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  1. #1
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    roof rack and mpg loss?

    For you folks that are using roof racks to transport your bikes, what is the mileage loss with the roof rack, and the loss with the bike(s) on top?

    thanks,

    -Sp

  2. #2
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    Not much difference with just the rack because of the fairing. With bikes I lose a few miles per gallon.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by fred?
    Not much difference with just the rack because of the fairing. With bikes I lose a few miles per gallon.
    IMO the fairing doesn't really help with gas economy, only reduces the noise. By mounting it on the roof you effectively increase the height/profile of your vehicle, so while it may be reducing the turbulence, it creates additional resistance, so the effects will cancel each other out.
    I drive a Civic with two Thule uprights on the roof rack, and if I drive over 110km/h, I do notice a slight increase in fuel consumption, maybe up to 10%. With bikes and at high speeds, it's obviously even more - I'd say between 13-18%. I actually remember calculating it a few first fill-ups, and it worked out around that.

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    those numbers sound substantial. I assume you get about 35mpg on the freeway sans roof rack / bike. 15% loss is a hair over 5mpg. Is that correct?

    thanks,

    -Sp


    Quote Originally Posted by Arek
    IMO the fairing doesn't really help with gas economy, only reduces the noise. By mounting it on the roof you effectively increase the height/profile of your vehicle, so while it may be reducing the turbulence, it creates additional resistance, so the effects will cancel each other out.
    I drive a Civic with two Thule uprights on the roof rack, and if I drive over 110km/h, I do notice a slight increase in fuel consumption, maybe up to 10%. With bikes and at high speeds, it's obviously even more - I'd say between 13-18%. I actually remember calculating it a few first fill-ups, and it worked out around that.

    Arek

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    those numbers sound substantial. I assume you get about 35mpg on the freeway sans roof rack / bike. 15% loss is a hair over 5mpg. Is that correct?

    thanks,

    -Sp
    City and highway combined, I think I was getting on average ~ 34mpg (6.9l/100km). Since I have the rack on the car, it probably dropped to ~ 31mpg (7.6l/100km), and with two bikes - 26mpg (9.0l/100km).
    Mind you, these are not super accurate, just my estimates. Especially the last one - I haven't driven a whole tank's worth of fuel with bikes on top all the time, so the 26mpg figure is an estimate.
    Usually, with 2 rides to the trailhead a week, and normal city nad highwat driving i'm at just over 28mpg (8.4l/100).

    Arek

  6. #6
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    My car with nothing gets about 35 mpg highway (or at least it did when it was new. I have not run it without the rack and fairing since about 6 months after I bought it in '98). With rack, fairing and 2 bikes, it goes down to about 28. With rack, no bikes and no fairing it was about 26. With no bikes and with fairing, about 31. However, on my previous car, I did not notice a change in mpg between rack and no rack. I did not own fairing then. Old car was a subaru justy. New(er) car is a ford escort.

  7. #7
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    Depends on the vehicle. A big SUV with a powerful engine is less affected than a sub-compact like my under-powered Civic.
    My Civic gets about 38mpg on the highway without the roof rack; 32 with the rack and no bikes; 30 with rack and one bike; 26-30 with two bikes. I am very affected by headwinds and how hard I am driving, too.
    With my old Quantum Wagon it was 23 bare; 20 with rack; 18-20 with bikes, any number up to 4.
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  8. #8
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    My VW Passat gets 30 MPG with no rack, 25 MPG with rack (adding bikes lost me another 2 MPG). Thule rack, no fairing. LOTS of wind noise.

  9. #9
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    On my old Trooper it cost about

    3-4 mpg at highway speeds with bikes on top. I use a hitch rack on another SUV these days and see little difference in mpg.
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  10. #10
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    remember, drag is a function of the square of velocity, so your drag at 80mph is 4 times what it is at 40mph. This means your change in MPG due to bike racks may not be huge if you don't go 75-80mph everywhere, but if you do, you could notice a pretty huge difference between your bike-rack and non-bike-rack MPG.
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  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    thanks a bunch! Hitch rack it is!

    -Sp

    Quote Originally Posted by glenzx

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    thanks a bunch! Hitch rack it is!

    -Sp
    I HATE hitch racks!
    • Blocks my rear vision.
    • The bikes get dirtier (I had my disc brakes contaminated on the back of the truck).
    • Blocks access to the rear of the car.
    • More exposed to damage in traffic.
    • Can be fussier to load. I can load 4-5 bikes on the top of my Civic. Could only get 3 on a 4 bike hitch rack and only after moving seatposts and stems.

    Roof top racks all the way for me!
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  14. #14
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    Which is pretty close to saying the same thing I said.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    I HATE hitch racks!
    • Blocks my rear vision.
    • The bikes get dirtier (I had my disc brakes contaminated on the back of the truck).
    • Blocks access to the rear of the car.
    • More exposed to damage in traffic.
    • Can be fussier to load. I can load 4-5 bikes on the top of my Civic. Could only get 3 on a 4 bike hitch rack and only after moving seatposts and stems.

    Roof top racks all the way for me!
    I could see how bikes could block your view in a civic, but if you really need access to the rear of the car, just reach your arm back from the drivers seat.

    More exposure to damage? Talk about subjective, you can rip your bikes off a roof rack easy, not to mention it increases your CG...

    5 bikes on top of a civic...wow.
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  16. #16
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    Not much difference for me.

    I am somewhat neurotic about keeping track of my mileage on any car I have owned. I currently own a 2003 CR-V. I put a Thule rack on top of my car along with a fairing (I needed it for the noise) and I noticed my mileage drop from around 25 to about 22. When I added a Thule box to it the mileage did not seem to change. Finally it occured to me to try taking off the fairing with the box still on, and my mileage was back up to 25. No noise either. It seems that in my case the fairing is about the only thing that had any real effect on my mileage. When I moved across the country last summer I had a bike on a roof tray, two on a Spare Me rack on the back and a big Thule box, and I could not tell a difference in my mileage. I was in a caravan with several others moving with me along with a 25' Penski, so we were averaging about 70.

    I know this result is unusual. Perhaps it has something to do with the shape of the vehicle. Someone above mentioned that SUV's with big engines are less effected. While this certainly does not have a big engine (4-banger) it is the size of some smaller suv's (explorer, cherokee).

    Kapusta

    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    For you folks that are using roof racks to transport your bikes, what is the mileage loss with the roof rack, and the loss with the bike(s) on top?

    thanks,

    -Sp

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta

    I know this result is unusual. Perhaps it has something to do with the shape of the vehicle. Someone above mentioned that SUV's with big engines are less effected. While this certainly does not have a big engine (4-banger) it is the size of some smaller suv's (explorer, cherokee).


    Kapusta
    It could be that the fairing causes the airflow to seperate from the vehicle. This is what happens when a wing stalls, but the drag as a result of seperation is extremely high, higher than parasitic drag at lower speeds. This is why the golf ball is dimpled.

    But, parasitic drag still increase as a function of the square of velocity, so your results may vary depending on the speed at which you drive, again at 60mph with no fairing you might get the "same" gas milege, but at 80mph the parasitic drag (drag as a result of cross-section) may take over and be the largest factor.

    Your results are possible though, if the fairing causes the airflow to seperate, it would be the reason why.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    I could see how bikes could block your view in a civic, but if you really need access to the rear of the car, just reach your arm back from the drivers seat.

    More exposure to damage? Talk about subjective, you can rip your bikes off a roof rack easy, not to mention it increases your CG...

    5 bikes on top of a civic...wow.
    The hitch rack blocks my view on my Ram pickup with a canopy and restricts access to the bed. I like to be able to load and unload through the back without having to move or remove the bikes. NOT the same as "just reach(ing) your arm back from the drivers seat."

    I have backed (and been backed into) a rear rack full of bikes into something several times (partly the vision issue). NEVER damaged a bike (knock wood) on top in 20 years. Never had another driver run into the TOP of my car either. I have also seen rear mounted bikes being drug on the road and tires melted by the exhaust.

    Raising the CG? Get real! We are not driving race cars.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    ...When I moved across the country last summer I had a bike on a roof tray, two on a Spare Me rack on the back and a big Thule box, and I could not tell a difference in my mileage. I was in a caravan with several others moving with me along with a 25' Penske, so we were averaging about 70...
    Kapusta
    Drafting, especially behind a box van/truck can HUGELY increase your gas mileage. I had headwinds all the way to Sea Otter last spring. On my own, flat-out was 60 mph and I got 25 mpg. Drafting a truck I could do 65 mph and jumped to 34 mpg.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    ...and restricts access to the bed. I like to be able to load and unload through the back without having to move or remove the bikes.
    The Yakima "Full Swing" (I think thats the name) just swings off to the side, allowing full access with all the bikes still on her. Yes, you have to detach the big t-bolt and rotate the whole get-up away (takes maybe 10 seconds?), but the few times access is needed via the liftgate (Jeep Cherokee) it's never seemed like a big deal. If we had a lower car, way lower - like a civic, I'd have stuck with a roof set-up. The main issues were mileage and access for my wife - who had a legitimate complaint about hefting bikes up onto the roof, as she could barely reach the trays with a bike over head! Love the civic, just can't haul firewood via trailer from deep in the fuelwood areas with one!

    In the thread I posted the link to, I explained the huge improvement in mpg, which continue to this day. Average highway cruising gets us 25-26 mpg! This is between 5-10 mpg different than with a roof rack set-up on an already aerodynamically challenged Jeep. On a trip last spring to Lakewood, CO., I got an abysmal 16 mpg with 2 bikes on the roof on I-25, with moderate winds. Last week I drove about 500 miles and needed 18.6 gallons! WooHoo! I'll stick with the 'inconvenience' of the swing-away rack.

    Incidentally, I've wrecked 3 bikes on a roof rack, in the old days, on a Toyota Celica. Of course it ripped the rain gutters apart too, and damaged thew garage. Neve backed into, or been run into, with the hitch set-up.

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  21. #21
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    With our Jetta (TDI, not gas) we got 38mpg WITH two bikes on the roof visiting Shiggy and friends in Oregon. Without bikes and just racks, mph is around 44mpg. Without racks or bikes...about 48mpg. Yes, that's right, 48mpg. That's on the freeway mind you. Around town, all stop and go, mpg drops all the way down to about 34mpg.

    That said, we're thinking of selling the car because roof racks have been a nightmare for us. We've been spoiled by the hitchmounted Sportworks and it's ease of use, dependability, etc. Looking to get another economical vehicle that can accept a hitch, aka suburu/element/etc
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  22. #22
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    Not really, 3 FREDS...

    Quote Originally Posted by fredł
    Which is pretty close to saying the same thing I said.
    He provided more detail and actual numbers as opposed to using trivial words such as 'few'.
    He also put it more eloquently.

  23. #23
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    hmm

    on my 94 honda accord, with roof rack/no bikes, about 27-28, with no rack/bikes 29-30, and with bikes/rack, about 25 or so. I havent seen the huge difference everyone else is talking about.
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  24. #24
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    Similar loss here

    Quote Originally Posted by Arek
    City and highway combined, I think I was getting on average ~ 34mpg (6.9l/100km). Since I have the rack on the car, it probably dropped to ~ 31mpg (7.6l/100km), and with two bikes - 26mpg (9.0l/100km).
    Mind you, these are not super accurate, just my estimates. Especially the last one - I haven't driven a whole tank's worth of fuel with bikes on top all the time, so the 26mpg figure is an estimate.
    Usually, with 2 rides to the trailhead a week, and normal city nad highwat driving i'm at just over 28mpg (8.4l/100).

    Arek
    I drive a '96 GTi with a 2.0l 4 banger, 5 speed day in and out, prolly about 2k miles a month. I have the factory VW Thule racks, the ones that clamp the down tubes and let you keep the front wheels on. I tend to drive at 70-80 most of the time.

    No roof racks: 32 MPG with my semi-heavy-footed driving, mostly freeway miles.
    Roof racks, no bikes: 30 MPG
    Roof Racks and two bikes: 26 MPG

    In addition, the roof racks are so noisy with or without bikes, I can't open the sunroof without going deaf. That means more running the AC (and the car is black, so I have to run it whenver it gets to 70 F outside), so that drags on the engine as well... although not much.
    Last edited by pimpbot; 12-01-2004 at 07:35 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    Drafting, especially behind a box van/truck can HUGELY increase your gas mileage. I had headwinds all the way to Sea Otter last spring. On my own, flat-out was 60 mph and I got 25 mpg. Drafting a truck I could do 65 mph and jumped to 34 mpg.
    I'm not sure if you are refering to my situation in particular, but I was rarely drafting the truck. We all had walky-talkies so I just tried to stay within sight. I even spent a day on my own because I wanted to get to Breckenridge a day ahead of everybody else.

    I may loose the box at some point just to double check the mileage without it.

    Kapusta

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbnjunkie
    on my 94 honda accord, with roof rack/no bikes, about 27-28, with no rack/bikes 29-30, and with bikes/rack, about 25 or so. I havent seen the huge difference everyone else is talking about.
    the best my 94 accord ex 4dr has ever gotten is 27 ... damn auto tranny

    with bikes and rack though like 24-25

    lately with mixed freeway / city driving and rack on all the time, bike on sometimes i get like 20
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  27. #27
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    I usually get around 19 to 20 without a rack in my Toyota 4x4 4Runner. With a trailer-hitch rack I still get 19/20. My last trip down from oregon I was getting 22mph w/rack

  28. #28
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    i normally get 33mpg on the hwy. With 2 DH bikes and a 20" on the roof i got about 22-23mpg on my last trip to Virgin, UT. HORRIBLE!

  29. #29
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    The number of gallons of fuel needed to push a given roofrack/bike combo a given distance down the road is about the same regardless of vehicle, but the number of miles you can go on a gallon is dramatically different.

    e.g., Off the top of my head, a Honda Insight with a big rack may drop from 65mpg to 35 mpg. A Hummer with the same rack might drop from 14 mpg to 12. Does that mean the hummer is less effected by the rack? Nope. If you look at the number of extra gallons burned over a 100 mile trip, they'll be about the same on each vehicle. (didn't check the exact numbers, but those sound about right)

    My point is, somebody saying a rack and bike costs 5 mpg only applies to their bike/rack/car/driving habit combo. As the saying goes, "your mileage may vary".

    That said, my 21 cubic foot Yakima cargo box makes the freeway mileage on my Cherokee go from about 24 to 20.5 or so.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by @dam
    (didn't check the exact numbers, but those sound about right).
    Good point, just wanted to check for myself.

    Exact numbers:
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    Hey! I was pretty close!

    Of course, I don't have any real data to back that up, but they seem like reasonable drops for a sleek little tear drop like the Insight and a wood-shed shaped bruiser like a Hummer, If you put a rack with a couple of DH bikes up top. I'd be willing to bet you'd see similar numbers real world.

  32. #32
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    Math, distance and mpg

    Quote Originally Posted by @dam
    The number of gallons of fuel needed to push a given roofrack/bike combo a given distance down the road is about the same regardless of vehicle, but the number of miles you can go on a gallon is dramatically different.

    e.g., Off the top of my head, a Honda Insight with a big rack may drop from 65mpg to 35 mpg. A Hummer with the same rack might drop from 14 mpg to 12. Does that mean the hummer is less effected by the rack? Nope. If you look at the number of extra gallons burned over a 100 mile trip, they'll be about the same on each vehicle. (didn't check the exact numbers, but those sound about right)

    My point is, somebody saying a rack and bike costs 5 mpg only applies to their bike/rack/car/driving habit combo. As the saying goes, "your mileage may vary".

    That said, my 21 cubic foot Yakima cargo box makes the freeway mileage on my Cherokee go from about 24 to 20.5 or so.
    100 miles is "nothin'" out west here, where road trips are easily 300-400 miles (short, rountrip) to 1600+ miles (long, 4-corners tour) and lot's in between. If I get an additional 5 mpg, it's easy to see the savings, and see them FAST! If I clock 25K a year, 99.9% highway, at 5 mpg savings, here's the breakdown:

    25,000 miles @ 20 mpg = 1250 gallons = $2612.50
    25,000 miles @ 25 mpg = 1000 gallons = $2090.00

    (gas, regular unleaded at $2.09/gal last 7 months)

    That's $522.50 in a year, my whole insurance premium!
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  33. #33
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    Yes, and at 30 mpg you are only burning 833 gallons for a savings of another 167 gallons. Rhetorical question: Why isn't it 750, for a 250 gallon drop like last time your mileage went up 5 mpg? You say you see the savings fast from 5 additional mpg (and I agree, you do), but you'll see more savings from the jump from 20 to 25 than you do from 25 to 30.

    I live out west here too. 100 miles was just a round number. I know saving gas is nice. Who doesn't? The point is, a given rack takes a more-or-less fixed amount of gas to push a given distance down the highway, regardless of what vehicle it is on. This doesn't translate to "how much mpg does a rack cost" very well. The difference in gallons used per 100 mile trip will be the same for the hummer and the honda (about 1.3 g/100mi), but the 2mpg difference in the Hummer burns the same amount of extra fuel as the 30mpg difference in the Honda. My whole point is you can't say how much mpg a rack costs unless somebody has exactly the same setup (car, rack, bike, driving speed) as you, but you CAN say how many gallons/given distance you've changed and have it be relevant from one vehicle to the next. This is primarily why in most of the world fuel economy is measured in liters per 100 kilometers rather than kilometers per liter- it makes for a better comparisson on what driving actually costs.
    Last edited by @dam; 12-02-2004 at 05:39 PM.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenzx
    That's $522.50 in a year, my whole insurance premium!
    i remember when my insurance was that low ... then some ****in dumbass stopped on the onramp to the freeway for no reason
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melt
    i remember when my insurance was that low ... then some ****in dumbass stopped on the onramp to the freeway for no reason

    so you didn't give him enough space and then you rear ended him and you blame him????

    Maybe step to the plate and take responsibilty for your actions

  36. #36
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    fucc that i gave him plenty of room, nobody expects some dumbass to stop on a freeway onramp when they are supposed to be gassin it and merging.

    I aint trippin though, it aint on my record no more, the guy tried pullin some bs about how his back got injured but he never proved it and the year statute of limitations is over, plus he was driving with no insurance.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melt
    fucc that i gave him plenty of room, nobody expects some dumbass to stop on a freeway onramp when they are supposed to be gassin it and merging.

    I aint trippin though, it aint on my record no more, the guy tried pullin some bs about how his back got injured but he never proved it and the year statute of limitations is over, plus he was driving with no insurance.

    you gave him plenty of room and still hit him ????? is that a riddle or you don't get it????

  38. #38
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    is this all you do, ethug and stir up $hit?

    The ******* shouldnt have even been on the road cause he was mobbin with no insurance, and i was lookin back to merge and then when i looked again he stopped ... im sorry im not a model driver like you. Theres a reason its called an accident.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melt
    is this all you do, ethug and stir up $hit?

    The ******* shouldnt have even been on the road cause he was mobbin with no insurance, and i was lookin back to merge and then when i looked again he stopped ... im sorry im not a model driver like you. Theres a reason its called an accident.
    Yep Melt, you were an accident...I mean in an accident...maybe both, but ask your parents on that one

  40. #40
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    you mom should have swallowed.
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  41. #41
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    Nice sentiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt
    you mom should have swallowed.
    ghetto wannabe boy. Take some responsibility.
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
    suum quique

  42. #42
    Coors, the american beer.
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    you can thank your boy shiver for the sentiment ... he started with the low blows bringin peoples parents into some bs.
    Last edited by Melt; 12-12-2004 at 03:36 PM.
    AZ has the best mountain bike gathering ever

  43. #43
    Old man on a bike
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    Actually you went off topic first with your misunderstanding

    about personal responsibility. Shiver's being a jerk too; perhaps both of your parents would have benefitted from birth control. However, it's really your wannabe ghetto language that caught my attention as much as your stupidity. For a minute I thought we actually had someone from the ghetto on board but it turns out to be just another saggy pants wearing white boy with no clue.
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
    suum quique

  44. #44
    Coors, the american beer.
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    whatever man, im down to go back to talkin about roof racks if you guys are.
    AZ has the best mountain bike gathering ever

  45. #45
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    Mount the rack back further

    [QUOTE=

    In addition, the roof racks are so noisy with or without bikes, I can't open the sunroof without going deaf.

    I think you can mount your towers further back so they're mounted above the post betwix the front and rear doors and above the rear door. this will decrease the noise, especially if you can get going faster than the speed of sound.

  46. #46
    Glad to Be Alive
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melt
    you can thank your boy shiver for the sentiment ... he started with the low blows bringin peoples parents into some bs.

    Melt I said ask your parents if that was true. Man are we that insecure???

    Anybody try on a smaller car getting a trailor hitch rack instead of a roof rack. What was your gas savings if you tried both???
    Last edited by SHIVER ME TIMBERS; 12-13-2004 at 02:21 AM.

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