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Vehicle Bike Racks

Old 10-12-13, 05:38 PM
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smellincoffee
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Vehicle Bike Racks

I've been thinking about getting a new vehicle for a while now, and was intent on finding a compact pickup truck: the bed would make it easy to haul around a bicycle and camping gear. However, I've been looking for months and haven't found anything close to that (the only trucks for sale are great big gas guzzlers), but I have found an opportunity to get a vehicle in goodish condition for a fair price. My parents' van lost its transmission, and rather than replacing it they decided to get a newer van. They've said to me that if I pay for the transmission replacement (~$1500), the older van, which is in otherwise good condition, is mine. I was uninterested at first, but today I thought of bike racks. I've seen vehicles carrying bicycles on the back of them, mostly for people on vacation, but are there models out there fit for every day use? Are most racks compatible with most vehicles, and most bikes, or do they have to be fitted? Does anyone use a rack with regularity? What issues should I be aware of?
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Old 10-12-13, 09:46 PM
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What kind of van is it? A roof rack might work on a minivan, but a full size or high top conversion van not so much. You'd want to avoid the types that strap to the rear hatch/doors no matter what or you won't be able to gain access through the back. Which leaves hitch mounted racks.
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Old 10-13-13, 07:41 AM
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Put the bikes int he back of the van. I have a midsized SUV with a hitch and a hitch rack, but most often I just lay the bikes in the back rather than use the rack. If the inside of the van is tall enough, you can use front wheel skewer mounts attached to a board to hold the bikes upright in the van. If you need more room and want the bikes outside, get a hitch and hitch rack. You can get a hitch and install it yourself for ~$150. Check the Curt Hitch website and the Etrailer website for hitches and hitch racks. Etrailer also has trunk and roof mount racks.
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Old 10-13-13, 03:24 PM
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I think it's a Dodge Caravan: it's parked in a storage yard at the moment. It looks like this. As for roof racks: while there's no issue with garage doors or low-clearance bridges for me, they're tall vans, and heaving the cycle up and hauling it down seem very troublesome. I think the seats inside the van can be lowered, so a rack might not be necessary, but it might be easiest. Are minivans of this sort compatible with hitches?

What I need to do is go out and see the van, preferably with my bike, and get an idea for how easily the bike could fit into the rear compartment. It looks wide in this picture, but going on memory I think my bike is too wide.
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Old 10-13-13, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by smellincoffee View Post
... Are minivans of this sort compatible with hitches?...
Absolutely. You can find them on the links I provided using the year make and model of the vehicle. You can get a hitch for just about any vehicle. And if there's not one commercially available and you really want one, you can get it custom made. I knew guys with hitches on Jaguars and Porches.
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Old 10-13-13, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by smellincoffee View Post
I think it's a Dodge Caravan: it's parked in a storage yard at the moment. It looks like this. As for roof racks: while there's no issue with garage doors or low-clearance bridges for me, they're tall vans, and heaving the cycle up and hauling it down seem very troublesome. I think the seats inside the van can be lowered, so a rack might not be necessary, but it might be easiest. Are minivans of this sort compatible with hitches?

What I need to do is go out and see the van, preferably with my bike, and get an idea for how easily the bike could fit into the rear compartment. It looks wide in this picture, but going on memory I think my bike is too wide.
Mopar product, so you should be good. The 3rd row should fold into the floor. If it is a Grand (slightly longer wheelbase and more room behind the 3rd row), it may have the optional Stow-n-Go in both rows. You'd be able to fold the third row and one of the 2nd row seats (both can fold). That would give you the flexibility to carry maybe 2 bikes, plus 2 passengers, and other gear.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
You'd want to avoid the types that strap to the rear hatch/doors no matter what or you won't be able to gain access through the back.
I have a Scion xB, which has a rear door, and I use a Saris Bones 2 that straps to the rear door. It goes on and off in less than a minute. I can open the rear door with the rack on, but not with the bikes on. The same is true for the hitch mounted racks I've seen, too.

When I'm not transporting a bike, the rack hangs up in my garage.
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Old 10-14-13, 12:11 PM
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Okay, thank you all for your feedback -- both swift and helpful. I'm going to look at the van this week, take some measurements, and fool around with the seats to see what my best option is.
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Old 10-14-13, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
You'd want to avoid the types that strap to the rear hatch/doors no matter what or you won't be able to gain access through the back. Which leaves hitch mounted racks.
Why not? When my wife had the Ford Escape, I strapped a rack to the back of it all the time. It carried my bike and my oldest daughter's bike and I put the little 12 inch bike of my youngest daughter in the back of the vehicle. I was able to open the hatch just fine with the rack strapped to it.

The rack is now a permanent fixture on the back of my Jetta attached to the trunk. I can open the trunk just fine.

I will say though, the hooks on the straps will tear up the paint on the edges of the trunk/hatch pretty bad. Luckily I drive my cars into the ground, so they spend the majority of their lives as beat up junkers since the first 100,000 will go on within the first couple of years.
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Old 10-26-13, 03:25 PM
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Is Allen a good name in bike racks? Though I've been looking at hitch-mounted racks for the most part, one has popped up which caught my eye, the "Allen-Sports-Deluxe-2-Bike-Trunk".


It's a strap-on. The reviews of it are extensive and largely positive, so I assume it doesn't fall off vehicles in the middle of the interstate. That it doesn't need a hitch is a plus, because it would mean not having to install one on the van (which is getting its transmission rebuilt now, as we 'speak') . Hitches seem to be expensive, even Class-1s, and a strap-on is not only inexpensive but would eliminate any chance of my having difficulty finding a hitch and a compatible rack.

Do any of you employ strapped racks? The biggest disadvantage I can think of is that they seem ripe for theft, meaning I couldn't leave mine on the vehicle all the time. I'd have to install it every time I wanted to take the bike somewhere for a ride. Granted, it would be a once-a-weekend ordeal at most, since I'd use it to get my bike to country roads with little traffic, or to the bike shop...
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Old 10-26-13, 05:34 PM
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Another reason I couldn't be city folk. I've had my rack strapped on the ccar since I started in August. Not much worry bout it getting stolen. I don't even lock my car. When I get a better bike though, I'll have to figure out how to lock it all to the car. The rack though just lives on the car. I'm more worried about the straps seeing the weather constantly than about it getting stolen.
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Old 11-18-13, 03:05 PM
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Old 11-20-13, 04:35 PM
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I would go either Yakima or Thule if you decide to go roof (you can always throw a small stool in the back of your car), or Saris for trunk. I'm pretty sure all three companies offer hitch racks, not sure if one is better than the other. But that said, those Caravans have plenty of space. You could even take out the middle captain's chairs and push the rear bench forward, which leaves room for five people and several bikes (I think that's how it works, anyway, been a while since I've been in one of those minivans).
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Old 11-20-13, 06:03 PM
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one of my friends , a career Coastie, got one of these : got his and 2 boys bikes
to carry on Outings. [though the link is to the next year's model.. ]
https://www.ford.com/commercial-truck...mmercial/2014/

you can get them with out windows so your bikes stay out of covetous eyes.

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Old 11-20-13, 08:34 PM
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No need for a bike rack with a Dodge Caravan. Minivans love to carry bikes inside.
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Old 11-22-13, 05:02 PM
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If you get the van, do whatever interior adjustments are needed to carry your bike(s) inside. Your bike doesn't want to be hauled around outside, subject to road crud, theft, etc.
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Old 11-22-13, 05:09 PM
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You should peruse the Mr Money Mustache site for insight into vehicle selection. Too few people place big enough emphasis on fuel costs. Running a fuel-inefficient vehicle costs more than you think. Pickup trucks are giant wastes for many drivers.

I have a roof rack on my car. It doesn't obstruct my view, and I don't have to put it on or take it off often, as I would with a strap-on rear rack. But the noise and wind drag can be annoying, and it reduces fuel efficiency. Also, I have to use my arms pretty hard to mount and unmount the bikes. There's not a hope in heck that my wife would be able to do it.

The latest trend is trailer hitch bike racks. They do obstruct your view a bit, but not intolerably. Hoisting the bikes up and down is much less of a chore, and overall, the hit on your fuel consumption is much lower.
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Old 12-09-13, 09:19 PM
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I have a hitch rack that stays on my truck almost all of the time. It is a Swagman XT. I don't have a whole lot of good things to say about it honestly. There is a piece that should be inside of it to hold it tight to my hitch. However, it was missing when I purchased the rack. I called Swagman and they told me tough stuff. My friend just got a Thule for his Jeep. It's freaking awesome. Definitely my next rack when the time comes.
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Old 12-09-13, 11:15 PM
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carry the bike inside the vehicle. to summarize what others have said.

no additional cost.
no exposure to elements.
no danger of impact (cars bridges garages....)
greatly reduce the risk of theft.

you can buy a piece of carpet or a rubber mat to lay down to help keep the vans interior clean.
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