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What Car Rack is Best for Electric Bikes?
A question asked so frequently, we turned it into a blog post.
A new type of bicycle just rolled into town: the electric bike. These bicycles, powered by physical effort assisted with a motor are rolling into the mainstream market and growing in popularity. Across the pond, over 50% of all new bike sales are electric bikes, a trend that is starting to catch on in the United States.
eBikes are more readily available than they have been in the past. From big name bike companies releasing electric-specific product lines (think Electra, Felt), to crowd-funded models (Rad Power Bikes, for instance) to an eBike conversion kit, pedaling with motorized power is showing no signs of slowing down. And it's easy to see why.
For a commuter, the eBike makes longer distance to the office do-able. Did you know that most workers are willing to travel an average of 25 minutes to their place of work? It's a statistic that's held true since the Romans built their cities around the ability to walk 25 minutes to get to their "office." (Chariot jams suck, right?)
From a recreational point of view, the eBike opens the door to a whole new world of activity. There are former bike riders longing to get back in the saddle; the couple who wants to ride together, and wants a way to minimize the physical fitness differences between them; the parent who wants to haul their children to daycare in a trailer as much as they want to haul you-know-what up the next single-track on their electric mountain bike. All in all, the electric bike is a great addition to the biking stable.
The eBike itself is by itself a fun way to get around. But what do you do when you need to transport your newfound form of transportation? Whether it's to get the bike home from the dealer, or to open up your biking world beyond what you can reach from your house, there are many times that riders want to put the bike on their car. So they turn to us with the question: "Which car rack is best for eBikes?"
The answer is a Saris platform hitch rack, specifically the MTR, Freedom EX and SuperClamp EX racks – all perfect to carry eBikes right out of the box.
- For 1-bike adventures: the MTR 1-bike can carry 1 bike weighing up to 60 pounds. It can also handle longer eBikes, such as downhill rigs, up to 53 inches.
- For 2-bike getaways: the 2-bike versions of the MTR, Freedom EX and SuperClamp EX can carry 2-bikes up to 60 pounds each. Only the MTR can handle wheel bases up to 53 inches.
- For 3- or 4-bike setups: the 4-bike versions of the Freedom and SuperClamp EX can carry 2 60-lb bikes on the two spots closest to the vehicle, along with 2 additional 35-lb bikes (190 lb of bikes total).
Let's Get Nerdy
From the technical perspective, here are the details of why the Freedom and SuperClamp are the best car racks for electric bike racks:
1. Bike Weight
The average weight of eBikes on the market is 52 lb - almost twice the average weight of a standard bike! Hoisting over 50 lbs of metal can make loading and unloading a formidable task, which is where the low height of these platform racks comes into play. A lower rack makes it much easier to get your bikes on and off the rack.
And if your electric bike weighs more than 60 lb, you can reduce the weight by removing the battery and carrying the battery inside the car.
2. Bike Geometry
Electric bikes are available in a wide rage of bike styles, from a step-through city bike to a full-suspension fat tire bike. In addition, the battery position varies between down tube, rear rack, and seat tube, which may shift the center to be, well...not so center.
Both of these variables are best accounted for by carrying the bikes by the wheels. Doing so provides the most stable, flexible offering that accommodates all of these different bike configurations.
3. Rack Weight
The total weight allowed in the hitch has to account for both the bikes AND the rack. Since the Freedom 2-bike is only 21 pounds, and the SuperClamp 2-bike is 30 pounds, both racks loaded with 60 lb. bikes meets the weight requirement of a Class 2, 1.25" hitch receiver -- a fact that makes our racks a particularly advantageous solution if you have a 1.25" hitch receiver.
Pro Fit Tips for eBike-Friendly Saris Bike Racks
Before we drive into specifics, it's important to know that the tips below are written with a "common eBike setup" in mind. Meaning, eBikes with full front and rear fenders and downtube mounted batteries. As a general guideline, we recommend removing the eBike battery before transporting an eBike on a car rack.
Freedom Hitch Racks
The Freedom racks transport bikes with a central mast that secures to the bike's downtube. To avoid the common downtube battery placement on an eBike, we recommend trying to position the Freedom's cradle above or below the battery mount. If the battery location cannot be avoided, an extra-long strap can be added to extend the stock Freedom strap so as to fit around the battery location.*
*Check with your bike's manufacturer to see if this strap placement is allowed.
SuperClamp Hitch Racks
The SuperClamp racks transport bikes with dual wheel-clamping hooks. With full fenders on front and rear wheels being commonplaceon eBikes, the placement of the SuperClamp hooks need to be adjusted accordingly. When a fender is used on the front and/or rear wheel, clamp the hook to the wheel where the fender ends. We also strongly recommend the use of the included front and rear wheel straps, especially when transporting bikes with fenders.
MTR Hitch Racks
Similar to the SuperClamp, the MTR features no-frame contact for bike transport. To accommodate an eBike with dual fenders, the MTR's wheel blocks will need some minor adjustments. The rear wheel block should be placed in the smallest wheel setting so the block contacts the tire below the fender, and the included wheel strap should be used. The front wheel block is typcially good to go for a bike's specific wheel size.
Want to make eBike loading even easier with the MTR? Be sure to check out the MTR Ramp, designed with eBikes in mind.