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  1. #1
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    Hitch Racks and Winter Road Spray

    Does anyone have a suggestion for dealing with the winter road spray that pummels bikes carried on hitch racks? I have a Thule T2 Pro that raises the bikes a bit higher and I added mud flaps to my car (Mazda CX5) last summer, but the bikes still get coated. That stuff is nasty and corrodes like crazy and messes up drive trains, rotors, brake pads, and can wreak havoc on hub bearings.

    As an experiment, I cut discs out of corrugated sheets (and covered them with duct tape to seal them) about the diameter of the rim, put a hole in the middle and a radial slot so I could slip them over the end of the hub. They worked well, but I realized that they block my tail lights.

    Outside of buying a truck, I'm wondering if anyone has seen any other products or has any other solutions for dealing with this issue?

  2. #2
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    The best option is fully utilizing the hatchback feature...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    The best option is fully utilizing the hatchback feature...
    Yup, Mazda 3 in da hatch for me!!

  4. #4
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    Iím right there with you. I keep thinking of making something out of duct-taped-together garbage bags, basically a big open-topped bag that you put the bike inside (would only work on a one-up or similar rack that doesnít loop anything through the spokes). I hadnít considered the tail light issue though but maybe a clear plastic material could be used. Ideally this bag would stay permanently on the rack.

  5. #5
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    retired/cheap bbq cover + bungee(s)/cinch straps maybe...dunno how the profiles would map out exactly but the bbq cover we have now is pretty large and the contours looked promising against the rough profile of a bike. it would take some strapping but on extra sloppy roads it could be worth it. wish i had a snazzy rack to try it on.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    The best option is fully utilizing the hatchback feature...
    We're carrying two bikes and I can get one in there ok, but two doesn't work with this size car. Plus, to be nice, I put my bike on the rack and it's brand new, so I'm doubly sensitive to the thrashing it's getting!

  7. #7
    Off the back...
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    If there's a way to raise the rack up above the spray using a hitch extension of some sort [?], or switch to a North Shore style of rack that keeps the bikes up and away from the spray, that might help. If it's possible to face the drive side of the bike that sits closest to the car away from the car, that might help too.
    @pinkrobeyyc
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  8. #8
    aka bOb
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    I can't believe this topic hasn't come up before and before and before.

  9. #9
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    Donít laugh, but I use disposable shower caps over the rotor & caliper assembly every time I transport in the winter months. Sometimes if itís real bad, Iíll cover the cassette and crank. Iíve got a bag of 1000 or so, from a buddy in the hospitality industry.

    Works great!
    Todd

  10. #10
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    I quit running the hitch rack when I realized I was pelting my rims with small rocks on my gravel road (back when used rim brakes). Roof racks and tailgate pads for me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Todd- View Post
    Donít laugh, but I use disposable shower caps over the rotor & caliper assembly every time I transport in the winter months. Sometimes if itís real bad, Iíll cover the cassette and crank. Iíve got a bag of 1000 or so, from a buddy in the hospitality industry.

    Works great!
    Not laughing at all...sounds like a great, simple idea, at least for the rotors.

    I'm toying with trying to rig up a horizontal mudflap that spans between the rack and the bumper. That should block a lot of the spray and not block the tail lights. Obviously it would have to be reliably secure...I'd hate to see it go flying and take out someone behind me.

  12. #12
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    I have started looking into making some covers that would protect the front and real wheels and drivetrain. I have the idea, just need to find someone who can work with canvas and fabricate. I am also thinking about having a cover made for my 1UP rack when not in use to protect it from salt spray.

  13. #13
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    Actually, buying an old Trailblazer to transport the bike inside represented the only solution that worked for me.

    And yeah, that road salt is destructive here in Pennsylvania. Plus, it gets everywhere, even on roof racked bikes.

  14. #14
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    Here on Long Island they spray the roads with some kind of solution. Not actual salt.
    I have a T2 on the back of my Suburban. I wipe the rack down with WD-40 every so often.
    Not sure why but my bike doesn't get so terrible getting transported around on the back.
    Usually, just dragging the brakes for a few seconds cleans em up for the ride.
    I like turtles

  15. #15
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    Roof rack or inside your vehicle... or don't worry about it.

    If you ever wonder what your bike is being hit with, trying driving behind another vehicle in nasty weather.

    I'd never carry my expensive bikes on a hitch rack unless the weather was dry. Even then, my bikes ride in the van 95% of the time.

  16. #16
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    Roof rack, and the self imposed rule of, if my windshield is clean, my bike is clean.

    Easily done by simply staying far enough back from the car in front of you.

    Long trips or multi lane highways?

    Inside vehicle.

    Anything else is simply consuming time, for minimal value added, and you still have a sh*t encrusted rust bucket by Spring.
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  17. #17
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    I quit fat biking for this reason.
    it's a challenge some of us are ultimately worthy of.

  18. #18
    RAKC Industries
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    My solution:

    Marine grease anywhere there is bearings.

    Self service car wash. Many are heated, use low pressure spot free rinse to rinse bike off occasionally. Immediately when arriving at destination of a road trip. Then again when we get home.

    If fully heated one isnt available, go to car wash when temp is above freezing.

    lowest pressure only though.

    Use cheap chains and extreme condition lube (I use the finish line stuff, have for years and works great). Wiping everything down except brakes with WD40 does wonders as well.

    Full housing cable set ups. Nothing exposed except at derailleurs.

    Expect to do more maintenance than during the summer. Mainly rinsing the bike off.

    If all bearings, dust covers/seals are coated with marine grease before the season starts youll have little to no bearing issues.

    My fat bike is on season 3 of everything without issue. Just eats chains which is why I use the cheapest ones possible.



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  19. #19
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    After having to melt my new fat bike from a frozen slush pop a few years back, I try to keep it in the car whenever possible in the winter. I drive an Acura RDX

  20. #20
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    Seriously though, best option is to put it inside your car. I can fit my xl road bike in my wife's Fiesta, it's doable in almost any car!

  21. #21
    Rippin da fAt
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizango View Post
    Does anyone have a suggestion for dealing with the winter road spray that pummels bikes carried on hitch racks? I have a Thule T2 Pro that raises the bikes a bit higher and I added mud flaps to my car (Mazda CX5) last summer, but the bikes still get coated. That stuff is nasty and corrodes like crazy and messes up drive trains, rotors, brake pads, and can wreak havoc on hub bearings.

    As an experiment, I cut discs out of corrugated sheets (and covered them with duct tape to seal them) about the diameter of the rim, put a hole in the middle and a radial slot so I could slip them over the end of the hub. They worked well, but I realized that they block my tail lights.

    Outside of buying a truck, I'm wondering if anyone has seen any other products or has any other solutions for dealing with this issue?
    Since the Mayor gets to ride in the Jeep, it's a non issue.
    Stop into Lowes and buy some contractor bags to wrap up the bike to preserve the works. Also, the rain and road water spray at 70 mph can infiltrate everything readily including passing the seals of hydraulic brake levers. Consider road scum and rain to be on par with power washing your bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by phalkon30 View Post
    Seriously though, best option is to put it inside your car. I can fit my xl road bike in my wife's Fiesta, it's doable in almost any car!
    Observing a friend trying to cram a bike in a Smart for Two was the most amusing thing I coulda done that fateful day!
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyriverag View Post
    I quit fat biking for this reason.
    If this is true I am going to hunt you down and we are going to have a serious talk!! Plus I am working with locals to develop a cover for fat bikes on 1up racks

  23. #23
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    Check out the grill covers at Lowe's or Home Cheapo. They are cheap and you'll have to rig up a bungie hold-down system but they will do in a pinch. I don't use my hitch rack in winter for this reason. NH is road salt capital of the world, I think.

    There are multiple threads on this if you search.

  24. #24
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    experiment

    Last weekend we were driving to Winthrop, WA for a weekend of nordic skiing and fat biking (largest nordic area in North America!). The weather was forecast to have freezing rain and snow. I wasn't confident that 4 sets of skis/poles, the associated gear for skiing and fat biking, two/three bags each, etc, would leave room for two bikes inside the car. I did put one in though I figured this would be a good time to experiment with methods to protect the bike on the rack.

    My main focus was to protect the drivetrain and the rotors/hubs. I grabbed a roll of heavy duty foil and gave those areas the "jiffy pop" treatment. I also wrapped the shifters/brake levers and the seatpost insertion point. I know this wouldn't be super convenient if you were driving a short distance, but it actually didn't take that long either. I added a few strips of Gorilla tape to help secure things.

    The drive is normally 4 hours, but with the conditions, it took 5 hrs. At least half of that was in freezing rain. We had to stop every 20-30 min to hack the ice off of the windshield and wipers. They were putting deicer and sand down like crazy on the roads. The last part of the drive was in heavy snow (1"/hr). Point being, it was as bad as you would ever expect to haul a bike in.

    How did the bike fair? There was at least 2 inches (probably more) of filthy ice built up on the rack where it was getting the most road spray. The rim and tire in that area had at least half an inch of ice. I should have wrapped that zone as well. The drivetrain and rotors did get the fluffy snow inside, but things were clean...the road spray didn't appear to make its way in. I did lose one chunk of foil around the crank, but that area doesn't get a lot of direct spray. We skied the first day so the bikes had time to dry out, but when we did use them everything worked fine and was quiet, so I'd say it was a success. If I tried this again I would first wrap the back side of the rotors and cassette with a couple strips of foil. I think it would seal things better. I'd also cover the front hub a bit better to protect the spoke interface area...I hate getting salt in there.

    On the trip home the weather was way better, but I experimented with efficient packing and was able to get both bikes inside (go figure). I would do this next time, but the foil trick is a valid option if you can't.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Hitch Racks and Winter Road Spray-img_4178.jpg  


  25. #25
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    Regarding putting grill covers, etc on the bike, I wouldn't recommend that. I use to use a cover on roof rack mounted bikes and the wind causes the covers to rub on the bike and you end up losing the finish on your bike wherever those contact points are. Plus, you are asking to get pulled over for blocking your tail lights and license plate. I got pulled over this Christmas on the freeway and the officer said it was because my bike rack (which is up in the stowed position) was blocking my license plate. He didn't give me a Christmas present ticket thankfully, but it did highlight the reality that you have to be careful to avoid blatant blocking of lights and plate.

  26. #26
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    Grill covers and the like are extremely dangerous as well. Blocking the rear lights makes it next to impossible to see you after dark especially in pour weather conditions.

    There is a reason why vehicles have rear lights, its not some annoying requirement (like a license plate), they are there to keep you and people behind you alive. I saw someone doing it on the way to St Louis last week. On the back of a smaller SUV. Behind them all you can see is the bike/cover.

    Don't be that person, if your involved in an accident all the liability for any and all issues created falls on you alone. Not to mention the people that will get hurt because of a bad decision.

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  27. #27
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    Iím wondering if those commercial plastic stretch wraps could be used here. Likes ones movers and furniture people use. Mount the bike and wrap all around.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2:01 View Post
    Iím wondering if those commercial plastic stretch wraps could be used here. Likes ones movers and furniture people use. Mount the bike and wrap all around.
    Should work. Thought about doing the same on the roof rack, but it will create a ''sail'' up there, so not good at all in side wind conditions. (Plus: saltspray when top mounted is minimal as long as one avoids tailgating)

  29. #29
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    I found 100 disposable shower caps on Amazon for $10, and these were their "highest rated" disposable shower caps. For that price, that's going to be plan A for me. Plans B and C are probably the Formosa and the Velosock. Both are shown in this informative blog I just found: https://velosock.com/blogs/blog/7-pr...-for-car-racks. I'd just need to take another look at my bike while on the rack behind my car to get a better idea of a snug fitting cover or one with clear panels around the wheels would be preferred. The Velosock looks like the best option to me honestly, because the stretch fit fabric seems less likely to rub against the bike due to flapping in the wind. But I suppose the shower cap experiment will also give me a good idea of how much wind my bike gets behind my CX-5...

    For context, this isn't so much for road trips where I could wash the bike upon arrival. For me the need is to keep the NH road salt off the bike when driving to the trail head. Inside storage is great for those who prefer it, but throwing a messy bike back inside the car for the journey home is a major drawback. No solution is perfect so it just comes down to how the pros and cons align with your individual needs and desires.

  30. #30
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    https://bikejacket.net/

    Really well built by a Wisconsin/Minnesota company!

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