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Discussion Starter #1
Put my trusty yakima roof rack on the factory rails yesterday and then hoisted my mountain bike to the top - this is NOT something I want to be doing after all. It's too damn high up. Three or four bikes is out of the question. So trailer hitch/hitch rack here I come. I am concerned about the unloaded (and load weight) of the super deluxe swing out hitches and the van bottoming out. The Super Roc by Yakima is 4 bikes, 30lbs and seems like a good compromise although it does not swing out like the Rock N Gate - has anybody used this model or the new "Hitch Fork" model with good results? I don't want any of this stuff hittting the ground on steep drivways. My best friend's Thule space station bottoms out easily and he hates it -all for $500. Thanks.
 

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You're right about the roof rack being a bit high to lift bikes up to the top (plus the wind drag mileage and noise issues). I posted my photos of our Yakima RocNGate and raised the issue about the low clearance when we're fully loaded. You should also consider the following weight issues:
1) trailer hitch adds the most weight behind the rear tires.
2) bike rack is likely the next heaviest and extends beyond the trailer hitch.
3) bikes weigh 22 - 30 lbs each and have even more leverage tongue weight behind the rear wheels since they stick way out behind the car.
4) when you're loaded up with the bikes, you will also have more passengers and cargo in the van as well - adding some 400 - 800 lbs to the middle and back sections.

All of this contributes to rear load, which will make the rear end sag. I've fixed this with the AirLifts (adjustable air bags inside the rear coil springs). I agree that the Yakima Super Roc is lighter and doesn't stick out as far as the RocNGate, but I don't think that the lighter rack will prevent you from hitting driveways when you load up the bikes, the kids and the other "stuff". I haven't weighed the RocNGate - it is pretty heavy - but even if it was 50 lbs more than the Super Roc, the rear will still sag when you load up the van. When we went camping, I had 4 bikes and filled the rear to the ceiling. Measuring the rear fender well above the tires, our '01 Ody dropped by almost 4". 50lbs lighter might have contributed 1/4" under heavy loads and maybe 1/3" under light loads (due to the progressive nature of the springs). So you might still have a rear end sag problem with any rack you use.

Check out your vehicle for yourself. Measure the clearance from the ground to the bottom of the trailer hitch - vehicle unloaded (use the bottom of the bumper if you don't have the hitch yet). Then start adding some cargo to the back and see how far low you go as you add more weight. Then, do the driveway clearance test. Back up a driveway and stop with the rear wheels in the gutter's lowest point. Measure the clearance again to the bottom point on the hitch or bumper. Now you know how much load you can add before you'll hit the lowest point - which is the trailer hitch mount for me (not the bike rack itself).

Sorry about the long explaination, but I hope this helps. If there is a better way to solve this problem, I'd like to know. But I really like the swing away convenience of the RocNGate - it worked great going camping because I didn't have to remove or unlock any bikes to get to things in the back. The AirLifts now control any sag problems at any load level. I think my setup also cost a bit more with the Honda hitch and top of the line Yakima rack - but I'll save time going places from now on and I can even carry the in-laws with a full load these days. Please post your results or any other questions. Happy travels.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the great info - I agree with the logic of everything said, although I lack the experience to confirm it. I am having the Honda hitch put on tomorrow and then I am going to my favorite bike shop to agonize further. The swing feature is nice, but we typically go either from home a few miles to a state park or to Maine or Cape Cod in one straight shot (4-6 hours max)for a week of riding so there is no in between loading or unloading to speak of. Still thinking....Thanks a MILIION for the thoughtful reply!
 

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Glad I could give you some additional insight. I also agonized about what would be the best method to transport bikes for awhile. I feel comfortable with my decision and at least I was able to explore all the various forms before finally selecting the Yakima RocNGate. The interior Honda bike bracket is neat, but you need two for just 2 bikes and the rear wheels go in between the middle seats - lost too much interior space. I have roof racks, but wind drag impacts MPG not to mention the high lift over. So that left the hitch mounts which are very sturdy. Then its the fixed, tilt or swing versions to decide.

One more point about the swing arm, even if you only intend to go from point A (home) to point B (neat biking area), with the swing arm you don't have to do a forced unload just to get something out of the trunk. I think 2 bikes is fine for the tilt, but 4 bikes is a lot to unload just to get the the back of the trunk. You'll need to decide for yourself. The swing is bigger, a little heavier and sticks out more than the others. Additionally, Tule makes a convertable bike rack that keeps the lower hitch half and the top converts to skis for the winter. So there's a lot to agonize about.
 

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Yankeeblues- Are you getting the factory hitch? I am interested in clearance difference-if any. Pic would help if you have any. Thanks

Al
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Al: I had the factory hitch put on this week.
Went to my favorite bike shop and found that almost all of the hitch mount racks wouldn't fit 2 of the family's 4 bikes; My Specialized "v" frame and son's 24" Mongoose with a very tiny triangle in the frame. I would up with the new Yakima Rim Roc which holds three bikes by the wheel rims - works very well and keeps the tongue weight down too. What I really like is that all the bikes ride LEVEL when held by the top of the rims - the more typical top tube clamp mounts make bikes with sloping top tubes (almost any newer bike) ride on an angle. The Rack doesn't touch the car, and the rack doesn't touch the bike frames either. We'll put the smallest bike (20" Specilialzed rock hopper jr.)inside since we travel with the 3rd seat folded down. The rack comes out of the hitch and bends upward close to the car- some racks we tried seemed to stick out like 24" until the riser post turns upward. So I think clearance will be ok but you have to be careful with anything on a hitch this low! I'm leaving for Truro, Cape Cod mon am for a week and I will post photos of the rack as soon as I return. I think it is a shame that 90% of the hitch racks out there don't fit anything but a standard steel top tube bike well if at all - even the $459 Roc n' Gate only works on standard bikes tho' you can buy top tube adapters for each bike for $30 more -

I'll post again as soon as I get back!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ps- VTE Clover: Just saw your second post to this. I think your points are all very well taken. I think the Roc N' Gate is a beaut but there was NO way it was going to work for my bikes. Those new cradles are simply not the right shape to fit either of the 2 bikes I mentioned and even if I used an adapter for mine, the kid bike wasn't going on no how no way. Plus, in my garage, the Rim Roc fits inside when folder up on the hitch. The pics will show this neat feature. My bike shop owner gave me his own Rim Roc (they were out of stock) right off the back of his Jeep Cherokee, 3 weeks old and will gladly take it back again next week if I don't love it on my first trip. My Ody has less than 500 miles so we are all looking forward to our first family trip in it!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just returned from our first trip in the new Ody. Here is a link to a photo showing the Rim Roc Yakima rack in the folded position; I realize that a shot of it open might help too but this shows how nice it is when you are not carrying the bikes. Also, it doesn't have a lot of crap down below the bumper and the whole thing stores very compactly. Take a look at my Ody in beautiful Truro, Cape Cod.
<a href="http://www.members.home.net/yankee/ody_yak.jpg">Go There!</a>

[This message has been edited by yankeeblues (edited 07-16-2001).]

[This message has been edited by yankeeblues (edited 07-16-2001).]
 

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yankeeblues, please post a picture of your bike rack open, and also with bikes, if possible.

VTEClover, could you do the same?

Or if you guys have already done so, just point me to the links. I need to make a decision soon and would like to see what you guys are describing. I've got to decide which Yakima rack to go with. TIA.
 

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Photos of the Yakima RocN'Gate bike rack loaded with bikes are posted under the TECH section of this Bulletin Board (see left side buttons). Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what it looks like in detail.

Incidentially, the Yakima Rim ROC was also a strong contender for me. The 3 bike limit was the gotcha, and I liked the swing arm concept for easy access to the trunk.

PS The AirLifts take care of any low clearance problems and appear to improve handling by minimizing sway in the back end. I've got some trips planned next month to test them out further.

------------------
2001 Ody EX Navi GG + Infinity speakers, trailer hitch
2000 Acura TL Navi Gold + Comptech sway bars, metallic tints
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here is my Ody with rim roc and three bikes.


<IMG SRC="http://www.members.home.net/yankee/rack.jpg" alt="My Ody Rimroc" border="0"</a>

[This message has been edited by yankeeblues (edited 08-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by yankeeblues (edited 08-20-2001).]
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by yankeeblues:
Here is my Ody with rim roc and three bikes.

</font>
Thanks guys!

- Steve
 

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Check out http://www.drawtite.com and navigate to their dual port system trailer hitches. Then go to their vertical bike carrier in accessories. This is one sturdy hitch for accessories and it should not bottom out. With this system you have support to both sides of the trailer hitch instead of just in the middle. I haven't seen a swing out option with this though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
A few comments on the Draw Tite: First, the 2" Honda hitch is more than stable enough for 3 or 4 bikes and I have had absolutely no clearance probs in 1500 miles; Second, the Rim Roc folds up to almost nothing when you drop the bikes off at the vacation cottage ( see link from my previous post to see rack in folded postion) and go get groceries; Third, removing muddy front mtn bike wheels and puttin 'em inside with your luggage is inconvenient. Yakima has a new rack like the draw tite that will work on any 2" hitch and folds up. I loved the Draw Tite rear mount dump box though - just right for bringing home mulch - I'd love to see the reaction to my Ody Dumptruck! The Rim Rock also locks to the hitch and a cable with same keyed lock locks the bikes quickly to the rack.
 
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