For Some Reason, Single Bike Hitch Racks Are a Hot Thing this Year

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.