Author Topic: Bike Rack Advice  (Read 5125 times)

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Offline Andra2000

Bike Rack Advice
« on: November 14, 2012, 01:57:53 am »
After tossing the road bike into the back of the SUV over the past year, I am looking to invest into a bike rack. I am preferring to get a hitch mounted rack. I prefer to not take the rack on and off all the time.
I am not too worried about how many bikes to carry.

90% of the time it's just me, 10% carpooling with another rider. Thus a 2 station rack will be more than fine.

However, I am looking for something that is convenient to use when the rack is on the back of the SUV while running errands (make way for the Costco run).

With all the brands and features out there, I am looking for feedback on how the bike is with the rack (movement, locking), how easy the rack is to live when not hauling bikes and how is it to put on and take off the nullcar.

Any thoughts, suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 02:00:35 am by Andra2000 »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 10:22:15 am »
I'd suggest a trip to your local bike shop (LBS), REI, or similar outdoor gear store.  You can look at the various racks, touch them, heft them, and talk to people knowledgeable about them.  While you don't have the infinite availability of different models you'd get on Amazon, you can bet they carry good racks, and can show you how to install it on your car, and how to install the bike on the rack.  Finally, you don't have to pay shipping!

Offline 2riders

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 11:07:16 pm »
We found the Thule Doubletrack XT to be the perfect rack for our SUV.  We were in the same situation...we have a Lexus RX330 and after a year of throwing the bikes in the back we were looking for a rear mounted hitch rack.  We like the rack in that the tires set in a tire tray and both bikes stay level, not all cockeyed.  Then a clamp bar comes down on top of the the frame and can be locked down as well as the pin in the hitch to the car is locked so we feel very secure leaving it.  When the bikes are not on, the rack swings up behind the rear SUV door.  As far as shopping, the rack does not drop or swing out of the way.  But we find no problems loading items through the side door.
We really do like this rack and suggest you look into one.  Easy to load, very stable, can be secured.
Check this site:
http://www.thule.com/en-US/US/Products/Bike-Carriers/Hitch/990XT-Doubletrack

Offline JetAgeHobo

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 11:59:49 am »
I'd second the Thule Doubletrack.  Had an old Sportworks Transport (basically the predecessor to the Thule 917XT) I had recently bought on Ebay on the back of my Prius, works well too, but if you're bike has fenders the clamps will tend to rest on the fenders.  Unfortunately we got rear-ended at a stop light with the rack on the car, Rack destroyed, and actually the rack did more damage to the car than the collision would have if it weren't on the car at the time.

Insurance replacing the rack, trying to get them to go with the Doubletrack, since the wife's bike has fenders.  See how it goes.

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 09:23:05 am »
  Unfortunately we got rear-ended at a stop light with the rack on the car, Rack destroyed, and actually the rack did more damage to the car than the collision would have if it weren't on the car at the time.

Insurance replacing the rack, trying to get them to go with the Doubletrack, since the wife's bike has fenders.  See how it goes.
This vulnerability to a rear end collision is often quoted by roof rack fans as a reason not to use a rear mounted rack .  However, as you noted, insurance (usually the other driver's) will pay to fix the damage.  If you drive under a low overhang or into your garage with bikes still on the roof rack the damage is strictly your responsibility and this type of forgetful accident is probably as common as rear end collision damage.

Offline JayH

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 02:15:50 pm »
I second the advise of a hitch mounted rack if you have a hitch.

I use a roof rack because I also am a sea kayaker...

jay

Offline John Nelson

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 02:32:32 pm »
If you drive under a low overhang or into your garage with bikes still on the roof rack the damage is strictly your responsibility.
Not according to my policy. And one of the Allstate commercial shows this type of accident specifically as a reason to have insurance. If insurance companies didn't cover the policy-holder's own stupidity, then they wouldn't cover much.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 11:34:31 pm »

[/quote]
 If you drive under a low overhang or into your garage with bikes still on the roof rack the damage is strictly your responsibility and this type of forgetful accident is probably as common as rear end collision damage.
[/quote]

Probably way more common!  I have two friends with roof racks and both have done the garage thing in the past 6 months.  In both cases they were riding shotgun in the car and the wives were driving and neither thought about it as they drove into the garage.  One destroyed a $4000 bike and the other was cheaper.  I know the one with the $4k bike did get something from the insurance.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 09:50:30 am »
There are two sizes of receivers on hitches -- 2" and 1 1/4". Make sure your bike rack matches your hitch.

Some hitches are designed to hang the bike from a hook. The wheels are free. I prefer racks where the bike is supported by the wheels. There are lots of brands to choose from. Like most of these types of racks, mine has a curved clamping bar that ratchets down to hold the bike in. The bike I had at the time routed the cables along the top of the top tube. I contacted the manufacturer. They had grooved rubber bumpers to keep the clamping bar from rubbing the cables against the top tube and rubbing the paint off.

Offline briwasson

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 07:48:28 pm »
I've had two types of hitch racks. One had a "fold down" feature, which allows you to access the rear of the vehicle. This works OK when there aren't any bikes on the rack, but is very difficult when bikes are loaded as the weight makes it challenging to fold up and down. I replaced it with a Thule swing-away rack, which kind of cantilevers out to the side very easily, even when bikes are on it.

If you generally will only be accessing your rear door/hatch when there aren't any bikes on the hitch, then the fold-down type would be fine for you, and will save you some $$ to boot. If you think you be accessing the rear door when you have bikes on the rack, seriously consider spending the extra money for the swing-away type.

If you are able to get a 2" receiver hitch for your vehicle, I suggest going that route over the 1.25" hitches, as the larger box cross-section makes for a more sturdy interface between the hitch and your vehicle.

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2012, 10:24:16 am »
If you are able to get a 2" receiver hitch for your vehicle, I suggest going that route over the 1.25" hitches, as the larger box cross-section makes for a more sturdy interface between the hitch and your vehicle.
I agree, if you have the choice get a 2" hitch and a matching rack.  However, most Class 1  hitches, the type offered for smaller cars and SUV's, have 1-1/4" receivers so you are limited.  That said, most 1-1/4" receiver hitches are rated for 150 to 200 pound tongue weight so they will support any reasonable rack plus 2 to 4 bikes.

One useful addition is a drawbar stabilizer, a hollow square clamp with a forward projecting tab with a big thumbscrew.  It goes around the drawbar with the tap overlaping the receiver box and the thumbscrew tightens against it.  It does a good job removing the slack between the drawbar and receiver box and prevents any rocking motion.   Any trailer supply shop sells these in both 1-1/4" and 2" sizes. 

Offline pmac

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2012, 10:27:52 am »
I recently purchased a kuat hitch mounted tray style rack.  While a bit pricey, you can get 2 bike rack and a 2 bike add-on if you need to be able to carry 4 bikes.  As noted in a prior post it is important to know if you have a 2" or a 1.25" hitch.  Kuat makes a 2 bike rack for either size, but it you want the 2 bike add on you need a 2" hitch.  The kuat also comes with a built-in lock and bike stand attachment which has been useful. Whether loaded or unload you can lower the rack to access the back of the vehicle.  While perhaps not as easy as a swing away rack, it has been functional for me.  My wife likes it since she can load her bike with minimal lifting.  Keep in mind that all the hitch mounted racks are pretty heavy in comparison to a trunk rack.  I used a saris bones 3-bike rack on my old vehicle for years that worked great as well.  The trunk racks are a whole lot cheaper.  I've never used a roof rack, but a friend destroy a bike driving into his garage.  While your policy would pay something, you still have to pay the deductible and you have a claim on your policy which would probably effect your future premiums.

Offline litespeed

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2012, 11:18:48 pm »
Since I am hopelessly absent minded I refuse to even consider a roof rack. My sister, and ardent outdoorswoman, used to insist I should get a roof rack for my bicycle. I told her of my reservations. She confessed that she had torn the seats off a couple of bicycles on low branches.

Since I won't own anything but a minivan (hopelessly uncool but, in my opinion, the greatest invention since the zipper) a rack is not necessary at all. I have a sturdy cargo trailer that serves as my pickup truck.

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2012, 10:40:44 am »
Since I am hopelessly absent minded I refuse to even consider a roof rack. My sister, and ardent outdoorswoman, used to insist I should get a roof rack for my bicycle. I told her of my reservations. She confessed that she had torn the seats off a couple of bicycles on low branches.
One trick I used back when I did use roof racks was to remove the garage door opener from it's usual location in the car and put it where I had to make a specific effort to get it.  That way I realized something different was going on and would not unconciously just drive into the garage.

It prevented damage at home but did nothing about parking garages, hotel driveways, etc.

Offline bikeguyrich

Re: Bike Rack Advice
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 09:10:08 pm »
The Thule swingaway rack is one of the best if you want to access the rear of your vehicle while still having the bikes on the rack. Most other Mfgrs offer a fold down rack to access the rear when the rack is empty, some are aluminum and lighter in weight (therefore easier to manuver). Go straight to a good local bike shop to get all the info on the various companies and their offerings.  With a roof rack your insurance may cover some problems, but just wait till you go  thru a drive thru bank or Dunkin Donuts and you will get a rude awakening on how much it costs to fix their damage.  Roof racks are costly, your bikes on top are a sail and will decrease your gas mileage, plus bikes can be a pain to get off if your not tall or you don't have upper body strength.