A couple of years ago, Pat and I both rode in the same organized ride. To get there, we put our bikes in the back of our Honda CR-V. But it was a tight squeeze, and we had to take off the front wheels and lay one bike on top of the other. We didn’t like the arrangement.
It just so happened that in our goodie bags for that ride, we found a coupon for a discount at a local rack store (Rack Outfitters of Austin). I drove over there, told them what I needed, and they fixed me up with a Yakima King Joe 2 rack. Now that I’ve had it for awhile, I think it’s time for a product review.
The rack holds our bikes as we arrive at the recent LBJ 100 ride.
The King Joe 2 holds two bikes. Perfect for our household, since there is only the two of us. It’s much like racks made by a number of manufacturers, that fasten to the back of the car or SUV by a series of straps. If you pull the straps tight, you should have a solid mount for your bikes.
The straps tangle easily. They can be a headache to line up correctly, but that’s the key to getting a secure mount. Yakima provides rubber “keepers” to thread the straps through, in order to minimize loose, dangling straps. However, one of the keepers broke, and I wrap that strap around a metal leg and fasten it with a double half hitch.
A “keeper” is visible near the bottom of the picture, near where the strap fastens to the lift gate. The rubber pads to protect the car’s finish can also be seen.
If you don’t adjust the straps correctly, you’re jeopardizing your bikes. Earlier this year, we were driving to a ride and I noticed in the rear view mirror that the bikes were canted at an angle. It turned out the straps were wrapped around each other, and weren’t gripping as securely as I’d like. If we had gone another five miles, I think the bikes would have fallen off. Now, I allow extra time to mount the rack, just to make sure the straps are pulled as tight and straight as can be.
The King Joe 2 has six attachment points.
That, and the torn keeper, have been the only glitches I’ve had with the rack in three years of use. However, there is one other feature I’m less than crazy about. The bottom of the Honda’s tailgate doesn’t allow the straps to attach with hooked fasteners. So the guys at the rack store fitted hard rubber bumpers — they look like small dumbbells — to the straps that attach to the bottom of the tailgate. You start mounting the rack by lying it on the ground behind the vehicle, then jamming the bumpers against the inside edge of the tailgate jamb. Close the gate, lift the rack into place, and tighten the straps. I’m sure it’s not as secure as it would be if the hooked fasters could be used. It works, though.
By the way, the hooks on the other straps are rubber coated, so they don’t damage the car’s finish.
The bikes fit into plastic cradles on the extensions that protrude from the rack. Each is firmly secured by three rubber straps that stretch tightly over little knobs. Once in place, the bikes won’t move.
Back in the 1980s, we occasionally traveled with bikes to ride on rail trails in Minnesota. I bought a bike rack then, but it was such a poor design that it threatened to collapse and drop the bikes onto the highway. I turned around and went home, took the bikes off and threw the rack in the garbage. It’s nice to see that rack design has progressed and that bikes will now stay on your vehicle all the way to your destination. But I still spend a lot of time checking the rear view mirror when I’m hauling them.
The Yakima King Joe 2 retails for $135.00. It’s in the middle of Yakima’s range — other models run from $79 to $199. If you have a mid-size or crossover SUV like me, I recommend this as a good choice.
What’s a rack..? http://picplz.com/user/vanstrapp/pic/rd6rs/ 😉
Mel Hughes says
What a loaded question! (Pun intended!) Last month I traded off the best bike carrying vehicle I have ever owned, a Honda Element. It was tall enough inside for me to fold up the rear seats, roll in my Litespeed, and strap it to one side of the rear compartment or the other – with both wheels attached! We could do three bikes like that as long as the middle bike faced opposite the two on the sides. But that was then…
When we had a CRV (before the Element) we used a three bike Allen rack that went into a 1 1/4″ receiver we had installed on the CRV. It was fine. It was always very stable with the bikes very securely attached. I only worried about damage frome being bumped from behind in traffic. I actually had this happen many, many years ago. The light “bump” we felt in the car bent two road bike frames. So I have always been a little sensitive about having the bikes suspended behind the vehicle. But that is really the only problem I have with the rear, receiver racks.
I have had a couple of vehicles with roof racks. If the vehicle is not too tall, these can be very handy. The types I had were all Thule which required removing the front wheel. The Element was too tall for me to be able to do this without a small step ladder of some sort. The other ever-present danger, especially to those who own garages, is forgetting the bikes are up there and trying to drive in… I have done that many years ago. Developed a nice dish in the roof of an Acura Integra… The other negative aspect of the roof rack is the increase in drag. Everything you add to the profile of the car will cost you in decreased fuel economy as well as adding a bit of wind noise, even with a deflector.
Which brings me to my current dilemma. I downsized to a Honda Fit. The only way my bike will fit inside this vehicle is by removing the front tire. It isn’t a big hassle but it has made me revisit the other options. Currently, I am seriously considering adding a receiver to this car. The old Allen rack is still here. It also has a tilting feature which allows you to have the rack installed yet still have access to the rear hatch. So this is probably the way I will end up going.
Think we might be using the same Allen rack. It’s been good to me. Holds three bikes, straps securely also there is a cable I can route through wheels and the frame to lock it all down.
R. White says
We have one of the strap-on racks. Once I had it set up right, I gathered the extra straps and zip-tied them in place so that they weren’t dangling, tangling, etc. It is a Bell and hauls 2 bikes ok, but I don’t like that it sits on the car, against the paint.
So we put a trailer hitch on the Jetta and are now using the 3 bike hitch rack we already had. This keeps the bikes away from the car and allows trunk access.
I also have fork-mount racks attached to the tailgate of my Tundra for when we want to take the truck.
I’ve used most methods available over the last 10 years, all Yakima products: “strap” type rack on a Honda Accord, receiver hitch rack on a Ford Expedition, fork mount in the bed of a Nissan Frontier, and a roof rack on a small Lexus SUV. Only the Nissan and Lexus are currently in service today! To keep this simple, I love the fork mount in the truck, liked the receiver hitch rack, find the roof mount acceptable, and the strap rack is a pain. My opinion is that *if* you can convert to a receiver hitch rack on a small SUV, do it. The roof racks and strap racks are just too hard to deal with.
I have a Thule roof rack on my car, and I wouldn’t go any other way. I’ve used the rear trunk racks, but my car doesn’t lend itself well to mounting those, as the space around the trunk is just too small to fit the strapend.
Also, my car is 18 years old, and it was starting to damage the structure of the trunk (pulling up the lid).
So, now I have a roof rack with a couple of bike racks, all bought on Craigslist for a total of $200 or so.
Tommy F says
I started with a Saris Bones 2 strap on rack. It was designed well, very reliable and performed well (about $120.00). However, I drive a Miata and I always have to load up to get to my starting point. Therefore the rack was a “permanent” installation and as a result of the bottom straps having to connect under the back bumper, I lost the use of my trunk. This was a real hassle concerning the ever growing need for storing my cycling gear and accessories we all like to have at our disposal.
Then as luck would have it, I won a Kuat hitch mount rack in a Facebook contest. I then added the 3/4 hitch for the new Kuat rack. It is great! And I got my trunk space back. It is a more pricey alternative but very much worth it for my scenario.
Loving the Bike says
I have the Thule roof rack and really like it, even though it scares the heck out of me some times. I hit some trees once and knocked my urban bike off the roof and ever since then I get a little paranoid when I’m near anything hanging above the road.
The best part of the roof rack is having all the free space in the car and also being able to open up the back of our SUV.
Ah, see I have a car that’s about 4 inches off the ground, so I never worry about that 🙂
Once you get the rack set up on your Honda properly don’t mess with the upper straps. Only work with the lower ones.
I’ve been in the market for a 1-1/4 hitch mount rack. Any opinions on brands/models/features etc? Thx
Can you provide some pics of the bike rack install on a Honda CRV? You mentioned the following… and your comment was the only instructions I found to install the rack on the CRV which has a 3″ bottom hatch. But I’m not clear on the “rubber bumpers” or the “inside edge of the tailgate jamb.”
As a reminder, you said, “So the guys at the rack store fitted hard rubber bumpers — they look like small dumbbells — to the straps that attach to the bottom of the tailgate. You start mounting the rack by lying it on the ground behind the vehicle, then jamming the bumpers against the inside edge of the tailgate jamb. Close the gate, lift the rack into place, and tighten the straps. “