A couple years ago my husband bought the Swagman 4-bike rack. You can purchase this rack to mount to a 1 1/4 or a 2-inch receiver for the rear of a vehicle.
This bike rack has served us very well. However, there have been a few issues with the use of this rack. That’s not to say that the rack is inferior because it’s not. It’s very well constructed and we have no complaints about the product itself. Sometimes you just find out that an item is a bit cumbersome to use when you start really using it a lot. Such was the case with this rack.
For example, because the bikes are right up next to one another on the rack we found it best to wrap any parts that touch another bike with pipe insulation. Wrapped items would include pedals, forks, chain stays, quick release levers, and an other item that might have an opportunity to rub against another bike. This method prevented any unnecessary rubbing to cause scratches, wear, or damage. It wasn’t hard to do, just required a little extra time and thought to mounthing the bikes.
Another example is the time it takes to turn down the nobs on the top that secure the top place and thus secures the bikes. It would require a lot of twisting of three nobs to get the plate completely secure or completely off. That’s not an issue when you are putting on or taking off all the bikes at once. Occassionally we would find that we would drop off one or more passengers at their home upon returning from an event. This meant going through the twisting process multiple times. It just wasn’t a quick process.
When we were looking at bike racks initially we had toyed with the idea of buying roof racks. We decided against it because of the fact that I know I would go through something like a garage that didn’t have enough clearance when I had bikes on the top. I’ve heard horror stories such as these and that was my big fear. Also at the time we did not have a vehicle that had a roof rack for this purpose and decided not to have one installed for this purpose.
However, we finally decided it was time to look into the roof mounted racks. We ended up purchasing the Inno fork lock rack because they would work with our current roof racks without having to purchase another system.
Not only are these racks easy to assemble and install, it will also be much faster for me to get the bikes on and off the vehicle. We purchased three because that’s all that we’d have room for on the top of the car.
The only issue with this system and our car is that the back hatch will not open with the trays on the top if it’s positioned in such a way that the forks are mounted facing the front of the car. But that’s an easy fix – just turn them around so that they are facing the back of the car. (This isn’t the same with all cars. It depends on the spacing of the racks on the individual car.)
The roof rack bike mounts won’t replace our Swagman rack completely. We’ll still have reasons to use it, especially since it works on both vehicles and the roof racks will only work on one. It’s just nice to have a couple options.