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 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.
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.
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.