ExperiencePlus! Blog

Gear Review: 1UP Bike Rack

How to Move a Bike, When Pedaling isn’t an Option

In an ideal world I would ride my bike everywhere. But in reality, there are times when a ride starts with a drive. Trips to distant trailheads for mountain biking, a bike packing loop, or sometimes just moving a bike across town all require a good way to haul a bike with a car.

Like so many things in life, I started basic. I put the seats down in the back of my old Subaru and in went the bike. This worked but it was awkward, messy after muddy rides, and the bike – just one – displaced any other people, bikes or gear that I might have wanted along for the ride. After a couple of years, I upgraded to roof-mounted bike racks. These were an improvement in some respects, but I now needed a step stool in the car to reach the racks and the car’s fuel economy decreased noticeably. One must also remain cognizant of low-clearance structures when the bikes are on top as I was abruptly reminded when I drove my first nice mountain bike into a Boulder, Colorado parking garage. About three years ago, I resolved many of these issues by moving on to a hitch-mounted rack. And now, this year, my long journey through the various means of hauling a bike with a car has reached its pinnacle: the 1UP USA 2″ Heavy Duty Double hitch-mounted rack.

This 1UP mounts in a 2-inch receiver hitch and has capacity for two bikes. Versions are available for 1.25-inch receivers as well and depending on the configuration can transport one to four bikes. The rack is essentially a set of trays that hold the bikes when in use or fold up vertically against the back of the car when not in use.

In my experience, the 1UP offers a few advantages over other hitch-mounted racks in its ease of use, offers a stout hold on the bikes, and high build quality.  It requires almost no assembly making the 1UP easier to use than other hitch-mount racks from the moment it comes out of the box. I often use my hitch for other activities, like towing a trailer, so the bike rack is on and off the car frequently. With the 1UP, this transition is made simple and fast by 1UP’s “corner expander ball” which allows a solid, rattle-free friction fit within the hitch. A few turns of a wrench is all it takes to install or remove the rack. During day-to-day use of the car, without bikes on the rack, I frequently lower/raise the rack to gain access to the back hatch of the car. 1UP makes this easier too with a simple pull bar replacing one or more pins on competitor’s models. And finally, when it comes to putting a bike on the rack, the arms of the 1UP that hold each wheel make it straightforward for anyone to securely load bikes.

That brings me to the second benefit of the 1UP over other hitch-mounted racks: the robust hold it provides for your bikes. Some competitor’s racks grab the frame of the bike, which can make them difficult to use with the wide variety of bike frame geometries out there today and can cause wear on the bike frame over time. Other competitor’s racks avoid these issues by grabbing the tires of the bike, often with an arm that clamps down on the front tire and a plastic strap that secures the rear tire. The 1UP also grabs the tires of the bike but in a more robust fashion. It has two arms, one for each tire, that come over the ends of the tires and provide a much more secure hold on the bike in every dimension. Stout ratchets prevent these arms from backing off the tires until you’re ready to take the bike off. After driving many miles with hitch-mounted racks, I’m much more comfortable, particularly on rough roads, when the 1UP is holding my bikes.

The last big benefit of the 1UP is the quality of its construction. After just two years of using a competitor’s rack it was showing wear, some components had broken or become loose, and there was evidence of rust starting in spots. While I haven’t had the 1UP as long, the sturdy aluminum construction seems like it will age better and 1UP offers replacement parts for most, if not all, components of the rack. And on top of it all, the 1UP is made in the USA.

You might be asking what is the downside to the 1UP? It is more expensive than competitor’s models. For me, the added expense is worth it. I ride more because the rack is easier to use, I don’t worry about the bikes while I am on the road because I know they are secure in the rack, and I expect this rack to outlast my vehicle and move over to the hitch on my next vehicle.

So, next time your ride requires you to take a drive first, I highly recommend 1UP racks to get your bike to the destination.