Saris isn’t shy about hyping this carrier, calling it "the ultimate trunk rack" and "functional art". The company might not be overstating it though as it also says the SUPERBones is the culmination of everything learned from all its previous boot racks, and that’s a lot because the Bones rack has sold over a million in more than 20 years.
The SUPERBones 3 looks very similar to the Bones 3, and in basic terms it is. Curved arms are adjustable to fit a wide range of vehicles from small saloons to flat-backed vans, the feet are designed to spread the load and avoid scratching paintwork. Ratchet straps are fixed to the arms to secure up to three bikes.
The key difference is the retractable mounting straps that wind out from the main arms. Once the rubberised hooks are in place at the top and bottom of your car’s boot, press the lever down to reel in the spare length and then lift the lever to ratchet the strap tight. The straps line up with the arms and can run above or below them.
The arms no longer have to be slid off the aluminium spine to adjust their angle. Each one has a quick-release lever that sits flush when closed. The SUPERBones is very compact once folded up. The extra mechanisms do add weight, though. The SUPERBones 3 is 8.4kg versus 5kg for the Bones 3. The maximum carrying capacity is unchanged at 45kg and it’s still (proudly) made in the US with a lifetime warranty.
The SUPERBones doesn’t fit every car — roof spoilers can be an issue — but Saris has a good fit guide. For instance, Saris informed one potential buyer that while the SUPERBones 3 is fine for the 2015 Jaguar XF, it isn’t suitable for his 2016 model since the aluminium boot lid isn’t strong enough to take the weight.
Bikes mount with two ratchet straps over the top-tube and one around the seatpost to prevent sway. The inside surfaces are rubberised to protect paint and they hold bikes securely. The straps are long enough for aero tubes and we carried a time trial bike easily.
External rear brake cables can get trapped against the paint, though, so it’s worth taking a moment to protect them. Also, bikes aren’t held apart and there’s nothing to pad them or secure the front wheels. Saris offers front wheel straps and ‘Protect-O-Pads’ as optional extras.
As highly developed as the SUPERBones is, the standard issues of boot racks still apply: the bikes are in contact and held by the frames, you can’t access the boot and you will need a lightboard with a number plate on many cars to stay legal.