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    What are some good bike racks for a car?  
    We have Yakima Lock Jaws and they are really nice. You can get lock cores that all fit the same key and lock the basic rack to the car and then lock the bike holders (the Lock Jaws) to it and so on. They also have ski racks, canoe holders, etc. that fit the same rack. However, it was pretty spendy (about $600 for 4 bikes) and for the first few years we used one of those $35 mount-on-the-back-of-the-car-with-straps bike racks. Take plenty of bungee cords and put a sock over pedals or whatever that will scratch your car (or the other bike).

Rox Heath

P.S. Many people like Thule bike racks. They are fairly similar to the Yakimas.

Do any of you have any simple way that you use to remind yourself NOT to drive into the garage with the bike on top of the car? I unloaded my bike rather quickly from the car last night (the bike's OK, the rack's OK, but the car got whacked pretty good). I have thought of hanging a bright red sign inside the garage, but was wondering if there are any better ideas out there.

Peter Rowley

Um, I took to pulling the trash can into mid space so I had to get out to move it before I could park. But your very own driveway is but one of the mallets waiting to smack your ride while you are semi conscious behind the wheel.

Fast food drive thru <*WHAM*>
Parking garages <*CRUNCH*>

In short if you have a roof rack, expect a whack. (This is how I ended up with two road bikes actually), and pick up truck with canopy.

One of the rack manufacturers has a rear view mirror hangar "Bike on Roof" sign however.

Don "smash-em, bash-em, crunch-em on the wall" Bolton

I've got the garage door problem solved (yuk). I just put a step ladder in the way. Once you've mastered that technique; the advanced lesson is the drive through window at McDonalds! Ouch. Just another reason to avoid gut bombs. Seriously, in answer to your question, someone has suggested putting a bike glove on the shifter knob as a reminder...

Ted Magnuson

I used to have the same worries. I used a roof rack for years, and just knew I would be the one to unload my bike into my rain gutter. The one thing I always did was to grab the garage door opener and toss it under my seat, any time I loaded bikes. Like clockwork, I would still reach for the opener when returning home out of habit. I know that tactic saved my bikes many times.


Try leaving your remote garage door opener outside your car so you're forced to leave your car, view the roof and say "Aha!". If that doesn't work, post this handy reminder on your dashboard next to the speedometer: "Note to self--there's a bike on the roof."

Cow-nselor Ken

Simple: just buy a few more bikes. Spare washing machines, radial arm saws, table tennis tables, old furniture, garden tools, and refrigerators help too. The goal is to have your garage so full of old junk (and good bikes) that there is NO WAY that you would ever consider trying to park your car inside.

Unfortunately, there are also public garages with loopy signs, and this methodology does not help there.

Andrew Black

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I'm getting tired of retelling this story, so it's time to say it once and for all and bare my stupidity to the whole newsgroup.

On Saturday, Ted and I carpooled to the RACC. Ted suggested that we meet at the Sunset Transit Center. He had parked just inside the entrance; I pulled in next to him, and we proceeded to put Ted's bike on my roof rack.

A detail that will become relevant later is that I have two different bike carriers on my roof rack. My bike was on the one where you take out the front wheel, clamp the forks to the rack, and strap in the rear wheel. Ted's was on the one where the whole bike goes up, with both wheels on, right way up; there is a metal stay to brace the bike and keep it vertical. Ted's frame is also larger than mine. So, all in all, Ted's bike is about a foot higher than mine.

So we get all of the gear together and I drive off. Since the lanes are one way, we have to drive through the whole garage to get out. Everything is fine until we drive out of the garage, when there is a loud "bong". I stop the car, we both jump out, and what do we see? Hanging down about a foot below the EXIT sign is a 2" diameter aluminum tube about 8 feet long. This tube has evidently just hit the brake levers or the top of the handlebars on Ted's brand new bike. There is no damage, so we drive off, wondering if we just had a narrow escape with respect to some part of the parking garage that might have hit Ted's bike, or whether the guy who hung up the aluminum tube just couldn't measure right.

So we rode the RACC, and a very enjoyable ride it was. As Don has said, it was great to see all of us getting stronger, compared to last year.

On the way home, Ted and I say to each other that we have to remember NOT to drive into the Parking Garage. So when we get there, I stop the car in the road just outside the garage entrance, and we unload Ted's bike and the rest of his stuff. Now the only problem is how to get my car out of the rather narrow entrance road: all roads lead into the Garage. But actually, this is not a problem at all now, because with Ted's bike off of the roof, I know that my car and bike will easily fit into the garage. After all, I drove in that very morning, right? So all I need do is drive into the garage, pull a U turn, and drive out again.

Wrong! I drive into the garage, there is a bang and a thwack and a thud above my head. Agh! I jump out, and my bike is now laying flat on the roof rack. There is a 2" diameter aluminum tube about 8 feet long shaped like a "V" hanging over it.

What I hadn't noticed is that this entrance to the garage is about a foot lower than the one that I had used in the morning. (There is ample headroom inside the garage, by the way!) Apparently, what has happened is that the aluminum bar caught under the nose of the saddle, and the front forks of the bike were pulled out of the mount on the rack. The bike then fell sideways, still strapped in by the rear wheel.

Fortunately, the damage seemed to be limited to the rear wheel (pulled out of true) and the rear light mounting bracket, which probably snapped when the bike fell over. Could be worse (and it has been in the past). But I felt really stupid about this, not because I had forgotten about the bike on the roof, but because I had remembered it, calculated that this was OK, and still screwed myself!

Saturday evening I work on my wheel, getting it almost back into perfect flatness. I'm just stressing it for the 19th time, when it springs on me, just snapping into a new position about 2 inches out of flat. Oh well, I guess that it was better that it did that while I was truing it than while I was riding it.

The story ends with a trip to the Bike Gallery, and Andrew several dollars poorer and the owner of a pair of rather nice red anodized Rolf Vector Comp wheels.

Come to think of it, they are just like the wheels on Ted's new bike. Maybe I'll be able to keep up with you now, Ted!

My advice: find another place to carpool for bike trips. I recommend the nice little open air "Park and Ride" lot by the Eastbound entrance to Rt. 26 on Cedar Hills Blvd.

Andrew Black

To add to that warning, I would recommend being aware of any parking garage...last year I witnessed a lady that drove into a parking garage at OHSU and heard similar noises, although hers didn't hit a hit the concrete slabs that made up the roof. I can safely say that her whole bike was toast after that! Andrew, sorry for your misfortune!

Megan - - "the lurker" Helzerman

Just a reminder to all riders that transport their bikes. Parking garages within the last ten years are required to have an unobstructed headroom clearance of not less than 7 feet above the finish floor. Seems barely enough to ride through on a bike let alone mounted on top of a vehicle. Sorry to hear about the hard lesson learned!

Mark Gieszler

I want to share with the Cycle Oregon forum this eventful experience so everyone can learn from my mistake.

A few of us are getting trained every Thursday night by a Master Road racer name KC. There is a mile long road that goes around the outskirts of the employee parking lot of the Dept. of Labor & Industry building in Tumwater. KC has contacted the Assistance Director of L&I and has received approval to use that road as our training course since we are using it after business hours. Which leads to my story.

You’re not going to believe what happened to me tonight!! Don, my co-worker, and Mick (Don’s cycling partner) wanted to cycle with me so we decided to meet at the Summit Lake park-n-ride after work, rain or shine. We were getting all dressed for the weather (raining), talking about KC’s training and so on, when I decided it was time to get my bike ready. To my surprise, it was then I realized I had NO FRONT WHEEL!! I had left it on the parking lot of L&I after the training last night!!

We talked about what a drag that was and Mick even mentioned he’s done that before. Don and Mick (which I meant for the first time last night) both offered me their spare front wheel to use temporarily. Nice huh.

As soon as I left them and started heading for the L&I building, I immediately got on my cell phone and called the Bike Stand where KC works. I didn’t have to say a word, KC started right in telling me he had ESP and that I was calling about my missing front wheel. Then he said that someone at L&I called him to let him know the wheel will be waiting for the owner at the L&I security desk!! I could have kissed KC!!!

Enjoyed having a cell phone!!! When I got reunited with my wheel, I kissed it several times! I probably looked pretty dorkey to anyone watching! Adding up the expense of replacing the front wheel, hub, new rims, Axial Pro tire, tube, spokes, quick release, labor, etc. I had a figure of at least $200 minimum.

I learned three lessons (first one most important): 1) If you ever take the front tire off your bike, put it in the car first!! 2) The value of the wheel---When you lock your bike to your car, always make sure the front tire is locked on too! (Cable lock the front tire to the bike) With a quick release, it’s a pretty easy few second task for someone to steal and quickly own your front wheel!! 3) If you’re ever going to leave your front tire somewhere, L&I is the place to do it!! Anywhere else that wheel would have been a memory!!

On my way home from L&I it really starting pouring!! I realized that misplaced wheel just saved me from getting soaked!!

Nanette "lessons well learned" Hoheisel

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I have, on multiple occasions, propped Tangerine Dream's front wheel against the car's front wheel while I loaded her onto the roof rack (yes, a one-woman job!). This is the best place to prevent the wheel from rolling down the driveway - unfortunately, it's a bit camouflaged and I have backed out with it still there! I've managed to never run over the bicycle wheel as it bounds down the driveway, and it's never suffered any damage. Whew!

Pregnant Amy [Buondonno]

Last summer, we of Tangerine Scream fame had front wheel excitement too. Although we did not forget the front tire, it did cause an extreme adrenaline rush and heart palpitations. We were loaded up with Scream on the roof rack and the front tire in the roof tire holder. We had just picked up son Brent and his wife, Karen, here in Vancouver and were off to Seattle for STP. As we cruised along SR500 we heard a thump. All four of us turned in our seats to watch our front tandem wheel fly off the back of the car onto the highway. The tire bounced along and finally left the highway unscathed and with no harm done to other motorists. We all sighed a collective, "Whew." Then the wheel, seemingly possessed, shot back out of the brush along the side of the road and entered the highway AGAIN! We couldn't believe our eyes! By this time, Jim pulled the car off the highway and Brent was off and running before the car was even stopped and grabbed the wheel. Amazingly there was no damage to the wheel. We've been much more careful to make sure it's secure up there ever since!

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I prefer to learn from other people's "experiences" rather than have to experience them all on my own!

Ann Morrow
Stoker, Team Tangerine Scream

I have two vehicles - a comfortable 4-dr. sedan (5 years old) for which a roof mount is the only appropriate addition, and an 18-year old Toyota Landcruiser. The Toyota has a 2" rear hitch, so a roof mount or rear hitch are possible.

What are list member’s experiences with roof vs. rear transport, and recommendations?

John Carr

I have a Yakima roof rack and Bauer(?) swing-out hitch rack.

The Yakima is not being used currently; was fitted to a previous vehicle (minivan). It was a pain in the neck (and back) to put bikes up so high.

Now, I have this swing out hitch rack for 2" receiver. Holds 2 or 4 bikes. Very heavy-duty construction. Pretty tight fit for 4 bikes. The "grabber" part must hold onto a horizontal member, like the top tube. If you have odd-shaped mountain bikes, there's an adapter that works well. It also works for my new recumbent bike (it happens to have a horizontal tube near the center of gravity). The swing-out mechanism works well, but on my vehicle (Chev. Suburban) there's enough clearance to open the rear window w/o swinging, so I don't use that feature much. It's big enough that I don't leave it in all the time. Even so, re-hitching each time, it's easier to use than the rooftop ones. Probably that wouldn't be true on a shorter vehicle, especially if you left the rack and attachments on all the time.

Jon Balgley

I had a 'Soft-ride' hitch on my Jeep (both of which I've sold), and I loved it. It made traveling so much easier. I would recommend a trailer hitch to anybody.

Stace Gray

Sooner or later with a roof rack you will impale the bike on a garage door, fast food drive thru, etc. All of us that have used these types of mounts have stories of moments of glory. :-(

If you can hang 'em off the back (or fit them in the back) you will not experience the joys of forgetting the bike and giving it a knock.

Don "one whack was enough, I went to a pickup" Bolton

If you hang it off the back, you can have the exquisite joy of watching your wheel crease as you pull out of a driveway and the back end drops down.

Ya pays yer money, then picks yer poison, I guess. Personally, I prefer leaving the bike _inside_ my car...

Jason "_man_, those wheels are expensive" Penney

I'm too durn short for a roof rack, and I want to be able to load up my bike in the garage, so I went with a rear hitch mount. As with all things, you get what you pay for. Mine bolts on the frame , locks bikes, folds down with bikes on it, and is sturdy. Thule Rak 'n Lok. Yakima has a good one, too.

Amy - haven't sheared a bike off yet - Ream This might be another option for you. It is not dependent on your bike having a standard frame.

Ron Howden

Hmm myself, I find a third, and lost option (due to the advent of the plastic bumpers) to be my personal fav. Is is a bolt down bumper rack. Have one, made from solid steel frame with adjustable hanger (holds 2 bikes) and height. Traditionally ours gets bolted down to a 85 Chevy Suburban bumper and totes mine and usually one other family member's bikes 2200 to Illinois, land of the flatest riding. Good for locking bikes too on those long cross country transports. Heavy duty chain and padlocks bolt nicely into the rack and bumper, making dang near impossible to get the bikes off without a cutting torch.

Matthew Rivard

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom >Miscellaneous Info > Car Racks  

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