Rack And Opinion

Welcome back!

Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what what you have, spending time with family, blah blah blah, but hopefully you found some time in between mouthfuls of tofurkey to ride your little bicycle, you piece of crap:

I myself broke my recent jean streak and undertook two (2) Lycra-clad road rides in a row, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fast and how naked I felt:

Though by the end of the weekend I deployed my waxed cotton drogue parachute and returned to the more dignified portion of the power band:

Yesterday we also undertook a family bike ride, and once again I utilized THE MOTOR VEHICLE THE BANK NO LONGER OWNS BECAUSE I FINISHED PAYING THEM BACK in order to do so, because I’m part of the problem. Still, if it makes you feel better, I spent at least as much time crawling around underneath the car this holiday weekend as I did driving it, because I had to track down a loud rattling sound that it turned out was coming from this heat shield:

The bolt you can see is so rusted that it crumbles when you touch it, and the one on the other side that you can’t see is just gone, hence the loud rattling. Car Freds may take issue with this analogy, but it seems to me that the heat shield is the pie plate of the automotive world in that it serves an ostensibly important purpose and yet when they become annoying lots of people just toss them to no ill effect. Anyway, like any self-respecting cyclist, I first attempted to replace the missing bolt with some random bike hardware, though I couldn’t quite get the access I needed due to the awkward location of the hole. (Heh, heh.) So instead I just bent the heat shield enough so that it stopped rattling, then I ordered some metal zip ties from a massive Internet retailer which I’ll use to secure it–or, if it falls off before they arrive, I’ll just save the metal zip ties to repair my crabon frame in the event that it cracks.

And that’s how I do cars.

Anyway, I mention all this because in utilizing the car for a family bicycle outing I also utilized the Saris SuperClamp EX hitch rack they were gracious enough to send me back in 2018:

And while most cycling-related websites and publications review stuff on a “one and done” basis, I take pride in evaluating the gear people send me on an ongoing basis, which is why I’ll do stuff like review a pair of shorts eleven years after I’ve received them.

If I recall correctly, the reason Saris sent me the SuperClamp was because I had been writing about my Jones and mentioned that, after years of roof rack use, the advent of plus-sized tires and thru-axle hubs meant I finally needed to start thinking about a hitch rack. The SuperClamp does indeed carry my Jones without a hitch (see what I did there?), but the recent arrival of my wife’s Rivendell Clem Smith, Jr. aroused fresh concerns:

Specifically, you’ll notice that the bike boasts a formidable wheelbase, and while I’m way too lazy to look up specs I’d wager it’s quite a bit longer even than my Jones LWB. Given this, I worried that the bike wouldn’t fit in the wheel trays of the SuperClamp, which is designed for a max wheelbase of 50 inches.

My other concern was that even if I could fit the Clem onto the SuperClamp, I might not be able to fit my own Rivendell on there too, what with both bikes sporting absurdly wide and absurdly comfortable handlebars. This in turn would jeopardize future summer vacations, because if I can’t bring both our Rivendells with us then we might as well just stay home and sit next to an open fire hydrant while holding those reflector things:

Well, my concern was warranted in that yes, technically the Clem is “too wide” for the SuperClamp, and the rear wheel doesn’t quite fit in the tray. However, in practice it works just fine anyway, since you can still get the ratcheting strap around the wheel and the bike seems no less secure for it. Additionally, I’m very pleased to report that both Rivendells sit side-by-side on the SuperClamp just fine, even if I don’t bother to remove the bags on my own Rivendell, which you can be assured I did not. This means our summer vacation is not ruined–unless of course Cuomo starts banning travel beyond your zip code indefinitely, which I wouldn’t put past him, but whatever happens certainly I can’t blame our society’s rapid decline into a medical police state on the SuperClamp.

Carrying two sumptuous Rivendells is far from the only oddball configuration the SuperClamp has proven adept at, either. I’ve also carried a bloated plus-sized bike alongside a diminutive kiddie ‘cross bike:

As well as a skinny road bike beside a juvenile mountain bike:

There was one (1) time I had to “slam” the saddle of the M-16 in order to put it next to my own Rivendell, but so far, even as someone with a shitload of different bikes in different sizes, that’s the only time I’ve had to futz with anything in order to get it to fit:

All of this is to say the SuperClamp has successfully handled every bicycle I’ve thrown at it–or, more accurately, on it. And that includes my wife’s WorkCycles:

Which we carried on the car exactly once, on the day we gave it away to someone who lives in New Jersey.

As far as mechanical issues, a small plastic piece has broken off, though I’m not even sure what it was for so I don’t think it matters in the slightest. (I suspect it was to prevent you from somehow pinching yourself in the hinge while folding it, in which case it was basically the heat shield of plastic bike rack pieces.) Also, speaking of the hinge, it allows you not only to move the bike out of the way to access the trunk:

But also to fold the rack in closer to the bumper when it’s empty. Recently I’ve noticed the hinge is a little tight, which is almost certainly a very simple matter of lubing it, and therefore probably not even worth mentioning, though look at that, I went ahead and mentioned it anyway.

So yes, the rack has been great, and the only thing I’d change would be I’d like it if it tucked in closer to the bumper when not in use–well, that and having more mellow bike paths so I wouldn’t feel compelled to drive to family bike rides in the first place. But that’s not going to change as long as people like me keep driving places, now is it?

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