Saris Mythbusters: Plastic

Saris Mythbusters: Plastic

When it comes to manufacturing bike racks for your car, there are only a few materials robust enough to handle the job. For us here at Saris, we put our money on a combination of plastic and steel. After decades of real-time use and thousands of testing hours, we know this combination is a winning one.

Perceived as the weaker link, plastic sometimes gets a bad rap. To put these myths to rest, we've turned to our team of engineers, sourcing agents, product managers and everyone's favorite subject – science – for some answers. So grab your lab coat and get ready to bust some plastic myths.

Myth 1: Plastic Isn't Rugged

Do you remember the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Plastic absolutely understands what that's like. We've heard it time and time again – plastic isn't strong.

False! Our Test Engineer, Todd, knows this better than anyone else. Just look at the pounds per square inch exerted on these Bones arms – that's a max load of well over 1,000 pounds.

Saris tensile testing machine
Click here to watch the full tensile test unfold.

Our tensile testing machine measures the strength and integrity of each of our plastic parts, as well as our racks in totality. And our strength requirements are extremely stringent, for a good reason.

But we know that some people may need more than standard scientific research to convince them. Anecdotal evidence speaks volumes compared with the theoretical formulas.For this reason, we routinely stand, jump on, and drive on our car racks. One Friday afternoon, we drove an F150 pick-up truck onto two Bones racks. Why? Because we could.

Watch the strength of our bike racks in action.

Myth 2: Plastic is Only for Toys

Now that we've watched plastic withstand unbelievable loads, we know that yes – plastic is strong. Yet some may feel that plastic is better suited for toys, and not a bike rack for your car. We are here to bust that myth, too.

This idea may have been true fifty years ago, when everyone relied on steel and metal for most technical and industrial applications. But now, everything from automobile componentry to outdoor decking to shopping carts are made of plastic.To look even further beyond bike racks, here is an actual building made from plastic. Yes, an actual three-story building that can hold its own weight and withstand typhoons and earthquakes. Amazing!

Saris Bones 3 bike rack
The Bones rack was granted a Trademark Configuration Patent in 2014.

Plus, one added value of plastic is that it affords you the opportunity to make products in designed, unique shapes and geometries. Prior to the development of the Bones rack, bike racks resembled car mufflers – well engineered and functional but, let's be honest here, not pretty to look at. Now the Bones rack is the most iconic shape for a bike rack, an opinion solidified in 2014 when the Bones rack was granted a Trademark Configuration Patent. Mark another on the scoreboard for plastic.

Myth 3: Plastic Won't Last

(aka "I thought your Bones rack would melt in the Texas sun!")

Au contraire! We've heard from customer after customer about how their racks just won't quit. Bones owner, Ron W says, "The Bones is the most versatile bike rack I've bought. They've lasted through every vehicle I've ever owned."

Another customer, John of Orlando, FL, shared with us the photo below, along with his 2 cents, "I bought my Bones rack in 1997 and I've used it on a regular basis for 19 years. It's still in great condition and I haven't had to fix anything. I've used it on 3 different cars and a minivan with no modifications. It's been through 5 round trips from Michigan to Florida (over 10,000 miles) and still going strong. All materials -- metal, plastic, rubber, and straps - continue to hold strong. It folds down easily for storage and takes me 3-5 minutes to assemble and mount after storage."

Our engineers and sourcing agents work diligently to make sure that our plastic composites utilize the latest technology to ensure our products meet our needs – from UV stability and able to withstand the elements through harsh environmental conditions (we are headquartered in Wisconsin after all).

Of course, just like all things in life it's important to take good care of your car rack. Follow our user recommendations and if you take care of your rack, it will take care of you. And now, with your head filled with scientific confidence, get out and ride!

Regional Manager, Ron, field testing the strength of the Bones Hitch bike rack
Regional Manager, Ron, field testing the strength of the Bones Hitch bike rack.