Rack n Our Brains

Two concrete pig statues wearing bike helmets.

With warmer weather nearly here and with visions of campers and e-bikes in our heads, we decided it was time to get ready!

One of the items we decided we’d like to have, now that we have e-bikes, was a bike rack suitable for hauling them. Now, this bike rack is not for hauling the e-bikes on our travel trailer. Rather, it is meant to be inserted into the hitch on our Ford Expedition. Or, in other words, when we want to take a biking expedition in our Expedition.

We had a perfectly good bike rack for the Expedition; however, it is not rated for e-bikes. Each of our e-bikes weighs 60 pounds. Our bike rack was rated to hold 100 pounds, and the bikes hang from the top. E-bike racks are designed to carry the heavy weight of e-bikes with the e-bikes being supported on the bottom.

It’s not that we didn’t realize we’d need to buy a different e-bike rack for our Expedition. We just never thought about it. Kind of like stuff we found out we needed when we bought our travel trailer. What? We need a sewer hose?

Let’s get back on the bike trail here. Our local bike shop, Granada Cyclery, had four models of e-bike racks in stock.

Ford Expedition with an e-bike rack on it.

Our selection was a model by RockyMounts with a purchase price of $539. This e-bike rack fits in the 2 inch hitch on our Expedition. This model has a feature where the rack locks to the vehicle’s hitch. This helps to prevent the actual e-bike rack from being stolen.

Secondly, on the rack, there is a cable with a built-in lock which is used to secure the e-bikes. This helps prevent the e-bikes from being stolen. Some kind of locking features were available on all four models. These are the times we are living in.

There was another very similar e-bike rack for about the same price. This one was the Thule (pronounced tooley) brand; however, it did not have the additional built-in bike rack cable with lock, just a hole where you could slide through your own cable and your own lock.

We had expected to pay about $500. When we looked into purchasing e-bike racks last summer, the online sellers were all out of stock. We chose to purchase now, in early March, thinking later in the Spring or Summer, we would be seeing “Mr. Out of Stock” again.

There were two additional models worth noting. One of the models allowed you to roll your e-bike onto the rack. Lean the rack forward, and there was a section to open where there was a contraption to be lifted out. The contraption was then unfolded and inserted it onto the e-bike rack base. This would allow you to roll your e-bike up up onto the rack. Even though it was called the “EasyFold” model, it didn’t insert quite right. The sales rep said it was missing a piece, but I believe him that it would work.

If it were just me loading a 60 pound e-bike onto an e-bike rack a couple of feet off the ground, I’d have to purchase this baby. Fortunately, my baby, Dan, has the muscles and saved us the $800 price tag of this unit.

The last model was another one where the e-bikes could be rolled onto the rack. Now, we didn’t look at it too closely, as the price tag was $1200. This e-bike rack had a power lift on it, and it even had brake lights on the unit as well. It was the Thule (remember pronounced tooley) brand, and I just have to say: the price on this Thule model was truly too much for us!

There was one more thing we wanted to buy from Granada.

Up until this point, while riding our regular bikes, Dan and I did not wear helmets. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but it is true. When we rode our old bikes, we never fell. Well, except that one time when Dan was carrying a soda and a candy bar. But other than that, we were pretty stable riders.

With e-bikes, it’s a different story. I fell shortly after we had just gotten the e-bikes, and I was just standing there. Don’t ask me how it happened because I’m not really sure. Dan fell once when we were riding the Katy Trail which is a packed gravel trail. Some other bikers were coming the opposite direction, and he moved to the edge of the trail. The problem is the edge is angled, and down he went.

Hopefully, we won’t fall on our future rides, now that we have more e-bike experience. However, I’m not risking it. We only have one noggin (each), and we need to use it every day. And this day, we used it to make a smart decision about wearing bike helmets.

The total ticket for our e-bike racks and the two helmets added up to $708.12. But wait, there’s more. The bike shop added on an additional 3% since we wanted to pay with a credit card. The sales rep did inform us of this before completing the transaction, and we agreed to the extra fee which was an additional $21.24. So, the grand total was $729.36. We always pay our credit card off in full, and we do get 1% cash back. We like the benefits of paying with a credit card, so we accepted the additional cost. I guess I could say again that this extra fee added on is another sign of the times we are living in.

But then again, so are e-bikes.

24 comments

  1. Great, informative post, Betty. I’m happy you were able to get the rack you needed this year. I have one question: When the rack is attached, is it a big deal to get into the trunk of your car? Many businesses here are charging an extra 3% for credit card uses (especially gas stations and entertainment venues). It doesn’t affect us because we only use credit cards for emergencies, but I’m sure it adds up over time for the folks who use theirs for every purchase.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Terry, we haven’t used the bike rack enough to answer the question well. However, our Expedition is darn big, I don’t think it’ll be an issue. The rack stays locked to the hitch, so we only have to put it in the trunk when we take it while traveling. We use our credit card for everything, pay it in full each month, and then get cash back. Our main stores – Aldi, Costco, Sams, Walmart – haven’t started charging the 3%. I’ve seen the fee at a few restaurants, and we’ve gotten away from choosing the ones that add it. But, we’ve really cut down on our eating out since Covid. This year, we got back $651 in cash rewards. Hope you have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Phil. I am FAR from an expert on e-bikes, but I’ll tell you a bit of what I know. Our bikes have 5 levels of pedal assist with a throttle. I use the throttle when starting and when going up a hill. My bike is 700 watts, and Dan’s is 750 watts. The number of miles you can go depends on a number of factors. I believe I included a link to a “mileage calculator” in one of my e-bike posts. I have a heading on the main page for e-bikes. There is a Facebook group for e-bike riders over 60. “Ebike Cyclists Over 60.” Lots of variety in there, and big debates on whether to have a throttle or not. I was hesitant to buy e-bikes, giving up the conventional. But we ride a lot longer, so I know we are getting exercise. We love, love, love the e-bikes.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It seems to me the laws are in the early stages of adapting to e-bikes. There are, I think, 5 classifications of e-bikes. My guess, as well as many others, is that eventually a speed limit will be posted on trails. This is how it is at Gulf State Park. Honestly, those that ride too fast – on any kind of bike – cause issues. Our Missouri Department of Conservation just made a change and now e-bikes are allowed on many of the roads and trails in their conservation areas. We rode our e-bikes before purchasing.

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  2. Happy e biking Dan & Betty! Glad to hear that you bought helmets! Better safe than sorry. We have a Thule bike rack that holds 4 regular bikes and luckily my youngest’s bike fits in the trunk of either vehicle. It’s hard to find a rack to fit five bikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoy the season, Betty. I think you have done a good job getting exactly what you need in good quality. I also felt it when Markus and I bought proper hiking shoes but the expense is worth it; more like an investment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. You are exactly right – it is an investment. An investment in our health! We are careful with our money, so we can use it on things we value. Hope you have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Goodness, that was a steep bill. Extra 3% for paying with credit card, I would have went to the bank and gotten cash. I cannot stand this hidden extra fees, they drive me nuts. I didn’t know you guys had ebikes. I hope you will write a lot about it, I am planning on buying on used in a couple of years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was a steep bill. We spend our money carefully! We consider our bike riding to be something we do for health and for entertainment. The 3% was a quandary for me. We do not use debit cards because there are no consumer protections. We don’t carry checks anymore, so we would have had to go home for checks or to the bank for cash. There are some benefits to using credit cards – such as an extended warranty. Was it worth the extra 2% (since we get 1% back)? I don’t know. We were at the checkout with everything, so we just agreed for convenience sake. I do have an e-bike heading on the main page where I’ve written some posts about the e-bikes, but I do hope to write more. We’ve only had them since last July, but so far, we do love them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am glad you bought helmets! Better safe than sorry. We had a hard time last fall finding a bike rack that was rated for our my ebike AND rated for the RV, but we finally found one. The first one we ordered was stuck on a container somewhere and delivery kept getting pushed out until it was after we needed it. Wayne found another one that came right away and is working well. It works on the back of our truck too, so that is good. Like yours, it does not have a ramp, so I cannot manage it by myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad we bought helmets, too! Good thing we have our e-bikes and racks now, and I’m hearing there is a huge demand right now. The bike shop said one of the e-bike rack companies raised their prices $100 in January. Happy riding!

      Liked by 1 person

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