Flawlessly Functioning Rack as Good or Better than Most
RockyMounts is a Colorado-based company that designs transport gear for all sorts of outdoor adventurers, including cyclists. Their wares for cyclists include bike locks and vehicle racks. The available racks cover all the bases, including rooftop, hitch, truck bed, and fork mounts. I had the chance to test a 2-inch hitch RockyMounts MonoRail Platform Hitch Mount and came away very impressed.
The MonoRail comes mostly put together but split into three assemblies (base frame plus two bike platforms) that are packaged nicely in a sturdy cardboard box. All instructions, tools, and hardware are included, and assembly took me about 25 minutes. First you attach the rear wheel tray to each of the platforms with one bolt, then you attach both platforms to the base frame with four bolts. I did have some trouble with holes lining up with the threads, but was able to leverage the threads into place with the supplied wrench. RockyMounts assures me this alignment issue is taken care of.
The rack is painted black with light blue accents for a nice clean look, and the RockyMounts branding is only visible in the upright stow position. The 39-pound (17.7-kg) weight can be a chore to move around but is a small price to pay to ensure your bikes are held securely and is lighter than some competitors’ racks.
No Fuss Mounting and Security Features
I’ve used all types of racks over the years and have had many complaints. I park in a garage and thus avoid rooftop racks. The classic old trunk/hitch racks supported bikes under the top tube and allowed them to freely swing into each other and the rack, bad for paint and carbon tubes.
Platform-style racks solved the swinging problem but you still had to adjust side-to-side to make two bikes fit, and I have found bike combinations that just would not work. I would easily spend 30 minutes adjusting the rack before every drive and be cursing constantly, bungee cords everywhere. I would rather assemble something from IKEA than put my bikes in such a rack. Even my favorite rack to date is still a hassle.
The RockyMounts MonoRail has only one adjustment available (side-to-side), and I have yet to touch it. Loading bikes is as simple as setting the front and rear wheels in their respective trays and ratcheting down the wheel clamps. Done, ready to go, no bungees needed. The front wheel is held near the fork with a clamp that pushes down on the top of the front tire, and the rear wheel with a strap that grabs the bottom of the wheel around the rim, both quickly ratcheting into place. There is no contact with your bike’s frame, though if you have carbon rims you might want to add a soft cloth between the rear rim and the hard plastic strap that holds down the rear wheel.
The rack is designed for almost any type of bike and I have used is successfully with both road and mountain bikes. The pivoting rear tray automatically adjusts for different axle spacing and a generous 13 inches (33 cm) between bikes eliminates any bike-to-bike interference. Officially, the rack supports wheel sizes from 20- to 29-inch diameter and up to 5-inch tire width without any adjustments needed. This is accomplished by wheel trays that have a small groove for road bike tires inside of a larger tray for mountain/fat bike tires. Max weight is 120 pounds total (55kg) for the rack, 60 pounds (27 kg) per bike on the two-bike rack or 40 pounds (18 kg) per bike with the third bike add-on (2-inch hitch model only).
Security Features to Stop the Casual Criminal
The MonoRail comes with several security devices, including a threaded hitch pin (wrench required to install/remove) that clamps the rack securely to the vehicle for a rattle-free driving experience and a small keyed lock that keeps the pin from being removed. I have two vehicles with 2-inch hitches and found that on one vehicle there was not enough space at the hitch to use the lock while on the other there was ample space. There is also a security cable that can lock your bikes (long enough for three bikes) to the rack using the same key as the hitch pin lock. The small locks and coated steel braided cable will deter casual thieves looking for an easy target and is not well-suited for long periods of time unattended.
On the Road: Secure Grip and Easy Access
My vehicle happens to have a downward facing backup camera, so I can enjoy the lovely view of my bikes as I drive down the road to my next adventure. On good roads the rack and bikes were rock solid and on bumpy roads a little bike movement could be seen but overall bike retention is excellent. I only had one issue with the front tire clamp breaking free, and it was the trifecta of bad conditions: track bike with 22mm width tires, 130 psi, and driving over a huge new winter pothole at speed. The front wheel clamp released the front tire, but even this is not a big problem as the bike is retained by the rear wheel strap and the front clamp still keeps the bike from falling over. With normal tires and more reasonable air pressures I have had no problems.
Tilting functions are built into the rack to allow access to the rear of your vehicle and compact storage when not in use. A blue handle under the rack is easy to pull, though a bit of a reach with the third bike platform installed. Once released with the handle, the rack tilts down 30 degrees, which allows the vehicle’s rear hatch (top hinge) to swing fully open without hitting the bikes, but it only works with hatches. I tested the rack on a Sprinter with side hinge, swing open French doors and the doors hit the rack (no bikes were on board) after opening a foot, regardless of tilt position. The bottom edge of swing-open doors must be at least 16 inches (41cm) above the hitch to clear the rack. It is also worth noting that with the handle released you have to hold the weight of all the bikes installed on the rack – so be careful if you have three fat bikes installed!
The other tilting option is vertical upright for storage of the rack when not in use. This does block access to the rear of the vehicle but it only takes two seconds to drop the rack down out of the way. The storage position is great to have as this rack adds quite a bit of length to a vehicle due to the wide bike spacing. The two-bike rack extends 34 inches (86 cm) behind the hitch, and the third bike add-on pushes that out to 52 inches (132 cm) total.
Final Thoughts – Great Rack, Great Price
The front wheel-clamp, no-frame-contact bike rack design has been around for quite a while now, and the RockyMounts MonoRail is as good or better than most of them. It functions flawlessly, is easy to use and has a couple defining qualities compared to its competitors. First, the price of $370 comes in cheaper than all the major competitors. Second, while no rack that can hold up to 60-pound (27-kg) bikes is light, the MonoRail is about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) lighter than most other comparable racks, and those 10 pounds make a difference when carrying odd-shaped items like a rack. The RockyMounts MonoRail Platform rack is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a new bike rack.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and ‘cross racing. He’s also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.