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Trailer Hitch Mount Platform Bike Rack for a Step-Through Frame Bike and 2014 Subaru Forester

Question:

I have a Public step-through bike. I want a platform hitch for my 2014 Subaru Forester. 1. I would very much prefer not using an adapter bar on my bike. I have used these in past I have two, a Yakima and a Swagman. Yakima actually doesnt fit my Public, too long. And the Swagman does not work well on the Public, slipping down on front stem. A pain. And I worry about damage to the paint. All in all, really want to avoid having to use one. I want quick and easy, no compromises, if that is possible. 2. I will be driving long distances 600+mile trips on freeway at 75mph and want the rack as stable and as secure as possible. 3. I want the platform as light as possible, easy to install 4. Although not essential, I would prefer an internal locking system, rather than cables. 5. I would like a rack that can be folded up close to the car, so that I do not always have to remove. It seems no platform may fit all these requirements. I have, I think, narrowed my search down to several, but have questions re each. 1. Saris Freedom. Lightweight. easy installation, and more secure/stable than the Saris Thelma? But how will it perform during extended freeway driving? What is the stability vs all metal construction? Security not great. A few negative reviews re durability of plastic and possible contact with car in fold-up position. 2. Thule Doubletrack. Great design, great fold-up position, and sturdy appearance. Would seem it might be best ion for freeway driving. But so heavy, again I wonder if I could easily install. And how to store in garage, seems unwieldy. But very interested to know I could use with step-through without adapter bar. 3. Swagman XC. Not too heavy and I read on your website that some step-throughs can be used without adapter bar. How would it hold up to freeway driving? What about stability of bike? So, thats it. I would like your advice on all I have found and, in addition, if there are other racks I have missed that would work. Ultimately, would also be very interested to hear what your choice would be. I am entirely impressed with the etrailer website, videos, and expert help. What a wonderful resource. Thanks indeed.

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Expert Reply:

First, highway driving should actually be less stressful on the rack than surface road driving because there tends to be less curves, bumps, pot holes, and other similar things you would find on the streets. Any of the racks you are interested in should have no issues on the freeway.

Stability: platform bike racks are going to move around. This is because of their design. You have long platforms extending out from the center of the hitch with weight on them. There is going to be some movement no matter which rack you choose. But that is normal. The hitch and rack are built to withstand this type of movement. There are also anti-rattle device built into most racks or that can be purchased separately.

Platform rack that you can use with a step-through frame without the use of an adapter bar? No problem there.

A light platform rack is harder to come by. Some are lighter than others though. And we do have some storage solutions when the rack is not in use and I will get to those a little later. I do not recommend keeping the rack on the vehicle when it is not in use (barring or course when you park and then go ride the bike, then you of course would leave the rack on the vehicle).

Many racks either come with locks or can have them added so it should not be difficult to find one that has that feature.

The Saris Freedom, # SA4412B, is light but does not fold up towards the vehicle. Only the center mast folds down. It would be fine for highway driving, and has a threaded hitch pin that also acts as an anti-rattle device. It does not have locks and you would have to add the lock for the hitch pin, # SA3022, and use a cable lock, # SA981.

The Thule Doubletrack, # TH92BJ, is an excellent bike rack. It weighs 35 pounds and it will fit a step-through frame because the clamps can be moved and rotated. It does have locks and locking anti-rattle hitch pin.

The Swagman XC, # S64650, is an entry level rack. It does not include locks so you would have to use a cable lock. The all steel design is sturdy but heavier than the Saris racks. It does not fold up towards the vehicle. I would not recommend this rack based on what you are looking for.

A rack that you may have overlooked is the Saris Freedom SuperClamp EX, # SA4025F. This rack holds the bikes at both wheels, it includes a hitch lock/anti-rattle bolt, and an integrated cable lock. It does not fold towards the vehicle but both arms fold into the center. It would take up very little space when stored. It is not all that heavy though a little heavier than some racks. It would be as stable if not more so than the other racks. It basically has everything you are looking for.

If your 2014 Subaru Forester happens to have the factory 1-1/4 inch hitch then none of the bike racks listed above should be used. The issue is the OEM hitch has a pin hole very close to the end of the receiver. This means that most bike rack shanks will not fit far enough into the receiver for the rack to be held very securely. In this case you would need to look at Yakima platform racks.

Yakima has 2 platform racks but only 1 of them fits most of your criteria and that is the HoldUp, # Y02445 for 1-1/4 inch hitches. But it is heavy, 55 pound shipping weight. Otherwise it is an excellent choice.

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