Is it too early to start thinking about spring? Do you long for the smell of fresh tilled earth and the first of spring’s flowers? If you’re Canadian, you already know the answer to these questions; in fact, you’ve probably known the answer since you were old enough to drive. As much as we enjoy our winter sports and the quaintness of a freshly fallen snow, we can’t wait for spring to return. The arrival of warm weather means more to us than simply not having to wake up to three feet of wet, heavy snow or having to pile on layer after layer of clothing just to check the mail. For each of us, the return of warm weather means that it’s time once again to get out there and explore our wonderful country.
Regardless as to whether your preferences of exploration include long journeys or voyages off the beaten path, you’re going to need the right automotive accessory for you to get the most out of the great outdoors; and by that of course we mean a sport rack. Racks are a tremendously versatile accessory that provides a number of options when it comes to exploring; after all, your four-wheeled vehicle can only take you so far (and adventures should never end just because the pavement does).
What To Look For
There are likely more things to consider than you may have realized when it comes to choosing the right rack to meet your needs. If you’re thinking of buying a bike rack, you might be torn between selecting a hitch or roof mounted rack. Questions like ‘do I need a rack that can accommodate two or four bikes?’ or ‘does it have other uses?’ may require answering before pulling the decision trigger on which rack you go with. Before we take an in depth look at our featured brands, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each style. Knowing this, in addition to having a good idea of what you’ll be using the rack for is an excellent place to start.
The Benefits of the Various Rack Styles
A hitch (or rear) mounted rack might be right for you if:
- Mobility or range of motion is an issue
- Ease of use is important (specifically if you ride frequently)
- You prefer to keep your gear away from your vehicle
- You’re looking to travel to some pretty remote areas and low overhead path clearance may hinder your movement
A roof mounted unit might be right for you if:
- Security is an issue – keeping your equipment at a height can deter would be thieves
- You don’t want to elongate the size of your vehicle, keeping parking your vehicle hassle-free
- A roof mounted rack gives you more options – sub out your bikes and attach a kayak or canoe instead
What does Thule have to offer?
Thule is one of the most well-known brands of carrier – they’ve been making racks for over 50 years and their product line features both roof and hitch mounted options. Below you’ll find some of the best that Thule has to offer, and more importantly, you’ll find racks that will provide the solutions you’ve been looking for.
Appearance: 85% – Installation: 70% – Price/Value: 70% – Quality: 85% – Overall: 77.5%
This lightweight and low profile hitch mount bike carrier can accommodate up to four bikes while still allowing you to access your cargo area completely unhindered. As one of Thule’s premier carriers, it uses road dampening technology that essentially cradles your bikes, sparing them from the jarring bumps and shocks of the uneven road.
The Thule Apex Swing also takes into account the need for keeping the bikes themselves from coming into contact with one another (and more importantly the ground) and utilizes several design elements to ensure your bikes arrive at your destination unscathed. The first way the Thule Apex Swing accomplishes this is by giving the carrier a higher mast height – increasing the amount of ground clearance; essentially eliminating the chances your bike has of coming into contact with the road. The arms that hold the bikes have a bowed design that increases the amount of space between each bike, ensuring they don’t accidentally come into contact with one another.
If you’re concerned about security, the Thule Apex Swing comes equipped with an integrated locking system that will keep your gear secure when not in use. The Thule Apex Swing may be at the higher end of the price scale, but if being able to rely on the many years of Thule experience to make sure your bike arrives safe and sound, it is definitely worth the investment.
What about the Roof?
Thule also features a line of equally reliable roof mounted carriers. Deciding on which one to opt for is largely determinant on how you analyzed the benefits listed above.
Appearance: 80% – Installation: 85% – Price/Value: 85% – Quality: 90% – Overall: 85%
The Thule Sidearm is ideal for the solo cyclist, larger because its capacity just so happens to be – you guessed it – one bike. It should be mentioned that before going with a solo carrier unit like the Sidearm, you should really consider the limiting factor associated with such a unit. The nice thing about this particular design however, is that it can accommodate unusual bike designs – making it ideal for mountain bikers, racers, and professional cyclists. And the truck owner?
Appearance: 90% – Installation: 90% – Price/Value: 80% – Quality: 80% – Overall: 87.5%
Just because you own a pickup truck, doesn’t mean you have to throw your bikes into your truck bed like they were yesterday’s trash – Thule’s Insta-Gater Truck Bed Bike Carrier can help turn your truck bed into a versatile carrier. This handy little unit requires no drilling or bolting and the optional one-key locking cylinder helps secure your gear by securing your bike to the carrier.
What does Yakima have to offer?
Yakima has more than 35 years invested in the aftermarket rack industry. Since day one, safely mounting bikes has been the focus for Yakima – and that focus continues to this very day.
Appearance: 90% – Installation: 80% – Price/Value: 70% – Quality: 85% – Overall: 81.25%
This hitch mounted rack is all about intelligent design and functionality. Everything from Yakima’s UpperHand control leaver, used to tilt your fully loaded Ridgeback back for easy access to your cargo, to the innovative SpeedKnob which quickly tightens and locks the carrier to your vehicle, has been designed with ease of use in mind. What’s more, is that the Ridgeback comes completely assembled and ready to install, making it ideal for the user that does not have a lot of technical expertise.
These all sound great, but I have a budget to consider
Appearance: 80% – Installation: 95% – Price/Value: 90% – Quality: 80% – Overall: 86.25%
If you love cycling, there really is no excuse for not owning a bike carrier, even if there is a budget to consider. People tend to see bike carriers as a non-essential items, even if such thinking means depriving themselves of doing something they love. It’s hard to blame someone that shares this belief, especially since the economy has only just begun it’s return to pre-economic downturn levels. There are however value priced carriers that will still let you get out and have the adventures you want, without breaking the bank; carriers like Yakima’s Boa 8002065 Bike Rack.
Weighing in at just 1.6 lbs., the Boa Bike Rack is your key to freedom – providing everything you need to escape the pressures of the city at a price anyone can afford. Compatible with a wide range of aftermarket roof racks, and requires minimal effort to install.
At the end of the day, this has not been an exhaustive list of the racks available on the market. The goal was to illustrate that there are many different types of racks to choose from and that if careful consideration is used, anyone can find the ideal accessory to meet their needs. For more bike rack and sport carrier options, check out what’s available at PartsEngine.ca.
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