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Thread: Bike Racks

  1. #1
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    Bike Racks

    It appears as though I am going to be transporting my bike a lot more this year and the Saris Bones trunk mount rack seems to be a lot of trouble both in getting on the car and attaching bikes. So, I am going to invest in a trailer hitch for car and get a hitch mounted rack. Here is where you guys come in>

    1. Can you recommend a rack
    2. Is it better to mount the bike by the frame or the wheels
    3. Any and all advice is welcome

  2. #2
    tsl
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    The bike doesn't care whether it's hung by the frame or held by the wheels. But you may.

    The hitch mounted racks that hold the bike by the frame tend to be lighter and so, easier to install on the car. All of the ones I've seen (but I haven't seen them all) let the bikes sway back and forth, bumping and rubbing together. These racks are also less expensive.

    The wheel-holder racks are considerably more expensive. They're heavy and so, tougher to install on the car. But it's quick and easy to load the bikes on the rack, and the bikes are stable and don't move.

    Which you choose will depend on how you value the different pros and cons. There's no "correct" choice.
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    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    tsl has a good summary of the pros and cons.

    I use a Thule tray-type rack. What I like:

    - Super-duper easy to put your bikes on and take them off
    - Rack parts don't rub on the bikes and the bikes don't rub on each other
    - Easily handles different types of bikes, wheel sizes and wheel widths including full-suspension mountain bikes
    - Holds the bikes very securely
    - Folds up out of the way so you don't have to take it off your car

    Cons:

    - It's HEAVY
    - It's expensive

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    I would be more inclined to get a bike rack if they weren't so expensive. Instead I put the in the back of my Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback. Works well but would limit space if we were going out of state and needed to pack street clothes as well as cycling gear.

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    It's as easy as riding a dannwilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    The hitch mounted racks that hold the bike by the frame tend to be lighter and so, easier to install on the car. All of the ones I've seen (but I haven't seen them all) let the bikes sway back and forth, bumping and rubbing together. These racks are also less expensive.
    I have a Saris Hitch mounted rack. It is older and I don't think this model is available, but it has three points of attachment: two on the top tube and one on the down tube. This prevents the bikes from swinging and bumping/rubbing each other. I looked at the current Saris racks (http://www.rackattack.com/saris-hitc...bike-racks.asp) and they appear to use the same system, just not the same model I have.
    "It doesn't get easier, you just go faster."

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    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannwilliams View Post
    I have a Saris Hitch mounted rack. It is older and I don't think this model is available, but it has three points of attachment: two on the top tube and one on the down tube. This prevents the bikes from swinging and bumping/rubbing each other. I looked at the current Saris racks (http://www.rackattack.com/saris-hitc...bike-racks.asp) and they appear to use the same system, just not the same model I have.
    Hence my disclaimer, "All of the ones I've seen (but I haven't seen them all)". Hadn't seen that one. Thanks for the enlightenment.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    I just upgraded to a Saris Thelma rack. It was a bit expensive, but much less that the Kuat I had my eyes on. I need to carry as many as three bikes, and like the attachment much better that strapping down the bike by the top tube. The bikes don't bump into each other and damage the paint, and by attaching at the wheels, any bike will fit without an adapter.

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    1UpUSA has a great rack, it's not cheap but it goes on super fast and comes off super fast and isn't heavy. It's also not cheap but it's value. There is a long thread (like 80 pages) on mtbr.com where they discuss this rack - generally people love them.

    http://www.1upusa.com/product-quikracksilver.html

    I have one and it's been just terrific. We've carried bikes on it for at least 10K miles and will do another 3.5K this summer. We've even (accidentally) almost had the SUV airborne with 4 bikes on the back at 80mph when we hit a bump in the road during the summer on a very hot summer day (pavement working towards a buckle). Everything was fine.

    It's modular and you can mount the 1 bike version to your car in 30 seconds or less including putting the bike on the rack. You can do the same thing for 4 bikes in less than 3 minutes (I've done it). It's easy to store, it all folds up. I hang mine on the garage wall in pieces.I When you take the bike off, the single version folds up nice and tight to the bumper for a very clean package.

    You can also mount 4 bikes on it and they won't be touching (or damaging) each other and it's got one of the tightest pitches between bikes of any of the hitch racks. That's nice because you don't wind up with a super long tail.

    They also offer a roof tray that you don't have to take the front wheel off. Works great. This works great for commenting - when my kids where commenting to summer school and job at the university, I'd drive them to the bus with this rack on top. Very fast to mount the bike and get it off which is great when you are dealing with buses.

    The racks that hang your bike by the frame will do damage to the paint. I had one, and the rack tore up the decals and paint job on my mountain bike and caused more damage in one use than the rack was worth. It's just not worth it. You really want no rack that touches the frame anywhere. The best racks hold the bike by the wheels.

    J.

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    Do yourself a favor and take a look at Kuat http://kuatracks.com/en/ They make a wonderful set of racks. I purchased a NV rack from Amazon a couple of years ago and it is still in like new condition. And that's saying something since it has been on all three of my cars and the motorhome, traveled from the FL keys to PEI and not a scratch on any of the bikes. The rack features a built in lock (keyed the same as the hitch pin lock), hitch pin lock and built in anti-rattle system. Here are a couple of pics the first in on my smart car with the work stand (which I remove for local travel and put on for motorhome travel. The second is of the rack on the fiat showing that even with the bikes on the rack I can still open the trunk. It's pricy but well built and still quite a bit less than any of the bikes I put on it




  10. #10
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    Some general advice.
    1. If you aren't ever going to tow something else, you can save money be dispensing with the lighting wiring connector.

    2. If you are planning on carrying 2 bikes, get a 3-bike rack. 3 bikes? a 4 bike rack. The rule of racks is the number of bikes you want to carry +1. With the various types of top tubes and handlebars, it's easier to keep the bikes from banging into each other if there's some spacing.

    3. Some rack / bike combinations are worse for obscuring brake lights. You might want to check this out on your vehicle. I have one 4-bike rack that came with brake lights on it and there are kits that you can make or buy to do the job. You might want to see if a rack that you are interested in has such a kit or option. Of course you'll then need the wiring connector mentioned in #1 above.

    4. I've seen people cook off tires with rear racks if the vehicle's exhaust goes straight back and the tire is right there. You can get chrome tail pipe tips that direct the exhaust down pretty cheaply.

    5. Don't forget about the rack when you pull into the garage. I had a buddy lower the garage door on his bike causing some damage. It was an older garage door system what didn't have modern safeguards. Of course this guy drove his car into the garage with a bike on the roof 3 times! So maybe it's just him.
    Last edited by JerrySTL; 01-29-14 at 06:24 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    tsl has a good summary of the pros and cons.

    I use a Thule tray-type rack. What I like:

    - Super-duper easy to put your bikes on and take them off
    - Rack parts don't rub on the bikes and the bikes don't rub on each other
    - Easily handles different types of bikes, wheel sizes and wheel widths including full-suspension mountain bikes
    - Holds the bikes very securely
    - Folds up out of the way so you don't have to take it off your car

    Cons:

    - It's HEAVY
    - It's expensive

    I have a Thule tray type as well (916XT or something like that). One other "Con" is that it doesn't play well with my road bike when I have full fenders (SKS Longboards or something like that) on the front. The directions tell you to clamp the front wheel within an inch or two of the fork crown, and there's no way to do that if you have fenders on. I suppose I could try clamping it farther out, where the fender doesn't cover, but I haven't had the need to transport the road bike (when it has its fenders installed) yet. I have the same problem with my Yakima roof rack as well. Fortunately it doesn't take too much effort to remove the front fender, but still . . .

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    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    My bike sports Planet Bike Cascadia full fenders and I just clamp down over the top of the front one squishing it onto the wheel. Holds the bike and the fender does not seem to mind.

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    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    I have a Yakima KingPin 4 bike rack and it is great. As with the Saris mentioned above, it has three point attachment to the frame so the bikes don't swing. It also has an optional built-in cable lock for the bikes and lock for the pin connecting it to the receiver (the receiver pin is threaded so the rack is very secure and stable). The arms fold down when not in use and the rack can be folded away from the back of the vehicle for access to the hatch. Even has a built-in the bottle opener. Best part is that it was a $50 CL find. They are out there (i bought the 2 bike trunk mount version of this rack for $10 at a thrift store).

  14. #14
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    Ah, bike racks. FWIW, here is what I think:

    1. Raingutter mounted racks and their ilk:

    Advantages: Will not damage the paint on your car or on your bikes. Very secure. Components are typically part of a system that allows you to use for skis, canoes ... all kinds of things, or to increase the package capacity of your car.

    Disadvantages: Bikes are in the airstream and likely to get hit by bugs, and whatever else is going by at 70 MPH. Plays havoc with your vehicle's gasoline mileage. If you forget the bikes are up there (easy to do), you could destroy the bikes and/or do a lot of damage to your car. Leaving rack on car (even when not transporting bikes) also impacts gasoline mileage somewhat and can result in a lot more howling wind noise (can be reduced by a fairing, but that costs $). Can be difficult to lift bikes high enough to mount on rack, particularly if mounted on a van or an SUV.

    2. Trailer hitch mounted racks:

    Advantages: Unlikely to damage bikes or car. Holds bikes out of airstream, so gas mileage is less effected and bugs are less of a problem. Not too expensive if you're getting a trailer hitch anyway. Can be used for other things (skis, snowboards) but not others (canoes).

    Disadvantages: Gotta get a trailer hitch ($ if you weren't otherwise interested in one). Some models make it difficult to enter tailgate or truck when attached. Depending on design, may cause problems when entering/leaving steep driveways ... not a problem with better designs.

    3. Trunk mounted racks:

    Advantages: Relatively inexpensive. Easily removed and attached.

    Disadvantages: Will likely damage the paint on your car and/or your bikes ... the only issue is how much, and how long it takes. Typically do not allow access to trunk/rear hatch when attached.

    What I do: Transport my bike by putting it in my car (wagon) whenever I can. The bikes are out of the airstream and so I get better gas mileage and the bikes bikes won't get rained on bugged up, or stolen. When I need a rack, I use the roof mounted variety as I have no other use for a trailer hitch, and I do use the rack for other sports equipment (skis, boards, canoe) and for other transport.

    YMMV. :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Planemaker View Post
    It appears as though I am going to be transporting my bike a lot more this year.....>

    1. Can you recommend a rack
    I cannot help with receiver hitch racks but I faced the same happy problem last year and took an alternate route: stuck with a trunk rack, but:

    I bought an old Rhode Gear 3 bike rack (my second) and chopped the struts down so it's a one bike rack. Easy and since the struts are only about 3 inches long its a snap to put any bike up on it. I also modified the two straps that grab below the bumper by inserting a cargo strap take up buckle. Much easier than wrestling with the stock straps. Now it takes about 1 minute to mount the rack on the trunk and about 30 second to take it off.
    Cheap, light, easy to live with. I have the other rack if I need to hang 3 bikes some times.

    Oh, just to mitigate the possibility of scratching/rubbing the TT paint I also have some heavy felt material on the two rubber mounts. The TT hangs on those vs the bare rubber. I hold the wheels steady with velcro straps on each wheel. I really don't want my wheels pinwheeling along as I drive. I always thought that looked goofy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
    I really don't want my wheels pinwheeling along as I drive. I always thought that looked goofy.
    For some reason, when I see that it drives me nuts.

    Be careful if you go to the beach, sand has a way of getting under those pads. It then acts like sand paper on your paint. This is from experience.
    If you don't know the way, you shouldn't be going there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    My bike sports Planet Bike Cascadia full fenders and I just clamp down over the top of the front one squishing it onto the wheel. Holds the bike and the fender does not seem to mind.
    I'm going to have to try that and see if it works with my SKS fenders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    Be careful if you go to the beach, sand has a way of getting under those pads. It then acts like sand paper on your paint. This is from experience.
    Good reminder but I doubt I'll take a bike to the beach. I'm an inland sorta guy. I do have the same problem, though, on our rail trails this time of year. Mucky enough that all the 'screenings' and sand get tossed up on everything. I should carry a brush in the car to sweep that off before I put the frame on the rack. "Note to self....."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prowler View Post


    Good reminder but I doubt I'll take a bike to the beach. I'm an inland sorta guy. I do have the same problem, though, on our rail trails this time of year. Mucky enough that all the 'screenings' and sand get tossed up on everything. I should carry a brush in the car to sweep that off before I put the frame on the rack. "Note to self....."
    Really doesn't matter. If the bike is dirty at all, you will do damage to the paint with any rack that grabs onto the frame or where the frame is weight bearing against the rack. It's not an "If" it is a "when". Been there done that.

    J.

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    Getting a Hitch? how abou a trailer ? I saw a lot more cargo trailers in Urp, than I Did BF pickup trucks .

    you can make a run to the Dump , and haul Compost for the garden , in a trailer too..

    then the bikes can go in the trailer , too ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-29-14 at 08:51 PM.

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    I have one of the cheap eBay hitch mount racks for my truck and a new Yakima Double Down Ace hitch mount for my cross-over. I guess I'm a frame hang guy, always worked well for me. The nice thing about the Yakima rack is how secure it is the receiver, I get no side to side sway thanks to the compression screw. The cheap rack moves around, I stabilize it with straps, and it doesn't fold so it's outdoor parking only. But I'll warn you, a problem with hanging racks is they don't work well with anything but fiarly standard geometry diamond frames, on a few of my bikes I have to use a top tube frame adapter to have the bikes sit level (I use the Yakima adapters)..

    The advantage of the frame hang rack is it makes decent repair/adjustment stand while traveling (great for MTB expeditions) and they are much cheaper.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    I have used Allen brand racks for over 40 yrs. Started with trunk/hatchback mounted racks and found them to be economical and reliable but you would have to expect some minor wear on the bike frame paint. A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me a hitch mounted Allen rack which was brand new. I invested in a hitch for my Rav4 and had to buy an extension to have the rack clear the exterior mounted spare tire. It works great and no damage at all to my bikes. I have a 3 bike rack but never put more than two on in order to minimize the potential for damage. Here is the 3 bike model http://www.pricepoint.com/Brand/Alle...FWwV7AodZnIA4A
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    I had a Yakima hitch rack that held the bikes by the wheels. Best dang rack I have ever used. New car has no hitch so I sold the rack and picked up a Yakima King Joe 3-bike trunk mount. Works like a charm be it one or two bikes. Won't haul 3 bikes cause ain't enough room between the bikes to minimize rubbing.

    Mounts to the car in less than a minute and hold the bikes nice and secure.

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