What System Do You Use?
I am wondering what system you chose to use, on what vehicle, and what lead to your choice? I like my large rear wheel drive American Ford Crown Victoria. I currently use a trunk mouted rack which has a few draw backs. The first is the loss of access to the extra large storage in the trunk. The second is with my children riding more, fitting three bikes on the rack is a chore. I am really not a fan of hauling something near and dear to myself on the A$$ of my car. The reason is I have seen $$,$$$ of bikes destroyed in a minor rear end crash. I am a huge fan of roof mounted racks that keep your bike out of harms way, as long as you do not try to enlarge your garage door opening. Some make the case that roof mounted racks decrease milage and that that is true, but I have notice the old Vic on long trips at highway speeds will drop from the 25-27mpg range to around 20-22mpg with bikes on. There is a noticeable drag on the car while drive as well the ride is alot different with close to 60lbs hanging 5' behind the rear axle. When I was much younger I owned Dodge Neon with a roof rack and did not notice a difference in milage without the bikes on, so as weird as my friends say it my look I am looking at installing Yakama's landing pads on the roof of the old girl to have a piece of mind and retain access to the small storage unit, as well as get the nice ride back! So let me know what all you guys are using.
Truth be told, hitch racks and trunk racks also reduce mileage as they also create drag, although a roof rack does create more drag.
I like roof racks more myself, feel they are safer and more study, maybe slightly more inconvenient. I've been using a roof rack since around 1984, never had one problem with them and never, ever came close to running a loaded rack under a garage or low over hang.
Not a big fan of my wife's hitch rack. We have the Yakima 4 bike and it seems pushed with three bikes (wobbly). Additionally, the rubber straps can fail with bad results (like your bike launching itself at 60 mph like mine did last fall). I much prefer the roof mount system Yakima makes. The ratcheting wheel straps and frame clamp are real secure but not carbon friendly. For carbon I'd go with a wheel anchored hitch-mount.
My mindset now is for a vehicle that does what I need it to do 90% of the time, then hang bits on it (racks, cargo boxes) for trips & take the mpg hit then. I don't need to drive a road trip vehicle all the time.
I currently drive a VW Jetta Sportwagen...with the rear seats down I can easily fit two bikes inside (no mpg penalty, some in&out hassle). Otherwise I use a 2-bike hitch rack (more convenient, some mpg hit). Then a cargo box on the roof if/when needed (a bit more mpg hit, but more aero than bikes on roof I think).
Well, I've never seen any bikes destroyed in a rear end crash, but if you are getting rear-end crashes that frequently, you got bigger problems than bikes getting destroyed. Keep in mind that if someone hits you from behind, having bikes in a rack can be just as bad and tweak your car (and possibly bikes) further, due to the lever-arm created by the upright bikes and sudden acceleration.
Originally Posted by redd4573
Hanging "J" racks and roof racks used to be the only two options. The roof rack was clearly superior, despite the hit in mileage. It was more secure, it was relatively easy to use, bikes all had the same hubs, etc.
These days, the various hitch-racks have more advantages. These have come a long way in 10 years. There ARE vehicles where the only option is a roof rack, but those are few and far between. You can easily counter the "my car might get rear ended" with the "one day you will drive your bikes into an overhang". Those are roughly equal, but at least in one case it's someone else's fault? (but again, they are roughly equal). Otherwise, with the tray-style hitch rack, you get better mileage, less wind noise, don't have to lift the bike over your heat, do not have to worry about the hub not fitting the adaptor, can chain the bikes to the towbar or some other part of the structure, can take the rack completely off when not using it, and can even switch it between vehicles. Where it doesn't work great is if you have 3 or 4 full sized bikes. Even though they make racks for this, it's just too much weight and lever-arm on the rear of the car, unless you have like a 6000lb truck where there are stiffer springs and more weight up front to counter it. In these cases it's usually best to go roof AND hitch, or one of these and store a bike or two inside the bed/trunk/rear. If you really want to get into mileage, you can realize that even without the bikes it's costing you mpg and while the cost of a towbar+hitch rack is about the same as a good roof setup, the roof setup will continue to cost you money, so after about 2 years the hitch setup will have effectively paid for itself in terms of keeping the mpg, or in other words with the roof setup you will have spent approximately the cost of the setup in gas money alone, and continue to spend more.
"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
You're turning black metallic.
I had my bike ripped off the roof by a low hanging cable line after a garbage truck knocked it loose. Cable company paid for the damages. I'd prefer a hitch rack but I'd have to take it off when not in use and I'm lazy.
I used to take my wife's hitch rack off in the winter then I realized that she wanted in back on every time the temp hit 40F so I leave it year round. Our only issue is that with her Camry, the tube projecting from the hitch is low and fairly far back from the bumper so it drags from time to time on steep driveways and such. I'm going to have it replaced this year with a custom set-up from my local welding shop.
What System Do You Use?
I can see a roof rack as the preferred rack for cars, but not SUVs.
I use a hitch rack 1up 2" receiver & it carries 4 bikes with ease. The 2" 1up rack is super stable at all speeds & even on the bumpiest of roads. When I carry up to 2 bikes I don't notice any MPG decrease. My brother & I took a MTB trip from SO Ca. to Northern Ca. The trip up, we averaged 25mpg & the trip back 27mpg with average speed of 70mph. This is a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.
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Well the crash wiped out 3 bikes two of which were early carbon fiber bikes that were in the range of 5,000-6000 dollars and the third was worth 2,500. It all happen in one boneheaded crash, not several. It does seem that more and more are choosing to use hitch mounted racks. I do feel pretty good when the bikes are locked to the hitch of a 4,000 pound car while I get a bit to eat or stopping for a restroom break. I do remember seeing someone had welded a small eyelet on the top of the car to be able to lock there bikes while on the roof rack? Plenty of great opinons love to hear some more.
Originally Posted by Jayem
1. There are far more bikes damaged from being run into garages (and other things) than there are with rear end collisions. Talk to people you know, and once they get over their embarrassment about it, you will find a surprising number of people who have done this. When I did this (I confess, it was stupid) and I was talking with Yakima customer service about my problem they told me they get several calls a day about incidents like this. There is a decent iPhone app - Roof Rack Ranger - that can help with that.
2. On the off chance your bike gets whacked in a rear end collision, and you have replacement insurance (you should have this - it's cheap), you get a new bike. Since a rear end collision is almost always the other guys fault. If you can afford a $5K bike, you can probably afford it to float the money for a new one in the time until the insurance company pays you back. Either way, it can be a blessing if you want to keep up with current technology. If you are on vacation, rent one.
Also, for what it's worth, if you get hit hard enough, it would not at all be surprising if you bike got ripped off the rack and launched. Failing that, expect the fork and wheel and maybe frame to be damaged. IIRC, racks are only spec'ed to hold their load to the car in something like a 35mph collision. So, don't expect your roof top mounted bike to make it through a significant rear end event either. As for parking lots, park in the back where it's safe and don't leave it unattended anyhow (see item below).
3. Locking your bike to either a roof or hitch rack and thinking it is safe is plain stupid. It's not safe (repeat after me....). Google "bike theft" and watch demonstrations of thieves who defeat much more complex locking methods than that in 30 seconds or less. With cables - what you would need to use on the car - it's seconds (as in less than 10). The advent of battery powered power tools like reciprocating saws and grinders make very, very short work of almost any locking system. You want to keep your bike? Don't let it out of your sight or control.
4. For an SUV, you do not want rooftop. For a car or station wagon, they work great. Best in the business are the Thule Echelons (IMHO).
5. For a hitch rack, the best one out there is the 1UpUSA. It's modular, it's light, it goes on and off very fast, it's easy to store and it's probably the best at holding a bike without touching the frame and being secure but it's not cheap. However, it will outlast you and you children will still be using it well after you're gone. There is a thread around here that's something like 80 pages. Read all about it.
6. Roof top racks also get your bike damaged from road debris and they get all covered with bugs if you are in an area that's buggy. They are no panacea for bike safety. And they do whack your mileage (figure 2-3 mpg for larger cars/suvs, figure higher for smaller cars - it takes a fixed amount of energy to push a bike through the air at 70mph so it will be more telling on a little car that gets high mileage).
That all said, on my BMW wagon, I use the Thule Echelons - they are low profile for when I'm not using carrying a bike and they are very secure when a bike is on board. I also have an elaborate ritual when the bike is on the car including orange cones in the garage where the car is parked, Roof Rack Ranger iPhone App, and putting the garage door opener in the glove box. You can't be too careful and you still have to be mindful in gas stations, forget about parking garages, near low trees etc...
On our SUV, we use the 1UpUSA rack with 4 bikes with which we've driven 10,000 miles at high speed including almost launching the SUV over a road bump at high speed with no problems. It's an awesome rack and highly recommended.
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