Trailer Hitch Bike Rack

440 After fair amount of homework, went with the Softride “Element” 4-bike rack… pricing is consistently $210’ish and I went with my local REI for solid local support. Was torn between this Element and the $70 more big brother “Dura” model… which adds “anti-sway cradels” (i.e. seat tube rubber wraps) + built in lockup cable + hitch bolt lock + beefier + 5 lbs… I’m thinking I’ll be good at rigging my own anti sway (via old inner tubes & bungees), the rest really didn’t appeal to me and (I presume since we chose the low end 4 cyl. Kia Sportage for it’s gas mileage) I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I have to use the 1-1/4” hitch extender – so the less weight/torque the better. Notable feature of the Softride line is its parallelogram bars that keep the bikes perpendicular to the ground when you lean the rack away to open your lift gate… Yakima/Thule hasn’t copied that yet… and the only other means for simple tail gate access out there are $600 plus “swing away” style that really look clunky to me. If this sounds useless to you, fine but I feel like it’s “last inch” convenience like that which helps things slump over the swear words threshold when you just want to get something out quickly and get going. There are a couple higher end models to be aware of if you’ve got cash to burn: a lighter aluminum one and a hydraulic Assist model that helps raise back into locked position… cool but my sweet spot is lower end. The Softride’s are a great price against the field… one can easily hit $300, $400 , $600 for no great reason… I’ve read a lot about these on Amazon etc and am thoroughly prepped to be careful/creative with rubber straps that seem to be highly prone to tearing … but the metal parts and basic functionality are reported solid across the board.

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