By STEPHEN KRCMAR
If the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu was alive today, it’s easy to imagine that he would embrace new technology and let it infiltrate his world view and wisdom. Maybe something like “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single pedal stroke.”
Although one doesn’t have to be Taoist to embrace nature and spontaneity, a few tools — like a car and a bike rack — will help you discover these things away from home. And for those who have to haul their two wheelers to the trail using four wheels and a motor, therein lies a question: Roof rack or trunk/hitch rack?
Most hardcore pedalers swear by the former, throwing their iron steed high for display on the roof. But rear racks like the Yakima Quickback have an ease of installation, a stability at high speeds, a non-existent wind noise, and anti-theft technology that just may change their way of thinking.
Out of the box, the initial install of the Quickback, which holds one to three bikes, takes about 20 minutes. Follow the 11 steps and you’ll be embarking on your maiden voyage in no time.
As the premium trunk mount in Yakima’s line (www.yakima.com), the Quickback retails for $199, and it includes a trunk security strap — one side of the strap loops through the rack and the other side includes rubber bumpers that are locked in the trunk. The strap is steel-reinforced, so it should thwart most blade-wielding thieves. (If you want to lock your bikes to the rack pick up the company’s 9-foot security cable, which is sold separately.)
Have a hatchback and no trailer hitch? This is one of the few units that will work. Sure, it requires glass hatch adapters, but they’re included with every unit. Three cradles (two for the top tube and one for the seat tube) and integrated straps make sure the bikes stay on the rack. A felt-like fabric on the top tube cradle ensures that the rack doesn’t scratch your frame.
The adjustable straps can hold narrow steel bikes as well as fatter aluminum frames. In my test, even on rough, dirt roads full of washboards the rack did an admirable job. Indeed, I drove about 300 miles without ever having to retighten the straps that anchored the rack to the vehicle.
Another added bonus: A trunk rack is great for quick repairs where you want to get the bike off the ground. It serves as an ad hoc stand for tightening a derailleur or fixing a spoke.
Conveniently, the Quickback comes with two built-in bottle openers. Because even if you subscribe to Lao Tzu’s famous traveler’s philosophy — “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” — it’s nice to crack a cold one when you get there.
–Based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Stephen Krcmar has written about cycling and gear for publications like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Outside magazine, and Bicycling.