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Chris D 07-25-09 01:17 AM

Do you think this trunk rack can withstand a cross country trip?
Hello folks,

I had planned to ship my bike, but after I found out it'd cost me around $125 to box and ship it, I decided to get a rack and put it on the back of the car.

Anyhow, I picked up this rack at Target:

The bad reviews are scaring me. I'm also afraid I'm going to look in the rear view mirror and watch my bike fly across the freeway! Doh!

I don't know if I should keep this rack or get another one. The guy at the bike shop mentioned Bell as a good cheap option, but I leave Tuesday, and don't have time to have one shipped. I'd really rather not spend $100-150 on a rack that I'll probably only use this one time.

Also, I tried to attach the rack to my trunk, and everything seemed to work fine. However, I did not see my car (2002 Ford Escort) listed in the vehicle guide. Should I be worried?

Would some bungee cords keep the bike from swaying in the wind? Any other tips and techniques to secure the bike for the long trip? Should I take it back and look for the Bell rack?



Jay D 07-25-09 01:47 AM

I have a Thule rack kind of like that and so far it has worked out fine. But with my new recumbent that is probably worth as much as my car I think I'm going to upgrade to something that doesn't use straps like that and instead is hitch mounted. I was going to suggest to buy worth using long term, but if this basically going to be a one time deal, then I would think something like this would work. Using extra bungee cords would help prevent any additional movement and depending on what type of frame it is, you might want to be aware that the straps could cause wear marks on the paint and frame.

Also, I don't know how much your bike is worth. But if it's something expensive, then realize that the straps of these types of racks can be easily cut and a thief can easily make off with your bike if you're not watching it closely. So if you're staying in a hotel or something during the trip, the bike goes with you and does not stay on the rack over night. With my rack, when I'm not able to view the bike directly, I remove it and lock it up to something as if I rode there myself.

Good luck.

Crankaddict 07-25-09 06:42 AM

As long as the replacement cost of your bike is in line with the price of the rack or paying to ship it, by all means use it. If you bought your bike at Target you should be OK. Have a safe trip.

Velo Dog 07-25-09 07:11 AM

I used similar racks for years before I bought a Yakima roof rack and never had any problems. My son uses my old rack now, and just moved from Reno to Denver with it. A few tips to reduce the chance of seeing the bike endo down the highway in your rear-view mirror:
Don't blow off the installation. Check everything every time, tighten the straps, make sure the rack's firmly attached to the car and the bike's attached to the rack.
Stop after 10 miles or so and re-check everything. Straps can work loose. If it happens often, put a wrap of duct tape or something over the buckles so the straps can't slip.
In the photo, there's nothing to keep the rack from moving side to side. Most of the load is front to back, but in traffic or on curves, there's some side force, too. If your car's similar to the pic, I think I'd consider attaching the lower strap hooks to the "notch" in the trunk lid inboard of the taillights, rather than running them straight down.
The straps are one place they cut costs on cheap racks. If yours are iffy, you can replace them with webbing from someplace like REI for a few dollars. They sell it by the foot.
You can pad the bike with whatever's available. One idea is foam pipe insulation from someplace like Home Depot, which will just slip over the tubes. And note the previous post about theft--leaving the bike on the rack in a motel parking lot is like putting a STEAL ME sign on it. For short stops, you might look underneath the car for something to lock to. My Mazda has tow points underneath that my Kryptonite cable will just fit through.

Chris D 07-25-09 06:10 PM

Thanks for the feedback folks.

I set the rack up today, put the bike on, and took a 30 mile trip on the freeway. For the first 15 miles I was scared the bike was going to fly away. I think I spent more time looking in the rear view than looking at the road :)

The last 15 miles I was much more relaxed. I went over some rough pavement at around 70 mph, and the bike stayed tight. I feel much better now!

As far as installation, I pulled the straps as tight as I could, then tied them up (I will probably duct tape for this trip). Before I hooked the bike up, I shook the rack to check for give. When I moved the rack, the entire car moved. Yay!

I hooked the bike up and used 13" bungy chords to hold the bike close to the rack. Then off I went.

One thing I really like is that when people see the bike mounted to the trunk, they stay a bit further back :)

So, looks like it's a go. Oh, and yes, I'll damn sure be removing the bike each night. For lunch or dinner breaks, I'm not sure if I should just lock the bike to the bike rack, or if I should completely remove it and lock it to something more stable. What say you, gurus?

alhedges 07-26-09 11:03 AM

Originally Posted by Chris D (Post 9353798)
For lunch or dinner breaks, I'm not sure if I should just lock the bike to the bike rack, or if I should completely remove it and lock it to something more stable. What say you, gurus?

You can probably lock the bike to the car. Try this: put the bike on the rack. Now take a cable and run it through the frame and rear wheel. Put one end of the cable through the other end of the cable, so it's like a noose around the bike. Put a U-Lock through the free loop at the end of the cable and put that end of the cable, plus the lock, in the trunk and close the trunk.

On most cars, the trunk will close over the cable, but you won't be able to pull the cable out of the trunk because of the lock on the other end.

Saris sells an 8' cable plus for about $25 that is designed for this, but any long cable plus lock combination should work. Note that you can keep your locked on the rack as you drive.

GeorgePaul 07-27-09 01:08 AM

Originally Posted by alhedges (Post 9357136)
You can probably lock the bike to the car.

+1. I had some metal loops welded to the underside of my car and use a cable lock to secure the bikes to the loops.

dit 07-28-09 04:52 PM

I use a $5 rack that I bought at a yard sale to haul my bikes on a 400 mile each way trip 2 or 3 times a year and it works fine. I would rather have a Sarius Bones but for 5 bucks what the heck. Just make sure your instalation is good and use bunjies to snug it all up. My 531 frame bike has never complained yet. Nor has my Columbus tube frame bike.

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