The $14-thousand-dollar bike rack

On average I buy a car every 10.5 years.

I don’t do it because I like cars, or because I believe cars are an unmitigated good, or because Jesus would drive a car if everyone else did.

(I have nothing to base an opinion on but I think Jesus would still be hoofing it.)

In fact, I’m not so much buying a car as I’m buying a bike rack with a motor. Which I seem to do because so many other people have motors without bike racks.

(Not sure how they get around without the racks.)

One possible exception to the bike rack with a motor thing is my 1996 Mazda Miata. I really like it. As a car.

But I’m not nuts about it; if someone told me (and would make it happen) you can have Dutch-style infrastructure throughout America, today, if you agree to sell your Miata, I’d sell it for a cup of good organic coffee immediately, without hesitation.

I like coffee, too.

But I digress. Here’s a quick rundown of my history of bike racks with motors.

The 1987 Volkswagen Fox had rain gutters. This should commend it to any discerning individual. Seems silly to point this out, but rain did not stop falling simply because they quit putting rain gutters on cars.

You can attach a roof rack directly to rain gutters. Without gutters you need clips that snake into the opening between the door and the body.*

When all cars had rain gutters Yakima made a compatible rack tower. Just the one. That’s all you needed. Now Yakima makes clips. Dozens of ’em. Get a new car? Get a new set of clips.

I miss rain gutters.

I carried bicycles and tandems on top of the VW. When we moved out of the first house we owned, the Fox became a moving van. The last load was heavy enough to bottom out the suspension, which was good because it made it easier to lift the lawn mover to the top of everything else on the rack.

At five minutes to midnight.

The 2003 Ford Ranger sported a topper over the bed. I bolted the roof rack to the topper and carried bikes and tandems and boards and drywall and whatever. Then, to improve gas mileage, I started carrying the tandem at an angle with both wheels removed under the topper. It kinda fit; the tandem was protected from the weather and, to a lesser extent, from thieves who didn’t understand how flimsy that topper was.

Fast forward to a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan. Like the VW and the Ford and the Mazda it’s a two seater, mainly because the center-row bench was in the way and the rack covers the Stow-n-Go seats in the back.

Boy, is this a great rack. Bike forks are attached to a wooden frame bolted to the floor.


I can even roll the tandem in rear wheel first, secure the fork and I’m ready to go—without removing leaky water bottles, the rear rack or the handlebar bag.

I could also easily fit four (maybe five!) single bicycles into the back, which makes it a lot easier to build bikes at home—where all my tools are positioned just so—and transport them to the shop.

It’s the best bike rack with a motor I’ve ever owned.

I just wish I didn’t feel like I needed it.

*Please, please do not tell me I forgot about suction-cup bike racks. I. Did. Not. Forget.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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3 Responses to The $14-thousand-dollar bike rack

  1. Jane Joslin Kennedy says:

    We have a 2009 Chrysler Town and Country with Stow-n-Go. (This is what I used to move Uncle Johnny’s desk from La.) It is John’s work vehicle and he LOVES it, but the draw back for him is that it only pulls 1800 lbs. He wants you to know this so you don’t try to pull your tractor.

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