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  1. #1
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    4-Bike Hitch Racks: Raxster v. Thule T2+2 v. SportRack 4 EZ v. Draftmaster v. Swagman

    I have read every review I could find, unfortunately I will not be able to see these racks in person before buying.
    So let's hear it, which one is the absolute best, at any cost, for a cross country jaunt?
    Can I get away with spending less (Swagman, Sportrack), or is it $600 to do this thing right ?

    Sportrack $275, quasi folding, http://www.sportrack.com/a30902

    Thule $550, folds, http://www.thuleracks.com/product.asp?dept_id=8&sku=916

    Draftmaster $500, 42#, Four Bike w/ Wheel Holder http://www.draftmaster.com/hr.html

    Raxster $600, 50#, folds, http://www.1upusa.com/raxterrack.htm

    Swagman XC4 , $270, 65#, quasi folding, http://www.swagmanbikeracks.com/home.php

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben
    I have read every review I could find, unfortunately I will not be able to see these racks in person before buying.
    So let's hear it, which one is the absolute best, at any cost, for a cross country jaunt?
    Can I get away with spending less (Swagman, Sportrack), or is it $600 to do this thing right ?

    Sportrack $275, quasi folding, http://www.sportrack.com/a30902

    Thule $550, folds, http://www.thuleracks.com/product.asp?dept_id=8&sku=916

    Draftmaster $500, 42#, Four Bike w/ Wheel Holder http://www.draftmaster.com/hr.html

    Raxster $600, 50#, folds, http://www.1upusa.com/raxterrack.htm

    Swagman XC4 , $270, 65#, quasi folding, http://www.swagmanbikeracks.com/home.php

    I have a Soft Ride Hitch Style Bike Rack for Sale.

    It still very New in Conditions, I would say 8 out 10 Condition.

    It attaches to a 1.25" Hitch and holds up to 4 bikes.

    It comes with a Hitch Lock and Keys.

    Listed for $298.95

    Asking for $200.00

    My e-mail: jmk2888@yahoo.com

    Here are the specs:

    http://www.bikerackshops.com/SRHD.html
    Last edited by jmk2888; 05-05-2008 at 11:58 PM.

  3. #3
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    I've used the Raxter Rack and a version of the Sportman & Swagman racks. I've also used the Soft Ride that jmk2888 is advertising. I have had no experience with the Thule or the Draftmaster.

    The Raxter Rack is by far the best of the racks I've tried. It is stable, secure and easily accommodates 4 bikes. The only drawback is weight. With the 4 bike attachment the rack is a little portly. But anything with that type of stability & security will be heavy.

    I'm not fond of the inverted "J" hooks design found on a couple of the racks you've mentioned here. When I was using a rack with this design I felt like I was constantly glancing through the rear window to check on the bikes. This is a difficult way to drive. I ended up using a couple of bungees to tie down the bike and, after a long drive, the bungee actually rubbed off my top tube's paint!

    The Soft Ride is great as long as you're OK with straps on your top tube. Also, it is difficult to secure bikes with certain FS designs. But for the price that jmk2888 is selling it for it is a steal.

  4. #4
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    Kuat Alpha Folding Bicycle Hitch Rack is a rack I have in transit to me to replace or substitute for the Thule T2 which is big, heavy, hard to stow and rusts like crazy.

    http://www.kuatinnovations.com/

  5. #5
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    i've used the thule rack...

    in the rooftop configuration for about 2 years and the 4-bike hitch mount (2" receiver) form for about 6 months. prior to this rack, we used a hollywood rack with top tube cradles, and since only one of our bikes had a double diamond frame, this thing was a pain.

    the thule system is incredibly versatile, handling my FS 29er, my son's DH rig with mondo tires, my daughter's cruiser with low top tube and kids bikes with 16" wheels. it is also simple to use and the same key can lock the rack to the hitch and the bikes to the rack, though i use a cable lock as added insurance if we have to leave the bikes out.

    downsides? expensive, the bikes are hanging a loooong way off the back of the truck, which leaves them somewhat exposed (my wife's bike too a hit from someone trying to park behind us at sea otter) and might tax your suspension a bit. after 2 years of heavy use, i've also noticed a bit of play developing between the "j" hook that goes over the bike wheel and the bar it slides on, but this hasn't impacted the function of the system.

    it was a bit hard to swallow the cost at first, but overall i have no regrets. the ease of use and versality trumped the cost.

  6. #6
    TLL
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    Hands down, the Thule T2 is the best. You can get one at REI now for 20% off.

    None of the others even come close.
    Hadley rear hub service here and here.

  7. #7
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    Poster - please buy an ad.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmk2888
    I have a Soft Ride Hitch Style Bike Rack for Sale...
    Thule T2 is your best choice. Best mechanism in the business (purchased the Sportworks business a couple years ago). Excellent resale value.

    I buy all my bike rack equipment from www.ageebike.com - consistently the best value.
    Professional Amateur. Disagree? Submit your grievances here.

  8. #8
    just ride
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    i have a draftmaster 5 bike, 2 tandems, 3 normals or 5 normals.

    folds down to open tailgates. rides in the drafts. holds the front wheels.

    all i gotta say is top f#cking notch. Absolutely the best rack ever.

    only thing is you gotta have a 2" receiver, it wont work on my FWD car.
    MTBR Disclaimer: I work for Salsa Cycles
    Ride: www.chequamegon100.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soupboy
    Poster - please buy an ad.


    Thule T2 is your best choice. Best mechanism in the business (purchased the Sportworks business a couple years ago). Excellent resale value.

    I buy all my bike rack equipment from www.ageebike.com - consistently the best value.
    Sorry, I did not know.

    I've just bought a Ad here's the link:

    http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...t=19992&cat=26

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLL
    Hands down, the Thule T2 is the best. You can get one at REI now for 20% off.

    None of the others even come close.
    I agree that the T2 works great, but if you tend to leave your racks on your car then it will rust like a mother. I have replaced the "J" hooks once and the second set are getting due. The screws and nuts had to be drilled out as well. I replaced with stainless. It also big and heavy and difficult to store unless you have a lot of room. If they would make this thing out of aluminum with stainless hardware it would be much better. In fact I intend to duplicate what I can out of aluminum and plastic to save weight and make it hold up better. If you have funky shaped bikes it is by far the best to use.

  11. #11
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    Thanks guys, this is really helpful information. I like the wheel cradle styles better since they are more secure and tend to be easier to load and position bikes. I have a Sprinter Van, so roof mounting is really not an option; I'd probably have clearance problems going under an overpass

    Any more input on the Draftmaster?

    Do the less expensive racks have a tendency to bend or breal over time?

    Can the Raxster be set up to fold with the extra two bike addition?

  12. #12
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    i agree with jfkbike2...

    the thule is heavy, but then again it hasn't bent or wobbled when loaded with 4 40lb+ DH bikes. the weight also makes it a challenge to store, particularly if you plan on keeping it in one piece. but i've found most racks are a PITA to store...

    that draftmaster rack looks cool, if all your bikes are QR and you're strong enough to muscle them up there. that's another plus with the thule style rack (i think yakima makes a similar one now and i've seen a really cool aluminum one at races, but didn't see a manufacturer's label on it): my wife (and my kids for that matter) can easily load all the bikes and not have to lift them too high or worry about taking a (QR, TA or bolt-on) wheel off.

    i can't speak with much authority about rust since i live in socal, but i've seen little corrosion on the mounting hardware of the roof mounted system after two years.

  13. #13
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    The Thule barely fits a Panracer Rampage mounted on C29SSMAX. It only gets one "click" of lock in and you have to work hard to get it. If we ever get bigger tires and you want to use them, it may or may not work w/o deflating the tire.
    Mike

  14. #14
    Kathleen in AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown
    The Thule barely fits a Panracer Rampage mounted on C29SSMAX. It only gets one "click" of lock in and you have to work hard to get it. If we ever get bigger tires and you want to use them, it may or may not work w/o deflating the tire.
    Mike
    Thule T2 is a great rack - I've had the 4-bike set up for a few months now and it is amazingly strong. It's also amazingly heavy... I can barely lift it by myself to get it on the back of my 4Runner. But it certainly is not cheap. After you buy the rack, you'll also want to buy the lock cores and a locking hitch pin.

    I've also had problems slipping the lock arm over the front 29" tire. But then in a lightbulb moment, a friend figured out if you tilt the bike towards the car and bring locking arm over at the narrower intersection on top of the tire just between the tire and the fork (instead of sliding it over the entire front tire) then it's a breeze. Try it!!! One click is all you need. It's secure.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DurtGurl
    Thule T2 is a great rack - I've had the 4-bike set up for a few months now and it is amazingly strong. It's also amazingly heavy... I can barely lift it by myself to get it on the back of my 4Runner. But it certainly is not cheap. After you buy the rack, you'll also want to buy the lock cores and a locking hitch pin.

    I've also had problems slipping the lock arm over the front 29" tire. But then in a lightbulb moment, a friend figured out if you tilt the bike towards the car and bring locking arm over at the narrower intersection on top of the tire just between the tire and the fork (instead of sliding it over the entire front tire) then it's a breeze. Try it!!! One click is all you need. It's secure.
    Agree it's super-secure with one click- but if somebody was planning to try a bigger tire if/when they become available, it may not work at all.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben
    Can the Raxster be set up to fold with the extra two bike addition?
    Yes, I took mine to Sea Otter, from Southern California, about 700 miles round trip, with 3 bikes on the way up and 4 bikes on the way down using the folding mechanism (highly recommended by the way). I used the folding mechanism when we took the bikes into the hotel room at night and when we rode the bikes around SO.

    The Raxter easily holds a Rampage mounted to Bontrager or WTB rims.


    folded up


    with 4 bikes, 2 x 29ers (running Kenda Nevegals, Panaracer Rampage, Maxxis Crossmark), Redline 925 with road tires, Swobo Fulcrum with bmx-ish 26" tires.

    Hope this helps.

  17. #17
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    Thanks jeryang, those are some great pics of the Raxster!

    I was swinging toward the Draftmaster for its bomber design, but what I really like is the two bike holder that can be expanded to four bikes, then removed for local riding when I only carry one or two bikes.

    I wish it were less expensive, but better safe and secure than banged up and pissed off

    Anyone know a code for getting a Raxster discount?

  18. #18
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    anybody use the new yakima hold up? its similar to the t2 and just came out. i was thinking about buying one..

  19. #19
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    Good job! Draftmaster

    I have owned now two of these over the last 6 years. By far the best rack money can buy... Set up is solid, the thing is bomb proof. And this is the best part is besides it being the best bike carrier it also works as a bumper protecter. I had a dumbass rear end me and bent my rack but the painted bumper was not touched. Insurance bought me a new one to replace. (Luckly the bikes were not there.) Also a increase in gas milage compaired to roof mounts and no bug splat on your preaty clean bikes while in transport. I love it I love it I love it.
    High Ho Sultan, Lets GO

  20. #20
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    I have the two bike version of the Sportrack. While it's probably not quite as nice as some of the more expensive models it still works pretty dang good.
    Consider it if you want to spend a little less money.

  21. #21
    TLL
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfkbike2
    I agree that the T2 works great, but if you tend to leave your racks on your car then it will rust like a mother. I have replaced the "J" hooks once and the second set are getting due. The screws and nuts had to be drilled out as well. I replaced with stainless. It also big and heavy and difficult to store unless you have a lot of room. If they would make this thing out of aluminum with stainless hardware it would be much better. In fact I intend to duplicate what I can out of aluminum and plastic to save weight and make it hold up better. If you have funky shaped bikes it is by far the best to use.
    Excellent points, and good to know. I'm in the process of parting out my roof rack ( I had Thule sidearms) and while I never had issues with rust, I could see where the fittings might be a bit prone.

    I'm seriously considering the T2, but the weight concerns me, as it will be living on the back of a 06 VW GTI. I may end up going with the Thule Doubletrack instead, as it is a bit lighter. Plus I bet you could get a 36er on it.

    Also, I noticed initially with the Sidearm I had issues fitteng a rampage throught the fork mount, but now it does not seem to be an issue. Weird.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TLL; 05-06-2008 at 05:52 PM.
    Hadley rear hub service here and here.

  22. #22
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    Have you got your Kuat rack yet? What do you think of it?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by slozar
    Have you got your Kuat rack yet? What do you think of it?
    Yes I do. And not much.

    It is light and it is aluminum but I have a fonder appreciation for the T2 at this point. If you have a weird shaped frame or small frame it is a PITA to use. A Jones will not fit on it, a small Mamasita is a tight fit and you have to readjust the mounts to slip it by the outer ones. Certain full suspension bikes may also be hard to mount. I am going to re-build my T2 using aluminum and plastic and I think I will be much happier.

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