This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Friday, September 12, 2003

Thule Bike Hitch Mount

I'm always amazed at what I can stuff into my little VW New Beetle. I can transport my road bike in my car (after taking the front wheel off), and even D's mountain bike, but not both simultaneously.

So to accommodate two bikes, I bought a bike rack. I had to figure this out on my own, which was a total pain in the rear, so I hope somebody will benefit from this step-by-step guide based on my experience:

  1. Decide what type of rack you would like. There are generally three types: roof mount, hitch mount and trunk mount. You can see examples of these on Rack Attack. At the time of purchase, Rack Attack had the lowest prices because they offered free shipping and 15% off Internet sales.
    • Roof mount: I decided against this because my Beetle has a curved roof plus I'm so short that it would be a hassle to get anything on top of it. However, Bernie Png, another Velo Girl, uses a roof rack on her Bug.
    • Hitch mount: This is the option I went with because it provides easy access to my trunk and my bike, plus I can use the hitch for towing other things.
    • Trunk mount: D uses this on his Honda S2000, and he doesn't like it. He's scratched up the paint job on his car, and the clips that secure his bike occasionally pop out. His bike never looks like it's secured properly and he's worried that it's going to fly off while he's driving on the highway.
  2. At this point, I'm assuming you've chosen a hitch mount as well. If so, you need to figure out what type of hitch to have installed on your vehicle, even before you decide what style of hitch mount you want. Contrary to what I thought, car manufacturers don't usually have hitches as a service part. Instead, go to the Uhaul website, where you can find out which of their hitch installation locations is closest to you. Call the store, tell them the make and model and your vehicle, and they'll search their database to find out which hitch you need. Most likely they will need to order the part for you (takes about a week) and you can schedule a time for the installation.
  3. Ask them what size hitch you will be getting: 1.25" or 2". In general, passenger cars require 1.25" hitches and SUVs/trucks use 2" hitches. Also, unless you're going to use the hitch for towing something like a trailer box, make sure they don't install wiring (costs extra).
  4. Now that you know the size of your hitch, you can choose a hitch rack to buy! The folks at Rack Attack told me that the two most popular brands are Thule (pronounced "TOOL-lee") and Yakima (pronounced "YAH-kimm-ah").
  5. I chose the Thule Hitching Post Pro 2 bike 1.25" 937 because it is suitable for a variety of frames, i.e. womens frames. Other hitch racks may require an additional attachment to accommodate them. I considered getting a post that could carry 4 bicycles, but the friendly folks at Rack Attack advised against it since the weight would put too much stress on my car. When you choose a rack, make sure you're getting one that fits your hitch (1.25" vs. 2")
  6. Hitch racks are expensive and can get stolen! So I also bought a Snug-Tite Lock STL to lock the hitch rack to my car, and also a 538 Cable Lock to lock the bikes to the hitching post. Instead of the cable lock, you can also use a regular bicycle cable lock (doesn't have to be Thule). However, in general, I would advise you not to leave your bikes unattended, even if they are locked to your hitch rack.
  7. Of course, there are other accessories you can buy, for example, the Zip Stick II 950 which is supposed to "add stability to Thule hitch bike mounts". I hear bungee cord also works.

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