More on Bicycle Racks – The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Bicycle racks are important!  Yes, indeed…. Why you would say.  Because the bicycle racks can allow you to have a successful set of bike rides in a place away from home, or NOT.  Speaking of places for bike rides — I have been adding more to this site's database of bike trails.  Added more in Texas and Florida – check them out here

And now, back to the bike racks — and more specifically, the strap-on / trunk bike racks.  I have had many of those over the years — used them on Hatchback cars (my old trusty 1987 Ford Escort ) on sedans (Dodge Neon, Subaru) and Station Wagos (Renault Sports Wagon, Subaru Outback….. BMW).   Well, those racks used to work just fine with the straight frames of the mountain bikes of the 1990s and early 2000s but now the new models are getting tougher to get on these racks.

The most recent rack I have owned is SARIS    which I wanted to use with three mountains bikes when I go biking with my family.  Well, that is what I wanted to do, but in my particular case with the bikes I have — the intent turned out to be unachievable!  

Why?  Because of the frame shapes of the current bikes my family has – two 29ers Specialized and one 26-inch Giant bikes.  No matter what I have tried it is IMPOSSIBLE to mount all three bikes on the rack.  

Saris Trunk Mount Bike Rack

Long story short, I need a roof top bike rack.  

So that will be my next purchase — expect to read about my exploits in figuring out the best options for my station wagon roof rack.

In the mean time — if you have more than two bikes — please check carefully before you buy a strapon trunk mounted bike rack.  Chances are, you won't be able to use it properly.

Bicycle Racks – The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Bicycle racks – Why dedicate a whole posting (as you will see a rather long one) to that topic? Well, it is one that is actually fairly complex.  Selecting the right bike rack depends on a large number of variables, therefore I want to make sure you can get all possible references and advice on that subject.  

Over the years I have owned a bunch of different bike racks and used those with sedans, station wagons, hatchback cars…and they all had their quirks.  So with that in mind you need to have a list of things to consider before you fork over $150-$200 at least (if not more) for your next bike rack.   The things to consider are:

  • How often do you plan to use the rack 
  • How many bicycles do you plan to transport 
  • Do you plan to use only one vehicle for your rack
  • Is it bikes that you plan to transport only or do you have other sports equipment – e.g. kyak
  • What is the type of vehicle you own – some racks fit better on certain types of vehicles and not on others

So here we start with the discussion on the specific types of bike racks.  

Strap-On Trunk Mounted Removable Racks

These are probably the most popular and least expensive racks.  They come in multiple makes and models, and use different materials to make.  There are both plastic and metal (mostly aluminum) made.  Over the years I would say they have both become well reliable.  The plastic one's tend to have potential issues with their screws – being plastic – they tend to strip and could become loose and potentially not doing the job any longer.  These racks could be rather problematic if you need to get them off your vehicle often.  Why?  Because you have to adjust the arms of the rack and properly attach and tighten a number of straps — usually two top ones, two sideways ones, and two bottom ones.  So installing the rack on the truck of a car can be a series of steps which you do not want to take on every day as one could imagine.

Roof Mounted Bike Racks

These are racks that attach to already existing roof rails and cross-bars that are available most of the time already on SUV, station wagons, and in some cases on minivans.  This type is pricier than the trunk mounted racks but if your vehicle is already outfitted with rails and crossbars — then your roof mounted rack becomes a bit more affordable.  

Hitch Mounted Racks

Hitch Mounted racks make loading and unloading the bikes a very easy and straight forward process.  The rack installation is usually as simple as pushing the rack into the receiver hitch until an automatic pin clicks in and your rack is in place.  Tightening a knob further secures the installation and helps avoid any vertical or horizontal movement and rattle sounds.  All in all — No tools required! In addition, the rack's arms are foldable which allows the rack to be a lot more compact when not loaded with bikes.

Here are some of the more highly rated Hitch Mounted Racks by fellow bicycle riders:

  

Bicycle Types – The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Bicycle Types: The Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking – Part II

Bicycle types – why worry or think about them?  Nowadays there are tons of bicycle types.  When you start considering your first or next bike to buy, you could benefit from getting a quick view of the information here as a way to better formulate your thinking and decision criteria. Earlier, I published a summary of topics I plan to write about as a way to develop a comprehensive guide for the amateur bicycle enthusiast.  Next, in part II of the guide, lets continue with the key question Which types of bikes may be of interest?  And of course what things do you have to consider aside from the bike brand?  Here is a short list:

  • What type of rides do you plan to do.  On trails in the country side or on the paved road.  Both?  Well, which one will be the prevalent type?;  What bikes do your friends ride?  After all biking with friends is a whole more fun…
  • Do not fall prey to the "buy cheap" and "what a great deal" gimmicks — if it is too good to be true it probably is (as the saying goes); Brands like Huffy, Schwin, Roadmaster, Mongoose, etc are OK but only for casual rides to the mail box 🙂  or overall just short and casual rides;  The good bikes cost $$$ and their construction and components will handle well in various conditions;

Based on the answer to the question above you will define which type of bike you will start testing.  The types include: 

  • Mountain Bikes
  • Road Bikes
  • Touring Bikes
  • Hybrid Bikes
  • Cyclocross Bikes 

In this guide, as the name suggests, I will start with my favorite one — the Mountain Bike, and discuss the types of bikes within this category.  So when you start thinking about a mountain bike, you will have to consider several categories:

  • 29er Hardtail
  • 29er Full Suspension
  • 650B or 27.5inch bikes
  • All Mountain Full Suspension
  • Cross-Country 
  • Trail Bikes
  • Downhill / Freeride bikes
  • Single speed mountain bikes

Next lets start with a brief description of the various types listed above. 

29er Hardtail: This type of bikes leverage the innovation of adding larger diameter wheels to the already well established category of mountain bikes.  The wheels have 29" tires rather than the traditional 26" ones.  Additionally, the "Hardtail" means the bike uses a frame with a front suspension fork and no rear suspension;

29er Hardtail

Compared to Full Suspension biks, the hardtails use your energy more efficiently, they are lighter and of course cost less for similarly outfitted full suspension bikes.  On a rocky trail you may find a preference for the full suspension bike, but I like the Hardtail for its manuverability and fast response to pedaling.

29er Full Suspension:  Well, yes, you guessed it — this type of mountain bikes is very similar to the 29er Hardtail except it utilizes full suspension mechanism.  

 A Santa Cruz 29er Full Suspension 

650B or 27.5inch bikes: This is a new category of mountain bikes which utilizes 27-inch tires.  This type of bike offers the "best of both worlds" in my opinion — the combination of a big wheel (27-inches) and smaller overall size which adds to the manueverability of the bicycle.  

 

Austin In Photos

Austin In Photos

I decided that it is time to create a nice photo page of Austin as seen in photographs – hence lets write the article Austin in Photos.  The city is certainly a great place for bicycles – OK, may be not a Portland, OR great, but certainly friendly and well predispositioned to all of us cyclists out there. 

Today, however, I decided to focus on showing you Austin from a few different vantage points — all of which were taken between Christmas and New Year's Eve of this year.  So here we go:  First comes a bird's eye view of Austin from Mt Bonnell towards the 360-Bridge

Austin View

Then I took a few snaps of downtown Austin and Lake Austin itself with of course the obligatory water front property fancy houses….Still, the views were beautiful.  And that on Christmas Day!

Beautiful Austin

And now — of course the downtown skyline — Austin has changed a TON over the last 7-8 years.  You can see the multiple high rises – which of course were NOT there only a few years back…

Austin views

The next photo is a favorite of mine — I really like the colors as they turned out on the photo (Another view from Austin):

Views from Austin

And now, just a few days after I took the photos above, the weather turned pretty bad – and on New Years Eve, the city was unrecognizable — if compared to the color and views above.  Here you go….

Cold night - Austin

And another one…

Night Austin

And another of the Capitol Building…

Austin at Night

And now, finally, as if you did not get the feeling of cold, here is a freezing picture of a tree in a rainy Austin day – definitely NOT the day to be on a bicycle.

Austin in the winter

With that,,,,,Goodbye!  Hope you have enjoyed the photo library….