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  1. #1
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    Tandem roof rack question

    Hello, all.

    Been reviewing the various threads on the forum for tandem transport and appreciate the info.

    Here's my situation. We have a Chevy Suburban equipped with a Yakima roof rack. I'm 5'8 (and my wife is 5'7); we can put our single bikes on without difficulty but it requires a little balancing on the runningboards. The logical choice to me sounds like a Yakima sidewinder, although I could potentially go with offerings by Thule, ATOC, or Sportworks.

    Being that this is a tandem forum and that Suburbans (and other large SUV/Vans) seem to be a vehicle of choice in the tandeming community for transport reasons, here a few questions for any Suburban-Tandem owners (or people with similar situations) ...

    1) Is the Suburban too tall for the tandem fork to reach the fork mount on these swing out designs?

    2) Any problems with the swing-out design products and the height of the Suburban. Specifically, it seems that attaching the tandem's fork to the roof rack of a shorter vehicle would produce more of an angle which would prevent the frame/crankset/bottom bracket area from hitting the vehicle. With the Suburban being taller, the angle would be more upright and potentially expose the vehicle door/paint to the bottom bracket? Just theory. Is this reality?

    3) Any reason to choose the Thule, ATOC, or Sportworks models over the Yakima sidewinder? For security reasons, the Yakima SKS system would be more convenient for me than using a cable lock or another set of keys for Thule. Further, looks like the rest of them attach at the rear wheel vs. the boom tube (Yakima). Which is more stable? The Sportworks obviously allows both wheels to be left on, but I've always been a fan of fork-mount designs (more aerodynamic and allows use of a bike bra); plus, lifting that extra wheel is a little more work on a Suburban. I do understand that the ATOC allows use of single bikes for mounting as well

    4) Anybody use the 3 crossbar setup with a simple fork mount and rear wheel tray (i.e. Yakima Boa)? Seems that this would be a little more economical (Boa is around $60) but would require another crossbar and pair of towers (about $50-70). I have read someone say that there might not be enough room for the fore bottom bracket with this design. Assuming it would work, is this stable enough?

    Thanks for the info ahead of time. I'll probably pick up the Yakima Sidewinder this weekend anyway while I'm pondering because it'll be on sale (20% off) with REI this weekend.

    Regards,
    Abe

  2. #2
    Member ncernitz's Avatar
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    We are 5'6" and 5'3" and have no trouble putting our Co-motion on the roof of our VW Weekender when necessary. We have it set up so I can set the drum brake and lift the bike from the rear wheel. The walk around to the rear of the car with the bike over head, step up on the bumper and set the bike in the Sidewinder cradle. We do drape a large towel where the chain ring might hit if the handle bars secured tightly. But no problems thus far.

  3. #3
    My own worst nightmare
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    Seems to me the only reason a Suburban would be a vehicle of choice for tandemers is for the purpose of putting it inside. On top, any car should do. Shoot, when it's just Julie and me, I can get our tandem (a hybrid, with a pretty tall pilot stem, and a rear rack) inside our Saturn wagon with both wheels removed. I only use the roof rack when there are three or more of us and I have to put the back seat up, or when we take it camping, and have lotsa other stuff inside. But that's a little Saturn. Your Suburban has probably twice the interior space. Maybe one of those fork-mounts you often see in pickup beds would be in order.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    I'm not positive, but the big trucks like Suburbans, Explorers, etc... are just too tall to work as easily as designed with the swivel mounts. Others who actually use them may need to weight in here.

    I used the 3-bar system on our '97 Suburban. Even though we had a K1500 Michelin LTX MS tires, the whole system sat low enough on the roof to allow it to fit into our standard garage. Here is some information and photos:
    http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/a...artopping.html

    Basically, it worked quite well; however, 99% of the time we carried our tandems INSIDE the truck instead of up-top.
    http://home.att.net/~thetandemlink/a...burbantote.jpg

    The roof system was used for our off-road tandems which were always too filthy to put inside the truck after riding and for long-road trips when we would have one or two other tandem teams along with us. In which case, up to 3 tandems would go up-top and the people and luggage would go inside.

    I'm only 5'8" and could heft our tandems up onto the roof by myself using a 2' step stool. I would position the step stool at the edge of the rear door with the door open and step up onto it holding the tandems over my head and then step onto the rear seat with my leading foot. With one foot on the seat and one on the step stool it wasn't all that hard to place the tandem into the racks. The '97 had bar doors and the middle tandem was put on top rear wheel first by rolling it foward on the roof and into a single wheel tray mounted at the front bar.

    I have since retired the '97 and replaced it with an '02 Suburban Z-71; the OEM racks on it are too big to work with any of the existing Yakima tower or crossbar mount system. Moreover, the Z-71 and it's mega-size roof rack barely fit under the garage door so leaving a rack system on all the time is now out of the question. Thus, we simply carry the tandem(s) inside these days using a now-discontinued Rhode-Gear Truck Shuttle / Bed-Mount system.

    FWIW: We have friends who use the Yakima Sidewinders, the older Yakima roof mounts, and the ATOC/Thule Tandem Toppers & non-swivel mount Topper. Of the 3, I think the best value & performance comes from the ATOC / Thule non-swivel Topper Mount, particularly for high-profile SUVs. If I was starting from scratch and had to select a tandem system for a Suburban it would most likely another 3 bar system using single bikes so that I could be sure it would fit in the garage. I don't like to take-off and put on roof racks.

  5. #5
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    We use the Yakima Sidewinder on a Toyota Highlander. The system works well, but I don't think I'd want to use it on a vehicle that's much taller. When the fork is mounted to the swing arm, the bike is in a nearly vertical position. This requires that the front door be opened to prevent the chain ring from contacting the door panel. In terms of "ease of use" however, it's a cinch for one person to load the bike. We still use our performance "fixed" tandem mount on our sedan, but I prefer the swing out style rack.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input, ya'll.

    Didn't think about the height of the tandem bike mounts with respect to the garage; that certainly would make a difference for me as I only have a few inches currently with single bike mounts. Looking at the various options however, even the Thule and ATOC (although lower in height) would still be too tall for our garage. I suppose I'll just have to install and remove the bike mount each time; as a Yakima veteran, it shouldn't take too long to install/remove the mount.

    Mark, your 3 bar idea is a good one. I'll have to think about it longer. We plan to use two different vehicles to transport the tandem at times (both equipped with Yakima systems) which would require 2 x 3rd bar setups. It would still be a little less than a tandem bike mount however. Hmmm...also wouldn't have to install/remove tandem bike mounts (which would be too tall for our garage).

    Has anybody heard about complaints about the Yakima sidewinder scratching paint on bottom tubes of bikes? It looks like that might be a possibility with its mounting system?

    Regards,
    Abe

  7. #7
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    Another thought...

    It appears that one of the reasons the non-swivel bike mounts have an elevated fork mount is to give room for the bottom bracket/crankset area from hitting the roof or bike tray. Would a 3 bar set up with a traditional fork mount cause problems around the bottom bracket/crankset??? Any comments, Mark, as you obviously have first hand experience with this?

    Regards
    Abe

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by docbluedevil
    Would a 3 bar set up with a traditional fork mount cause problems around the bottom bracket/crankset
    Yes, it can be close for road tandems depending on what size timing rings you are running, but thus far we've never had a tandem that we couldn't accommodate. You'll notice that I used stand-alone fork mounts positioned vertically to give me a few extra cm's of height. However, that said, I have used a standard fork mount on the rear crossbar for the 3rd tandem and, again, there wasn't a lot of room but there wasn't any contact beween the chain rings and the roof. Representative road tandems that we've roof-topped were Santana Sovereign, Calfee Tetra Tandem, Co-Motion Co-Pilot with Ultegra cranks (42t timing ring?). The rest of the road tandems we have previously hauled all had 34t timing rings. Mountain tandems are not a problem at all as their bottom brackets are higher than road tandems.

    Mark
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 10-10-07 at 08:00 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Howdy from Tucson!
    If you have a 'burban keep the tandem inside and out of the elements and save the hassle of lifting bike up.
    Oh, more than one person has driven into the garage and forgetting about a bike/tandem topside . . . CRUNCH!
    We carry our custom Zona tandem inside a Honda Accord station wagon; remove one wheel and it fits just fine, but then again we have a rather short wheelbase: 63 1/2 inches. A standard length tandem would fit with both wheels removed.
    A tandem inside a vehicle is less like to be noticed/stolen when parked.
    However, your choice!

  10. #10
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    We've thought about transporting it inside the vehicle, but we often travel with a fair amount of gear (dog in crate, child trailer, etc) and/or with a travel trailer which would make it difficulty to remove the bike. For local trips or inclement weather, that would be a good choice but unfortunately not a do-all option.

    Regards
    Abe

  11. #11
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    We've been using a hitch-mounted Hollywood Roadrunner rack...it's designed for four bikes, and we've used it for the tandem plus two singles.

    It's slightly wider than our minivan, but not really any more than how far the mirrors extend.

    Certainly easier than lifting the tandem onto the minivan's roof.

    Anybody else doing this?

  12. #12
    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tornadobass
    We've been using a hitch-mounted Hollywood Roadrunner rack...it's designed for four bikes, and we've used it for the tandem plus two singles.

    It's slightly wider than our minivan, but not really any more than how far the mirrors extend.

    Certainly easier than lifting the tandem onto the minivan's roof.

    Anybody else doing this?
    Yep, we use a hitch rack on our 4Runner to haul our tandems and they don't stick out much further than the mirrors. I generally leave the wheels on, but if we are traveling across the country, we take the wheels off.

    -Dennis

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by docbluedevil
    4) Anybody use the 3 crossbar setup with a simple fork mount and rear wheel tray (i.e. Yakima Boa)?
    We use a 2 crossbar setup on an Explorer that gives us the capability to carry a tandem and triplet or any combination of shorter bikes at the same time.

    The front bar is monted to Yakima Q-Towers towards the front windshield and the rear bar uses Yakima rail-riders on factory tracks.

    The tandem is secured using a Yakima Steelhead mated to a Yakima Extra-Long Wheel Tray. Interference with the bottom bracket is not a problem, though it is close.

    The triplet is loaded and secured using a self-made pivoting rack (about $60 in materials, spare parts and days worth of labor). Even though the triplet is longer than a tandem, the interference between the front chainring and the Explorer while loading is close and care must be taken to have the cranks in proper position.

    In the past I have also carried the tandem using both bars mounted to the factory tracks. To gain hatch clearance, the bike was reversed with steelhead mounted on the rear bar and the back wheel of the bike hangin over the windshield a bit.

    Hope this helps,
    Willi

  14. #14
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    We recently purchased a Yakima Sidewinder and are heading out on our first distance road adventure with it on top of our station wagon. I've carried singles some distance using our Thule rack, often with some trepidation and angst that never fully goes away until we are home.

    Any Sidewinder users out there with good/bad stories?

    Love the loading; it feels stable enough - probably more so that my singles on the Thule.

    But a little reassurance would be nice to have.

    Heading to NWTR this weekend from Vancouver BC.

  15. #15
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    We've logged several thousand miles with ours and never had a problem. We live in the Sierra Nevadas, so nealry all of our trips include a significant amount of winding roads with high gusty winds.

  16. #16
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    We put on 600km over the weekend travelling from Vancouver to Olympia for NWTR - Yakima worked like a charm through howling wind and a huge rain storm on the way down.

    In fact it was far more stable than my older Thule single bike racks, one of which was in use on this trip too.

    I like it.

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