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The RockyMounts SplitRail (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

The SplitRail is RockyMounts‘ latest — and greatest — hitch rack. Ringing in at $720 as tested ($500 for the two-bike base + $220 for the additional tray), the SplitRail certainly has a premium price tag. But does it offer the features and build-quality to go toe-to-toe with the best racks on the market?

Specs

The SplitRail comes as a two-bike base, but is expandable up to four bikes (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

RockyMounts claims the SplitRail is the lightest expandable hitch rack available, although Yakima says the same of their even newer Dr. Tray rack. The two-bike SplitRail base weighs in at 45 lb. while Yakima claims the Dr. Tray comes in at just 34 lb. One important distinction between the two: the SplitRail is expandable to carry four bikes, but the Dr. Tray can only handle three. Regardless, the SplitRail is quite light, especially considering its robust construction.

Tighten this knob to remove any play in the rack (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

In the two-bike configuration, the SplitRail will handle up to 60 lb. per tray; with the third tray that figure drops to 40 lb. However, unless you’re carrying heavy DH bikes or e-bikes, you should be well under the weight limit of the trays. Most bikes with tires under 3″ wide will work with the SplitRail, as long as the wheelbase is less than 48″ long. Some XL frames, DH bikes, or really long enduro bikes may be too long.

Space for up to 3″ tires inside the trays; these are Maxxis Minion 2.5″ Wide Trail tires on 30mm rims (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

Assembling the SplitRail took substantially longer than other racks I’ve tested. The instructions were clear and there wasn’t anything particularly tricky about it, there were just lots of parts to put together, especially with the additional tray. The good news is all those pieces are well made, and went together without issue. None of the bits worked loose during several months of use.

Integrated cable locks provide some base-level security for quick trips into the store; always pair cable locks with beefier u-locks when leaving bikes unattended for long periods (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

The trays themselves are aluminum capped with heavy duty plastic, and the base is chromoly steel. Loosening the tray bolts allows 4″ of side-to-side adjustment. In practice, I never needed to move the trays from their initial positions, but it’s nice to know the option is there to resolve interference issues. This feature could be especially handy when transporting mountain bikes without dropper posts or road/gravel bikes.

In Use

A swingarm comes up and over the front tire, clamping it in place (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

Loading a bike onto the SplitRail is simple: rotate the swing arm outward, undo the wheel strap, place the bike in the tray, push the swing arm tightly onto the front wheel, and strap in the rear wheel. Tray-style hitch racks like the SplitRail are my favorite precisely because they’re so easy to load and unload, and they don’t make contact with the frame.

An easy to use handle for raising and lowering the rack (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

A handle on the end of the rack allows you to lift or lower the SplitRail. It tilts a full 90° upward when not in use. and it sits nice and close to the rear of your vehicle. It also tilts 30° downward to allow access to your rear hatch. Most premium hitch racks tilt, but the SplitRail is the easiest I’ve used to date. A large handle sits at the end of the second tray; pull it and tilt the rack up or down as needed. That’s the only step. Other racks like the Yakima HoldUp I tested last year require the removal of a pin before lifting the rack. It’s a little thing, but the SplitRail simplifies the process.

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The SplitRail tilts down allowing access to the rear hatch (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

The SplitRail uses a unique “anti-wobble wedge” to make the rack rock solid. The wedge slides onto the hitch tube before installing the rack onto your car. I had to break out a mallet to get the wedge into my vehicle’s hitch because the fit was so tight. Once the wedge is in place, you turn a large plastic knob on the base of the rack to eliminate any side-to-side play. Some slight play developed over the first few trips as everything settled, but a couple turns of the knob was all it took to tighten things back up. Overall, I was very impressed with the stability of the SplitRail.

A look at the anti-wobble wedge and locking hitch pin (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

Bikes, like the rack itself, were wiggle-free. With all racks of this type, proper swing arm placement is vital. The arm needs to butt right up against the fork for maximum security. Larger fenders will interfere with the arm placement, but I had good luck with small mud guards.

Small fenders like this didn’t present an issue, but larger ones may get in the way of the swingarm (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

Finish Line

The SplitRail folds up nice and close to the back of the vehicle when not in use; it’s large but doesn’t obstruct the view out of the rear windshield (photo: Aaron Chamberlain)

So, the SplitRail may not be able to claim it’s the lightest tray-style hitch rack on the market, but it’s certainly one of the nicest. From construction to fit to operation, all of the components are top-notch. Loading and unloading the bikes is a straightforward process, raising and lowering the rack is a breeze, and the whole setup is sturdy despite its relative lack of heft.

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Durability appears first-class as well: the arms and wheel hooks still operate smoothly, the wheel straps have handled months of exposure unscathed, and the pivot and trays remain wiggle-free.

photo: Aaron Chamberlain

There are some limitations to the SplitRail — namely it won’t fit fat bikes or some bikes with fenders — but competing racks generally face these same issues too. On the whole though, the RockyMounts SplitRail can compete with the best offerings from the likes of Yakima, Thule, and 1Up.

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Thanks to RockyMounts for sending the SplitRail for review. 

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# Comments

  • RjMorbidelli

    Well I have this RockyMounts hitch mount rack and it is amazing and worth every penny. It is easy to load and off load my bikes. It comes with extensions for fat tire bikes. Tilts up and down for easy access and folding away on the vehicle. Highly recommend it. It is $369 on Amazon, well worth the money if you value your bike and having it traveling securely.

    https://www.amazon.com/RockyMounts-Monorail-2-Bike-1-25-New/dp/B01MSTIO14/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510871349&sr=8-1&keywords=rockymounts+monorail

  • BobFromConshy

    I have no doubt the RockyMounts carrier is better or at least more elegant. My question, esp. for folks with limited funds, is it $500 better? Or put another way, would I trade my rack, dropper post and tubeless conversion for this rack (approx. amount I spent on these total). So that’s a no-brainer, right?

    I guess my real point is if folks only follow cycling media they might not know that “no-name” alternatives exist. I saw a Curt rack at a trailhead and since I have had good experience with their hitches I did the research. Honestly, I think a review of this type of product could be more valuable to (some) of your readers than a $700+ rack. Yea, I would expect it to be fabulous for that kind of coin. A more intriguing question is whether a $200 rack can be well-made and how would it function.

    BTW: The padded clamp that touches the top tube doesn’t concern me and if it ever frays I’ll get pipe insulation from HD.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      Hi @BobFromConshy I’m not here to tell people how to spend their money. What’s worth it or not is a personal decision each of us has to make. But to entertain your hypothetical if I had to choose between a nicer rack and a dropper post, I’d go with the dropper.

      I’ve had friends with the Curt or similar style racks and they definitely do the job. Their frames have the scuff marks on the top tube to prove it! What I will say is they don’t hold up as well over the long term as more expensive racks. Most of them have upgraded when they finally wear out instead of getting another Curt/similar.

      As for people not knowing about them, I’d wholly disagree with that. The fact that you know them and that they have literally thousands of reviews on Amazon, tells me people are well aware cheaper options exist.

      Thanks for reading!

  • BobFromConshy

    My experience is about a year long but no scuffs and no wear. Not sure how it would “wear out” other than if the adjusting knob on the clamps broke. Honestly, it’s the one thing that is not 100% confidence-inspiring. I guess I find out down the road.

    I think you missed my point about “no-name” products like this being unknown. Clearly they are not. But I didn’t find out about it from your site – or Bicycling Magazine, DirtRag, etc. I get it why you all focus on the offerings from the big players in the industry. I liken this to your review of the $20 Chinese lights. Folks see such a big difference in price and wonder if its a better value. You can offer the details (including your observation about long-term wear) and let folks decide for themselves. I just think objective information about this kind of stuff is a valuable addition to your site. Which, by the way, I literally visit daily. Keep up the good work!

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      Thanks Bob!

      Racks just like anything else, get clapped out from a lot of use and exposure to the elements. The Yakima HoldUp I tested last year is still going, but it’s certainly not operating as crisply as it did when new. The detents in the arms are just about gone, although they still lock in place, and there’s more play in the pivot. It’s still got a couple years of service left in it, but eventually it will wear out. Granted, I probably use my racks more than the average rider.

      I get your point about the no-name products. One of the reasons they are able to sell their products for much less is because they don’t do any marketing or promotion. IE they don’t send racks out to publications for review. That means if we wanted to review the rack, we’d have to buy it ourselves. Although just to be crystal clear here, RockyMounts did not pay us to review their rack and we don’t get paid by brands to review their products. Companies can send any product they want to us, but in the end we’re under no obligation to write about it, good or bad. That is wholly at our discretion.

      We do occasionally buy products we’re curious about, like the lights you mentioned. But that was only $20. So far, none of us have been curious enough about a Curt rack to drop $200 of our own money on it.

      Feel free to buy us one and send it over. We’ll let you know what we think!

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