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Take the safe route: start your ride on the trails—not the roads

20 Oct 2020

Okay, we headlined "start your ride on the trails—not the roads." This is the cry that comes from ride leaders who promote cycling on the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails system in San Antonio. Earlier this month, sad news reported the tragedy of a 58-year-old father of four who was hit by a speeding pickup truck on a residential street. Last week, another cyclist was seriously injured by a speeding pickup truck in front of Stinson Airport's terminal entrance. Unfortunately, there are too many careless or attitude motorists on the roads that lend themselves to the hazards. It reminded us to revisit safety protocols: one of them is to stay off the roads with motorized vehicles as much as possible.

So, this calls for transporting the bicycles to a trailhead with a motorized vehicle. Fortunately, that's what most riders on the Greenway Trails do.

Split screen photos of bicycles loaded on a carrier rack and a trail head
From the driveway to the trailhead: a carrier rack—Photo: SRR

The ideal vehicle to have for transporting is a van where the bike can be hidden away and locked up to help prevent theft. Otherwise, it would require a carrier with locking devices. We take a closer look at the various types of bicycle carriers with our recommendations of what to get. We've done the research.

Types of Racks

Trunk Mount

It's an inexpensive solution, but durable for some folks who don't mind strapping a carrier rack on the trunk. Some trunk mounts have protective railings to prevent the bike from banging against the vehicle and causing body damage.

Trailer Hitch Mount

There are two types of hitch-mounted carriers: Hanging and Cradles. The hanging type is another inexpensive solution; however, hanging bicycles can be rather tricky. If not secured properly, the bicycles can swing back and forth and bang against the vehicle.

Cradle-type carrier attached to a class 1 hitch on a car
Cradle-type carrier attached to a class 1 hitch on a car—Photo: SRR

The cradle type contains "pockets" that accommodate the wheels. This type can be more pricey, but worth it since that, the bikes can be more secured. This type of carrier is our recommendation.

Hitch Classes

When acquiring a hitch-mount carrier, take into consideration the classes of hitch sizes. We've seen carriers that call for class 3 hitches and higher. This would not be ideal for cars especially the smaller ones that may not be designed to carry the higher load. So, here's a recap of hitch classes and tongue weight maximums:

Class Vehicles Mount Size Tongue Weight Max
1 Small Cars, Crossovers 1 1/4 inch (31.75 mm) 200 lbs (90 kg)
2 Larger Cars, Crossovers 1 1/4 inch (31.75 mm) 350 lbs (158 kg)
3 Vans, Trucks 2 inches (50 mm) 800 lbs (362 kg)
4 Trucks, SUVs 2 inches (50 mm) 1000 lbs (453 kg)

Pickup Truck Racks

Various interesting mount types are provided for pickup truck owners. Our favorite is the least expensive seat post clamp that can be placed in a stake post halfway down the side of the bed. The bicycle's seat post is clamped with the bike standing up. It does not require removing any wheels. Another type of rack is one that can be easily installed in the pickup's stake pockets next to the cab. The bike's front wheel must be removed so that the fork can be clamped down.

Roof Mount

Dependent on the vehicle, a roof mount carrier places the bicycles high above the road and out of the way—ideal for long-range travel. Note that this type of carrier will add to the drag and may reduce your gas mileage. Also, if you usually drive into a garage when arriving home, place a box or chair in the garage opening to serve as a reminder to stop, remove the bike and carrier before driving into the garage. We've seen dented rooftops and damaged carriers and bicycles from drivers who forgot that the bicycle was mounted on top when arriving home—not pretty.

Security

Regardless of what racks are used, security is always a problem. Nothing is 100% secure. It is quite often that cyclists have lost their expensive investment to theft usually in restaurant parking lots of where they have stopped after a ride. There are several locking devices. One is the fortified cable type lock; however, poorer quality ones can be cut with a wire cutter. A higher-quality steel cable would be better; it can be wired through the wheels and frame and carrier and the carrier itself is secured with a lock of its own. We found that most trailer hitch types have locks. Another device is the U-shape lock that is quite rugged, but it can only secure the frame for most bikes. As a reminder, thieves are clever and can defeat most locking devices.

—SRR News Services

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