Saris Gran Fondo 2-Bike rack review
Modern high-end bicycle frames feature designs and materials that are plenty strong enough in their intended load direction, but are all too easily damaged by forces applied to them in the wrong places or in the wrong direction. Clamping a top-level bike by the top tube onto a traditional rack can take your hard-earned investment and leave it open to potentially catastrophic damage.
This is where the Saris Gran Fondo 2-Bike rack comes into its own: it supports the bikes by the wheels only. The front wheel fits into a size-adjustable cup that can accommodate wheels from 26in to 29in, and the rear wheel sits in a channel-shaped section. Both wheels are then secured by ratchet straps. The hole in the front wheel cup and the length of the strap are both capable of handling deep section aero rims up to 80mm.
Fitting the rack is very easy – we tried it on a saloon, hatchback and estate with no fitting problems; it’s simply a matter of picking the rack up in the middle, offering it up against the back of the car, and then holding it in place with one hand while you fit the two top straps. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, it only takes a few seconds before you’re installing the final straps and tightening the rack down in place.
Another plus point is that the bikes don’t obscure your car number plate or the lights. This means you won’t be having to add the price of a lightboard and additional electrics to the back of your car to be legal.
Another area where the Saris scores is the strap layout. The strap hooks are nice and thin, and shaped to allow easy and quick fitting between modern car body panels, which can have very close shutting tolerances. The straps are attached to the rack on pivoting mounts, making tension setting a doddle too.
Although the rack is easy to fit, easy to use, and the cups fold flat for storage, it isn’t without its drawbacks. For starters, fitting a bike with mudguards is a pain; it can be done, but they need to be pretty robust mudguards.
You can’t fit bikes with wheels smaller than 26in, so it’s not suitable for kids’ models, but then again it isn’t meant to be. It’s a rack designed for expensive road bikes and, as such, it’s one of the best there is.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.