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New bike racks: designs for almost every vehicle.

If you like to bike, but you drive a truck, four-wheel-drive, hatchback, or sports car, you may have found it tough to carry cycles on or in your vehicle.

Traditional bike racks generally don't adapt well to features such as rear-mounted spare tires, gutterless "aerodynamic" car roofs, or fiberglass shells. But several new designs deserve a look. Each holds bikes safely and securely, without straps or hooks, and still lets you open your trunk, rear door, or tailgate.

For each type, we either tried it out loading up bikes and taking to the roador got feedback from experts in the field. All hold any kind of bike. Costs for twobike models range from $40 to $200. Look for these racks in recreational outfitters and cycle shops (for harder-to-find types, we've mentioned brand names). Most of them install quickly with simple tools; a few require drilling.

Some racks come with devices to deter thieves, but it's a good idea to secure all bikes and racks with additional locks. For pickups, a rack in the back. Instead of tossing your bike into the bed of your compact or full-size truck, clamp it to a heavy-duty steel bar-type rack,

To stay put, some designs rely solely on pressure against the sides of the truck (be careful: too much pressure may bow the walls). Others attach to clamps you anchor to the walls some with screws.

Bikes can lock to the rack, but only some racks lock to the truck. Expect to pay $90 to $100 for a two-bike rack, $20 to $30 each for additional bike holders.

For four-wheel-drives, rack hangs on the spare. Southern California architect Tom Olivor came up with the rack shown at right for his four-wheel-drive. Two slightly angled "arms" attach to the rim of the rear-mounted spare tire.

To anchor the foot-long metal arms, Olivor used the two extra holes in the spare's rim. (Most rims have five holes, but only three are used to mount the spare.) A bolt in one end of each rubber-coated arm slips through a hole, then through the tire mount, fastening with a lug nut. (With some four-wheel-drives, you may have to drill 1/2-inch holes in the mount to accommodate the extra bolts.)

Attach arms as high as possible so that bikes have adequate clearance should you drive across a deep gutter or rut, or up a steep driveway. And remember that the arms are only as strong as the tire mount, something to consider if you plan to carry a pair of heavy bikes across rutted roads. For best security, thread a cable lock (not included) through the bike frames and tire mount. When not using the arms, you can stow them in your car.

To order by mail, send $44.50 ($46.50 in California) to 5th Wheel BikeRack, 727 Via Otono, San Clemente, Calif. 92672. For vehicles with a hitch. This design slips securely into a standard, square-type trailer hitch. An adapter for lighterweight hitches is also available,

The hefty steel unit (the two-bike model weighs 14 pounds) has a 38-inch-tall main column topped by a crossbar, with cushioned, foot-long arms for holding bikes. The base slips deep into the hitch so the rack won't sway; it locks in place with a padlock (included). The column clears the back of your car by several inches, keeping it and bikes far away from your car's paint job. (For trucks, slide the entire unit out to open the tailgate.)

The Bike Slider costs about $130 for the two-bike model, $240 for one that holds four. For distributor, call (800) 822-7537 in California, (800) 522-7537 elsewhere.

For "aerodynamic" cars. Good news if you want a multipurpose modular rack but don't have the rain gutters on your rooftop to anchor it: you can use clips that hook around the lip of the door frame. The rack attaches to clips; different clips match the make and model of your car. The rack and four clips sell for about $125; bike mounts are $45 to $75 extra.

For fiberglass shells. Since shells often lack gutters or openings on which to hook clips for modular racks, try artificial gutters-brackets made of plastic-coated aluminum or steel. The brackets bolt in place on the shell's sides or top, Inside, washers (provided) should prevent leaks. A standard modular rack slips into the brackets. This means you can use the same rack on your shell as you do on your rain gutter equipped car.

As with the four-wheel-drive system, artificial gutters are only as strong as the material to which they're bolted. Rigid fiberglass shells work well, but avoid flimsier fiberglass or tin shells. A set of four, enough for one rack, is about $35. You usually have to buy the same brand as your rack.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1989
Words:797
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