Trunk bike rack safety

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Trunk bike rack safety

Post by plantmandan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:57 am

If you are driving to BRC in a sedan and plan on hauling your bikes using a trunk bike rack, proceed with caution. Those racks, especially the cheap ones, are fraught with hazard (for you and potentially other people on the road). Here is what I learned, sometimes the hard way, in several long rides to the playa:

-Practice setting up your rack and loading your bikes before your departure day. You will be tired enough after packing your car, and the bikes are the last thing you will load, so be sure you know how to set it all up beforehand.
-Pack your trunk only with items you will not need in transit or in the event of car trouble. You will not have access to your trunk while the rack is on it.
-Tie at least two backup cords to your rack. Use a strong and skinny cord, and make the cord short enough to prevent your bikes from hitting the ground if the rack slips off your bumper.
-Secure your bikes to the rack with several backups. Bungee cords work well for this.
-Secure all bike wheels. If you don’t, the wheels will continuously spin while you are driving and may fall off. Bungee cords work well for this also.
-Be sure any and all decorations on your bike (fur, etc.) are well secured. If there is any chance it will fly off your bike, wait until you arrive and put it on there.
- Your car will be both longer and wider with bikes attached to it. Give yourself a larger buffer on the road and take it slow.
-Make sure the view of your middle brake light and license plate are not obstructed by the rack. This is usually not a problem, but double check before driving.

If you have anything to add to this list, please do so. Happy and safe trails!

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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by danibel » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:17 am

I don't have any tips to add but I super agree with a "test run."

A few years ago I went on a camping trip with my family. My brother put my bike rack on my car and I watched him the whole time to learn how. When we got to the camp ground, I took the bike rack off (DOH!) so I would have to drive around with it on. My brother left camp a day earlier than me, and I had to put the rack back on by myself. I thought I did it right. It seemed solid, until I started driving. We hit the second speed bump in the campground and the bikes slipped off! They didn't hit the ground, but one put a big scratch in my paint. It took me 45 minutes (at least) to get the bikes off and then the rack off, and then everything all put back together again. My car was so loaded with stuff I couldn't even see out the back window, I had to use a side mirror to watch the bike wheels to see if they were staying put.
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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by Rice » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:35 am

When you get to the gate, the sexy girls and boys will need to search your trunk. So, make sure it isn't going to take 20 minutes to get the trunk open! (If you are going to take a while to get into the trunk, they will simply send you to D-Lot {the penalty box of Gate} and let you take your time there.) Gate will not simply ignore your trunk, they have to check it.

You do not need to take the bike rack off the trunk for it to open! As long as you can disconnect the rack/bikes from the bottom of your car, the trunk should be openable.

It might be a good plan to check this out, and see how much effort it is to get into the trunk with the rack and bikes attached. Planning ahead and knowing what needs to be done will speed up your trip through gate.

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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by plantmandan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:41 am

stretch80 wrote:When you get to the gate, the sexy girls and boys will need to search your trunk. Ta
Yikes. That sounds like a nightmare for everybody involved, but I am not surprised. I admit I haven't been to the playa since 2007, and my trunk was never searched.

In that case, practice loading/unloading your rack at least 50 times before heading out.

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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by Ano » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:15 am

Ahh, thanks for this checklist. Just realized that my rear license plate is completely obscured by my bike rack (two of the feet go directly on it when it is mounted), so in the interest of not paying a ticket in Nixon for this, I'm going to just strap my bikes to my roof... somehow.

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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by gyre » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:24 am

I've never had an issue with an obscured plate, but I suppose it's possible.

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Re: Trunk bike rack safety

Post by Bob » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:37 am

I've packed a Corolla with duffel bags sitting on camping pads between the Thule rack bars, then flopped the bike on top. Nice to have three or four long duffels the same size to be able to pack efficiently. Looped ratchet straps under the roof.

To install the rack, I cannibalized tracks off a junkyard SUV and attached them with a few blind nuts. Which was tricky. Bars came from a yard sale but had to get the uprights at REI.

I don't like our trunk-mounted bike rack at all, but I've made it work. Needs new straps for sure.
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