The Yakima SingleSpeed. Photo: Greg Heil

Both Rocky Mounts and Yakima showed off new single bike hitch racks at Interbike this year, which I personally find very interesting. Sure, if just one of these companies came out with such a product it probably wouldn’t mean much. But the fact that two companies are doing the same thing makes me think there’s a real trend underlying the need for a single tray bike rack.

Photo: Greg Heil

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks Are Still Expensive

Most experienced mountain bikers agree that tray-style, hitch-mount racks are the best solution for transporting bikes to the trail because they’re easy to load, stable, and produce little drag. But the problem is these racks are generally much more expensive than other options, like hanging racks and roof-mounted trays. By offering a single-tray option, Yakima and Rocky Mounts are hoping to reach consumers who can’t pay $400+ for a nice 2-bike rack, but may be able to swing less than $300. (The Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo is set to be priced at $279 USD, while Yakima’s SingleSpeed will be priced at $259 USD.)

Rocky Mounts wall bracket for rack storage.

Hitch mounted racks are also heavy, which is especially noticeable since some users install and remove the rack for each ride. A single tray rack obviously does not weigh as much as a multi-bike rack. On a related note, Rocky Mounts includes a simple wall bracket for hanging the rack indoors when it’s not in use.

More People Are Riding by Themselves

If this is a trend, then honestly it makes me feel a little sad for mountain biking. Don’t get me wrong, I probably spent the first 10 years of my mountain biking addiction mostly riding by myself. But I eventually decided it was safer and more fun for me to ride with others, even if that meant not always being able to ride my own pace or choose where to ride every time. Aaron suggested triathletes might be the target market for single-tray racks, which kinda makes sense based on my limited knowledge of that sport.

photo: Rocky Mounts

On the other hand, maybe the fact that single-bike racks are becoming a thing means that more new riders are getting into the sport. Hopefully these new riders will quickly form friendships and gain the confidence they need to ride with others. In the meantime, these new racks should make it easy and inexpensive for mountain bikers to get started.

Fewer People Are Carpooling to the Trail

I don’t consider myself a big environmentalist, but I do like saving money and socializing with friends on the way to the trail. Carpooling is a great way to accomplish both! But if everyone has a single tray rack, that pretty much guarantees that we’re all driving separately and meeting at the trailhead. This just seems backward given the trend toward a sharing economy.

Ebikes May Be Driving This

Yakima’s Dr.Tray 2-bike rack has a maximum weight capacity of 80lbs, which means two ebikes will be too heavy for it. By going with a single tray, Yakima’s new single-bike rack is much more likely to work with heavier ebikes.

Rocky Mounts original MonoRail already boasted a carrying capacity of 60lbs. per bike, which is more than enough for an e-bike, and is the same carrying capacity as the new Solo.

Other Drawbacks

It should be noted that the rack from Yakima cannot be expanded, though a second tray can be purchased separately and added to the Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo. An expansion option seems like a natural thing to include, but the Yakima rack is rigidly designed to hold one bike and one bike only.

The Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo.

It’s also important to note that mountain bike wheelbases are getting longer, and even the newer tray-style racks seem to be having a hard time keeping up. The first riders to be affected are those with large and extra-large frames, which may hang off the edges of certain racks. I’m sensitive to this myself after testing a newer 29er with a long wheelbase that nearly rolled out of the tray on an older rack while traveling down the highway. Seeing how an ebike fit on the Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo at Interbike (above) left me feeling a little concerned. It’s difficult to see in this photo, but the center of the rear wheel was at least 3 inches away from the edge of the rack.

Of course it’s also possible that I’m reading too much into the appearance of these two bike racks. So what do you think: Would you be interested in purchasing a single-tray hitch rack, and why?

Updated 10/3/17 to correct expandability information for the Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo.

# Comments

  • Robert Dobbs

    I ride solo when mountain biking 98% of the time; road cycling is just the opposite, as I almost always ride with club members. For me the lack of chatter just seems more appropriate while out in the woods – it’s my rolling meditation.
    That said, most 70 %(?) of the riders that I see for -both- MTB and road cycling arrive by car, to the ride launch site, solo……so I think these racks make a lot of sense. Though, to your point, making them capable of being expanded to two unit carriers would be perfect.

    • Jeff Barber

      My bad. Actually, the Rocky Mounts solo can be expanded with a second tray which costs $170. Of course at that point, buyers will have spent $450 and would have been much better off buying a two-tray rack in the beginning.

  • wareagle4130

    I opted for the single tray version of the 1Up USA rack and bought the 2nd bike add-on. I can buy another add-on and carry 3 bikes, but that’s the max of the single tray version.

    I ride with others almost all the time, but I live in a large city, and my riding buddies live on opposite sides of the city from me with most trails being in between. So carpooling is not an option.

    The single rack is nice because I can leave it on the car, in the stowed position and still open my hatch. I can’t do that when I have the 2nd tray mounted.

    • 69tr6r

      I’m in the same boat here. Leave the rack on my small car all the time, and almost never carpool to the trail. It just doesn’t make sense to drive 10 minutes out of the way to drive to a trailhead that is 15 minutes away. So I bought the single 1up USA rack as well. Couldn’t be happier.

      IMO, these 2 racks look like crap compared to the 1up, and the cost about the same. I paid $299 plus $12 for shipping. Total is $311, no tax.

      Try to find a used 1up for sale. That will tell you how happy people are with the rack.

  • Dylanewelch

    I drive a small truck (Chevy s10) and ride solo most of the time. When I was thinking of a way to safely get my steed to and from the trailhead I opted for the DIY approach. 2 sunlite fork blocks, 6 bolts and nuts and a 6′ piece of angle iron. Bolted the whole unit to the very front of the bed and forgettaboutit. Still have the use of 99.9 percent of my bed (only lost 2 inches) and have the ability to be ready to go in 30 seconds. Pop the front wheel off and throw the bike onto the mount. Got 2 blocks so I can carry my wife’s bike when she wants to hit the trails with me.

  • 69tr6r

    Dylanewelch, why not just throw a moving blanket over the tailgate and hang the bikes there? You can be ready to go in less than 30 seconds and no removing the front wheel. 2 bikes will fit no problem.

    Then again, when I had a pickup and rode solo, I would just lay the bike on it’s side in the bed of the truck. No blanket needed at all. This was a full size pickup so not sure if you could do that in an S10.

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