Posted by Rack Attack on 06-16-2017 under Bike Racks
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Why are Bike Racks so Expensive?

If you’ve ever shopped for a bike rack one of the first things you’ll notice is their price. In some cases the rack to carry your bike can cost more than the bike itself: what gives?

Ever since we started selling racks in the early 1990’s we’ve struggled with this very question. Our business is selling racks, and the less a quality rack costs, the more of them we can sell. If we could find a great bike rack to sell for $100, it would be the first thing you see when you head to our site. The problem: it simply doesn’t exist. 

There are basically three types of hitch-mounted bike racks:

  • Single-arm
  • Dual-arm
  • Platform

Of the three the only one with a reasonable cost is the single-arm design. And while we used to sell more of this style of rack, we have long since stopped carrying almost any for a very good reason: they are terrible. 

The first bike rack I ever used was a single-arm design my dad bought to carry out mountain bikes out to the trailhead. We got it because it was what we could afford, and back then there weren’t all too many more options available. We spent the next half-decade cursing and yelling at what turned out to be one of the most frustrating products I’ve ever owned.  Bikes got damaged, bikes fell off, and some bikes wouldn’t even fit at all. It was a nightmare I wouldn’t wish anybody to experience. 

A single-arm bike rack is fundamentally flawed by its very design. The bikes swing around, if it has a single top-plate (not all are designed this way), there’s the risk of a smaller-tubed bike falling off. We had to cover our bikes with pipe insulation to help stop them from completely scratching each other on any length drive. 

If you have a non-standard frame, chances are your bike won’t fit at all. If you have a carbon frame you risk irreparable damage. Female (steep sloping top tube) frames put the bike at such an angle the lower wheel is at risk of hitting the ground.

With single-arm racks simply being a bad idea, we’re left with the only two other options. Both of these options are great. The platform style rack is always the best for your bikes and usability, but will almost always be the most expensive.

The dual-arm design incorporates anti-sway cradles to keep your bikes from swinging into each other. They have (obviously) two arms, instead of just one. Each bike is secured independently. The increased complexity and pieces required to build this style of rack brings up the production cost significantly. Platform style racks even more-so. 

The least expensive bike racks which won’t be a headache to use and damage your bikes are as follows:

Sportrack by Thule Crest 2 Hitch Platform System

Sportrack by Thule Crest 2 Hitch Platform System

The SportRack Crest 2 Hitch Platform system is part of the newer style of hitch mounted bike racks. By using wheel cradles and attaching to the frame using a vertical arm it fits many more bikes than the standard two arm design.

Not Available

Sportrack by Thule Ridge 4-Bike

Sportrack by Thule Ridge 4-Bike

The SportRack Ridge 4 includes new bike cradles with anti-sway blocks and easy-on rubber straps. It fits 2 inch and 1 1/4 inch receiver hitches with the use of a nylon block, no need to buy a separate adapter.

Yakima DoubleDown 4

Yakima DoubleDown 4

Yakima is willing to wager you'll never find a better hitch mount bike rack for the price than the Yakima DoubleDown 4. The user-friendly TriggerFingers let you fold the mast of the Yakima DoubleDown 4 out of your way.

Thule 957 Parkway 4-Bike 1.25 Inch

Thule 957 Parkway 4-Bike 1.25 Inch

The Tilt-Down 957 Thule Parkway hitch bike rack for 1.25 inch hitch receivers is an entry level system that features solid Thule Racks construction at an economical price. Tilt-down design of the Thule 957 Parkway offers complete access to rear.

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