MtnBikeRiders Holiday Gift Guide-2009

To help with your holiday shopping for the mountain biker in your life, I’ve come up with some great products that will make you a winner.

Clif bars holiday flavors. Yum. Out on the trail, you’ve got to have nourishment. Why not make it a Cranberry Orange Nut Bread, Sliced Pumpkin Pie or Iced Gingerbread? The holiday Clif bars are a seasonal item and make a great stocking stuffer for the mountain biker who has everything.


Uh, yeah. I want some pumpkin pie!

Wool socks: During the winter time our feet get cold out there on rides. I picked up a pair of Swiftwick Four Merino socks a couple of weeks ago and really like them. They definitely keep my feet toasty when out riding and they feel great with comfy sole support. OK, so this is Southern California so take the “toasty” comment with a grain of salt but a “prop” for the Swiftwick Socks is that the Merino wool socks are machine wash-able and can be put in the dryer on low.


Cold winter ride + Feet warm & toasty = GOOD

If the doldrums of winter are getting your mountain bike aficionado down, give him something he can upgrade on the bike. Changing new cables are recommended on a yearly basis, depending on the number of miles you put on the bike. For derailleur cables I like fully sealed systems but they can be pricey. Instead, I’ve tried and like Jagwire Ripcords. The Ripcords come in different colors including: merida green, white, red and SID blue to name a few.


White derailleurs cables, THAT’S HOT!

For those that have a hitch mount on your vehicle I cannot more highly recommend the Raxter Rack. This is the best rack system I have used and I trust all my bikes (and other people’s bikes) to it. I am always questioning the thought process behind purchasing a $3,000+ bike or two and transporting it on a $50 rack. Cheap racks are cheap for a reason: they have compromises. They compromise in how they hold your bike (rubbing the paint off your bike’s top tube… ask me how I know), they compromise in materials (cheap metal that won’t support the bike’s weight) or they compromise in design (allowing exhaust from the tailpipes to heat up a bike’s tires in transport). The Raxter rack holds the bike securely, by the wheels so no paint rub, uses sturdy materials (nearly 3 years: looks great, functions PERFECTLY) and is designed extremely well. It’s also really easy to use!


Did I mention that RL likes it too?

OK, this last one is spendy: if your mountain biker buddy has not tried a 29er, it is time to get ‘em on the big wheels. As proclaimed by one prominent mountain biking magazine, the 29er hardtail will replace the 26” hardtail. I can promise you, your mountain biker buddy will go absolutely gaa gaa with a 29er hardtail in the garage. I would personally start off with a Sette Razzo, which has a great balance of component spec and low price. Or, if you have money to burn, a Kona King Kahuna would be a great addition to any bike stable.


29ers ROCK!

Happy Holidays and please add your holiday suggestions in the comments section below.

Review: Raxter Rack 2 Bike Extension

Who:
From Raxter Racks website:

Introducing RAXTER – The new standard for value in a wheel mount hitch rack. RAXTER is lightweight, it’s EASY to install, EASY to load, EASY to store!
The innovative design of RAXTER gives you the ability to move bikes forward or backward during loading and is independent of wheelbase. This provides unequalled flexibility to load any combination of bike styles or sizes.
We subscribe to the design credo “Keep it light, keep it simple?. Simple yet effective, marine grade Velcro straps are perfectly suited for providing absolute security for your bikes. Moving parts are minimized. There are no small, intricate parts to rust or become gunked up from road debris. RAXTER’s simplicity makes it reliable.

Product Tested:
Raxter 2 Bike Extenstion

Website’s MSRP:
$269.99

Details

2 Bike Extension for 1-1049 (2″ 2 Bike Rack), 1-1047 (2″ Single Bike Rack) or 1-1110 (Folding 2″ 2 Bike Rack). Quick installation and removal with only 2 bolts to attach to the rack and 4 more bolts to attach your crossbars! Gloss black . Ships in two boxes. $25 shipping fee.

About Me:
6’1? 210lbs, 28 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the 29er wheels and riding with lots of friends.


Fully loaded at Sea Otter 2008

Testing Grounds:
Road trip to Sea Otter Classic 2008, Drive to San Juan Trail (1+ hour each way) and drives to many more Southern California trails, parks…

First Impression:
After testing the Raxter Rack back in October of 2007 I knew it was the only rack I would want on the back of my car to take on the trip to Sea Otter 2008 and back. The Raxter Rack 2 Bike Rack has held up extremely well with NO problems (none, nada, zip) but since we were going to Sea Otter with 3 people, and consequently 3 bikes, my first choice was to ask Raxter to test the 2 Bike Extension they offered on their website.

Raxter sent their 2 Bike Extension and I put it together very quickly. After having a couple of user related problems setting up the original rack, setting up the 2 Bike Extension was a breeze. I was slightly worried that after using the 2 Bike Rack for 9+ months of constant use the metal might have warped and made the extension difficult to install. No such problems. Screws went in smoothly and I was able to tighten everything down quickly to the original rack. Good solid workmanship.


RL and his pouty lips. 4 bikes: 2 x 29ers with tires ranging from 2.1 to 2.35 in width, a commuter bike with skinnies and a Swobo with 26″ bmx-ish type tires.

Strengths:
Same design, just with 2 extra trays: Raxter hasn’t changed a thing with the 2 Bike Extension… this is very good. The 2 Bike Extension is really just a simply designed, but strong, piece of metal that attaches easily to the original 2 Bike Rack. The crossing wheel trays attach using the same type of bolts and the arms of the wheel tray still exhibit the same design of the 2 Bike Rack. This design has served the Raxter Rack extremely well and it continued to do so for the 2 Bike Extension. There is a bit of stiction when you initially rotate the arm but the stiction lessens after a couple of uses and starts to move slowly with minimal effort.

The simple durable velcro straps are still there. They’re so easy to use that my 3 year old son has started to “help” me unstrap my bike after I get back from the trail. They securely held all the bikes in place for our long 6+ hour trek to and from Sea Otter. Actually, we never thought to check on them and when we arrived, they were still all in place.

The folding arm that attaches to the hitch still works: I was initially concerned that the added weight and size of the 2 Bike Extension would make the folding arm not fold. My concerns were misplaced as the folding arm still works great. The button still popped in and out of place with ease and using the folding arm gets the extra length of the 2 Bike Extension out of the way when not in use. Sometimes, with just the regular 2 Bike rack, I’ll leave it unfolded because it does not stick out too far from the car. But with 4 racks, I always utilize the folding arm to move the rack out of the pathway of other cars.


2 Bike Extension still works with the folding arm

Plenty of room, but still compact: On the way back from Sea Otter we had 2 x 29ers, one road bike and one bike from Swobo that does not conform to any preconceived bike categories. All four bikes easily fit on the rack. There was no need to adjust the seats or handlebars. Just slide the bike a little farther forward or backwards in the wheel tray to get a good fit. There is plenty of room for these four bikes. But where the 2 Bike Extension really shines is that it does not stick out off the back of the vehicle too far. It is still really compact for a four bike holder.

Other four bike racks I have previously seen/used extended out so far they are just asking to be swiped by other cars. In their efforts to make a rack that will comfortably hold all types of bikes they ended up making a rack that extended out so far as to be hazardous to the bike. The design of the Raxter Rack does not have this issue. By making the wheel trays relatively narrow and using the “Auto Nesting” design – sliding the bikes forward/backwards to get a good fit – four bikes can be fitted onto the Raxter Rack and still keep a compact profile close to the vehicle. Designing this took some thought


4 bikes, but not stretched out to infinity and beyond

Weaknesses:
I did treat the straps, immediately, to my flame treatment I detailed in the review of the 2 Bike Rack. With this treatment, the straps never exhibited any fraying. Also the straps I originally applied the flame treatment to have been working fine since then. No signs of fraying at all.

The rack is heavy. By itself the 2 Bike Rack is fine, maybe even relatively light. I’m confident that most people would not have any problems with the 2 bike rack, but once you combine the 2 Bike Extension to the 2 Bike Rack, you’ve got something at least in the 50+ lbs range that, due to its size, is also awkward to maneuver. At 6’1″ and 210 lbs, I’m an above average sized guy so I didn’t think working with a large rack would be such a difficult proposition. But it is.

After doing some research I discovered that Raxter is not alone with this dilemma, it is pretty much an industry standard. If you’re looking into a 4 bike rack that holds the bike by the wheels securely, as in not with upside down “J” hooks, then you’re going to run into this problem. It is inevitable. Remember the saying: “Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two.” In this case: 4-bike rack. Held by the wheels. Lightweight. Pick two. The surprising thing is that the Raxter Rack fully outfitted (4 bikes) is about 20 lbs lighter then its competitors.

Summary:
The Raxter Rack’s 2 Bike Extension is a perfect compliment to the 2 bike rack. The weight, when combined to the 2 Bike Rack, is the biggest hindrance but this is the norm for all racks of this type. However, where the rack really shines is the simplicity of use and the compact/space efficient design even when fully loaded up. If you’re going anywhere and want to tote along 4 bikes securely then this is the rack for you.

For Raxter Rack’s official site, click here.
For Raxter Rack’s official site on the 2 Bike Extension, click here.
For our review of the Raxter 2-bike Rack, without extension, click here.

Raxter Rack Update

This is just a quick update on the Raxter Rack (a full review will be forthcoming). It’s been a little over a month since we took delivery of the Raxter rack and it is time for a quick update on where it’s been and how it is doing.

About two weeks ago Moe took the Raxter rack on a 2,000+ mile trip from southern California to Boulder, Colorado. On this trip Moe decided to take along his brand new (purchased the weekend before) Trek Remedy. Moe was confident that the Raxter Rack would be able to take the abuse dished out over such a long trip and bring his bike back in one piece. The Raxter Rack performed perfectly and did in fact bring the bike back in mint condition.

Interestingly enough, Moe did have other hitch mount racks to choose from yet none of them seemed as sturdy and well designed as the Raxter was. Hence Moe’s choice of the Raxter rack to take his brand new bike on a very long trip.

Raxter Rack strap fray
Nylon strap fray

We have run into one small issue over the short time we’ve had the rack. One of the straps used to secure the bike started to fray at the end. A simple (and fun) fix was applied by utilizing a lighter. Yup, fire! I used the lighter to burn the end of the nylon strap and this resulted in a clean fix. In fact it was such a nice fix that I proceeded to do this to all 8 straps. No more straps fraying for our Raxter rack.

Raxter Rack strap fray fix
Easy fix, just apply fire!

We’ll be putting more miles on the Raxter Rack to give you a full review. Continue to check back here for that review coming soon.