By Sarah Reiter, Saris Car Rack Product Manager
The sun is out. The wind is blowing in your hair. You are already mentally on the trail. This is perfection. We know the feeling. If we could bottle this feeling and sell it, we'd do that. Since we can't, we make bike racks. Because giving you a way to carry your bike on your car to your destination is pretty much the next best thing.
As professionals in the field, we spend an enormous amount of time and energy designing and testing racks to ensure that everyone safely and securely gets to their destination. We wrote the instructions and we know what is being communicated and advised. However, as we all know not EVERYONE chooses to read instructions. Our proof is housed in the photos that are shared with us from the road – the unique, unusual, and sometimes idiotic uses of bikes racks in the wild.
In preparation for this blog post, I took a look at all the photos in the file. Once I wiped the spittle off my chin from laughing so hard, I took a more sympathetic view of what these customers were trying to accomplish with their bike contraptions (sometimes it's too much of a stretch to call these racks).
And, based on what I saw, the errors generally fall in one of the following three categories:
The What Goes Where?!?
With only 7% of the general population reading instructions we are shocked that few customers improperly install their bike rack. However, there are the outliers wherein the user clearly thinks that they have figured it out with no need for the instructions.With this type of install, the examples generally feature a rack that is upside down or the bike is connected in a way never intended, like by the handlebars or a bike hanging from the cradles rather than sitting on the cradles.Ignorance is bliss here, because this user doesn't have any idea that they are doing anything wrong.This is the most innocent kind of miss-install, and a little education can go a long way in preventing incorrect installs the next time around.
Read the Instructions, but Rules Don't Apply to Me.
Because our racks are SO good looking, some just can't accept that the rack is not a fit for their vehicle. In this category, the user reads or hears that the rack isn't a fit or shouldn't be used in the manner they want, and rather than accept that advice and move on - they do it anyway (we have ALL been here). This kind of user has a vision in mind. But here's the thing, we have spent hundreds of hours fitting bike racks on cars and trust us, we wish all our bike racks could fit every car.
So let's cut the chase: Modifying the rack in your tool shop is a bad idea. Hand welding extension tubes onto an existing rack to circumvent the system is a disaster waiting to happen.Finding DIY modifications or IKEA-type hacks shouldn't be a positive here.The Bungee cord is NOT your friend.To this user I say, let us use our experience of making bike racks for 40 years.
No time for proper use.
This user will try to get away with an unauthorized use because they are not going very far. Case in point: contrary to popular thinking, you should wear a seat belt when going only 2 blocks, and your bike should be securely attached to your car when you take it in for servicing at the shop just down the road. Like many "slippery slope" scenarios, this breeds a level of over confident bravado that they have "beaten the system" and that their solution is workable. A hitch rack on a motorcycle? A wheel chair on a bike rack? A rack attached to the back of a swing door of a passenger van.We've seen all of these, and while funny upon first glance – these are the fits that keep us up at night.
Bottom line...you have questions...we have answers. At Saris, we have engineers whose jobs day-in and day-out is to make sure that the products we design and bring to market as intuitive, user friendly, and idiot-proof as we can make them. This data generates our Vehicle Fit Guide, complete with fit notes. We would love to see a world where the misshapen fits are populated by only non-Saris racks. To help us achieve that, our Customer Service team is available to answer questions about the right car rack for your use and can help troubleshoot any questions or concerns you have prior to starting your voyage.