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  1. #1
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    New question here. Tail Lights for Bike Racks - Why Not?

    I have a US Toyota Corolla and installed a Swagman XTC 2 platform hitch rack. I live in Europe.

    After a while, I had a few other drivers and some security guards comment about how my rack isn't safe because it doesn't have rear lights. I had seen the Thule racks here and thought it was nice that they have lights and thought that was just a nice option.

    As it turns out, it is a requirement in Europe to have tail lights on anything that would block the car's lights. The racks that don't have lights mounted usually put the bikes way high so they are above the car's lights. No thanks!

    I went ahead and installed a light set on my rack. I ordered a pair of LED trailer lights and wired them up to my US 4 pin trailer adapter (also, the Europes do trailer lights better too including separate blinkers and even a reverse light!).

    I ****ing love it. Seeing US spec cars with completely blocked lights and plates makes me so mad now. Having lights on the rack helps everyone around you and it basically ensures you won't get rear-ended since somebody missed your blinker or brake lights.

    I sent a message to Swagman asking if they have any plans to start adding lights on the rear of their platform racks and they said no because it's not a requirement in the US. Thule said there is no way to get a European rack in the US (I just bought one so I can take it back to the states). We gotta get with the program.

    Is there any good reason to not start making racks with lights already installed?


    Free picture of the modified Swagman:

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tratch View Post
    I have a US Toyota Corolla and installed a Swagman XTC 2 platform hitch rack. I live in Europe.

    After a while, I had a few other drivers and some security guards comment about how my rack isn't safe because it doesn't have rear lights. I had seen the Thule racks here and thought it was nice that they have lights and thought that was just a nice option.

    As it turns out, it is a requirement in Europe to have tail lights on anything that would block the car's lights. The racks that don't have lights mounted usually put the bikes way high so they are above the car's lights. No thanks!

    I went ahead and installed a light set on my rack. I ordered a pair of LED trailer lights and wired them up to my US 4 pin trailer adapter (also, the Europes do trailer lights better too including separate blinkers and even a reverse light!).

    I ****ing love it. Seeing US spec cars with completely blocked lights and plates makes me so mad now. Having lights on the rack helps everyone around you and it basically ensures you won't get rear-ended since somebody missed your blinker or brake lights.

    I sent a message to Swagman asking if they have any plans to start adding lights on the rear of their platform racks and they said no because it's not a requirement in the US. Thule said there is no way to get a European rack in the US (I just bought one so I can take it back to the states). We gotta get with the program.

    Is there any good reason to not start making racks with lights already installed?


    Free picture of the modified Swagman:
    It seems like a good idea but I'll bet it's all about retro fit design and cost etc... If the demand is there like wanting to open up the US market and needing to meet DOT standards, that's going to be a given but otherwise, their marketing and sales people will put numbers to it and it either makes sense or not. Maybe your plea makes it up the chain eventually and sometime later on, it happens.

    Even great ideas and suggestions get blown off sometimes too. Don't feel persecuted - LOL
    Last edited by bachman1961; 03-27-2017 at 02:10 AM.
    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  3. #3
    Bikesexual
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    Did you also paint it yellow?
    just get a bike and ride!

  4. #4
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    Not sure why they don't have lights but I think it's an excellent idea. Think I'll add some to my Thule Hitch rack.

  5. #5
    All fat, all the time.
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    Can't hurt that's for sure. It's on my list of projects to do this year....

  6. #6
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    A couple of years ago we drove from Calagry, ab to bend and then on to Portland. Because I was worried about during in Portland and being rear ended, I picked up a pair of brake lights with magnetic bases, trimmed down the wiring and I put them on my rack if we are going to be driving someplace with heavier traffic.

    I also figure it might avoid the police taking an interest in me and my vehicle if they see I made some effort to offset the tail lights and listen se plate being obscured by the bikes

  7. #7
    Mr. Buck E. Fikes
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    I've been thinking about adding some to my Thule T2 since I never take it off. I do have the 3M Scotchlite uber-highly reflective DOT red/silver reflective tape on rack rails which illuminates like crazy. The real issue that seems to crop up occasionally in the US is the obscuration of the rear license plate. I recall reading numerous posts on the subject in past years. I'm not moving my plate, though. Not until I get grief for it being blocked. I'm going to redo my boat trailer lights maybe this week and was thinking it would be a good time to do the add-on to the T2 with my reusable components.

    OP, are you orienting the taillights so that they are visible when your rack is folded and not in use or visible when you have bikes on board? I'm assuming the former. Not so "funny" thing as just the other day I was headed to the trail with my month old high dollar carbon 6fattie bike on my rack and while sitting at a red light behind several cars and just kind of zoning out waiting, my truck rocked softly back and forth. At first I blew it off as the usual sensation I get when my Labrador Retriever is in the back and walking around then I realized WTF? my dog isn't with me. I look in my rearview and some joker in a Taco is all sheepish and waving at me like "sorry, bro." The double left turn lane was empty to my left and he wanted to be there rather than behind me and he clips my T2 right on the rear tire pod/strap. Thank God my new bike was in the forward section of the rack. I made him pull over and checked everything very closely. He torqued the rail but it straightened out in the bracket and it bent my rear tire buckle but not bad and I plier-ed it back straight. I don't know if lights would have helped that one as he was so close to begin with and obviously a poor judge of distance. Most important, my bike was unscathed but my heart rate sure wasn't.

  8. #8
    RAKC Industries
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    I have been thinking about this as well. Been looking at trying to find some to mount on the arms of my transfer 2.

    I did use reflective tape which helps a lot at night on my previous rack. But not much for anywhere to put it on a transfer 2.

    I'd hate to see them become required in the US because companies would put in $10 worth of lights and charge $200 more for a rack because of it.

    I know many stats actually have some requirements for anything extending over a certain distance behind a vehicle. Here is 3ft (1M) then your to have some for of flag or reflector. A 2 bike rack is just under than limit but any more.

    Also though not required there is a catch, if bikes/rack obstruct to much of the rear lights then your in violation of DOT regulations which means either an officer or DOT can give you a hefty fine.

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  9. #9
    Why so uptite?
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    I've pondered this myself. When I put 4 bikes on my Kuat NV I don't think my lights are all that visible. It would be easy enough to just use some trailer lights and plug into the 4 pin trailer harness on most cars.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    Did you also paint it yellow?
    Yup, one of my wife's friends walked into it. Doesn't take long to fix that sort of issue!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    OP, are you orienting the taillights so that they are visible when your rack is folded and not in use or visible when you have bikes on board?
    They are mounted on a board to the actual frame of the rack so they stay in the same place no matter if the rack is folded. It takes away a little bit of portability, but I leave the rack on full time anyway so it doesn't matter.

  12. #12
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    I have thought about doing something like this. But I would want it so the lights would be useful when the rack is in use, as well as when folded. I'd have to rig up some sort of pivoting bracket that could be locked into place with a pin, most likely. That extra level of work and fabrication has kept me from doing it, because I have neither the skills nor the tools to do much metal fab work.

    Attaching some trailer lights into a static position is easy, though. Could be a little less easy if you have a rack that doesn't have ready places to bolt something onto. On my gen 1 Kuat NV, removing the plate where the workstand receiver and bolting a bracket for some lights into place is probably the way to go. Probably want to replace the 4 bolts with slightly longer ones depending on the thickness of the light bracket.

    I have also thought about the license plate thing. I DON'T leave the rack on all the time, so I'm not moving the license plate all over. If I ever wind up with a ticket for an obscured license plate because of my bikes/rack, I'll probably deal with it by hauling bikes in a small utility trailer.

  13. #13
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    I mounted a third brake light to the back of my T2. With 4 bikes on it, it sticks out quite a ways. It can only be seen when the rack is down with bikes on it.

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  14. #14
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    I got a set of LED lights and wired them up to a trailer harness which I then plugged into the car's electrical system. I just fixed the lights to the wheel track of my 1UpUSA rack with bungee cords - worked great. It is a great idea and is *much* more visible.

  15. #15
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    This is very good idea. The full set of tail lights is mandatory in UK if I am not mistaken. You can see very nice bars on Thule platforms sold there.

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