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  1. #1
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    Somebody school me on bike racks

    After watching the video below I thought I'd better be careful in selecting the right bike rack for my car (Subaru Crosstrek/Impreza) so a simple defensive maneuver didn't send my bikes flying through/over the car or onto the road causing both bike and car damage.

    So, do I use a roof rack or a hitch rack and what's the best of those two? And if hitch do I use 1 1/4 or 2 inch style? On the roof do I use OEM cross bars or after market?

    It is so confusing as there are many options and I want to buy once and not regret it.

    Here is the video. I can't understand the language but the tests are self explanatory.


  2. #2
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    where do you want to carry? Roof or Rear? Do you have a hitch installed already? How many bikes? Assuming mountain, but maybe road also? Do your mtb bikes have Thru-Axle? (15mm or 20mm)?

  3. #3
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    I want to carry either way that is best. No hitch yet but willing if that is the best method. Two bikes, mountain and quick release now but could upgrade sometime. That's funny, I was just at your site

  4. #4
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    I think it very much depends on the rack, how it's mounted and what's on it.

    For example, I'm pretty sure that my bikes when mounted on a fork mount Thule Echelon that are mounted on my BMW wagon with the roof rails to which the rack is mounted, are going to be just fine. That said, if it were a different mounting style to the car that is less secure, maybe not.

    I can tell you that I have done evasive maneuvers and pretty much taken my SUV airborne hitting a bump with 4 MTBs on my 1UpUSA rack in a 2" hitch with no problems. I wound up hitting a bump at the start of a construction zone at 80mph that pretty much sent us airborne. Everything got a good whack on that one and there were no problems. If there had been, I would have been more than willing to call that exceeding the rack's limits.

    So I think very much it's going to require a pretty good look at the whole system to figure out the best set up for a given vehicle.

    J.

  5. #5
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    what's best for one person, isn't the best for another. The "best" rack is subjective.
    there are many pros and cons of carrying on the roof and carrying on the rear. Don't be scared because you watched that video. Most of the bike racks I saw in that video (all of the hitch) aren't even available in the US, and the roof racks were cheap.

  6. #6
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    I always believe that nothing is more secure than a fork mounted rack, either roof or hitch mounted( surprisingly, they didn't test that in the video). Some people complain about having to remove their front wheel, which takes less than 30 seconds, what's the big deal? Also with thru-axles, there are adaptors to fit any thru axle fork and many rack companies are making thru axle compatible racks.
    I believe in the use of adaptors( I invented and hold the patent for the Fork Up) but not only because I work for the company that produces the most popular and best selling adaptors, but the adaptors fit into a standard 9mm mount, so that you can still carry any bike without having a dedicated mount that only fits one type of fork.

  7. #7
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    I have carried various MTBs and absurdly hi dollar road bikes around on my roof rack for years. Since 1996 I've two incidents with that set up, both were COMPLETELY my fault. I backed int my riding buddies car port, with my Litespeed Pisgah on the roof rack (thankful for Ti) and the damage was crazy. This was circa 2004, it dented the crap out of his car port, jacked up my rack beyond belief, but didnt damage the bike at all. It was inspected by Litespeed who said, "Meh, its fine". The other event was more dramatic, the rack itself came loose from the car, somewhat as happened in your video above, I was travelling down the freeway here in town with three heavy mountain bikes after a ride. One of the Landing Pads for the rack shifted backward, releasing the tension that held them in place and the entire rack flipped over the right side of my car. The locks stayed in place (Volkswagen Jetta has little locking tabs under the drip rail) so I didnt loose anything, and with some roadside repair we made it home, though I drove with the sunroof open for months looking for movement after that. The significant point to this event was that I saw the footpad move when we were putting the bikes up and I didnt retighten it, I just said "Nah its good". These days I'm a lot more careful, I check the tension once a week or so, to make sure its mounted right.

    So I said all that to say, that a roof rack is FINE, if you make sure its mounted correctly, and you maintain/adjust it regularly. They affect fuel mileage alot more than you might think, and of course the bikes are vulnerable to flying debris.



    I also have a couple of hitch racks, and they are excellent too, however I have had two bikes damaged by the retention systems, most significantly, the clamp on my Thule screwed up the paint on my Pinarello, and a ham fisted friend over tightened the same clamp on my cross bike, mashing a cable guide.

    See the common thread in all of these? User Error.

    I think honestly if your car suits it, the hitch rack is probably better these days. More convenient, doesnt affect mileage as much, and you can take it off much easier should you not need it. Of course, the thing I pay most attention to most is that NONE of these protect your from theft. Yeah they have locks, and ways to make things slow for the thieves, but my MTB was stolen off of a fully locked hitch rack parked directly in front of my house, in broad daylight in the time it took me to go inside, put on bike shorts, and come back out.

    My .02.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah, theft is always a risk. A local guy told me a story about how he watch his and his buddy's bikes stolen from the rack in the parking lot of a McD's. The thieves drove up in a van, cut the mast of the rack with a reciprocating saw, hauled the rack and bikes into the van, and drove away. Less than a minute all said.

    The bikes weren't even locked down. You don't prevent that kind of thing.

    I suspect, but am not 100% sure, that most of the hitch racks shown in that vid used 1 1/4" receivers. 2" are stronger, so it's what I will only ever use.

    I agree that the roof racks looked cheap, and the hitch racks did, too. Don't put expensive bikes on cheap racks, is what I learned from that vid. But then again, the bikes looked kinda cheap, too. Probably pretty heavy.

  9. #9
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    Been using all kind of racks you name it all worked perfectly. Just added a full bike rack to a roof mount so I don't have to use an adapter for through axle rigs and DH guys are *****. I use the latest for my wife's beach cruiser cus front axle brake set up and she is kinda like the DH guys. They all are not where you leave a bike unattended no matter what. That should be on a thread some where out of site covered locked in side.

  10. #10
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    Well, you all are schooling me good. I think what I've learned so far is for my two bike setup I need to get a hitch. And for my car the curt hitch comes in two sizes. 1 1/4 and 2 inch. The 2 inch is only about 10 dollars more so I will get the 2 inch and be safe.

    Now, which is better... Platform or the other kind where the bikes hang from the frame? I do like the SwingDaddy that another member recommended in another thread as that thing swings right out of the way. I could also see that if the bike could hang from the rack then I could work on it... Spin the rings etc. that I couldn't do on a platform style. But the platforms look better and like they will protect the bike more?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Yeah, theft is always a risk. A local guy told me a story about how he watch his and his buddy's bikes stolen from the rack in the parking lot of a McD's. The thieves drove up in a van, cut the mast of the rack with a reciprocating saw, hauled the rack and bikes into the van, and drove away. Less than a minute all said.

    The bikes weren't even locked down. You don't prevent that kind of thing.

    I suspect, but am not 100% sure, that most of the hitch racks shown in that vid used 1 1/4" receivers. 2" are stronger, so it's what I will only ever use.

    I agree that the roof racks looked cheap, and the hitch racks did, too. Don't put expensive bikes on cheap racks, is what I learned from that vid. But then again, the bikes looked kinda cheap, too. Probably pretty heavy.
    Just that. My buddy always says locks only keep honest people out. Disclaimer he is a jeep fanatic so soft tops and topless for him.

  12. #12
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    Roof racks were all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s. The hitch-racks were pitiful, "J" shaped with a rack that your bikes "hung" from, which caused them to swing all over the place and damaged the frame in the process. The roof racks of the day were hands down better, most utilizing the forks quick-release for a fairly stable and secure mount.

    As axle sizes started differing, with DH bikes, freeride bikes, and others (maverick), the roof-rack quick-release setup became increasingly frustrating, since it didn't work for all bikes.

    About this time, we started seeing decent hitch-racks show up, in the form of the Sportworks, later bought by Thule and marketed as their own "T2". These racks allow any axle size to be used, as they use "trays". This later caught on with roof-racks, but it magnified the disadvantage of having to lift your bike over your head, since now you had to lift even more bike and higher. All the decent "tray" style hitch racks have features that allow them to "fold down" so you can access your rear hatch/trunk, and they also have features that allow them to "fold up" when not in use, although it's usually best just to take them off when not using them for a time period, to avoid any possible hassle with authorities. This usually isn't a problem, but it's like tinted windows, it's one more thing for them to slap on you if you get pulled over for driving like an a$$. The other advantages include much better gas mileage and reduced noise. Even when bikes are not in a roof-rack, the rack is costing you money and mileage. This has been quantitatively proven and the other aspect is that it's generally not as easy to remove a roof-rack when you are not using it, vs. a hitch rack. In about 2 years time, you can make up the difference in cost in terms of lost mpg.

    Now there's stuff a lot better than the Thule T2, but it was the "start" and simply worlds better than previous roof and hitch racks.

    Lots of people think they are going to get rear-ended for some reason, and maybe they do get rear-ended frequently, but if that's the case, they got a lot more to worry about than just bikes. People plow into overhangs and their garages with bikes on roof-racks all the time, so it's not like one is "better" than the other in this case.

    Any good modern hitch OR roof rack is plenty stable. If you're buying some "hanging" style rack from the 90s, well ok, no, it's not going to be, but by and large these are well made and stable. I've had a Thule T2 since something like 2006, going strong. Trust me, I drove it plenty "hard" with my WRX, arguably harder now since my current car will pull around 1 lateral G, but I owned the WRX for longer. I tend to find that the benefits of hitch racks outweigh the roof-rack advantages, but due to the prevalence of roof-racks in the 90s, a lot of them are still out there and there's a pretty big market for them. There are a lot of perceptions based around the old-style hitch racks which are simply not true anymore. There are also people that think a bunch of extra stuff attached to their car makes it "look" better, or maybe it's a status symbol, in any case that's why I like being able to remove a hitch rack so easily, I can go back to a "clean" shape any time I want. You'd also be surprised what kind of cars can take receiver bars. Even if it looks like one isn't offered, there's usually an aftermarket company doing it, or the same car sold in europe is "rated to tow" 1000-1500lbs, with no changes. So a lot of that is just BS, the small receivers are also tucked out of the way usually and there's no stupid "ball" sticking out 1 foot, again like people tend to perceive. You can only tell there's a receiver on my car from one angle, from looking way down low, but almost no one ever catches it, it's only after staring at it for several minutes or kneeling down do they sometimes notice it. Now, some cars just can't take a receiver, it's rare, but there are a few, for those there are now the "seasucker" racks, in addition to more traditional roof racks. I think modern hitch racks are hands-down better, but a lot of people still have roof-racks or the parts to roof-racks where it's not such a big deal to get the cross-bars or other parts, transferring them from vehicle to vehicle as necessary. You can also carry other things easier with a roof-rack, like a cargo-box, if that is your goal, so there may be a little added benefit there too.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  13. #13
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    platform racks are perfect for chain lube, tires, etc....but they are really way more versatile than hanging racks because of alot of FS frame geometry. everything fits, all the time. IMO, platform rack would serve you better than a hanging rack.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cracksandracks.com View Post
    platform racks are perfect for chain lube, tires, etc....but they are really way more versatile than hanging racks because of alot of FS frame geometry. everything fits, all the time. IMO, platform rack would serve you better than a hanging rack.
    I don't get how platform racks are perfect for tires? I guess for lube I can spin the chain backwards.

  15. #15
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    The outer bike is facing so your drivetrain faces out. perfect for chain lube. also, you can air up your tires while it's in the rack - easy. just don't keep hard pressure on the front tire....just enough to hold it steady.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jem7sk View Post
    I don't get how platform racks are perfect for tires? I guess for lube I can spin the chain backwards.

  16. #16
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    Ok... I see.

    Alright, what's everyone's top three favorite platform 2" hitch racks?

  17. #17
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    Kuat NV Core. Versatile enough that it works with both 2" and 1 1/4" hitches, plus has a raised tongue for better ground clearance.

  18. #18
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    Not even a top three Scott . I guess you use one of those? What size is your trailer hitch? I read an online review and they said that the aluminum adapter for 2" started to allow the rack to wobble?

  19. #19
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    2" will always be more stable than 1.25" if you think about it.

    For racks available in the US, the major problem you will have with any of them will be operator error. There are some better than others - like avoid the frame hanging racks at all costs if you value the paint job on your bike.

    J.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jem7sk View Post
    Ok... I see.

    Alright, what's everyone's top three favorite platform 2" hitch racks?

    1up USA....hands down the best rack I have ever used.

  21. #21
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    Francis likes the Yakima Hold Up best


  22. #22
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    Have to watch out for low hanging cable lines with roof rack too lol. Garbage truck hit the line and had pulled it a bit loose so it was hanging lower than normal. Luckily I was only going 10mph or so and the only damage to my bike was a bent rear wheel. Cable company paid for that one.

  23. #23
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    That video above shows some pretty extreme testing. Even the top end racks are not going to perform well in such extreme cases.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  24. #24
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    I think I was more worried about the hard stops and turns that could happen in day to day driving.

  25. #25
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    No, I don't use the NV Core (not to be confused with the NV) rack, but I would if I had a Subaru Crosstrek and wanted to carry 2 bikes on a platform rack with better than average locking capabilities and excellent bike stability with a tongue that rises up to give my bikes better ground clearance on a small car.
    I don't know where you read that this rack comes loose...like a bike needs lube or cable adjustment, any rack is going to require a little bolt tightening now and again.
    yakima holdups is a great rack also. A little heavier, but a nice tidy package when it's not carrying bikes. IMO, it doesn't do an awesome job with road wheels.
    Thule T2 is due for a redesign. The rear wheelstrap is a repeat offender for getting lost. It does, however, have an adapter kit for fat bikes that accomodates the big tire, and solves the problem of the rear wheelstrap.
    Kuat NV is a beautiful rack, but IMO the tongue is too low, and the rack will bottom out easier than the NV Core.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jem7sk View Post
    Not even a top three Scott . I guess you use one of those? What size is your trailer hitch? I read an online review and they said that the aluminum adapter for 2" started to allow the rack to wobble?

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