Rack ‘Em Up
by Pat Goss
No matter how big or how small the vehicle, it seems like there’s always a need for extra space. You’ve got to carry stuff. Well, one way to do that is with a car top carrier like this Thule unit that mounts on cross bars, and in this case we took Thule crossbars and mounted them to the factory roof rack. Now a couple of cautions here. Number one, read the owner’s manual and read any caution labels on the rack. See, there are limits to how much weight can be placed on the roof of a vehicle and how it should be positioned. Also remember that when you put something on the roof of the vehicle, it will change the center of gravity and that will mean that the car could handle differently. So drive accordingly.
All right, but real popular these days, bicycles. You know, you’ve got to carry your bicycles around. Here we have a Thule hitching post. This handles up to four bicycles. It does a good job. The thing you want to look for in any kind of bicycle carrier is that it is high quality. You want something where the tube rests on the carrier that’s going to protect the paint and that it’s going to be secure so that it can’t slide off.
Well, if you have a high line bike though, what you might want to do is you might want to consider one of the carriers that uses a replacement skewer mounted onto a bracket and then onto a frame that replaces the front wheel. These can be configured to go into station wagons or sport utilities or minivans. You name it. And there is absolutely no possibility of any damage to the paint. They are very effective and they’re easy to use.
But you know when you’re carrying things, sooner or later you’re going to come across something that you need to tie down. Well, pay attention to the different types of tie downs.
This one is okay [top right]. With this you press a lever and then you pull the strap tight, as tight as you can get it. Well, for heavy loads that may not be tight enough because these straps do have a certain amount of stretch and you could have a load that wobbled.
So better is this unit right here [bottom right]. Now on this one you pull it as tight as you can get it. Then by forcing this lever over, you make it tighter.
But the absolute best one is right here [left]. This uses a ratchet device so that you can really tighten up on the strap, and that’s going to make sure that your load doesn’t wobble or weave or do anything. Now if you have a question or a comment, write to me. If I use your letter on the air, I’ll send you a MotorWeek T-shirt. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, Maryland, 21117.