Back in the nineties, Saris’s Bones trunk rack was one of the first trunk-mounted bike racks to break from the norm of simple round tubes — and I have a bit of nostalgia for the Saris Bones rack.
Many years back, my wife (then girlfriend) had a Bones rack strapped to her old beater car and on the rack was a Gary Fisher mountain bike — worth much more than the car — and it’s a good memory.
When not hauling bikes, the arms fold down to keep a low profile Russell Eich / Immediate Media
Saris Bones 2-bike specs
- Carries two bikes (35lbs/bike)
- Built with 100% recyclable, rust-free plastic materials
- Articulated rubber feet
- Arc-based design separates bikes on different levels
- Colors: Black or Gray
- Actual weight: 3.85kg / 8.5lbs
Saris Bones installation
The Bones trunk rack is made out of recycled materials and Saris makes both two and three bike versions of its venerated Bones trunk rack — that adjective is appropriate since the Bones trunk rack was first introduced in 1996.
This little seat post strap was revolutionary when the Bones was introduced in the nineties Russell Eich / Immediate Media
The rack is little more than a cylinder with five arched arms and three long straps. In reality there are a few more pieces, but its Italian design shows that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Plus, the fact that it’s still in production, and doesn’t look dated, is a true testament to how innovative and timeless the design was and continues to be.
Installation of the Bones can seem a bit overwhelming, with the rack folded into itself and straps dangling everywhere, but in reality it’s pretty straightforward with ‘upper’, ‘side’, and ‘lower’ stamped into the hooks, and simple knobs to loosen the arms.
Turning the knobs lets you adjust the rack to your vehicle’s shape Russell Eich / Immediate Media
One of the nicest features of the Bones, and one that other rack companies have now adopted, is the ease of moving in the arms.
Simply unscrew the lock nut, slide the arm to the middle of the center beam, and position them to work with your vehicle. The feet rotate to align with the vehicle’s contours and the straps are easy to snug tight.
The rack remained tight through many miles of washboard gravel roads.
The Bones features soft ratcheting strap hooks to hold bikes.
The straps are plenty long, hold bikes snug, and are relatively easy to undo. For traditional diamond shape frames, such as road bikes and hardtail mountain bikes, loading and unloading is a hassle-free affair.
The arc of the arms kept the bikes separated a bit more than other straight arm racks too.
If only hauling a single mountain bike, the outer position worked better Russell Eich / Immediate Media
The two top tube straps and one seat tube strap keep the bikes from swaying into one another, but do nothing for the front wheels flopping about. This is an Achilles heel for nearly all trunk racks however.
The arms measure 21cm apart center to center, which in contrast to modern bikes, especially mega-long front centered enduro bikes, is relatively narrow. Despite that the straps hold the bikes secure, and the rack’s six straps keep it snug to the vehicle.
Also, like other trunk-mounted racks, full suspension mountain bikes are difficult to mount without an optional bike beam (think: fake top tube that attaches to the stem and seatpost). Bikes with a low top tube and small bike frames with water bottle cages are other examples where a bike beam add-on would be useful.
Removal and storage
One of the main benefits of a strap-on bike rack is that it can be removed simply, unlike a roof rack or bulky hitch-mount rack.
The Bones is easy to take off just like other racks but folds down quite small. It’s lightweight and would be easy to store in the trunk or back of a vehicle.
Strap management issues and no locks
The mounting straps are plenty long, which leads to a lot of excess. Other racks, such as the Yakima FullBack have little loops to manage the extra length, while the Bones requires some clever knot tying to keep the straps tidy.
Saris’s Bones is a bit of legend in the trunk rack world Russell Eich / Immediate Media
And like other racks of this nature, there’s no way to lock the rack to the vehicle or lock the bikes to the rack.
Saris Bones 2-bike trunk rack bottom line
This rack is a classic and will go down in history as a game changer in trunk-mounted bike hauling. However, like other trunk racks, it has some difficulties hauling modern mountain bikes, small frames and bikes with a dropped top tube.
But if the bikes you need to transport are drop bar or hybrids with a regular diamond-shape frame, the Bones is up for the task. Plus, when bike hauling isn’t on the agenda, it’s lightweight and easy to remove, fold up and store.