served me very well.

By the way, this carrier fits a 2" receiver.
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Old 09-06-12, 07:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
There is a lot of collective experience on this forum so I'm looking for some advice....

A nice friend of mine -- the one who got me into biking by giving me her old Cannondale road bike -- is getting back into cycling herself. But she needs a car carrier...

She has a Toyota Highlander SUV that can't handle a trunk mount type of carrier because of a wing type thing that sticks out above the back window. So she is planning to have a hitch installed and then buying a carrier.

Neither of us have any experience with these... Is there anything we shold be watching out for? Or features that would be helpful? The LBS suggested getting a 2 inch hitch.
Oh my. Cars are much too heavy to carry. Either call for a tow or leave it parked and ride a bike.
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Old 09-06-12, 07:46 PM   #6
Bent Bill
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This is the style I like
but there big $$$$

http://www.rei.com/product/816726/thule-t2-xtr-2-bike
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Old 09-06-12, 08:05 PM   #7
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Would never put my bike in the back of any cars, not only the bikes can get damaged particularly backing into a parallel parking, but the main problem is the dust and rain and grime that gets kicked into the bikes.

The roof is the best, but it can be noisy and the mileage suffers--forget it on the roof of a Prius.

The last option is to take the wheels off and put it inside!
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Old 09-06-12, 08:09 PM   #8
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My minimum requirements:
1. 2" hitch receiver.
2. Supports bikes by the tires.
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Old 09-06-12, 08:58 PM   #9
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I have a Lexus RX400H, which under the skin is exactly the same as a Highlander. I went to U-Haul and had them install a 2" receiver hitch. They also handle the required wiring needed for hauling a trailer. They install an almost universal four-pin electrical connector.

Then, I purchased a Yakima two-bike hitch rack to haul my bike(s). Here is what I've leaned, which may be of use to you.

1.) Her bike will fit inside her car, without removing the front wheel. Just fold down the rear seats, lay down an old blanket, and put the bike in, front wheel first. By using a second old blanket, or moving pad, one can fit two bicycles inside without removing any wheels. Just be cognizant of the crank positions, and one goes in left-side-down, the other right-side-down. There is plenty of room for a floor pump, helmets, shoes, and whatever else you need to carry to where you will be riding.

2.) As mentioned by CACycling in post #2, the swing arms fold down when you don't need to carry any bikes and the whole assembly pivots down when you need to open the rear hatch. If she has an automatic electric hatch open function, just remember to swing the rack down before trying to open the hatch.

3.) I purchased the two-bike rack and even though I've only carried two bikes at one time, I really wish I spend a few more bucks to get the four-bike rack instead. The reason is that when you carry two bikes, it is very possible that the two bikes will "touch" each other while you're driving. You can mitigate any damage by appropriate padding and strategically placing the cranks in certain positions ... but it an extra hassle that one needs to worry about. If you don't care if your bikes get scratched, then you need not be concerned about that. With a four-bike rack, you can put your two bikes on the first and fourth position and there will be plenty of space where they won't touch.

It bugs me so much that when I go out riding with my lady friend, I put one bike inside the car and the other on the rear rack ... or put both of them inside. I won't take the chance of putting both of them on the rear rack. Usually, it's just me when I take my bike someplace, the the two-bike rack works fine. And, "yes", the bikes don't swing. Be sure to look for that feature.

(I also have a Yakima roof-top rack, and can carry bikes up there ... but it is currently set up to carry my kayaks.)

4.) If she goes with Yakima, I very highly recommend paying extra for the security kit ... and an extra cable lock. What the security kit contains is a lock for the bolt that secures the rack to the receiver hitch. With that, nobody can unscrew the bolt and make off with her rack, (and bikes if attached). You also get a cable that stores inside the swing-up arm when not in use, but wraps around the outer-most bike frame and attaches to a locking pin. Nobody can walk off with your bike with the cable locked, and even though the inner bike(s) are not locked, the outer bike being locked prevents anyone from unloading an inner bike.

It's not the thickest cable and will probably discourage thiefs-of-opportunitiy. It probably won't stop professionals; what does? If I'm always with the car, I don't use the cable lock. Just when I stop en-route and the car/bikes will be out of my sight for a few minutes, (such as stopping for a soda or something).

The security kit cable does not secure the wheels. That is why I recommend an additional cable lock. People rarely go through the trouble of stealing a rear wheel, but front wheels are easy to rip off. I got a cable long enough to wrap through both the front and rear wheel, as well as at least once through the frame. A second bike? Either get a longer cable lock, a second cable lock, or transport one bike inside the Highlander.

Final thoughts... I really like Yakima. Nothing wrong with Thule. I just started way back with Yakima and just stuck with the system. If I were your friend, I'd stick with either Yakima or Thule. They have good reputations. A bit expensive, but they last a long time. I've had my Yakima system, (in one form or another), for about eighteen years now. Most of it is that old. The stuff lasts!

I leave my rack on the car all the time. It hides the license plate a lot, but I've never been questioned about that by a passing policeman. Then again, Lexus SUV/Highlanders are not high on their visibility list. Most owners of those cars are pretty responsible drivers, and law enforcement people know that. The only time I take the hitch off is when I need to use a U-Haul trailer. Then, I remove the bike hitch and install the ball. Go to the U-Haul joint, attach a trailer, hook up the wires, and haul whatever I need. To give an example of how strong U-Haul receiver hitches are, I've trailered my Mercedes 190D sedan to the mechanic...a trip of about 70 miles, up and down some steep hills, (I only take my Mercedes' to a mechanic I trust). The hitch, (and car), handled the load quite well. I've also attached a motorcycle carrier to the receiver and hauled my Vespa on several occasions. It's a rack where you roll your bike up a ramp and the full weight of the bike is supported by the hitch. My Vespa weight about 400 pounds. Those U-Haul hitches are pretty strong.

Just something to consider. Good luck with helping her decide. Remember, as a fall back, her bikes will fit inside her Highlander without having to remove the wheels, front or rear.
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Last edited by volosong; 09-06-12 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 09-07-12, 04:15 AM   #10
GeorgeBMac
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Thank you everybody for sharing your thoughts and experience. I have forwarded your comments on to my friend and I am sure they will help her to find a carrier that she will be happy with... These things are not cheap and usually they are just sitting in a box -- so its pretty hard to figure it all out in the store. So, thank you again!
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Old 09-07-12, 06:29 AM   #11
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I love my Saris Thelma http://www.saris.com/en/bike-racks/v...ma-2-bike.html
Comes in 2 or 3 bike versions. It will fit either a 1 1/4" or 2" hitch.
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Old 09-07-12, 07:04 AM   #12
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+1 on the security kit. I also add a long cable lock to secure wheels.
My ideal rear hitch carrier would "swing-away" instead of fold down out of the way. But I'd also want the arm to be able to fold down (I hate driving around with a giant pole sticking backwards or preventing me from parking in normal spots when no bikes are mounted).
My Thule swings away but the arm does not fold down (arrghhhh).
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Old 09-07-12, 07:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banded Krait View Post
George,

When I got into cycling last year, I bought the Thule "Helium" hitch-mounted bike carrier. (I drive a compact SUV--a Hyundai Santa Fe). I have used this carrier heavily over the last year, and I haven't regretted buying it. Here are some of its features:
  • It is very light weight.
  • It is very easy to install and remove.
  • It has an innovative locking mechanism to prevent the carrier from being removed from the hitch.
  • It has a lever-activated tilt mechanism to allow access to your SUV's rear hatch.
  • The "arms" which hold the bikes can be easily lowered out of the way when not in use.
  • The carrier has a built-in cable lock for locking your bikes to the carrier.
  • The carrier holds the bikes safely and securely.

The only downside to this carrier is its price--but to me, the long list of features made it worth it. It has served me very well.

By the way, this carrier fits a 2" receiver.
^^^^^ This ^^^^^^ +1 ^^^^^
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Old 09-07-12, 07:54 AM   #14
woodway
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bent Bill View Post
This is the style I like
but there big $$$$

http://www.rei.com/product/816726/thule-t2-xtr-2-bike
I own one of these racks. They are expensive. And heavy. But when weighing the expense and weight against how easy it is to take bikes on and off the rack, the ability to carry all shapes and sizes of bikes (especially full suspension mountain bikes), the ability to carry multiple bikes without swinging, rubbing or scratching, I would buy this rack again without question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VNA View Post
Would never put my bike in the back of any cars, not only the bikes can get damaged particularly backing into a parallel parking, but the main problem is the dust and rain and grime that gets kicked into the bikes.

The roof is the best, but it can be noisy and the mileage suffers--forget it on the roof of a Prius.
Well, it's true that some people are backing challenged, but the majority of us manage to park our cars without crushing the bikes on the back. And unless you are driving on roads all by yourself, a set of bikes on the roof are going to get road spray and debris flung at them just like bikes on the back. Oh yes, there is one other downside to carrying bikes on the roof, that you forgot to mention - garages (not my bike, just a photo I scraped off the web)

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Old 09-07-12, 01:17 PM   #15
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...
This picture, like the commercial with the bike vs garage, makes me cringe and nearly cry.
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