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...!