Sunday, May 10, 2009

Figuring Out How to Transport Your Bike

On of my tasks for the weekend was to pick out a bike rack for my car. I've been throwing it in the back of my car up until now, but that gets to be a pain after awhile. Also, with all of the traveling that I will be doing with my bike that doesn't leave a lot of room to carry luggage (or a dog sometimes). Plus the back of my car only fits one bike which isn't always convenient.

There are a few options for bike racks. Probably the least expensive option is a trunk mounted bike rack. I never gave this option a lot of thought as my brother had found that his trunk mounted rack wound up doing some damage to the back of his car a few years back. It also makes it difficult to get into your trunk when you have it mounted on the car.

Because my car has rails on the roof I could have gone with a roof rack system. Putting crossbars on my car would not be expensive at all, but the carrier to attach to the crossbars is expensive. To set my car up for one bike would have cost the same as the install of a hitch and a rack with more options for number of bikes I would want to carry. The guy that I was talking to at my dealership also mentioned that a lot of people wind up driving into low clearance areas that aren't high enough for their vehicle and their bike, and wind up doing some damage. I figured I didn't need that possibility! Not to mention the thought of lifting the bike up and down all the time...seemed like a pain in the rear.

The final option for me was a hitch install and a rack. I had the hitch installed on my car a month or two ago, and this weekend I decided that it was time to search for the rack. I'll be honest, I didn't weigh the pros and cons of different hitch mounted racks ahead of time, I just showed up at Bow Cycle to see what they had in stock that would work for me.

I wound up picking up a Thule 912 Roadway 2 bike hitch rack. It retails for $259.99 in Canada. In case you ever pick up something similar and the bike shop offers to install it for you, don't bother. If you can put together an IKEA TV stand, you can install this yourself. It is pretty easy.

First things first, a lock on your rack to the hitch is not standard. Considering the cost of the rack it is worthwhile spending an extra $55 or $60 for the Snug Tite-Lock. (Not sure why this isn't standard...but anyhow...)

The install is pretty simple. You only need one tool and it comes in the box - the Thule tool!

The Snug Tite-Lock comes with a slightly longer lock pin that your lock slides on to. You need one key to lock and unlock from the pin, and a second key is needed to actually get the lock out from the inside of the body, so hopefully it should be pretty secure.

Probably one of the best things about the Thule system is how easy it is to get into and out of your trunk. Just flip a lever the the rack drops forward so you can get in your trunk. Um...just make sure your bike isn't attached...!

The other point worth making is that if you leave your car and bike somewhere you'll want to make sure you purchase a separate lock to secure it your bike to your rack. There are loops near the base of the rack that you can thread it through. I just picked up a 6' Kryptonite cable lock. The rack also comes with a strap to thread through your bike to the rack to prevent sway and to keep your front wheel under control (which I obviously didn't do in the photo below).
Set up is easy...taking the bikes on and off is easy...and your bike feels secure in the back as you drive down the road. In case you are looking at your options for transporting your bike, hopefully this will help a bit!

13 comments:

Molly said...

Nice work! You made that look so easy! :)

Road Warrior said...

Awesome, Leana. I'm in the market for a rack myself, so this is really helpful. Great post!

Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

Good job Leana, and great pics! I have a trunk bike rack (we call it a "boot" bike rack though). I got it because it was the easiest to assemble and take apart. You really need to strap in your bike properly otherwise your bike can scratch the boot (like your bro says) - which is a bit of a pain. Still, if it's all secure with ropes, you're pretty safe!

Thanks for your lovely encouraging posts in the last few days! Have a great week :)

Missy said...

Love my trunk mount rack as well! I have the Thule that is supported from the bottom. I love it.

Marlene said...

Glad to hear you found something that works for you, and good job getting it all set up yourself!

Bob Almighty said...

Man I'm glad I've got the outback....

Keith said...

Good post. I've thought a lot about a bike rack. I just have emotional problems in hanging an expensive bike off the back of the car, where any of the Alberta crazies in big trucks could destroy it on a whim, to say nothing of getting my poor dear all covered in road guck. But then, I haven't had to take the bike on long trips with luggage.

RunToFinish said...

oh very nice. I have tried to figure out what might work as well and i like that idea, a lot better than the trunk

Wes said...

Don't forget to thread your cable through your tires :-) They come off!!

Bootchez said...

Thanks for the informative post . . . I've been wrestling over the same decision myself, and so far have managed to put it off. I think you're right with the trailer hitch -- the amount of people I personally know who've driven into the garage with their bikes still on top of the car is STAGGERING. And these are people who should know better (I know that I would probably commit that grave error within the first week).

teacherwoman said...

Boy, you did make that easy. This post made me realize a few things to consider when purchasing something for transporting my bike. Thanks, Leana!

lindsay said...

leave it to the engineer... ;) very helpful though!

Rainmaker said...

I'm impressed, it seems anything involving me, my bike racks and my car takes FOREVER!