The most solid way to transport a beautiful bike is on a tray-style hitch rack. They're safe, secure, and I know I'll be rippin' singletrack in seconds after parking without having to put the tire back on or fiddle with any adjustments. Simply take it down and let it rip! Our friend Christopher Johnson is back to tell us about his new RockyMounts SplitRail LS 2" hitch rack. Check it out below! If you want to see other popular ways to transport your bike, check out this recent blog on our site.
I decided to upgrade my trunk rack to a trailer hitch rack after our household acquired its third nice mountain bike. My old trunk rack solidly held bikes to the car, but it only held two bikes, prevented me from using the rear windshield wiper, and my newest bike didn’t mesh so well with it (it worked, but the way I had to mount it sketched me out a little). But wait, doesn’t the RockyMounts SplitRail LS also only hold two bikes?! Yes and no, the rack itself holds two bikes, but extensions for a third and even fourth bike can be purchased for the rack, so I also got an extension for a third bike. The extension does decrease the weight capacity per bike, but our bikes are still well below the threshold. Upgrading to a hitch rack also meant that I had to purchase and install a trailer hitch; my CR-V didn’t come with one. I found a reasonably priced high quality hitch and bolted it onto my car’s frame. That was fun without a hydraulic lift – not. Fortunately, the rack itself was much easier to install. It came with clear instructions and all the tools I needed to set it up and have it on the car in about a half hour. The build quality of the rack was evident; the center spine is beefy and the horizontal rails are very sturdy.
Anyway, going through the trouble of installing the trailer hitch and purchasing and setting up the rack was well worth it. The rack secures each bike with a ratcheting arm that pulls down on the front wheel, holding it into a deep channel in the wheel tray. The rear wheel is secured in a deep channel in a wheel tray with a plastic ratcheting strap. There are some limitations to the tire size (up to 29” and no fat bike tires) and types of bikes that are compatible, but it will work with most normal mountain bikes. The wheelbase of my large Nomad 4 pushes the limits of the rack’s wheelbase compatibility, but is still held very securely.
The rack has an excellent security system. The rack attaches to the trailer hitch with a locking thru-bolt, and the arms that hold each bike’s front tire each have a cable lock to secure the frame to the rack. On long trips where I may leave the car and bikes in a parking lot while inside a gas station or restaurant, I do use an extra steel cable and padlock to secure the frames and wheels directly to the trailer hitch. This is probably overkill, but it makes me feel extra secure.
I frequently use my car to get to trails that are well over an hour drive from me, and sometimes involve bumpy fire roads. This rack gives me significantly more confidence transporting my bikes compared to my old trunk rack. At first, I did notice that the bikes and rack can wobble a bit when driving over bumps. This concerned me because the old hitch rack kept the bikes very stiff relative to the car. When I thought about it further, though, this slight wobble means that road vibrations are being transferred to the rack and hitch rather than directly to the bikes, which must be better for them. I threw this rack right into the fire shortly after I got it and drove two bikes 6+ hours each way from Santa Fe, NM to Sedona, AZ. The rack didn’t flinch and never had to be adjusted the entire time. On this trip I received multiple compliments on the rack from other bikers. Its flattering but kind of weird to hear another dude tell you that you have a nice rack.
I should also mention that RockyMounts provided fantastic customer service to me when the wheel tray on the rack extension arrived broken from shipping. They immediately shipped out a new wheel tray free of charge. This makes me certain that I can trust their lifetime warranty, and should never have to buy another rack.
This is my first hitch rack so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I can say for sure that I am confident it can transport my bikes safely and securely. The bottom line is that I feel comfortable trusting this rack to transport $20k+ worth of freedom machines anywhere. This level of confidence is certainly worth the price tag of this rack; I highly recommend it for anyone looking for the best way to transport their bikes.