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Hauling 5 bikes

Old 10-03-10, 09:09 AM
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indyjanie
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Hauling 5 bikes

Hi everyone,

Its my first post here and I'm not sure where this question goes. My daughter and some other family members and I are planning a half week camping tour in June. I need a five bike rack to haul us there.

There will be four adult bikes and one young adult/medium bike. I was looking at the Yakima but noticed it says, "5 bikes of 30 lbs each" for capacity. My bike is slightly heavier at 35, hers is much less. So I was looking at Thule and it says 35 a bike.

My question is, are these guidelines such as max of 35x5 or is it really a max of 30/35 per connector? Any way to lower weight on rack (for example, take something off that wouldn't cause too much headache to throw in a loaded SUV)?

THANK YOU!!!!
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Old 10-03-10, 04:14 PM
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Velo Dog
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Ahh, the myth of the sport-utility vehicle: Half my neighbors own them, and about half of those were surprised that the payload was no higher than that of an average sedan or minivan.
But just in case you don't want to read my moralizing: I've carried four adult bikes on my Yakima roof rack on a Honda Civic coupe, where you can only get the towers about two feet apart. I doubt it's recommended, but I've gone tens of thousands of miles that way with no problems, and if I had to, I wouldn't be afraid to wedge another bike in there. I suspect the weight limit is based more on how the topheavy car handles than on the physical limits of the rack. Didn't bother the Honda much if I drove it gently, but SUVs are generally topheavy and handle like crap anyway, so don't go whipping through the esses like a Lotus. Install the rack carefully, and check often to be sure nothing's coming loose or sliding back. There's a lot of drag on that load, and the rack will slide off and go bouncing down the road if you don't do it right. Your mileage will plummet, too--the Honda gets about 34 hwy without the rack, 31 with a bare rack and mid-20s with bikes up.
Suggestions, not necessarily helpful:
If the rack uses fork mounts, put the front wheels inside rather than on top. Leave some stuff home to make room; you're taking more than you need anyway.
Remove all the bags, pumps, etc. Sounds obvious, but i see people all the time with panniers on the bikes on the rack.
Drive like you had good sense. You'll have a lot of weight waving around there on the end of a lever, and it will affect the handling of the car. Don't get into emergency situations and you won't have to get out of them. In my experience this isn't a huge problem, but you CAN feel it.
On my Mazda, I've carried three bikes on the rack, one on a trunk-mount rack left over from the '80s and one, wheels off, inside. That means your daughter will have to leave her big makeup case at home.
Haven't checked prices lately, but you can probably rent a small trailer from U-Haul fairly cheaply that would solve all your problems.

Last edited by Velo Dog; 10-05-10 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 10-04-10, 12:44 PM
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I've transported five bikes at a time all over the country on Yakima roof racks. In my opinion your only concern in regards to the performance of the rack would be with cross bar flex.

Look at the pictures below.

On my trailer I used short towers and did flex the bars enough to dent the roof on the trailer one time. Of course a small pop-up trailer develops some nasty bounce on rough roads, probably much more than a loaded vehicle would. Notice that those are all Mtn. bikes loaded up there on the trailer, definately more than 35# each.



On the Caprice wagon I used high towers to clear the luggage rack.



I believe Yakima produces great roof racks.

I won't address vehicle handling characteristics other than that I never had any issues at all on the large vehicles you see here in these pictures. Don't forget to pack a small step-stool as it's a long ways up there when loading and unloading those bikes in the center of the rack!

I hope this helps to answer your questions.

Last edited by cranky old dude; 10-04-10 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 10-04-10, 06:41 PM
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indyjanie
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Hey thanks!

I think maybe I need to clarify though - I was looking at 2" receiver hitch racks. This is because, although I drive a small SUV, its way too high for me to put bikes up on. I'm only 5'3" and during a flare I can't lift a bike at the elbow much less over my head.

So although I will have people with me on this trip, I won't always, and a roof rack will be inaccessible to me on a personal level. Until there's a cure for lupus, but hey, one more reason to want that!!

Anyway, a hitch rack that states "35 per bike".

Also, then I can move it between my small SUV and my husband's truck when necessary.

Thanks!
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Old 10-04-10, 07:35 PM
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roof rack with 3 rails and 5 bike trays , 5 wheel transport forks , and a basket for a bunch of duffle bags.
3 bikes on the front pair of rails, and 2 on the rear, over the hatchback..

Since my driving speed was already slow, other than the weight the gas mileage hit was not that bad.

I was almost Hit by the receiver hitch mounted rack falling off of a passing travel trailer
with a few hundred pounds of family bikes on it.. Welding was not up to the load in the long run.
it hit the pave behind me..
I was on my bicycle , so I drug the bundle off to the side of the road..
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Old 10-04-10, 11:19 PM
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You're talking about a hitch rack where the bikes hang from their top tubes, correct? If your bike is the only bike that weighs over 30lbs and the total weight of all 5 is 150lbs or less, then you'll be fine with the Yakima. Just put the heaviest bikes closest to the car to minimize the stress to the rack. I could go through all the engineering and math related to stress, but basically, the effect of the bike's weight is multiplied by it's distance away from the car.
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Old 10-05-10, 08:01 AM
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I have a Thule 914XT Roadway hitch rack on my Pathfinder. It is a 4 bike carrier though and I've had 4 adult sized mountain bikes including 2 x 29'ers on it. All together about 120 lbs of bikes. The 915 is the 5-bike hitch rack and it is built like the 914. The rack itself will be able to handle it. It is built like a tank and quite heavily constructed compared to some other hitch racks like my brother-in-law's Allen hitch rack which is quite flimsy in comparison. Tongue weight on a 2" class 3 or 4 hitch won't be a problem either. Total weight of the bikes and hitch rack should around 215 lbs I'm guessing so it'll be like having a football player in the back seat if the vehicle payload capacity is your concern. And as Thor29 already suggested, put the heaviest bike closest to the vehicle. Personally, I would be too concern about the weight ratings. If you are close, it should be fine. They most likely rate them low for CYA legal reasons. Just my opinion.

I like the Thule's mounting and any-sway feature. It works great. You will need to adjust the bikes so they overlap each other though. I've taken bikes up north on vacation before without any problems. I would recommend you buy the locking hitch pin/bolt so nobody takes off with your rack and a couple cable locks for the bikes for when you have to stop to eat. If I stop at a hotel, I bring my bikes in the room.

Anyways, safe travels.
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Old 10-05-10, 02:19 PM
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I have Saris hitch rack that is designed for 2 bikes. I've put 4 bikes on it many times with the help of a couple of heavy duty bungee cords. The heaviest bike goes closest to the car and so on. It doesn't even grunt. My impression is that I'd run out of room well before it could be seriously stressed. And they have a 4 bike model which likely will hold 5.

Last edited by slorollin; 10-05-10 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 10-06-10, 06:04 AM
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That all sounds like great advice thanks! I think I'm leaning towards the Thule just because of availablility. Tongue weight on the hitch is 350 and that would be 10 bikes, so I'm well under that, which is good.

How scary about the weld not holding though! Geesh...probably ruined their vacation too.
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