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Which is better for small sedan: Roof rack or Hitch Mounted(20 posts)

Which is better for small sedan: Roof rack or Hitch MountedKristin
Jul 31, 2003 9:44 AM
I am planning to drive with 3 friends to Ticonderoga next summer and would need a rack for 4 bikes. I don't really want to sacrifice the gas milage by putting them on top (Can you even do 4 bikes on top?) Are there any significant drawbacks to putting that many on a hitch mounted rack on a smaller car? (Saturn L series.)
Friends on the roof. Bike in the car :-) nmDave Hickey
Jul 31, 2003 9:46 AM
LOL - I needed that. nmKristin
Jul 31, 2003 9:48 AM
You may be onto somethingKristin
Jul 31, 2003 1:10 PM
If I bungy cord my friends to the roof, then make them hold the bikes (cept mine, which will ride inside with me) then I don't need a bike rack at all and the roof won't get scratched. :)
It boils down to a simple question...........Dave Hickey
Jul 31, 2003 1:25 PM
Which do you value more? your friends or your bike? :-)

Bikes don't talk back or borrow money!
Jul 31, 2003 9:54 AM
better is subjective: do you prefer pemanent racks which require a lot of lifting overhead, or do you prefer having bikes easily accessible, but the trunk NOT accessible ?

If you get sufficiently-long bars, 4 bikes should fit on the roof no problem (may need to reverse every other bike).

Drawbacks of hitch mount:

1. Need a hitch.
2. 4 bikes is a lot of weight hanging off the rear end of a saturn. Combined with 4 adults in a compact; you're looking at potential handling issues.
rent a vanJS Haiku Shop
Jul 31, 2003 10:01 AM
really, rent a passenger van and take out the back seat.

otherwise i'd go with a roof rack, plus pick up four of those bike bras from cc or excel. yes, you can get numerous bikes on a roof rack--every other reversed, as another reply mentioned. the saturn roof rack is made by saris, by the way. i had a saris on my civic awhile back and it was fine. had three trays and three front wheel carriers, and a fairing, too.

one thing to consider: how much stuff does each person carry for the ride? i pack like an old lady--kitchen sink, and then some. my little civic was jammed full with 2 people, gear, bikes in the back seat (yep, 2 in the back seat of a 2dr civic), and a trunk full of gear, clothing, and wheels. i can get 3 riders & bikes (2 bikes roof, 1 bike inside) and all related gear into my element now, but only just.

pool your monies, rent a passenger van, and do the trip in relative comfort.

btw, which Ticonderoga? NY? if you're in chicago, isn't that about 900 miles? with 4 people in a saturn sedan? ouch.
I'm with J on this one! (nm)Becky
Jul 31, 2003 10:24 AM
Yup, go and rent something.Gregory Taylor
Jul 31, 2003 11:57 AM
The guys that I ride with have done some road trips (Kentucky, and a ride around the Chesapeake Bay) and we rented a van from U-Haul. It held all of our guys, crap and bikes. Even had air conditioning.

The best part was that we used it as a support vehicle on our rides. One guy would drive ahead and set up a "rest stop" for the others. It got competitive to see who could put together the best rest stop. We had lounge chairs, coolers full of cold drinks, snacks, and music. The best place to set up was in church parking lots. We got invited inside more than once to use the "facilities" and take a break in the air conditioning.
How many guys? How long was the drive?Kristin
Jul 31, 2003 1:21 PM
I'm a little concerned about driving 900 miles with two people flopping around loose in the back. The UHaul cargo vans only have 2 seats in them. I checked prices on renting an Excursion from Hertz for a week, but that was well over $700 before extra milage costs and gasoline. (Planning to put on 2300 miles that week.) I could fly us all there for that price. So I'm thinking the bikes will stay behind. Although one friend has a Sirus trunk rack that holds three bikes, so we might use that and one person will have to rent a bike up there. (I can tell you right now that it will be the Huffy owner.) Otherwise, we'll just do other stuff for the week. There's tubing on Schroon Lake or paddling Champlain. The Fort, of course. A hike up Gore mountain--whihc the Huffy owner won't enjoy. And a day touring Shelton, VT. Then the 4th of July Centenial celebration. Its Ticonderoga's 200th year of existence and they are gonna throw a big party.
Sounds like a cool trip!Gregory Taylor
Aug 1, 2003 5:40 AM
The van that we rented was one of those hee-whack Dodge extendo-vans with (I seem to remember) 4 rows of seats. Think school bus. We took out one row of seats and had room for bikes. Put a rack on top for gear. I was on the Chesapeake trip (didn't do Kentucky), and we had about 8 guys in the van at one point. This trip was unusual in that (except for one short stretch) we didn't need to haul the entire group in the van. We started our trip from my front driveway and rode our bikes to Aberdeen Maryland the first evening. We did pack everyone in the van to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel.

You probably don't need a huge van -- a mini-van or even a Lincoln Town Car would get the job done.
re: Which is better for small sedan: Roof rack or Hitch MountedtempeteOntheRoad
Jul 31, 2003 10:19 AM
Gas/mileage: hitch advantage
Access to rear luggage: depends on the car... but Roof generaly better

Extra fragile alu/carbon: advantage roof (fork held and rear wheel only) but correctly tied-down on a hitch could be all right (no movement-jolts)

Roof: risk of damaging bikes and car if going under a low bridge-door-tree (as for the hitch, each time you look back, you are reminded of the bikes' presence...)

Style: definitely the roof... (à la pro!)

I favor the rear rack, myself, and leave the top for a ski box for extra space...
Image is everythingMR_GRUMPY
Jul 31, 2003 10:53 AM
Go with the roof rack. It lets people know that you are serious. Get 2 fork mount kits and 2 upright kits, so that you can alternate them so that the bikes can be closer and can fit on standard size load bars. You can also tie the 2 wheels from the fork mount kits to the bikes to save room inside. Bring 1 or 2 spare tires and 5 or 6 tubes to share between your friends. Also bring small plastic bags to cover the seats in case it rains on the way out or back. I'm not sure if anybody makes a four bike hitch rack, but if they do, it's still not a good idea.
yup. Whenver I see roofracks I think "wow, must be serious". nmSteve_0
Jul 31, 2003 11:15 AM
Lotsa 4bike hitch racks. I dont know why it's not a good idea (though I agree, not a good idea on a compact).
Whenever I see a roof rack, I check out the driver.Kristin
Jul 31, 2003 1:22 PM
They're letting anyone buy them these days.
Sometimes I see a roofrack and think "poser"Straightblock
Jul 31, 2003 1:51 PM
Here's what you need-

I see way too many bikes that spend too many miles on the roof rack instead of under someone's butt. In another thread a few days ago, I mildly ranted about people who load their bikes on the roof rack just to drive a few miles to the start of a ride.

I paid my dues traveling to races with 3 buddies in a Datsun 510 wagon with 4 bikes and extra wheels on the roof rack, and enough gear for the weekend inside. The trip home was sometimes brutal: a car full of smelly guys with leg cramps.

Nowdays, when I transport my bike and I'm by myself, it rides in the trunk. It fits nicely with the wheels off and an old beach towel over the frame to protect it from the wheels I lay on top of it. I never have to worry about a rear-ender, low tree or drive-thru overhang, and it's protected from weather, road dirt & theft. Gas mileage is unaffected. The roof rack only goes on when I'm traveling with my family or multiple riders, or need to transport the tandem, and it comes off when the trip is over.

Any way you look at it, 4 adults, 4 bikes and even a minimum amount of baggage is a heck of a load for a compact car. Plus, baggage tends to expand as the trip goes on. Without knowing the details of your trip or finances, a large van sounds like a good idea.
Not a compactKristin
Jul 31, 2003 2:01 PM
I should have clarified this earlier. I wouldn't drive for 900 miles in my friends Protege. This is a Saturn L200 which is almost (but not quite) a mid sized sedan. We'll fit okay, but it will be slightly tight. Actually, the way I planned it we will each drive one 3.5 hour shift and each person will get 3.5 hours in the front passenger seat as well. That way 2 people aren't crammed in the back the whole trip. I think it will work out just fine.
Roof racks all the way, trunk/hitch racks suck!js5280
Jul 31, 2003 2:34 PM
I've always had roof racks, but my girlfriend has a hitch mount. What a pain in the ass! First you install the hitch, oops don't forget to load everything in the back first. Second, put the bikes on, oops, my fat AL tubes or non-traditional geometery doesn't fit. Third, tie bikes down, oops, the some of the paint wore off where the bikes rubbed together during the trip. Forth, remove bikes from hitch rack. Sh1t, the exhaust melted my tire or my rims bent when I dragged the bikes from a deep gutter or steep incline. Trunk/Hitch racks suck! Sure there is a chance of hitting something overhead with roof rack, but put the garage door opener in the glove box and watch those drive-thrus. Still, the odds of you backing into something, dragging the bikes, or being rear ended are probably much higher than hitting something overhead. Get the roof racks, they are a pain in butt to install, but you usually do it only once for the life of the car.
I have both on right now, but much prefer the hitch mountDougSloan
Jul 31, 2003 3:14 PM
I really prefer a hitch mount. It's much easier to get the bikes off and on, you don't have to worry about overhead disasters (a friend just did this last week), you don't get bugs all over the bikes, and gas mileage is unaffected.

I got a U-Haul Saferack a little while back, which allows quick loading of bikes on the back with the front wheels on. No doubt the best rack I've ever heard of. Absolutely fantastic. It's modular, allowing 1-5 bike trays, and folds up out of the way or is easily removed and stowed in the trunk. It's aluminum, so not as heavy as some. Not cheap, though. $229 for the main part and one tray, and another $129 for each additional.

re: Which is better for small sedan: Roof rack or Hitch Mountednac
Aug 1, 2003 6:44 AM
I had a hitch mount on my SAAB and was rear ended on my way home after a long ride. The kid that hit me did not have insurance and I had to pay two deductables. The bikes and bike rack are not covered by the auto insurance. They are covered by the home owners insurance. If you do not have a hitch on the car now it will probably cost you more than $100 to buy one and have it installed. I would go with the roof rack.