Some of us don’t want or need a car that’s worth as much as the mountain bikes it hauls around, but even a junkyard ride deserves a solid bike rack to keep most of the mud out. With the retail price of $539.95 spread over a decade of use, the RockyMounts MonoRail will make for a relatively affordable way to transport bikes to the trailhead. The rack’s fit and functionality feel solid and ready to spread that initial asking price
Unlike some bike racks, the RockyMounts MonoRail is simple to assemble, with about ten minutes between unboxing and loading up bikes. A total of 13 bolts have to be tightened into place with the included tools, though you may want to add grease and Loctite where applicable. The rack comes in a fairly small box, with just enough foam packaging material to keep the individual pieces from rubbing together and becoming scratched or marred. You’ll want to hang on to the included spanner for removing and re-installing the rack in a hitch.
A RockyMounts MonoRail rack bike carrier is as simple to use as most modern bike racks, with a ratcheting arm that holds the front wheel stable and a ratchet strap to secure the rear wheel. Both wheel holsters can accommodate anything from smaller kids’ bikes to fat bike tires, and wheelbase measurements from 36 to 50″ in length. Weight capacity is 60lb per tray for 120lb total, but your hitch may limit the total weight to 150lb with the 40lb rack included in that sum. For my scrappy Honda go-kart, the total tray weight comes out to 55lb each, and I’d rather not ride a bike that heavy.
A cradle behind the front tire keeps your bike from rocking back and forth, and with the support of the upper arm, it also prevents to and fro swaying. I’m a huge fan of racks like this one that don’t touch any part of my frame finish. You could latch the upper arm too close to the fork and risk rubbing some paint off, but that’s more of a user error issue than a design problem.
Speaking of touching the frame, the included cable lock should be left off while driving because road vibrations could cause it to sand through frame and component finishes. The cable itself is fairly thick and may take some time to hack through, but the lock that attaches it to the rack looks like it could easily be shattered with a common framing hammer in a few seconds. Most rack locks are solely designed to create a little hassle in the theft process, buying you some time in the pub, and this one is no different. If you want a somewhat more secure lock you can run a classic U-lock between the rack arm and your fork’s upper stanchion. This too can be worked around by a hungry plunderer, but it will likely be easier to steal the whole rack — and it’s harder to run with two bikes attached to a rack than it is to pedal away.
Folding the RockyMounts MonoRail up and down is simple, and the blue lever actuates smoothly with the strength of a few fingers. Folded up, the rack sits close enough to my dented trunk that the lower wheel cradle needs to be folded out of the way, which is equally easy to manipulate.
I tested the MonoRail with a 1.25″ tongue, and there’s also a 2″ model. RockyMounts offers some hitch extensions if you need to get the rack further away from your car’s rear panel, and there’s also a $20 wall mount to store it out of the way if you don’t want to have a bike rack on your car year-round.
Pros and cons of the RockyMounts MonoRail bike rack
- Stable with little movement in the hitch
- Secure trays keep bikes from moving around
- No frame/paint contact
- Cable lock could easily be busted
- Not the aesthetic fit for everyone’s vehicle
A friend of mine exclaimed that the RockyMounts rack looks “spindly” compared to the competition, but I can confirm that functionally it seems to have ample structural integrity. It holds bikes steady without scratches and doesn’t move around much in the hitch, so the most important bases are covered.