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Discussion Starter #1
Which hitch mounted bike rack do you recommend? Draftmaster? Thule? Yakima? Other? I want to be able to hold up to 5 bikes and still be able to open the rear hatch w/o dismounting the whole thing. Suggestions?:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #2
No replies, so I thought I'd reply to my own message to bring it back to the top of the stack. Anyone have suggestions?
 

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I'm interested too, but only need to hold 3 (4) bikes. I've looked at Thule and Yak, and they look comparable at around $250.
 

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I bought the Yakima Roc'N'Gate which swings out of the way to access the rear hatch and holds 4 bikes. It also holds skis with the ski rack option.

I got a good deal at REI during a sale this summer as well as using my Rebate money.

I have heard of others using the Thule, which works equally well and may be a bit less $$.

Do some research on their web sites, but also do a search on this site as I am sure there is more info available from the summer.

Good luck
 

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I have had the Yakima for several years. Zero problems, and has held up well.

I don't know how the Thule has improved since I was comparing the two, but when I compared them I liked the soft rubbery material on the Yak clamp part much better, it seemed much less likely to scratch the frame. Wondering if that is still the case.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the help. The hidden hitch thread didn't have much in the way of specific recommendations, which is why I started a separate thread.

The DraftMaster looks good, and maybe the only way to go if you need to hold 5 bikes. The Thule and Yakima models are very confusing; there are several models of each, but the sites aren't helpful in helping you decide which to get. They don't tell you how they really differ, for example. If they do, it's not easy to figure that out by navigating the sites.

The drawback to DraftMaster is that you have to take the front wheels off and store them separately; I assume inside the cargo compartment. The other brands put the whole bike on the rack sideways (DraftMaster is vertically b/c you don't have the front wheel), but this seems to limit them to max. of 4 bikes. The DraftMaster is also very expensive; about $550 for the 5 bike model, but the 4 bike model is $450.

Guess I'll have to go to a brick and mortar store and check them out, but I seem to recall that the problem is that most stores don't have more than one brand, or more than one model, so it's hard to comparison shop. Any suggestions which store(s)?
 

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Thule Space Station

I use the Thule Spacestation. It has a mount for 2 bikes standard and there is an add-on to mount 2 more. Very solid rack. Great if you have different types of bikes to carry. Mounting uses clamp on pedal and strap on front wheel while bike rests on the bottom bracket. This means no issues with funky full suspension designs and bike don't bang each other as you drive down the road.
 

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need4spd said:


The drawback to DraftMaster is that you have to take the front wheels off and store them separately; I assume inside the cargo compartment. The other brands put the whole bike on the rack sideways (DraftMaster is vertically b/c you don't have the front wheel), but this seems to limit them to max. of 4 bikes. The DraftMaster is also very expensive; about $550 for the 5 bike model, but the 4 bike model is $450.

Draftmasted has little brackets that fit on the cross bars to hold the wheels on.

Chris
 

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My Final Bike Rack Choice with Picture

After consulting with the threads in this forum, I finally order the Thule 994 Expressway Bike Rack.

I wanted to see how the bike rack fits together on the MDX but it is not as easy as I thought. The reason is that in Memphis neither Yakima or Thule carries the top of the line rack in their shop. They have the lower end models but the top end must be ordered. I was left with kind of catalog shopping.

The Thule's dealer The Peddler's Shop has the "994 ExpressWay" ($250) model but has none in stock due to holiday, I guess. The young man works in the shop has one on his PathFinder and let me try the set on my MDX. This help a lot in my decision process.

The Thule 994 Expressway model has a tilt down feature so you can move the rack away from the hitch door. However, it is highly recommended that you must remove your bike FIRST. This is definitely an inconvenience. On the other hand, the Yakima use an integrated frame so that the main frame arm can not be move down when not in use. I like the Yakima's description of easy to take rack down feature but I guess I decided that probably don't remove and put back the bike rack on a frequeny basis. Since the Yakima does not permit the tilt-down of the bike arm, the total length with the MDX will be too long to fit the garage. I had to drop it.

On trying the Thue Expressway, I am surprised but delighted to find that the 994 rack would allow the hitch door to open without tilting down the rack. So, I can open the hitch door when the bike is not mounted. :) :D This is a big convenience. The door will not be able to pass the rack when you have the rack bike arm up and security cable lock put on. In short, I decided to go with this model and bypass the choice of "swing-to-the-side" rack on either Thule Swingway or Yakima RocNGate.

As a result, I can be inside the garage.. with the bike rack on the MDX and open the hitch door. That's what I like. I don't know if the next level down Thule 944 model would allow you to open the hitch door since it does not have the "tilt down" feature. But .. I decide to use the 994 anyway for better stability with the wheel tie-down bar and still have the tilt-down feature if I need.

I hope this article helps anybody with a decision to make on the bike rack.. it was like buy the MDX MSRP all over again on this thing in the sense of trying to get the right thing :p Anybody who's not limited to garage space should consider the higher-end model that has the swing to the side feature which both brands carry.

The following pictures demonstrate my experience described above...
 

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2 to 4 inch Hitch Extension

I am interested in adding about 2 to 4 inches of extension to the hitch. Anybody has recommendation on? I don't need to long extension such as 8 in to 12 in extension since it is a bit too much for my bike rack (Thule 994).

This will fully permit my hitch door to open even when the bike rack is loaded with four bikes.
 

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I bought a bike rack this summer and I ended up buying the Yakima Terrafirma. It had good bike mounts and the reviews said it was a more-solid fit in the hitch.

I have used it about a dozen times and I love it. Bikes are very secure and the rack is solid with 4 bikes going 60MPH+.
 

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JR8 said:
.. ended up buying the Yakima Terrafirma. It had good bike mounts and the reviews said it was a more-solid fit in the hitch.
..
The Thule does have a bit gap where the hitch and rack connect so it is not air tight, but it is easier to work with. I do not hear any bike noise during my regular driving on the street. The solid integrated frame on Yakima should be stronger, but I just like the "flip down" feature of the THule rack arm. I can fold it down when I drop off my bikers and the 'x with the rack also fit nicely in the garage.

If I had the chance to try Yakima, I may choose to get it especially the "easy to remove" feature. But I would have lost the folder down feature of the Thule. What a pitty is in my area either dealer needs to order the higher-end item and I cannot see for sure before I buy.

My only disappointment withe Thule is that I cannot open the hatch door if the bike arm is up. The cable lock portion is in the way. Sometimes I need to open (or forget to close) the door. The "folder down" feature of the rack is no as useful as I original thought because it is hard to folder down the whole rack with bikes on it (heavy). And if I need to take down the bikes, it is easier to just flip down the upper supporting arm of the rack so I don't need to folder down the whole rack. So .. that feature is probably of no use.

When I tested the THule, the sales guy let me use his exact model.. and the door can open even with the bikes loaded. When I got mine, it does not work that way. I ask to try another one, and it did the same thing. The sales guy then said that his rack must have been bent down a bit through heavy use.

Overall the Thule works.

Does anybody know a way to tune the rack so that I can get about 2 inch more gap from the top side? I hate to add an one foot hitch extension just for this purpose but I love to be able to open the door even with the rack up.
 

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Yakima Roc'N'Gate

I purchased the Yakima Roc'N'Gate and it is great. It is very stable on the hitch and doesent rattle. It uses a diffrent type of bracket to hold the bike whitch is easy to use and eliminates rattles. Also the Roc'N'Gate folds away from the car to make it easy to access the cargo area. If you sign up for the membership for $15 at REI you will get 10% off which saves you about $60. The membership is for life and works on anything the only problem is that it is a rebate you get at the beginning of the year.
 
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