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Bike Rack Shopping? Do Your Homework.


May 2014

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.


  1. PedalWORKS says:

    I have the Yakima. The hitch mount rack is the best investment I have made. I use it all of the time. I find the roof racks for my Touareg are too difficult to use. Enjoy it.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I will… I’ve got a trunk mount and while it’s okay, I won’t carry the Venge on it (shop owner recommended against it) and it only fits 3 bikes. Gotta move up.

  2. fastk9dad says:

    Good deal on a nice rack! I have a Swagman XTC2 and I like it. The only down side is that you have to remove the bikes in order to fold down the support to allow you to open the tailgate. No biggie for just me but I can see where that might be an issue with kids. LOL

    • bgddyjim says:

      The Saris works the same way but I can live with that – the models that tilt are north of $600 and that’s getting a little too pricey.

  3. I love my Swagman 4 bike rack. Yours seems like an excellent rack as well. It always pays to do the research on user reviews and prices.

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