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Hauling tandem on hanging rack

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Hauling tandem on hanging rack

Old 10-20-21, 10:16 AM
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nsotomayor
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Hauling tandem on hanging rack

We just put in our order for a Co-Motion Primera and now turn to figuring out the best way to haul it. For better or worse, supply chain issues mean we've got 6 months to figure it out. Right now we haul our road bikes on a Saris Bones 3 on a 2018 Honda CRV, and the guy at the shop when we took a Primera for a test ride said we'd be able to haul the tandem on that, just with the wheels off. We've been wanting to upgrade to a hitch rack for a while (the Bones doesn't fit the 2018 CRV as well as it did our older one), but I'm wondering if it's really okay to haul a tandem on a hanging rack at all. I'm fine with it slightly overhanging the sides; I'm more concerned about the integrity of the tandem frame with the weight distribution on a hanging rack. Is it better to have a rack with a wider spread between the bars to distribute the weight?

Do folks have experience hauling tandems on hanging racks? Are you also able to fit other bikes on the rack with the tandem?

We also have the option of laying down seats in the CRV or Toyota CHR and laying the tandem flat to haul. However, we've got 2 kids and travel with the tandem will always mean hauling them, too, along with additional bikes and often a Weehoo trailer, so, this setup would mean loading up both cars. We do this now when we take both Weehoos out, but I'd like to eventually get us down to just taking a single vehicle, especially for out-of-state rides.

Last edited by nsotomayor; 10-21-21 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 10-20-21, 04:56 PM
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It depends what you actually mean by your question. By "hanging rack," you could be referring to the old trunk-mounted "strapped to the car" rack that hangs the bike by the top tube (which I'm almost certain is what you mean), or the new hitch racks that hang the bikes by the front wheel.

And the Saris Bones 3 looks like the old style rack I mention first. I've always disliked these racks for many reasons. I struggled with my original road bike when I was a kid. Hung too low and could scrape the ground. Worried about the exhaust blowing out a tire. And ever-constant vigilance and worry about the thing simply falling off. Then after being in the bike biz for a long time, I heard every tale of bike rack woe there was. Bikes & racks falling off on the freeway was the most common and worst tale of disaster. For this reason, our LBS would NEVER install a rack. Insurance specifically forbade all employees from doing it. (My solution was the Yakima roof rack for 20 years. But then age and a minivan made loading and unloading bikes and tandems a pain. Impossible for a 5' wife.)

The hitch racks have been a god-send. Fast, easy and secure. I'm using a wheel-tray Kuat. But ironically, right after buying my 2 + 2 tray rack, I start seeing the hanging racks. (Just Google it for ample pictures of the current designs.) Their main advantage is as you add more and more bikes, they don't extend further and further back on the rack. My Kuat when loaded with 4 bikes really extends far out. So far out, that the cantilevered weight on the rear suspension was an issue. Load the car for a trip and you're bottomed out. I augmented my OEM suspension with inexpensive air bags and boy am I glad I did! Such a simple solution.

So if I had my druthers today, I'd look for a wheel-hanging rack that would also hold a tandem. It would have to be taller than the standard bike holders, but I know I've seen them online somewhere. And no matter how many bikes you have on the back, they all stick out the same amount. Your load just gets wider. Nice solution.

And no, I'd NEVER use an old top-tube holding, clip & strap bicycle carrier for any bike I actually valued, much less my tandem. Plus, pulling off wheels and dealing with the poor fit all just to put it on a rack I don't trust to hold the thing? No way!
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Old 10-20-21, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by nsotomayor View Post
We just put in our order for a Co-Motion Primera and now turn to figuring out the best way to haul it. For better or worse, supply chain issues mean we've got 6 months to figure it out. Right now we haul our road bikes on a Saris Bones 3 on a 2018 Honda CRV, and the guy at the shop when we took a Primera for a test ride said we'd be able to haul the tandem on that, just with the wheels off. We've been wanting to upgrade to hitch rack for a while (the Bones doesn't fit the 2018 CRV as well as it did our older one), but I'm wondering if it's really okay to haul a tandem on a hanging rack. I'm fine with it slightly overhanging the sides; I'm more concerned about the integrity of the tandem frame with the weight distribution on a hanging rack. Is it better to have a rack with a wider spread between the bars to distribute the weight?

Do folks have experience hauling tandems on hanging racks? Are you also able to fit other bikes on the rack with the tandem?

We also have the option of laying down seats in the CRV or Toyota CHR and laying the tandem flat to haul. However, we've got 2 kids and travel with the tandem will always mean hauling them, too, along with additional bikes and often a Weehoo trailer, so, this setup would mean loading up both cars. We do this now when we take both Weehoos out, but I'd like to eventually get us down to just taking a single vehicle, especially for out-of-state rides.
We have transported our Bilenky steel tandem on a Thule “hanging” top tube rack, hitch mounted on our minivan for over ten years with the wheels on. No issues with bike, rack or van. I would only do this with a quality hitch rack.
Hope that helps
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Old 10-21-21, 02:33 AM
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I've transported a 40 to 50 pound tandem a dozen or two times on a Saris Bones 3 and would gladly do so again. I do take the wheels off and strap the handlebars, and the bike may hang a bit off each side of the car, so a bit of care needs to be taken.
I wouldn't do it with 4 strap hanging racks, but the 6 straps on the Bones seems to be just fine. I do *really* tighten down the straps, and then after everything is tight I push down a bit on the bike and tighten the lower straps a bit more as they like to loosen when you load the bikes.
For those who haven't used one, the Bones is substantially more secure than any of the similar looking old style truck mount racks I've used.

The only annoyance of trunk vs. hitch racks is that I feel the need to remove and throw them in the vehicle while I'm out riding as they can be easily stolen from the car. On longer trips, even with a lock running through the bikes to the frame of the car, I will always keep the bikes in sight during a stop, but I do that with any rack.
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Old 10-21-21, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jas View Post
We have transported our Bilenky steel tandem on a Thule “hanging” top tube rack, hitch mounted on our minivan for over ten years with the wheels on. No issues with bike, rack or van. I would only do this with a quality hitch rack.
Hope that helps
This does help - thanks! And that's exactly the type of "hanging" rack I mean - hitch-mounted, but with the bikes "hanging" from their top tube. What kind of Thule rack do you have? Have you been able to put multiple bikes on it along with the tandem?
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Old 10-21-21, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
I've transported a 40 to 50 pound tandem a dozen or two times on a Saris Bones 3 and would gladly do so again. I do take the wheels off and strap the handlebars, and the bike may hang a bit off each side of the car, so a bit of care needs to be taken.
I wouldn't do it with 4 strap hanging racks, but the 6 straps on the Bones seems to be just fine.
Thanks for confirming that it can be done! We have really liked the Saris Bones 3 for our road bikes, and it has definitely been much more stable than I had expected it to be. Our biggest issue with it now is that it just doesn't fit our 2018 CRV *quite* as well as it fit the older one, so we've been thinking of getting a hitch + hitch-mounted rack for a while, but, if it works with the set up we have, maybe we'll keep it for at least for a bit longer.
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Old 10-21-21, 09:53 AM
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This past summer we completed a 9,000 mile trip coast-to-coast-to-coast with our Acura RDX using a thule hitch mounted rack. We only care our tandem so have a two bike rack, they make three bike racks for sure and possibly 4. We hang the bike from the stoker's top tube which centers the bike between the mirrors using the inboard most rack point. We attach the two straps provided by Thule and then use strips from old inter-tubes for additional ties. Because the Boom Tube will make contact with the upright of the rack I wrap the Boom Tube with a piece of inter-tube where it makes contact and then tie to frame to the upright for additional security. I also use a strip of inter-tube and rap the captain's top tube where the bar makes contact and then use a strip to secure the captain's bar to the top tube. On shorter trips we put the wheels in the RDX but on longer trips I slide them over the two support bars and use inter-tube strips to tie them the the tandem frame. We've done this for years on the RDX and the CRV before. Exciting that you are getting your new tandem!
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Old 10-24-21, 06:36 PM
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IMHO for transporting a tandem the gold standard is draft master
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Old 10-24-21, 07:26 PM
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I prefer the tray type racks, and have one for my little Hyundai, but we do have our old hitch mount top tube clamp rack still, and I use it when we need to carry the Santana externally (If we take my Suburban, it'll go inside just fine). For short trips, I'll just clamp it on and go, but if we're going farther or I'm anticipating a bumpy ride, I'll take some weight off the ends by removing the wheels. I don't have a pic handy of the bike mounted on the rack, but we haven't had any trouble at all with it.
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Old 10-26-21, 06:45 AM
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IMG_3713 by Nacho Neal, on Flickr
Never had a problem.
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Old 10-26-21, 07:24 AM
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Nachoman Thanks for the picture - definitely helps to see how it gets positioned!
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Old 10-27-21, 10:02 AM
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I do it all the time through city streets. Once the fork is strapped sideways, the tire sticks out probably no more than my side mirror


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Old 10-28-21, 08:31 AM
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A word of caution when your bike width is wider than your vehicle

We recently traveled from Virginia to Rhode Island and with two tandems on a hitch mounted Saris Freedom rack with the optional long wheelbase bar. The bikes are Hase Pinos, which have a shorter wheelbase than a typical upright tandem, but the overall length is about 8 feet. The bikes extended a few inches on both sides beyond the mirrors of our minivan. Driving back through Connecticut on one of the parkways with no shoulder next to the right lane, one of the bikes clipped an orange safety barrel making a very loud and startling sound. Fearing the worst, once we were able to pull off and take a look an inspection revealed no apparent damage. Though relieved, I was anxious as we continued through the dense and busy tri-state area.

This time last year we did a six week, 11k mile cross country trip with one tandem on the Saris hitch rack with absolutely no problems. Other than time in the LA area, we were in less densely populated parts of the country.

As for trunk mounted racks, for short distances, we have used a Saris Bones for transporting our upright tandem. It works fine though removing both wheels to reduce width is a hassle I'd rather avoid.

Other than the challenge of lifting the bikes onto the roof of taller vehicles, I am most comfortable with rooftop racks even though it exacts a significant fuel economy penalty. We also have a Draftmaster rack but it is for a larger 2 inch hitch and our current minivan only has the smaller 1 1/4 inch hitch. External transport of bikes involves a compromise of one sort or another.
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