Viewing 34 posts - 1 through 34 (of 34 total)
  • Another bike rack thread (tow ball mounted)
  • gribble
    Free Member

    Hi All

    I am trying to find a tow ball mounted bike rack, having previously used roof mounted carriers (from Thule & Yakima). My 29er FS is long (requires bars being turned around through 180 degrees on the uplift trailer at BPW). With a wheelbase at just under 130cm, it hangs off my Yakima bike rack on the roof (only slightly).

    Towbar mounted racks seem fairly pricey, but for what I need (a rack to go on the back of a camper) they seem like the best option. I need the bike rack to cater for both big bikes and smaller bikes (my youngest is only 6 and so has a small frame). So the obvious choice I think is a tow bar one, but probably with a tray & light board (rather than bikes perched off a high level arm). The rack needs to hold 4 bikes.

    Any recommendations on a rack – I am currently looking at Thule, Yakima & Altera. Any views on the below?

    Yakima Just Click

    Thule Velospace XT

    Altera Strada

    Thule Velo Compact

    madhouse
    Full Member

    I’ve got an earlier version of the Atera Strada and put 4 bikes on it (2 adult & 2 kids), reckon we’ve had it 5 years or so.

    My biggest gripe is that the arms that hold the bikes aren’t removable, but by the look of that one they are now which is a big plus.
    The only other issue I have is the width between the bikes is quite tight, we get around it by alternating between adult & kids bikes but I think four Boost bikes would take a bit of bike jenga to get on.

    Overall we’ve been very pleased with it, it’s really easy to put on & remove and isn’t ridiculously heavy. It’s had a bit of grease on the rails but that’s all I’ve had to do to it.

    gribble
    Free Member

    Thankyou Madhouse. My brother has an Altera (I am not sure which mdoel), but I think it is a challenge to get all the bikes on (none of which are boost). My wife’s bike and my bike are boost, but the two kids bikes are smaller (and on our old VW camper, we had a VW bike rack where we had to play jenga to get the bikes to fit).

    I am impressed by the tilt mechanism on them – they seem to be able to move with the weight of the bikes without issue.

    LMT
    Free Member

    I’ve got the Thule velospace, will say this is heavy, very heavy for a bike rack but it takes my trek rail which is pretty long, and my plus tired bike, so all good. Keep meaning to get the wheelie wheel for it as it can be a beast getting to and from the car, I’ve got the new one so it’s 3 years old and not let me down yet.

    madhouse
    Full Member

    A tilt mechanism was a must for us, whatever brand. Four bikes on a rack is pretty heavy though so you need to put your back into getting them in place. Handy scrum training if you play rugby 😂

    The space issue is a common one, I do the same as a mate who has a Thule rack, which is to tape some pipe lagging on the bikes beforehand.

    devbrix
    Full Member

    Have had the Whispbar (Yakima) 3 bike rack for around 4-5 years and it is the best design I’ve had from a few; really easy to get on and off, the bike shoes push in to be able to get the rack in the boot and good tilt. It’s still rock solid. Have been carrying around a couple of large Orbea Wild 29 ebikes and Nomad without width issues.

    If your bike is spectacularly long might be worth trying someones rack, whatever make, before buying – car park conversation.

    slowol
    Full Member

    We have an old 3 bike Thule that works fine but has limited drop meaning you often have to remove the bike nearest the boot if you actually need to open it. Worth checking if this matters.
    Also note that to be technically legal the bike needs to be within the width of the mirrors (as I understand it).
    A 29er hybrid was OK on our old van (wider than the van but narrower than the mirrors) but the tandem needed the wheels removing to become narrow enough. Could be worth measuring to check.

    filks
    Full Member

    We’ve got the Thule XT plus the extension to get 4 bikes mounted. Works perfectly for the family non boost bikes or if you put non boost bikes between the boost ones. You’d struggle to put 4 boost bikes on there effortlessly, but in 3 bike mode it’s perfect for 2 full sized bikes……
    I’ve got a long pipedream Moxie so pretty long wheelbase and it works ok I’m terms of balancing across the tray but the wheel straps are pretty close to minimum amount in the clasps to secure them.

    Love it though and so easy to mount and use

    iainc
    Full Member

    I have had both the Thule XT and the Atera Strada, for carrying 2 bikes, a large FS 29 eMTB and a medium 29 HT. They were both decent but not without niggling issues so ended up with the Yakima JustClick and can’t fault it in any way.

    garage-dweller
    Full Member

    I have a non tilting 4bike Buzz Rack. What I like about it is that the bikes are in pairs with a hoop between them that you strap them to rather than faffing about with those awkward arms.

    The advantages to no tilt are…

    It’s lighter so if you have a low tow bar nose weight you can (legally/safely) carry more mass of bikes.

    Price

    Downsides

    Can’t open the boot without removing bikes

    If you drive a hatchback or estate then that’s fine as you can just leave the parcel shelf / load shelf out/retracted and reach over the seat.

    If we’re going somewhere with the dog he goes in first, bikes are on in a couple of minutes after that. Repeat at other end. On a long trip he can get out via the folding rear seat/under the dog guard if needed. If we’d had the dog when we bought the rack I’d have bought a tilter though as it is a bit of a faff.

    MrPottatoHead
    Full Member

    I bought a Buzz Easy 3 from roof box co last year. It wasnt one I’d considered but limited on options in stock. Have to say I’ve been very impressed for the price. Dead easy to take on and off quickly. Tilt mechanism is really handy and bikes feel very secure on there. Plenty of adjustment-no issue with my sons 20” wheel bike.

    gribble
    Free Member

    Thanks all, some really helpful feedback. I was leaning more towards Thule originally, but the price is not insignificant. So now looking at all those mentioned above.

    leffeboy
    Full Member

    With 4 bikes you need to take a bit of care with the weight of the bikes and what the car will allow on the tow ball :(.  I’ve got a Thule that will go up to 4 but I can’t get 4 on if one is our eBike

    gribble
    Free Member

    Hi iainc, what were the issues you had with the first two racks?

    weeksy
    Full Member

    I didn’t like the Thule locking mechanism/claw. I also had a Buzzrack but the wheel wells were too wide.

    I settled on the Atera Strada Ebike ML which is honestly perfect. Sadly it can’t do 4 bikes though so won’t suit you.

    The biggest issues for me were length, spacing and clamping. The above covers all 3 factors perfectly.

    iainc
    Full Member

    gribble
    Free Member
    Hi iainc, what were the issues you had with the first two racks?

    the Thule one, as per weeksy above – on a sloping, curved top tube, very hard to get it to spread the clamping load evenly across the soft jaw area and the best I could get was all the load on one end, so very much a point load. I used one of the Thule carbon frame load spreaders to negate. The Atera one didn’t clamp the towball tightly, and could tilt up, even when clamped up properly, so I really didn’t trust it. The Yakima is simple, yet very effective and solid

    highpeakrider
    Full Member

    where are you based?

    I have a 3 bike tow bar rack I was going to put on ebay at some point.
    I’m based in the High Peak

    rickmeister
    Full Member

    Velo XT here.
    Well spaced between the bikes, nothing touches or rubs on the axles or other points
    Easy to fit on the car, tilt mechanism needed a small extension plate (tanks IKEA kitchen fittings) so the tailate could be opened.
    Secure with 2 e-Fatbikes (minus batteries which go in the car)

    Faff factor setting up the arms to hold the bikes upright. This needed a bit of work but once sorted, it’s simple. If you constantly load different bikes all the time it would do my head it. Especially with a range of frame shapes, full suss, etc etc.

    Overall, good product, well made, will last for ages and as long as the car has a towbar, swaps across vehicles easily.

    jimfrandisco
    Free Member

    I have the Atera STRADA DL, which doesn’t seem hugely diffent to the Evo, other than the weight limit.
    At the time it was one of only 2 or 3 tilting racks that tilted far enough back to still open the back door on a galaxy or a van, so you may want to check that’s the case with the Evo as well.
    Although if you have it full loaded with 4 heavy bikes, tilting it back may not be a great idea anyway!

    gribble
    Free Member

    Thanks all, some very helpful comments. I think the Yakima looks good. My issue is that RoofBox are saying I need a 73mm height between the top of the tow ball and the flat part of the arm that the tow ball sites on. I am trying to double check this (apparently the Thule & Yakima ones have more depth to their clamping mechanisms).

    I am based in Surrey, but thanks for the offer highpeakrider.

    ianpv
    Full Member

    I’ve got an old aiston 4 bike rack that is absolutely brilliant. A bit agricultural and no tilt but holds bikes from my S4 kenevo SL to my son’s race bmx rock solidly with no contact.

    oikeith
    Full Member

    I got annoyed with my LLS 29er poking out past the wing mirror tips and picked up the Scorpion Rack second hand, I love the vertical loading and not having to worry about the height of roof bars or width of normal tow bar racks.

    The official site is down now so these may not be made anymore, I remember the company owner used to be involved in some capacity with the bike shop in Peaslake, I got mine of eBay few years ago now.

    bearGrease
    Full Member

    @gribble The Atera Strada you link to says

    Max bike wheelbase: 125cm

    So you may struggle with wheelbase. We have an Atera Strada DL which has a width of 120cm and is only just adequate for a large Bird AM9.

    The Atera STRADA E-bike ML has a max wheelbase of 143cm but is only 2 bikes.

    The Atera Genio looks good.

    Green
    Full Member

    Of the ones you have listed only the VeloSpace and Strada DL will tilt enough to allow you to open the tailgate on a camper if that’s a key thing for you

    gribble
    Free Member

    @iainc – what size wheelbase are your eebs (or if you don’t mind letting me know the size/model, I can look them up). I am just seeing if the Yakiam rack can work.

    THe Yakima Just Click used to be made/branded as Whispbar and then another company before that; I have found on RoofBox/Yakima they say max wheelbase 125cm, yet the pdf download on Roofbox website says max wheelbase 128cm (which happens to be just what I need).

    I am tempted to go for the Yakima and save £200 versus the Thule XT (which looks excellent but expensive at about £800). However, Thule one does allow you to get longer straps (which I thought may help with the loner wheelbase).


    @Green
    In terms of the tilt, the bike rack is going on the back of a Fiat Ducato type camper with ‘barn doors’, so I am not sure if any rack will actually clear them when they open. ALtera looks like they tilt the best (sort of slide backwards).

    gribble
    Free Member

    And having done a bit more research I see from the above you can order the Yakima and get the longer straps too (to help with longer wheelbase bikes, or if I ever go full deviant and get an awesome fat bike).

    iainc
    Full Member

    My Levo SL has a 1217 wheelbase and fits on fine, with probable 20mm spare each end

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    If you can find a rack suitable for e-bikes then there should be more gap between the bikes – so boost frames don’t rub.

    I’ve the Atera Strada E-bike ML (https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php/car-specific-accessories/atera_strada_e_bike_ml_2_bike_carrier_no_ar2696/Qx%40w%2C6M42VAwp3%40Rb%7B~cC4urewJaYI) – with a 3rd rack fitted. Works well but the gap between middle and outer rack is closer than the first and middle, however, it isn’t that often I’m carrying 3 bikes so easy enough to fix with a bit of pipe lagging round the fork legs.

    Aware this won’t work for 4 bikes being carried but was more to flag the e-bike design tends to ensure a bit more space between the bikes.

    gribble
    Free Member

    Thankyou iainc.

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Watching this thread with great interest in the [vain] hope that someone will mention a bike that can take 4 modern bikes….

    The Atera Strada certainly can’t, so don’t buy that. We’ve had ours for perhaps 6 years or so, and it was ok with 26″ bikes and the kids’ bikes. But it completely fails with what we have now (Occam, Stumpie,Trance,Anthem):
    * you can’t put any bike on the first rail as the handlebars hit the rear windscreen (T5 natch)
    * all our bikes bar the Anthem are too long to fit on the rails. We have them hanging off a bit, which seems to work
    * 4 Boost hubs just don’t fit

    TBH, I doubt a good 4 bike rack exists. By the time you fix the 3 issues above you’d end up with something too long and heavy for most towballs/ vehicles.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    TBH, I doubt a good 4 bike rack exists. By the time you fix the 3 issues above you’d end up with something too long and heavy for most towballs/ vehicles.

    I think that’s the gist of it yep.

    gribble
    Free Member

    @weeksy & @thegeneralist I think it is as you both say. All bike racks seem to have a compromise in one or more areas; I am currently fitting 2 bikes that are boost and 2 bikes that are kids bikes, but the kids will be on boost bikes before long. I have an old(ish) Volvo XC60 and fitting four bikes on the roof is a challenge. But it was way better than my pendle bike rack which hung off the back of our hatchback.

    I think on the Yakima & Thule ones, the last of the three trays is higher than the other two; hopefully this will allow one of the bikes to sit clearer of bike next to it. I think the other thing to factor in is that the bike closest to the back of the vehicle will need to not have bars that are too wide (my bikes have 780/800mm bars).

    Bike Tetris.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Use roof and towball, you then need fewer on each and have more choice. Not ideal but works for the most combinations but won’t be cheap.

    timba
    Free Member

    Fill the fuel tank and the watertank, load the family and have an adventure at the local weighbridge. County council will usually have a list of the public ones
    Rear axle weight is shown as “2” on the manufacturers plate (underbonnet?) assuming a total of two axles, then decide

Viewing 34 posts - 1 through 34 (of 34 total)

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