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Made by Monkeys

Where Rubber Meets the Bike Rack

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johnr
User Rank
Gold
Re: Lack of Field Testing Disturbing
johnr   11/24/2014 1:21:17 PM
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Given my experiences with many products, I wonder if some of them get any field testing at all!  The odd thing is that, with a little tweak here or there, they will work acceptably well.  Since I'm an engineer and a tinkerer, I usually take that route rather than hassling with returning it, especially if it's something that I need right now!  It makes me wonder what goes in in the companies that design this stuff.

kenish
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A Better Solution
kenish   11/23/2014 10:20:43 PM
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Disappointing, becuase Thule products aren't cheap and the higher tiers of the cycling industry generally have outstanding customer service and "make it right" policies.  A rack that's not totally secure is a big problem since nowadays the cost of 2 bikes can total $10k-$20k.

I bought a house-brand truck bed rack from a national bike store chain (starts with P).  It was 1/4 the price of Thule and the only problem has been the powder coating "chalked" after 5 years and light surface rust started.  I went to the store to see what they could do...they gave me a new one, no questions asked.

If a company wants a premium position and pricepoint, they'd better have uncompromising customer service and warranty policy.

greg
User Rank
Iron
Re: Lack of Field Testing Disturbing
greg   11/21/2014 12:06:31 AM
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often when manufacturers are mounting things like the rubber cradles to metal bars, a lubricant is used. it may even be soap n water or just plain water. the lubricant gets trapped under there and never really dries out. sometimes just sticking a compressor air gun under it and blowing the stuff dry makes it stay put. better would be to remove them, clean both surfaces with rubbing alcohol, and reinstall with air only.

odd that Thule doesnt offer replacement cradles, as their direct competitor Yakima does.  Yakima goes one step further and lists the spare parts on their website below the page of the parent part. makes looking it all up much more convenient. makes me wonder the diameter of the bars on the Thule vs the Yakima.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Bike Rack Blues
William K.   11/20/2014 6:51:59 PM
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Here is a fix that should work, but it is neither quick nor cheap. The solution is to cast new pads in place out of urethane casting material. That material can be very tough and it should last a very long time.

You would need to produce molds, which plaster is the cheapest adequate material, with cardboard to frame it while it sets. Wrap the existing part with thin clear plastic cling-wrap, fill the mold up to the desired parting line, add one layer of cling-wrap to allow separation, then fill the mold the rest of the way. When you achieve a mold that can be removed successfully, take off the rubber parts and install the mold so that you can cast the new parts in place. The material takes a while to set, so follow the instructions carefully. It will be a bit of work but the new pads should last a very long time. 

ACtually, from looking at that photo, it should be possible to make a simple mold and just cast a new cusion over the top of the worn one. Cheaper and easier.

One caution is that some materials need protection from ultraviolet in the sun's light.

Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A Better Solution
Zippy   11/20/2014 1:59:42 PM
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For the record, the Prius has a surprisingly roomy cargo hold if you fold down the rear seats, and can easily hold two full-size bicycles.  if you are hauling a number of extra people or baggage, however, a better solution is a trailer-hitch mounted rack, where the bikes sit with the weight supported by the wheels.  The hitch has a weight limit of 200 pounds, so stay away from bikes with depleted uranium frames...   :) 

Bob Hulme
User Rank
Iron
Bike Rack Blues
Bob Hulme   11/20/2014 1:30:32 PM
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It would appear that there is an opportunity here for local bike repair shops to offer a quick and simple fix.  The problem is that they are likely to be the same businesses that want to sell you the complete new rack! It should not be that hard to find a size of rubber hose that can be split, then bonded on to the tubing of the rack. What sort of business would you expect to get that service from? Tell them and I am sure they will recognise the opportunity.

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A Better Solution
Nancy Golden   11/20/2014 1:01:19 PM
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Now it's my turn to laugh because what Critic said is so true. We only put our cheaper loaner bikes (we often loan a bike to friends who don't have one but would like to join us for a bike ride) on our car bike rack. We take the wheels off of our good bikes and put them in the car with us when we are driving to a rally in another city - like Critic said - you don't even need a truck or SUV - they fit fine in our 1996 Chevy Lumina. And you never leave them outside the vehicle - our bikes cost just about as much as we paid for our used car! Regardless of your perspective on whether or not to use bike racks however, the manufacturer should have done a better job with their product.

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
A Better Solution
Critic   11/20/2014 9:20:23 AM
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I chuckled when I read, "I bought a Prius, then had to buy a bike rack for it."  If you choose an appropriate vehicle, then you don't need a bike rack!  When you put your bikes on an external rack, you subject them to weather, bugs, and the possibility of theft or vandalism if the car is parked and unattended.  You also make the car look (subjectively) terrible from the outside.

I find that a pickup truck or SUV are just fine for transporting bikes without the necessity for a rack.  In my bicycle racing days, we used either a van or a full-sized car (with bikes in the back seat) to transport our bikes.  The bikes were much too valuable to leave outside the vehicle.

So you want fuel economy and don't want the expense of a second vehicle?  Well, the bikes and bike rack aren't helping your fuel economy!

While I understand the concept of transporting the bikes to a special location where the biking is better, I am also aware of many people who drive to a gym to work out!  If you are going to ride the bike, leave the car home!

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Lack of Field Testing Disturbing
Nancy Golden   11/19/2014 10:27:02 AM
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While I am not surprised about their early (AKA planned) obsolescence that is so prevalent in manufacturing today - I found it more disturbing about the sliding mounting saddles. It is obvious that they did not do any extensive field testing or would have caught that design flaw. We spend way too much on our bicycles to have them jeopardized by a company that is supposed to provide these types of products for them.

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