Bike rack for a 20 000km drive- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bike rack for a 20 000km drive

    Anyone recommending a trustworthy hitch rack for two bikes ? I'm driving from Montreal to Vancouver (10 000km round trip) and then all over the north west coast islands and Rockies, maybe even down to California, etc. bikes will see at least 10 000km of highway and a lot of dirt roads/less travelled routes.

    Looking at the tray style ones, ideally for a 1-1/4" receiver (I can do 2" on an adapter tho), under $200 with a backward tilt design to be able to pop the hatch without removing the bikes, and that is built good enough to not worry about doing 10 000km to 20 000km in one continuous loaded use on highways and less nicer roads. Ideally not too heavy, but the important bit is feeling confident about the bikes being secured on such a long trip. A padlock slot for the vertical hold down arm is also desired.

    I have a cheap one for 2 bikes, but the horizontal arms are bending downward and the trays are cheap and bending inward at the bracket, and since I always strap the frames and wheels to both the car and the carrier, it only makes it worst.

    Both bikes are 26", less than 35lbs each.

    I've seen a few online, but could hardly find reviews that outlined all of the points I brought above instead of just one or two.

    To be bought/delivered in Montreal, Canada.

    Thanks !

    Attachment 1189959
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  2. #2
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    With those requirements, tough under $200. Etrailer or Nashbar may have something close.

    For that kind of trip, I would increase my budget and go for the 1up rack. Best investment I've made for sure.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    With those requirements, tough under $200. Etrailer or Nashbar may have something close.

    For that kind of trip, I would increase my budget and go for the 1up rack. Best investment I've made for sure.
    At over $600 USD for a 2 bike rack without frame support, it's definitely not fitting my needs. It is indeed a nice rack with great features, but I'm strict on having both the wheels and the frame supported to minimize the side loading of the whole bike as well as not relying only on the axle clamps as the only safety, especially if I'll be traveling all over.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  4. #4
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    A used Thule T2 should be in the running.


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  5. #5
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    That's a lot of specific requirements for such a low budget. The Saris Freedom EX 2 is the only thing I can think of that meets most of those, but is more expensive. But you've already found out that cheap racks don't last and aren't worth it.
    https://www.saris.com/product/freedom-ex-2

    I don't know why you are set on the frame support, any dual wheel clamp design is at least if not more secure. I have the Saris Freedom Superclamp 2 and it is probably the most solid bike holding mechanism I've used.

  6. #6
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    i guess just preferences, but why such a strong preference for frame support? better off going used on clist, ebay, pinkbike, other? I don’t see how you can meet your requirements at that price? Maybe go trunk rack, but then you can’t access trunk...


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  7. #7
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    I put 40,000 miles (60km?) On my swagman xc rack without issues. They're about $125 new. That was 10 years ago, and my ex has the rack now. As far as I know it's still in use.

    20km is nothing.

  8. #8
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    I have no issue either with my swagman XTC2, it was $190 on amazon like 5 years ago.
    hold by the frame, very stable, I just put something spongy in between the hook and my frame.
    1up rack is nice, but if your bike had flat during transport, the clamp may not hold your bike securely. it happened to me once when I got home my front tire flatted.
    I'd say, frame support is more secure.

    having said that, I am actually looking for 1up rack to replace my trusty swagman, will see. but if I am going on long trip, I would use swagman again.

  9. #9
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    The Saris rack looks good. The reason why I want frame support is for redundancy, I don't like to rely on a single hold down, plus one bike has full fender and a back rack, which I don't see how you'd be able to hold down the wheel since the fender cover it from halfway up (might be mistaken). Also the possibility of a flat or if I had to load a bike with a flat tire, I wouldn't want the rim to be dented by not having any cushion. And again the side loading of the bike frame, which isn't designed to have lateral loads so I can't go as tight with tie down straps to minimize wobble. Personal preference with my experiences up to date, never tried a wheel only type of rack.

    I was also looking at the Swagman XTC2 and the Chinook models.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  10. #10
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    Kuat transfer 2. Picked mine up for $209 brand new off Amazon. Checks every box your asking for.

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  11. #11
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    The Kuat Transfer 2 doesn't appear to have a frame hold design tho.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  12. #12
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    I would very strongly advise against a rack that touches the frame. It will scratch the bike. That's why the high end racks do not. 2/3 of my bikes are steel and I still will not transport them with a rack that touches the frame.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I would very strongly advise against a rack that touches the frame. It will scratch the bike. That's why the high end racks do not. 2/3 of my bikes are steel and I still will not transport them with a rack that touches the frame.
    Thanks for bringing this up, however I usually carefully wrap the frame where the hook sits to prevent excessive rubbing, and with a properly tied down bike, there shouldn't be enough movement to gouge trough protective cloth layers. Of course if the frame is dirty gritty you'll get a bad surprise even if you wrap it up, that's obvious.


    So far I'm leaning toward the Swagman Chinook, decided to up the price range to the $300's since I couldn't find one that had a loaded tilt feature to access the hatch with the bikes on the rack.

    Also chances are I'll be leaving the city bike in Vancouver for the rest of the trip so having a tray style bike with the horizontal and vertical bars on the same distance from the bumper means I can have a compact carrier simply removing the second set of wheel trays and mounting the bike on the inside trays without the rack protruding to the back excessively. Something that only some racks allow. The Saris Freedom 2 is very nice, but doesn't feature a tilting function.

    I also like to have the option of mounting the bike inside the rack so in case I get a minor rear collision, the rack is somewhat protecting the bike to an extend, and the frame bar also keep the bike frame from possible torsion due to the impact compared to simply being held by the wheels and the frame being pushed. Also makes the whole setup harder/longer to defeat for thieves having less room to work around and needing additional manipulations to free a bike even without added locks.

    I'd rather be overbuilt than just enough so I can drive as fast, as long, as far and as off road as I would normally and not constantly have a "what-if" in the back of my mind when I hit bumpy roads or park the car out of sight for lunch or shopping.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I would very strongly advise against a rack that touches the frame. It will scratch the bike. That's why the high end racks do not. 2/3 of my bikes are steel and I still will not transport them with a rack that touches the frame.
    In my experience, mountain biking scratches the bike 10 times more than the rack ever could.

  15. #15
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    i used to have a Yakima King Cobra, don’t recall if it was I or II version. But clamping both front and rear was to the wheels. There was ZERO frame clamp—and this thing was on the roof.

    I drove it all over SoCal, including mountains and desert east of SD—including high wind/red flag events, gusts of 50+ mph. Flat tires , or way too low inflation on front and rear. NEVER did I lose a bike. One time I drove to Noble and the entire rack was moved about 3-4 inches backwards on the roof due to the high winds. I never lost a bike, despite the only connection being to the tires.

    The tire clamping systems on any of these popular brand racks is solid. Just an FYI.

    and that does not mean it could never ever happen, but one cal always plan accordingly for never ever. Unlike global warming, never ever preparedness is actually really low cost for roof or hitch racks, and will give one peace of mind.




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  16. #16
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    Also, while the freedom 2 doesn't tilt, the freedom ex2 does.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    In my experience, mountain biking scratches the bike 10 times more than the rack ever could.
    For me Ive found that to be the opposite. After 1st 2 attempts that grabbed the frame putting big scratches in things (especially more than one bike being carried)

    Went to a v style rack that hung by the wheels, worked fine (after some mods adding padding) till we got fat bikes. Then the only option was a decent tray rack.

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Also, while the freedom 2 doesn't tilt, the freedom ex2 does.
    Good point, I'm actually waiting for confirmation on a Freedom EX2 from my lbs.

    I've review all of the racks I've been told about and found during my research, and in order from preferred to second best there's :

    Saris Freedom EX2
    Swagman Chinook
    Kuat Transfer 2

    However if I don't get to carry both bikes, the 1up quick rack single definitively a winner since it's only downfall was not to be compatible with my full fender commuter.

    I'll see how the Saris goes.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  19. #19
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    There we go, Saris Freedom EX2, $400 CAD, just picked it up and assembled it for a test fit. I was expecting less wobble play from the tilt mechanism when the rack is loaded and locked, but I'll add stabilizers later on to keep the rack from bouncing too much on the road. The bike also sit rather high compared to the previous tray style rack I used, I can't even see the seat or handlebar from inside the car. Good thing is the license plate and taillights/turn signals are more visible trough the wheels due to the higher tires.

    Bike rack for a 20 000km drive-img_2457.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  20. #20
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    Looks like you got a good set up, enjoy!
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  21. #21
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    I just quickly put it together and pop the bike on to see how it looks, then it started hailing so I had to undo everything quick and put it away for now.

    The bike doesn't move at all on the rack, the downtube support works great, but the rack does move due to the tilting part. I'm thinking that I'll had taillights to the rack itself to really leave no room for error to other drivers, especially when it's raining hard.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  22. #22
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    These work well, I gave it to the guy I sold my old rack to.

    I did a 5hr drive each way, and it was amazing, you still get some wobble but is night and day.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01KZ...abilizer&psc=1
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    These work well, I gave it to the guy I sold my old rack to.

    I did a 5hr drive each way, and it was amazing, you still get some wobble but is night and day.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01KZ...abilizer&psc=1
    Thanks, I already know about these devices. However the Saris rack has a threaded hitch pin (with a lock too) so it's fairly unwobbly. The play comes from the tilt mechanism, being a single horizontal pivot. I have long turn buckles I bought to stabilize my cargo carrier, which will do nicely on each end of the rack and to the tow hooks on each side of the car.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  24. #24
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    We made it !

    Bike rack for a 20 000km drive-dsc_0008_web.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

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