Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thule Bike Rack #9403

On our old coupe I had a roof mount bike rack which was fine as the car was low so I didn't have to raise the bikes too high. You could also still get into the boot but the bikes were exposed to the elements and not thoroughly secured. Since acquiring the jeep we initially used bike bags which kept the car clean and the bikes protected inside the vehicle so we felt like we could go for a bite to eat. The downsides were the repeated dis-assemby, re-assembly numerous times on a single trip and the fact that the rear seats had to flipped down. The bikes were also piled on top of one another which risked bending brake disc rotors and rear der hangers.

Now that the jeep has a towbar fitted we thought that we'd try a tow bar mounted bike rack which is low and easy to load/unload. It keeps the bikes out of the airstream and doesn't damage the mpg as much as a roof mounted rack. You can also keep a eye on your pride and joy as the bikes are visible in the rear view mirror, unlike a roof mounted rack. It's also easier to secure the bikes, keeps the inside of the car clean and we can still use the rear seats / boot.

At first I was a little sceptical how a tow bar mounted rack would work but in use the bikes are well secured and don't flop around at all. Another bonus is that fitting / removal is fast and easy with just a single bolt / lock. We've currently only mounted two bikes, nose to tail and we find that the saddles need to be slid out of the way to prevent chaffing with the bars / levers. I suspenct that mounting three bikes of a similar size would be a challenge.

As you can see from the pic, we opted for a Thule model which can carry upto three bikes and also came complete with all the electrics. Model = Ride On 9403. The two vertical supports work well to support the mainframes whilst the wheels are secured to the base. These supports are well padded and lie flat when not in use and make hanging it on the garage wall a doddle. Our model also had the ability to tilt back, in theory still providing access to the boot. Perhaps it's just our vehicle, but the angle of tilt is insufficient to lift the tailgate more than a couple of inches if you have a bike mounted on the "inside".

Overall, I'm mighty impressed with this option for transporting bikes especially as it was cheaper (approx £100) than a despoke roof rack and a couple of bikes racks for our coupe (£130).


Farqui said...

After this wkends ride in the Peaks we found that our tow bar mounted rack adversely affects fuel consumption by approx 10mpg :(

The trip meter normally sits happily in the mid 50's on the motorway but we with the rack on we struggled to get over the mid 40's. I'm not sure how accurate the trip computer gizmo is but the fuel gauge appears to confirm the thirstyness.

As the boot is so huge, I was tempted to remove the wheels and drop the bike in the boot. However, as the bike was v.muddy after the ride it stayed outside on the rack!

So a rack isn't that bad ;)

Dan Howell said...

Certainly haven't noticed any difference in figures on our motor and, even accepting that the airflow difference on an estate might be different to your saloon, I find it hard to believe it would make 10mpg of difference!? Blimey!

Farqui said...

I was kinda surprised but other runs have produced a similar conclusion. E.g. on last wkends run down to Afan the chug-a-lug managed 52.5mpg - this was after chasing Rob down the M4, with the bike and rack in the boot. Slippery like.

On the return trip with rack and 3 bikes sat out back, the average dropped to 47.5mpg. I suspect the actually figure was in the low 40's.

I guess that I need to reset the trip each time and get some clean figures, over the same road, under the same traffic and weather conditions for an accurate reading...yeah right !

Whatever the results, I'm well impressed with the rack and ease of use. It coped admirably with it's heaviest load to date - DDave's monster Gemini, his Santa and my Spot.

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