Product Reviews August 11, 2012

Saris 'Bones 3' Bike Rack

Earlier this year I bought a new car. That's a car new to me, not a factory showroom new car. Logic would dictate that I purchase an estate. With the growing amount of paraphernalia we need to cart about for someone who is aged 2 1/2 years old, plus the possibility of fitting the bike, easily, in the car, it would have been the obvious option. Needless to say, given all of the above, I purchased a saloon. It's lovely and I'm very pleased with it. Just one problem though, the bike doesn't really fit in it. I mean it does, just about, but I need to take the front wheel off and lower the saddle and even then it's a bit of a squeeze. Not only that, taking the bike in and out of the cabin means the odd scuff here and there and that irritates me. I needed a plan 'B'.

I was originally thinking of fitting a tow hook plate and buying a bike rack that attached to it. I had seen one fitted to a Jaguar at 'wiggle' ride; it looked really smart and completely secure. Trouble is they are not cheap. A couple of hundred pounds for the tow hook attachment and then you need to buy the bike carrier. Plus, despite scouting around 'The Internet', there didn't seem to be anywhere close to home that would fit the complete stsem for me. I'm sure if I looked hard enough I could find someone, but the cost alone was putting me off. However, a couple more journeys with the bike in the car (when the bike was wet I would add), convinced me to look in earnest at an alternative way of transporting the bike. 

By chance, last months edition of Cycling Plus had just popped through the letter box. Contained within was a review of the bike carrier made by a firm I'd never heard of called 'Saris'. The review was very positive, although the one criticism was the price. This particular model, a 'Gran Fondo 2' costed around £250. It seemed 'Saris' knew something about bike carriers and sure enough after some research I found one I thought would fit the bill. Or 'Bones 3' to be precise. For once, I had timed my purchase well. It was in the run up to the Olympics and wiggle were doing their best to encourage easily led people like me to part with their cash and buy bike gear. Not a difficult sell. So 22% off later, I bought Bones 3 for about £107. Bargain. A few days later it was delivered in a quite a large box. 

Bones 3, unsurprisingly, is designed to carry 3 bikes. I thought I'd future proof the decision by getting the 3 bike version instead of just the pair of bikes offered by 'Bones 2'. You see what they've done there......? Anyway after a very brief scan of the instructions and a pause over the diagram that showed what it should look like once fitted correctly I started the attachment process. The instructions reckoned the first time would take about half an hour to fit. After my attempts, I'd say they were 15 minutes light. However once set up, there's no need to alter it...........

It's a very clever design. Basically the weight of the bikes rest on two legs that sit on the bumper. Another two 'arms' sit on the top of the boot lid. The final two 'arms' actually carry the bikes and contain a quick release ratchet to buckle the bike to each 'arm'. The arms and legs a totally adjustable because they are attached to a aluminium centre tube that is shaped like a cog. This allows each arm or leg to be adjusted very precisely, but is completely secure once in place. In order to keep the device in place, Bones 3 is then strapped to the boot in 6 different places. The weight of the bike is kept on the legs that rest on the bumper, so the unit itself bares a minimal load. The bikes are spaced about 15cm apart and are kept in place by the strapping that's provided. It caters for both male and female framed bikes. I did think in order to stop any peripheral movement, a couple of cable ties would render the bike completely in place. The bikes are kept fairly high on the carrier once attached so I would imagine this would be detrimental to fuel consumption over a long run. One final word about the design. Since all the components are independent of each other and can be slid up and down the barrel of the centre tube, it can be helpfully arranged so that the bikes do not obscure your number plate.

So far I've only travelled locally with it, but as yet no problems to report. Saris advise to periodically check the straps which seems sensible, although set up correctly I can't see any reason why they would come detached. Having invested in this now, I'm wondering why I didn't look into this sooner. In summary it's a simple but robust design and does exactly what it needs to. A perfect example of being 'fit for purpose'. The only other issue to mention is that you cannot secure the bike rack to your car as such - so its unwise to leave it on the boot if you are going for a ride since someone could detach it and walk off with it. 

Saris products are available from all good cycling retail outlets. As mentioned, I bought mine from 

Words, Thumbnail and Slider: bikebritain Ltd

Registered No. 6993486

38 Salisbury Road
West Sussex
BN11 1RD