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  1. #1
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    What kind of bike carrier is best

    I need a bike carrier for 4 bikes. I am looking for something for a 2" receiver hitch. I have looked at the hanging kind (from the top tube and one that hangs from the rims) and platform kind. What is everyone using and what are pros and cons of the different styles of bike carriers?

    From online observations and not use, it appears to me the platform style looks more stable and secure, but they look big and heavy. The hanging are usually smaller and cheaper, but it seems more difficult to get bikes on them without having them bang together. Not to mention how to mount the bike with the steeply angled top tube. So what do you guys recommend?

  2. #2
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    Platform rack all the way. Yes, they are kinda heavy and not really made to be put on and taken off all the time. But they are more secure than the hanging style, you can put a variety of frame styles on them (I'm not sure my Enduro would work on a hanging style rack), etc.
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  3. #3
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    Hang from the rims?
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  4. #4
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    [echo]Hang from the rims?[/echo]

    Yes, please elaborate...curiosity piqued.
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  5. #5
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    I thought that hang from the rim style was kind of an odd ball. I really liked it at first but I question how stable the bikes will be. Similar to hanging from the top bar I suppose.

    Highland SportWing Aluminum Hitch-Mounted, 4-Bike Carrier - 2" Hitches Highland Hitch Bike Racks 1370400

    The platform that has my attention right now is this one:
    SportRack Super EZ Platform-Style 4 Bike Carrier for 2" Hitches SportRack Hitch Bike Racks A30902LR

    But I've really just started looking. I'm really not even sure what to look for at this point.

  6. #6
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    Look for warranties and spare parts. Yakima and Thule are good places to start for tray racks. I do know that Thule offers a rack and add on that would fulfill the ticket for securely moving 4 expensive (ie, don't want/can't hang from the top tube). The downside? It will easily cost close to $800.

    Your options as far as hanging hitch racks go are significantly less expensive, and you can even buy a bar that extends from under your saddle to under your handle bars to create a mock top tube. More expensive racks both sway less, and allow the bikes to sway less.

    It would also be nice to buy from a manufacturer that has dealers nearby, should something go awry.

    *edit* Well, I noticed nobody actually hit your original questions too well.

    A hanging hitch rack is going to be more bang for your buck in terms of carrying capacity vs price. The downside is that not all bikes have a defined top tube (cruisers, sloping top tubes, mixtes, FS, some rigid bikes) that will easily mate with the cradles. Can it be done? Sure, but it's far from ideal, and damage to the bike is likely to occur. You also have higher incidences of damage to the paint job/finish on the bottom of the top tube, as the bikes will move, even in the most expensive racks. Bikes that have bottom-of-the-top-tube routed cables may have issues.

    A tray style rack, on the other hand, only grips the tires/rims of the bike (and sometimes a stabilizer on the frame). They tend to be more stable, and are the way to move exotic frame designs/ delicate finishes. Tray style racks are more expensive, but ultimately,a better way to move the bike.

    If you do consider going for a tray style mount, seriously consider a roof rack system, as the prices between the two won't be far off.

  7. #7
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    I only carry 1 or 2, so I have a 1-Up USA rack with a spare tray. If I wanted to carry 4 I'd choose a North Shore Rack. The way I look at it, for 2 bikes I want them parallel to the bumper, but more than that starts to extend a bike's height out from the vehicle, and then I'd rather have them hanging. 1-Up does also make a 4 bike rack, by the way.

    The NSR racks hang bikes by the fork crowns. Frame style is irrelevant, but they won't accept road forks. There is plenty of information on both these racks (and many others) in the Car and Biker subforum.
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    Thanks guys, good info. That NSR looks interesting. I wonder though if it will work with my kids bikes. Since they are small it probably won't. I'm kind of hoping for something that willwork with kid and adult bikes so I don't have to buy another rack in 5 years when they are on full size bikes.

    I've noticed that Sport rack has been purchased by Thule, so that may make it better for parts or warranty issues.

    I'll have to see what I can find int the car and bike subforum. GUess I haven't run across that section yet.

  9. #9
    Afric Pepperbird
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    Platform rack all the way!!

    By the way, may I suggest you also post this in the rack sub-forum? You may get more hits.

  10. #10
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    Whatever you decide, I do advise against the older designs that use horizontal bars to support your frame. They don't work with an increasing number of full-suspension mountain bike frames. I'm speaking from experience on this one. I had a Thule spare tire rack on the back of my Trooper, but my newest bike didn't work with it.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Whatever you decide, I do advise against the older designs that use horizontal bars to support your frame. They don't work with an increasing number of full-suspension mountain bike frames. I'm speaking from experience on this one. I had a Thule spare tire rack on the back of my Trooper, but my newest bike didn't work with it.
    Thanks, I don't see me ever going FS due to where I ride, but I do have a friend with one. So I suppose its a good thing to consider. I am really leaning more towards the platform design. I just hate how far back the stick. Those NSR look nice, a bit pricey but nice.


    Thanks dirt farmer for the link. I looked for the best subforum but apparently I missed that whole section.

  12. #12
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    Sport Rack is Thule's small-run, cheapo racks that they special make for retailers. As far as I know, they don't offer spare parts specifically for them, but you should be able to use Thule parts.

  13. #13
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    The Swagman Quad 4 is great. Holds bike secure and easy to get them on and off. Mine came with a locking cable as well.
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  14. #14
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    I've got the sport wing and like it for my family (2 adults, 3 kids). Can get cramped with four bikes but, for the money, I like it. Hanging from the rims, with easy adjustment for various wheel sizes (16", 20", 26" & 29" for my family right now) is awesome.

    If i was hauling four expensive fs bikes, I'd look at platform but i don't have the money for the one i really want...kuat nv

  15. #15
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    The Kuat racks are crap for four bikes. Just thought I'd throw my experience out there. I do mountain bike guiding and I have used many racks in my business. The Kuat rack looks nice and the repair stand part is pretty handy but once you take it from a two bike system to four, the bikes no longer fit together well. If you were using it for only two bikes, I'd say do it, but not four, or if you have any inclination to ever upgrade to four.
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  16. #16
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    Thanks guys for all the input. I'm glad to hear the Swagman 4 and Sportwing are decent carriers. The Swagman looks pretty similar to the Sportrack I am considering. The only thing i don't like about it is how far out it sticks. But that seems to be the nature of all 4 bike carriers. The Sportwing is tempting because it can easily break down into a 2 bike carrier and being aluminum is lighter. But I think the platform racks look more solid. I also like the North Shore Racks system. But it looks like it hangs out just about as far as a platform carrier. So I'm not sure its worth the extra money. What they should have done is put the bikes facing each other so you they would essentiall be 2 wide and 2 deep with a little crossover. Once again, it seems that the market hasn't yet made what I think would be a superior system. Anyway, I appreciate all the input.

    Silentfoe - I appreciate input from someone in your position that has used multiple racks. Its really good to know the Kuat is not good with 4 bikes. Do you have any experience with cheaper platforms like the SportrackSportRack Super EZ Platform-Style 4 Bike Carrier for 2" Hitches SportRack Hitch Bike Racks A30902LR:

  17. #17
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    Love my Kuat NV, but haven't tried it for 4.

  18. #18
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    Thule Euroclassic G6 with 4th bike adaptor.

  19. #19
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    The Arbutus racks look pretty slick, but their website shows out of stock. That rack solves what I think is the one flaw of the NSR: having to play bike Tetris with different stem, bar and stack dimensions.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo1 View Post
    Silentfoe - I appreciate input from someone in your position that has used multiple racks. Its really good to know the Kuat is not good with 4 bikes. Do you have any experience with cheaper platforms like the SportrackSportRack Super EZ Platform-Style 4 Bike Carrier for 2" Hitches SportRack Hitch Bike Racks A30902LR:
    I have used that rack buy only on a week long trip to St. George. If I remember correctly, it worked rather well but it was a pain figuring out the sliders. I think we had to pull them off a couple times to balance out the bigger vs. smaller bikes but we eventually got it right. Pretty easy. It is probably the best four bike rack for anything near that price.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    The Arbutus racks look pretty slick, but their website shows out of stock. That rack solves what I think is the one flaw of the NSR: having to play bike Tetris with different stem, bar and stack dimensions.
    Nice, I like that better than the NSR. I wonder if they will get more stock and what the price is. I may need to send them an email.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    I have used that rack buy only on a week long trip to St. George. If I remember correctly, it worked rather well but it was a pain figuring out the sliders. I think we had to pull them off a couple times to balance out the bigger vs. smaller bikes but we eventually got it right. Pretty easy. It is probably the best four bike rack for anything near that price.
    I'm glad to hear that. It will pretty much be used only by my family, so once I get the sliders set I would be good. I think this is my top choice right now unless I decide its worth more for something like that Arbutus. That Thule
    EuroClassice looks nice too.

  22. #22
    DaFaJa
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    1up rack FTW!
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  23. #23
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    If you can afford it, get the 1up. I've read nothing but good things about them. I personally have had all types of racks and definitely like platforms racks the best. I have a Saris CycleOn Pro and love it. http://www.saris.com/en/bike-racks/v...cleon-pro.html
    Nathan

  24. #24
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    +1 on the 1up. Bonus: it's a conversation piece at the trailhead parking lot.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo1 View Post
    Thanks guys for all the input. I'm glad to hear the Swagman 4 and Sportwing are decent carriers. The Swagman looks pretty similar to the Sportrack I am considering. The only thing i don't like about it is how far out it sticks. But that seems to be the nature of all 4 bike carriers. The Sportwing is tempting because it can easily break down into a 2 bike carrier and being aluminum is lighter. But I think the platform racks look more solid. I also like the North Shore Racks system. But it looks like it hangs out just about as far as a platform carrier. So I'm not sure its worth the extra money. What they should have done is put the bikes facing each other so you they would essentiall be 2 wide and 2 deep with a little crossover. Once again, it seems that the market hasn't yet made what I think would be a superior system. Anyway, I appreciate all the input.
    The Swagman gets good reviews, and I almost pulled the trigger. The only problem I found was that it doesn't appear to fold up against the rear of the vehicle when not in use. That means you have to either take it off every ride or drive around with it sticking out the back. Not something I wanted to do, as I use my car for commuting, and I like to have the rack there to throw the bike on as quickly as possible. The platform racks aren't especially easy to put on or take off -- you need tools and about 5 minutes (ok, it is a simple process, admittedly, but it isn't as simple as just pulling a pin or something like that).

    I went with a Yakima stick-up. It is only a few more $$ than the Swagman, but it does fold up against the rear of my vehicle when not in use, so I can leave it on there all the time. It doesn't have the capacity to expand to carry 4 bikes, though, so if that is a requirement, you'l have to look elsewhere.

    Good luck!
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
    '13 Felt Z4 for the road

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