I’m purchasing a new Saris Freedom 4 bike, 2″ hitch mounted bike carrier for my new SUV. I found three others online that looked promising, a SportRack on REI, a Swagman XTC 4 at Jenson’s, a Shadow 4 at Nashbar (backordered until July) and the Saris on Rackattack-dot-com. The Saris was not the least expensive (the Shadow 4 on Nashbar was at just $200). The Swagman and SportRack came in next at $350 followed by the Saris at $400*. I also checked out the Yakima and Thule versions but they were well over $600 (you have to purchase the 2-bike and then the add-on).
The interesting thing about the Saris is that on the website, it shows the price of $399.99 but adds that the MSRP is $499 – I’ll get to that in a minute.
Now, I read the reviews on the $200 Shadow 4 and there were two things people didn’t like… It was heavy and it didn’t have a tilt mechanism so one could access the liftgate. I don’t mind heavy but I do mind not being able to access the liftgate with the rack on the vehicle. I have two small kids so you can be guaranteed that once everything is loaded, you’ll have to open the trunk at least twice – so having to remove the bikes, then the rack itself, is unfortunately not an option, even if I’ll save more than a hundred-fifty bucks.
Now, I’ve written before about how important my local bike shop is to me so I decided to give them a shot as well, just to see where everything shook out…
I’m getting the Saris Freedom 4 for just $10 more than the Swagman and SportRack. The MSRP for the Saris, somewhere, may be $499 but it’s $399 in Michigan, minus my club discount and I’ll be getting that rack delivered to the shop, for less than I can buy it online and only slightly more than I can get the other models (same price after shipping).
I’m not unaware of the fact that I get a very good deal at my local bike shop but the fact remains, I got a better deal than I could have gotten online.
The point is, while I didn’t bother with eBay, online stores aren’t necessarily the best deal and if you’ve built a rapport over time at your local shop and aren’t getting the same service, I’d suggest finding another shop.