RockyMounts SplitRail rack review

A hitch-mount rack from the roof-top masters

BikeRadar score4.5/5

RockyMounts’ SplitRail is the Boulder, Colorado company’s latest hitch-mounted rack. RockyMounts is known for their colorful and aerodynamic roof racks, but can they hold their own versus the established players in the hitch-mount rack world?

Two SplitRails are available, one for 1.25-inch receivers that handle two bikes, and another for 2-inch receivers that come stocked to haul two bikes but can be upgraded to carry three, or four. The trays work with 20-inch wheel kids’ bikes all the way up to 29ers. Even plus size tires are fair game, but full-on fat bikes are not.

 The rack does all the usual hitch rack tricks of folding up closer to the vehicle and tilting down loaded or unloaded for access to the vehicle's rear hatch. 

The SplitRail folded up and lower profile
The SplitRail folded up and lower profile

Hitch racks have some huge benefits: they allow super fast and simple bike loading and unloading, require no stretching overhead to reach the roof, are more aerodynamic for better gas mileage, are out of the path of bugs, and can be removed when not needed. Downsides include bikes getting dirty from road spray, and the sad chance of a rear-end collision ruining your bike and your day (or more likely your week).

Building the SplitRail up

When I picked up the SplitRail, the kind folks at RockyMounts offered to build one for me. Seeing as most consumers will likely get this rack in a box, I chose to build it myself. Opening the Tetris-approved package, it was a bit hard to believe a full-size hitch rack would be the end result, but luckily, the instructions were spot on, and everything went together quite painlessly. Even the included tools were surprisingly decent quality. 

RockyMounts SplitRail specs

  • Lightweight chromoly and aluminum construction
  • 44lb assembled weight makes it the lightest expandable hitch rack available (2" only)
  • SplitRail Single Bike Add On expands 2" model to carry 3 or 4 bikes 
  • Fits bikes with 20–29" wheels and new "Plus" size tires. 48" max wheelbase
  • 4" of side-to-side tray adjustment for simple and easy loading and unloading of bicycles
  • Integrated cable lock secures bikes to rack, locking hitch-pin secures rack to car
  • Includes wall mount storage hook

SplitRail in use

As for hauling bikes, the SplitRail is about as easy as they come. Simply unfold the arm, place the bike wheels in the trays, pull the arm up and over the front wheel, and slide the hook down onto the front tire. The ratcheting hook has loud, confidence-inspiring clicks, noticeably more pronounced than my old, well-used, much-loved Thule T2 arms. Last, but not least, snug the tire straps down front and rear. 

RockyMounts' SplitRail hitch rack works with 20-29in wheels, including Plus-size tires
RockyMounts' SplitRail hitch rack works with 20-29in wheels, including Plus-size tires

RockyMounts inclusion of the little nub to hold the tire straps out of the way when loading bikes is remarkably brilliant. Every rack I’ve owned and used always has the tire straps in the way when loading a bike. Sometimes when the bike is light, or before the ride when you’re fresh, you can loop the rear wheel underneath the strap, but 90% of the time the strap gets stuck under the wheel, or tangled in the spokes, or messed up in some way. Can you tell I’m annoyed by this? Seriously, the person who came up with the little nub that holds the strap out of the way needs to win an award for removing one hassle from a cyclist’s life. 

The devil's in the details. A little nub holds the rear wheel strap out of the way for easier bike loading
The devil's in the details. A little nub holds the rear wheel strap out of the way for easier bike loading

The other small detail that is so well thought out is the SplitRail's handle that's used to fold the rack up or down. This little feature gets used constantly and having the handle within easy reach is a detail that I seriously appreciate. It's refreshing that some of the tiny details in RockyMounts' products obviously come about through daily use and solving the problems that arise.

This little handle is a real highlight. Raising and lowering the rack happens a lot and the SplitRail is easy
This little handle is a real highlight. Raising and lowering the rack happens a lot and the SplitRail is easy

Minor quirks

While using the SplitRail, I did notice a few quirks. I had to re-tighten the hitch to receiver interface once, which is no big deal as most things take a bit of use to settle in.

The aforementioned secure arms made unloading bikes a bit hard as the trigger was difficult to squeeze, especially if you really squashed your front tire down. Squeezing the release trigger actually ratchets the hook down one more click before letting go. People unfamiliar with the rack had more trouble with this than I did, but I mentioned, “I’ll take the rock-solid holding ability everyday over a weak, questionable clamp.” (I guess you could also not squash the hook down so tight on the tire, too.)

The final frustration was the integrated cable lock which comes out of the top of the arm. I should say it is supposed to come out of the top of the arm because both locks were seriously stuck and took a few choice words before popping out. Once out, they worked perfectly. 

When really cranked down over the bike's front wheel, the release button takes a bit of strength
When really cranked down over the bike's front wheel, the release button takes a bit of strength

One final unique quality

The last trick in the SplitRail’s bag is when the rack is off the vehicle. RockyMounts’ founder Bobby Noyes remarked “I was so tired of having my hitch rack lying on my garage floor, there had to be a better way.” The better way is the included wall mount. So now, when the SplitRail is not in use it can be hung on a wall, up and out of the way.

Good work, RockyMounts! It’s clear they use their products.

RockyMounts SplitRail pricing

UK£N/A / US$519.99 / AU$722.73

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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