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I'm heading on a family trip next month and will need to transport up to 4 bikes. My original plan was to purchase the Acura bike racks that attach to the roof carrier base. It seems pricey to me to spend $500+ on bike racks that can only be used on the MDX.

After reading some threads on here, I began to look into the Thule racks. It looks like I could accomplish the same thing for less cost with a more universal rack that I could potentially use on other vehicles. But, it sounds like there are issues with installation and it might prove to be difficult. I don't have a lot of patience for this sort of thing.

I have a few questions that I hope someone can help me with:

1. How much more difficult is the Thule rack installation than the Acura bike rack? (I saw the Acura installation instructions and it looks pretty simple).

2. Am I over-thinking this and should I just get the Acura racks?

3. Is it difficult to load and unload the bikes from the roof without damaging the vehicle?

4. Does anyone recommend a brand other than Thule?

5. Am I better off getting a rear/trunk mounted rack from Thule and forget about the roof? (It looks like the max size Thule rack holds three bikes max, I need to carry four).

6. Any other friendly advice?
 

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I have a Yakima hitch-mounted rack that I love. It holds four bikes (locked firmly in place with keyed locks), cranks firmly into place in the receiver (no rattles), and swings down and back to allow the rear hatch to be opened. This is much easier to load than a roof-mounted rack.
 

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To avoid wind drag use the hitch mounted bike rack, plus I think it looks better than on top of the roof.
 

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The Thule roof rack is pretty easy to install and use but it does not allow for 4 bikes (I haven't even tried 3). If you need 4, go with a hitch-mount. If not, let me know and I will try to answer your other questions.
 

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LarryN,
3. Is it difficult to load and unload the bikes from the roof without damaging the vehicle?

It is not difficult, but this depends on how tall you are. If you are of average height or taller you should have no problem.

4. Does anyone recommend a brand other than Thule?

I have been using Yakima racks and attachments (bike, ski, etc.) for the past 9 years, and they work great for me. I never had any problems and I highly recommend their products.

5. Am I better off getting a rear/trunk mounted rack from Thule and forget about the roof? (It looks like the max size Thule rack holds three bikes max, I need to carry four).

The advantage of a roof mount rack is that it will not interfere with the MDX hatch opening and closing. Also, fork mount type bike carriers (if you use those on the roof) provide a more secure way to carry your bikes, in comparison to either upright roof carrier such as Acura's or hitch carrier that is available from either Yakima or Thule. Of course, the disadvantage of using roof rack fork mount carrier is that you would have to remove the front wheels on the bikes that you carry.

Good luck with your decision.
 

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check out www.sportsrack.com, they have this mounted hitch bike rack that swings away for easy access its by Bauer.
 

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More things to consider...

mgmdx said:
LarryN,
It is not difficult, but this depends on how tall you are. If you are of average height or taller you should have no problem.

DEPENDS on bicycles, if you are dealing with high quality lightwieght bicyles it is MUCH easier than with heavy bikes, even little kids' bikes made out of mild steel are a bear when it is up over your head. Factor in wind or poor lighting/bad weather and your see why hitch mounts were invented...

I have been using Yakima racks and attachments (bike, ski, etc.) for the past 9 years, and they work great for me. I never had any problems and I highly recommend their products.

DITTO, great product! Works very well, truly a value when you factor in the flexibility/longevity.


The advantage of a roof mount rack is that it will not interfere with the MDX hatch opening and closing. Also, fork mount type bike carriers (if you use those on the roof) provide a more secure way to carry your bikes, in comparison to either upright roof carrier such as Acura's or hitch carrier that is available from either Yakima or Thule. Of course, the disadvantage of using roof rack fork mount carrier is that you would have to remove the front wheels on the bikes that you carry.


FEW things: First many (?most) hitch mount carriers tip or swing out of the way to allow acces to hatch -- VERY convenient! Second SECURITY!!! Thieves LOVE LOVE LOVE bike carriers. Even other wise half-way decent people/kids lurk about in vaction areas to snatch bikes. Thule & Yakima both offer good lokking devices for fork mounts as well as options to lokk-up bikes with their wheels still on ('ankle bitter'/lockjaw I think). AT LEAST get high quality cablke lock AND figure out a SECURE way to use it!
Third- PARKING LOTS & GARAGES!! Roof mount carries are a no-no if you have a tall SUV and have to get into a low clearance parking area OUCH!! OTOH, I have seen bicyles on a hitch mount carrier get DESTROYED during even 'parking lot' collisions becuase somebody didn't pay or attention, or forgot they were back there...


Good luck with your decision.
Same from me! Hope this helps, doesn't confuse...
 

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Hi Larry - I just bought the Thule 944 Hitch mount carrier - delivered last night and is still in the box. I'll set it up this weekend and let you know what I think. The 944 is a pretty basic model and relatively inexpensive. It folds down to allow hatch access, but the arms don't swing down independently.

The 994 is about $100 more, and has swing down arms, an included Zipstick (lower bike stabilizer $10) and an included lock. We're going to be pretty occassional bikers for awhile (one bike has training wheels! No long-distance rides...), so I went with the less expensive model.
 

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Ghost - I would be interested in your feeback on the Thule 994 install as well. Also, I was just pricing it and the best deal (retail) I could find was $249.00. Is that pretty much what you found?

JPOW
 

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Hey, JPOW, I got the 944 (confusing numbering systems), aka the Hitching Post. Looks just like the 994, but the 994 comes with a couple options thrown in (the zip stick and the lock), and I think the bike supports are hinged to swing down (whereas they are fixed on the 944).

The 944 retails for $159, I found it for $130 on the net. I've heard Sportsmart occasionally has them for $80, probably at the end of the season, but I didn't want to wait.

I installed the 944 yesterday, it's a really nice piece of hardware, quite solid. Probably road test it later this week.
 

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Thanks for the reply Ghost. I did check the Thule item number (since I thought I may have transposed the number) for the model I was looking at and it was definitely the 994 Espressway Hitch carrier. That probably explains the big price difference. Now I will have to check out the differences between the 994 and the 944. Once you road test the 944, let us know what you think. Also, I will have you get a hitch as well, any suggestions? Do you know if Tim carries them? I would just need a basis hitch since I don't plan on towing anything in the near future.

JPOW
 

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JPOW, I bought the OEM hitch from Tim and did a self install - it's not too hard (in retrospect, pain in the a* when I did it...). Far less expensive than the $800-900 that Acura will charge you for parts and installation.

(numerous amusing pictures of mine and others at
http://www.acuramdx.org/forums/showthread.php?threadid=3840 )

I also have the power steering & tranny coolers and one of these days will get around to putting those on :rolleyes: (getting more important as I picked up a pop-up camper today! :D)

I think the OEMs the way to go, you never know what you might want to tow in the future, but other folks have gone with hidden hitch and some other vendors. Do a search, lots of debate on the consequences of non-OEM hitches and no coolers on your warranty.
 

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Yakima Roc'n Gate

Keyword: Swing-out

Pretty much everyone makes a folding hitch rack; but have you ever tried lifting a folding rack with 4 bikes mounted (150-200 lbs)? I can just see telling my wife in a store, while on vacation, "yeah, its just inside the rear hatch, just pull the bike rack pin and drop the rack to open the hatch, and remember to remount the 180 lb bike rack into position when you're done."

The Roc'nGate by Yakima swings out sideways effortlessly with finger pressure and locks into the open position so it doesn't swing too far and bang up the side of your car. Comes ready to hold 4 bikes with anti-sway frame holders, reflector, integrated cable lock, built-in hitch bolt ratchet to tighten rack to hitch w/out tools, and locking hitchpin. To get this package a year ago I had to buy 7 separate optional accessories, in addition to the rack itself, for double the current price of this rack package. Its a good deal indeed. Works very well.
 
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