The 1up USA Quik Rack hides nothing beneath its abashedly industrial aesthetic – an intricate array of alloy extrusions, bars, and blocks, all carefully machined and bolted together. Not surprisingly given that function-over-form approach, it’s one of the very best hitch-mounted bike racks currently available – but could still benefit from a bit more tweaking.
Just as the name suggests, loading bikes on to the Quik Rack is indeed a speedy and painless process: you just flip the dual arms open, lift the bikes on to the trays, and then fold the ratcheting arms down on to each wheel. The arms accommodate a wide range of wheel diameters straight out of the box – from 16in kids' bikes up to 29+ mountain machines – and even the new crop of plus-sized mountain bike tires easily fit. For bigger rubber, there’s an optional fat bike kit that swallows up to 5in-wide treads.
The tiered layout allows the bikes to be positioned much closer together than usual
The trays themselves are spaced quite close to each other, measuring just 25cm from center-to-center – a full 8cm tighter than a Kuat NV. However, bike-to-bike interference isn’t an issue thanks to the Quik Rack’s cleverly tiered design whereby neighboring bikes are offset not just laterally but also in height – not unlike seats in a movie theater.
Bikes are held pretty well in place as you drive down the road, too. The base of the rack is unusually well supported with a stout pivoting mechanism and extra-wide spacing on the main structural members. With two arms holding on to each bike instead of the usual one, there’s also a little extra piece of mind that your precious cargo won’t inadvertently end up on the side of the road.
The Quik Rack’s Erector Set-like aesthetic might not suit everyone but it’s hard to complain about the modularity of the design and the convenience it affords as each tray is individually bolted on to the base and can be added or subtracted as needed. For example, families could build a three-bike system – which would be much more compact, lighter, and cheaper than the usual four-bike monstrosities – while single folks could just purchase a smaller (and again, cheaper) one-bike setup. Owners of smaller vehicles should also note that 1up USA approves its 1 1/4in model to hold up to three bikes instead of the usual two.
The Quik Rack has a bit of an Erector Set-like aesthetic, but construction quality is excellent and the design is extremely clever
As an added bonus, the one-bike configuration is so compact that it’ll allow for rear hatch access on most vehicles even while the rack is still folded up.
Speaking of which, 1up USA’s tilt mechanism deserves some extra mention. Like many other top offerings, the Quik Rack can be folded up tightly against the back of the vehicle, folded down for carrying bikes, and tilted further down to the ground so you can get to items in the hatch or trunk. However, 1up USA has added a fourth position – an intermediate ‘half-folded’ setting – that lets you access your stuff when bikes aren’t loaded but without having to tilt the rack down each time they need to grab something.
For users that like to remove their hitch racks at the end of each season, the Quik Rack’s design even makes it unusually compact to store. Each tray is bolted to the rack base in halves and can be rotated back against the rack’s central spine after loosening a couple of bolts, sort of like a bird folding its wings. It’s not something you’d want to do everyday but when configured as such, it does take up far less room than any other hitch-mounted rack we’ve used.
Room for refinement
As good as the Quik Rack is, however, there are a few potential areas of improvement, nearly all of which seem rooted in a lack of refinement rather than a flaw in design.
Despite the aluminum construction, the Quik Rack weighs about the same as its more steel-intensive competitors
The widely spaced base itself is incredibly stout and stable but the bikes themselves still rock side to side a bit more than some competing racks. True, there are two arms holding on to each bike on the Quik Rack, but they’re made of relatively thin aluminum while most of the competition opts for a much stiffer tubular steel piece. Some sort of thicker cross-section – or even a hollow extrusion – seems like it would work well here, particularly given that the rack doesn’t have a weight advantage to give up. Even with almost 100 percent aluminum construction, a two-bike Quik Rack still weighs 21kg (46lb).
The Quik Rack’s arms themselves could do with a little tweaking, too.
Although they accommodate a wide range of wheel diameters, for example, there’s some partial disassembly required to make adjustments. The ramp on the aluminum blocks that clamp down on the tires could also be sharper for a more consistent hold on both mountain and road bikes (currently, 1up USA offers an optional snap-on ‘wheel saver’ for users who frequently switch). Finally, the ratchets on the arms may be nicely made but they can be tricky to use. You need one hand to release the arm and another to move the arm itself – and all the while, you also need to figure out how to keep the bike from falling over.
The made-in-house ratchets work well but require an extra hand to operate when opening up the arms
This situation sounds worse than it is, mind you, and it doesn’t take long to figure out the requisite ballet. Nevertheless, it’d be nice if those two functions could be reconfigured as a one-handed operation like with Thule, Kuat, Yakima, and others.
Finally, the four-position tilt mechanism is wonderful to have but the release lever is awkward to access, especially when bikes are mounted. There’s also no hole in the rack’s base for a locking hitch pin – a conscious (but unusual) decision by 1up USA as it affords more flexibility in how the rack is mounted to your particular vehicle. Some security is built-in thanks to an included theft-resistant bolt for the rack’s expanding anti-wobble mechanism but otherwise, locking mechanisms for the rack itself and for bikes are available but optional add-ons. Either way, in the event the rack loosens inside the receiver, the only thing that keeps the Quik Rack from eventually ejecting itself on to the road is a worrisomely flimsy Velcro strap.
1up USA doesn't drill the rack for a locking hitch pin, instead relying entirely on the anti-wobble mechanism to secure it in the receiver
Overall, the 1up USA Quik Rack is a brilliant piece of design, packing a wealth of innovative features that simply aren’t found in its competition. If you can get along with its quirks, it’s easily one of the best options – if not the best – out there. That said, it unfortunately also feels at times like it’s a bit unfinished and could do with a bit of additional development work. Quik Rack 1.0 is really, really good already but it seems like there’s room at this point for version 2.0.