If you own a car and a bike, a boot rack is often the easiest and least expensive way to combine the two, so you can take your bicycle(s) with you to events, trail centres, holidays and the like.
When it comes to car boot racks, manufacturers seem to come and go (anyone remember Rhode Gear?) but Saris keep on going from strength to strength.
Here’s a few reasons why
- Saris boot racks are made in injection-moulded engineered resin (AKA lifetime-guaranteed plastic) which will never rust
- Saris plastic racks are tested to be stronger than any heavy metal rack
- A plastic rack will be lighter weight – easier to fit
- Breadth of range – there should be a rack that particularly fits your needs – and budget
- Manufactured in the USA – still a guarantee of quality control and good backup
- To find out which racks will fit your motor vehicle consult the Saris fit guide
A quick overview of the range
Available in two or three-bike options, Saris made their reputation with their Bones bootracks. Bones’ unique features include horizontally adjustable cradle arms. If you’ve ever tried to fit a kids’ or open frame or small frame bike to a bootrack with non-adjustable arms that are too wide apart, you’ll appreciate why horizontal adjustability is a great thing.
This is like a super-charged version of the Bones 3 made even more user friendly with a retractable strap management mechanism and larger, rubber-faced, pivoting footpads. The straps themselves are reinforced with stainless steel thread for maximum longevity. These upgrades make it the best boot rack Saris has made since they were founded in 1974.
If you only ever intend to carry one bike, go Solo. To keep the design simple, inexpensive and foolproof, the arms of this sub-kilo plastic rack are not adjustable. To fit it to the back of the car, simply clip on the top straps, position the rack in place, tighten the straps, secure your bike and go.
Saris show true genius by creating a rack that positions one or two bikes vertically in line with the car. That way the bikes won’t obstruct your number plate and tail lights. What’s more, the rack’s wheel cradles support the bikes, so there is zero contact with the bike frame. This makes the Gran Fondo the recommended carrier for a carbon bike, where you wouldn’t want to clamp the frame down tube by the jaws of a typical roof rack cycle carrier.
Their only steel bootrack models, the Sentinal 2 and 3 enable you to experience Saris’s Born in the USA quality-controlled construction at a lower price than the Bones equivalents. The Sentinal offers great Saris features, such as length-adjustable legs and particularly easy-to-adjust bicycle hold-down straps.
Be Careful Out There
I (the Bike Co-op’s Ged) have used a bootrack for 30 years without suffering any mishaps. My top tips are:
- However impressive the bootrack’s strapping system, I always further secure the outer bike by looping a bungee round the frame’s bottom bracket and attaching the bungee’s hooks to a solid part of the car, such as its towing hook. That way, the bikes can’t leap off, even if you drive through the deepest pothole
- A second bungee stretched round the inner bike’s front wheel, then anchored round the bootrack and bike frame will immobilise the bike’s handlebar and prevent the bar or brake lever knocking against the car’s back window
- Setting the bootrack arms as high as possible might be enough to lift the bikes so they don’t obscure the tail lights and number plates
- Alternatively, buy a second rear number plate (cost approx £14) and zip tie it to the outer bike. (But remember to pack your cable cutters or scissors or use reusable cable ties so you can remove the number plate when you reach your riding destination.)