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Making sure my bike rack is road worthy

Making sure my bike rack is road worthy Making sure my bike rack is road worthy

A few months back, I received an unexpected gift from my brother-in-law: a bike rack for the back of my car. I’d been thinking about buying one for awhile, but I never pulled the trigger. Still, the idea of taking my bike with me wherever I wanted is an attractive one, so I readily accepted my in-law’s gift.

A couple issues were readily apparent, however. First, the Rhode Gear Super Cycle Shuttle I received was several years old, maybe even a couple decades. My brother-in-law said he had not used in many years, and it had just been sitting in his garage, not getting used. I don’t want anyone to think I’m complaining about how old it is, as I’m definitely not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The rack also happens to be in good condition, with no missing or damaged parts to worry about.

The real issue, for me anyway, is that it did not come with any sort of assembly instructions. I know a lot of you may be laughing right now, but I am one of those people who generally needs step-by-step directions and maybe a few diagrams whenever I install something. And, again, because the rack is a few generations removed from the “latest model,” there isn’t much on the Internet in the way of instructional videos.

So, it sat in the back of my car for several weeks before eventually making its way inside my apartment for closer inspection. It was always one of those weekend projects that I meant to get to whenever I had enough free time, but that didn’t happen for awhile. Finally, one Saturday, I laid the contraption out on my living room floor and tried to visualize exactly how it would attach to the hatchback on my Nissan Versa. A couple of YouTube videos did help me in this regards, though the racks in videos were never exactly like the one I had sitting in front of me. Eventually, I got sick of hemming and hawing and took the thing out to the garage. To my pleasant surprise, I was actually able to get it strapped to my car within a matter of minutes. The plastic hooks fit where they were supposed to on the hatch of my car, and the straps were easy enough to tighten so I felt like the whole thing was secure. The moment of truth came when I lifted my bike onto the rack and started the process of getting it tied down. This is where the outdated technology made me nervous. Most modern racks have simple clamps that keep the bike in place, but the model I have only provides a pair of elastic cords that are apparently meant to wrap around the bike in a way that keeps it fastened to the rack. I tried multiple ways of running the cords around and through the frame of the bike, but none of them were sufficiently secure for my comfort level.

So...I haven’t completely given up on using the rack at some point, but I’m still not ready to take the bike on a public road for fear of a calamity. I’m also reluctant to take the rack off, because I don’t know if I could get back it in place as nice as it is now. When I try again to put my bike on, I may employ some extra bungee cords just to be extra cautious. Until then, the rack will just have to sit empty.