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Old 02-19-08, 10:37 PM   #1
Bialy
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Car Bike Rack

I am looking for a bike rack for my station wagon for 4 bikes: 2 kid, 2 adult (hybrid type). I guess the hitch type is more economical than the roof type? Any faves: Yakima vs. Thule vs. other? Upsides, downsides of roof (have to lift up, better to protect frames) v hitch-type (vulnerable to rear ending)? Particular features that are convenient or to avoid? Any other relevant comments appreciated, and feel free to provide links to any previous thread, pictures, etc. Thank you.
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Old 02-20-08, 08:27 AM   #2
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Before you post a question please do a quick look to see if someone already provided an answer. Here is what I posted a few days ago on a similar question:

I have all three main types of racks:
- Trunk Mount
- Hit Mount
- Roof mount.

My least favorite is the trunk mount as it is a royal main to attach to the car to make sure it is secure enough that there will be zero movement, or else it can rub on the car and cause paint damage.

My middle choice it the hitch mount version. The up side it that it slips into place in seconds, and one bolt to lock it in place. This takes all of about 90 seconds to complete. Removal is also very simple. The down side it that I found that the bikes can hang a bit low if you are driving a normal car or station wagon. With an SUV you'll get an extra 6" to 12" of ground clearance. With my wife's bike I use a car that connects from the seat post to the front stem, but it still can hang a bit low, and exiting driveways with steep drops, I've had the bike wheels hit the ground... definitely not good.

With both the trunk mount or the hitch mount you have limited or no access to the trunk of the car. I find that to be a real pain.

My favorite (on a car or station wagon) are the room mount systems that clamp on the front tube. These don't require the removal of a wheel. You just lift the bike up, clamp on the tube, and strap down the front a rear wheels. This is simple, quick and no work needs to be performed on either the car or the bike. I am pretty tall at 6' 2.5" so this works great for me, for my wife at 5' 2.5" this would be hard to work with.

No matter what kind you buy, look at Craiglist and see if anyone locally is selling a rack. I got my hitch rack for $30, I know the guy paid $120 for it only a few years ago, and was hardly used. You can also find them at eBay, but shipping can add up. I got a roof rack for my Volvo wagon for under $200 including the factory roof bars and the Thule made Volvo bike holder. There are plenty of deals to be found. I like that I can keep the bars on the roof and I have complete access to the rear of the car.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 02-20-08, 07:03 PM   #3
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I have both a trunk mount and a roof mount. Both are made by Saris and I got them mostly because they're a local company (Saris is a Wisconsin company). The trunk mount Saris Bones rack and I much prefer it. Key point for a trunk mount would be to look for one with three mounting straps. They'll attach two points on top, two on the sides, and two on the bottom. Mounted this way there's almost no movement to the rack at all so it's quite secure. I can mount three standard frames on the rack. You'll want some kind of strap to secure the wheels from spinning while the car is moving, though this isn't really a necessity. You'll also want to make sure that the frame will attach to the carrier at two points on the top tube and one on the seat tube. This will keep the frame from shifting while the car is moving. The Bones rack has all these features. Most trunk racks are adjustable enough to fit anything from a micro-subcompact (which I've used it on) to a full size van. But be sure to check that it fits you car if you go this route.

I've honestly only used the roof rack a handful of times. I bought it on eBuy for less than half new with locks, a wind deflector for the top, and fork mounts for two bikes. The wind screen doesn't fit my Subaru very well, but the bars are aerodynamically shaped, so it's not a huge issue. I usually don't keep the rack on the car while I'm not using it and it's a "royal main" to get it on and off the car. The trunk mount is on or off the car in five minutes. If you kept the roof mount on the car, obviously that would be easier.

Gas mileage is a little better with the trunk mount since there's not a big "sail" up on the roof all the time. I also don't have to worry about overhead clearance with the trunk mount. I can also see how the bikes are doing in the rear view with the trunk mount and if everything is still secure. Things occasionally will shift loose with any rack, though I've never had anything fall off. I have heard "drive-thru" horror stories with a roof mount. As Andre mentions, you can't get to the trunk with the rack in place. Typically when I show up at a trailhead I pull the bike off, get my stuff out of the trunk, then change.

Good luck with it and definitely check out used racks; they will probably still have lots of life left in them.
Chris
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Old 03-01-08, 08:23 PM   #4
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love my Yakima!

I have a Yakima hitch mount rack.

Things I like:
The rack folds down when we aren't using it.
The rack will swing away from the vehicle with the bikes on it.

Things I don't like:
Even though the rack is made for four bikes, we have a hard time getting four bikes on the rack.
Even though the rack swings away from the vehicle, it is still a pain to have to do that when you just want to quickly grab something out of the back of the van. This would obviously not be an issue with a roof mounted rack.

hope this helps!
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Old 03-01-08, 09:58 PM   #5
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After doing some research and reading reviews, we bought this one from Performance and like it very much.
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Old 03-02-08, 09:31 AM   #6
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The big number in the question is 4. He has four bikes. There is a limit to how much you can have off the back of your vehicle. In South Carolina, it is 24 inches. Now, I have never seen this enforced, but the law is on the books in this and every other state with some variance.

Personally, I don't like the idea of four bikes on the back of my car, and I don't really like three for long distances. (100 miles+). A station wagon isn't that high off the ground for me, and I'm 5'7". Lift with you knees, and hold the bike at the seat tube and fork. A roof rack would be best for FOUR bikes. The only clearance issue may be your garage.
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Old 03-02-08, 10:54 AM   #7
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I much prefer hitch racks. You won't injure yourself hoisting the bikes up top. You won't forget they are up there and smash them on the wall above the garage door. Quicker loading and unloading (I assume). Better gas mileage. Nothing touches the car paint. Be sure to get one that swings down to allow access to the rear hatch. The kind that inserts right in the hitch receiver is best, not one that clamps on the ball.
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Old 03-02-08, 10:56 AM   #8
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If the hitch rack only held three bikes, could you stick one of the kid's bike inside the back of the car?
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Old 03-02-08, 10:39 PM   #9
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What about ones that swing aside rather than down? Up/downsides?
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Old 03-04-08, 12:08 AM   #10
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roof rack most solid

I prefer roof racks with a fork mount - super secure mounting, and not as tall or hard to lift to, as the ones where you leave the front wheel on - also more rigid, since they are a 3-point mounting system. Put the wheels on a separate holder or in the trunk. I have been using these for 10 years on three vehicles and no issues except when I first got one I forgot and drove into a low hanging tree limb. No serious damage. Since then I use a visual reminder on the dash. With 4 bikes you will lose 10-15% mileage at highway speeds. I run 70-75 mph with a couple bikes on for interstate trips with no issues.
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