Last week I did three things I wouldn’t ordinarily plan to do on holiday. It was a week in fabulous Northumbria – great castles, big windswept beaches and time out to enjoy delightful food with old friends. It is a part of the world I’m becoming very fond of and a jaunt we’ve adopted as an annual tradition.
The obvious choice of vehicle would be the Saab 9-5 for its flying armchair approach to delivering its occupants, and cavernous boot for all the clobber needed for a family with a two year old. However, the Golf was chosen for its economy and the ease of (I find it hard to write this bit) mounting a bike rack on its tail. So the Golf, the bike rack and the third thing I wouldn’t have considered? Well, actually planning to use the bikes as a mode of transport while there.
I used to cycle quite a bit until I passed my driving test. In the subsequent 23 years, I’ve probably used my bike about half a dozen times. That’s not to say I don’t like cycling, I just love motor cars. It’s also rather hilly here next to the Peak District.
We did the easy thing and descended on Halfords for the cycle carrier and a few essentials. A prior trawl of the internet showed they had a suitable product, currently discounted heavily. It’s their standard three bike rack in a big box. I’ve always been very wary of bike racks. Damage to car, damage to bikes or worse – bikes (or the lot) falling off. It was on last year’s trip up the A1 that I had to make a fast swerve to avoid someone else’s fallen bike. The pressure was on to take the bikes this time though, so it was the only option.
With minimal attention to the instructions, I had the carrier positioned and attached to the Golf’s rear. I managed to get the thing assembled, strapped on and bikes hung in about 30 minutes (with small child trying to steal the straps I’d carefully laid out). The only flaw was that one of the velcro straps for securing the outer cycle wasn’t stitched together. As we were only carrying two bikes this time, that wasn’t an issue. To be fair, I was impressed with the whole thing. It even came with fittings to cope with current styles of glazing which go right to the edge of a car’s tail gate. It tightened up well and seemed very secure. I was careful to clean the areas where the rack met the car to avoid paint scratches. On the move, there was surprisingly little movement evident in the rear view mirror; I checked all the straps a couple of times over the 200 mile journey there and while I could tweak them a little, they were still very tight. I kept my speed to within the legal limits just to be on the safe side. This rack holds the bikes quite high, keeping tail lights and number plate visible but knocking off somewhere between 5-10 m.p.g.
Would I recommend this product to anybody wanting a bike rack? Absolutely. Would I recommend bike racks in general? Not if there is any way the bikes could be transported inside a car. Did I enjoy the cycling? You bet! It was a delight to climb back on my recommissioned, 26 year old Coventry Eagle and head out in the sunshine to Bamburgh.Tweet