Car racks have never been high on my agenda. I’ve always purposefully bought cars with enough boot room for two bikes – so my precious bicycles could be lovingly transported in the cavernous rear of my vehicle. My other-half, however, is a little less practically minded when it comes to transportation, so when we decided to take his car on a cycling / road trip – we needed to find a solution that would be compatible with his not very accommodating Toyota GT86.
The solution came in the form of the Saris Bones 3 Bike Car Rack (£156 here). Created using a design that allows it to be suitable for a wide range of cars, without expensive fittings that have to be permanently in place, the Saris Bones is available in a vast array of colours and takes just minutes to attach. Which was handy, since we were fitting and un-fitting it at every hotel we stopped at over a two week holiday across France.
Though we met the odd complication along the way, the Saris Bones rack ultimately proved to be a practical solution for people who want to be able to transport bikes easily, without limiting their choice of car.
Arrival and Fitting
The Saris Bones arrived in a square(ish) box, folded nearly into a compact and storable formation – which is how it exists when not in use. There was no assembly required, other than fitting – though we did test it before our holiday.
The rack seemed light, bright, and generally well made. It attaches to the car via two ‘arms’ that sit on the boot/window, two ‘legs’ that sit on the rear bumper, and a selection of straps which hook on to the boot and are tightened to create enough tension to hold it all in place. Worried about the paintwork on the four wheeled love in his life, my husband used helicopter tape to protect the bodywork wherever the rack contacted the car, as well as cutting out small squares of rubber inner tube to keep the spoiler pristine. This isn’t compulsory at all, but a nice idea.
There were a couple of minor issues. The rack uses plastic screws which thread in to metal nuts to hold the arms in place. The combination of metal and plastic is rarely positive – and these cross threaded easily. We bought replacement parts from Halfords without any hassle, though. In addition, the hook that sits under the boot, (fastening one of the tension straps) also seemed to have a bulge in the coating, making it hard to fit. We solved this by cutting it down with a Stanley knife – but obviously not everyone wants to take to DIY with their new car rack.
Using the Saris Bones car rack
We gave the car rack a pretty thorough workout – carrying it over 2000 miles from Caterham (Surrey) to Folkstone, Calais, the Pyrenees, Provence (Mont Ventoux), Massif Central, and back.
Initially, we were both quite concerned by the amount of movement we could see in the rear view mirror. The bikes were bouncing around quite a bit, and every time we stopped, we’d hoist them up to check the straps were tightly secured. Though we did put some extra tension through the straps on most occasions, pushing the rubberised feet of the legs and arms more firmly on to the car, the entire construction was clearly never at any risk of going anywhere.
The degree to which the bikes were secure was made apparent when we failed to notice a speed bump, driving over it not excessively fast – but harder than any sensible bike owner might have liked. This time the jolt meant the feet did shift, and being on a quiet country road, we stopped to readjust it. Had it been a busier road, we would have pulled over where possible to do the same. The bikes were still securely attached and I wouldn’t be concerned that the rack would lose its grip on the car for many miles after the incident, though clearly it’s not a good idea to push your luck.
Over the course of our two week break, we did learn a few tips and tricks – especially since we were fitting and re-fitting the rack on a regular basis. The most useful trick was switching the brakes on our bikes to ‘on’, to stop the wheels constantly spinning. The second was using a bungee cord to fasten two wheels (my front, his rear or vice versa) to present the bikes from rubbing against each other (my bar tape had been suffering the wrath of the spokes on his wheel).
On a geeky point of note was that the rack dented the aerodynamics of the Toyota – reducing fuel efficiency by 8mpg when cruising at French autoroute speeds (130kph/80mph). However, that probably wouldn’t affect cars like my own humble Honda Jazz.
The Saris Bones 3-Bike rack was perfect for what we needed – an easy to fit solution that would allow us to use the ‘nice car’ without having to apply any long term or custom fittings. It took around 10 minutes to get up and running at the start of each journey, and also removes the ‘driving under a low barrier’ fear of a roof rack. You just have to get used to seeing your pride and joy rocking around a little bit in the mirrors – and it’s advisable to take a cable or D-lock for service station stops.
Interested? Check it out via Paligap here.