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2002 Outback 2.5i Limited/2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for any experience with rear bike carriers - what people found to be the best option.
I have gone through all of the previous posts that I could find about bike carriers but they all seem to be about roof or hitch bike carriers.
My Thule roof rack is pretty much dedicated to my kayaks and canoe. I don't have a hitch and don't plan on adding one at this late stage.
I drive a Red 2002 Outback Ltd with 235,000 miles on it (and still going strong). I have been looking at the available rear bike carriers (probably 2 bike) as an option for carrying my bike in addition the the kayaks. I have to believe that people have used rear carriers on Outbacks.... Has anyone had experience with them?
(Also considering a new Outback when this one dies - so would want to use the carrier on the 2013 - or 2014)
Thanks much
 

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2011 Outback 3.6 Premium
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721 Posts
I have a Thule "hitchin-post" hitch-mounted 2-bile rack that works well. It mounts to where the trailer ball goes. The bikes are secured by straps (supplied).
 

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On my 2005 OB, I'm using a very old Hollywood rack, vaguely similar to their current "F1B Original". I made two mods: (a) I cut small (1/4" x 1") notches in the forward edge of the plastic spoiler so the upper strap hooks would engage the underlying metal, and also replaced the top pads with a single pad made from pipe insulation to better distribute the load on the window.

I was pretty nervous about resting the upper bar on the window, but it hasn't broken yet. Some of the other sites (Saris I think) show similar racks with the upper feet resting on the window. If you draw a vector diagram of the rack, you'll see that most of the dead weight goes to the lower feet, but a panic stop may put more dynamic force on the window.

I often see these racks at yard sales, so this is a very cheap and convenient solution, but perhaps not for serious travelling. I have put about 500 paved-road miles on the setup with one or two bikes. I used the same rack on my 95 Accord SW for a lot more miles with no problems.
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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184 Posts
I currently use a hitch rack, but on my previous Corolla I had a strapped trunk rack. I'm assuming that's the kind you're talking about? Mine was a Yakima King Joe 3 (for 3 bikes). It was very substantial and felt overbuilt, but after two 30 lb mountain bikes, I didn't dare try and put a third one on. It just felt risky to have all that cantilevered weight hanging off the back of the car, all being held by two webbing straps. For vehicles with a tailgate like the OB, half of the rack will rest against the rear glass. This is just how they are designed.

I never felt at ease with bikes back there while using a strapped rack. Once I went to a hitch, there was much more peace of mind.

The strap rack itself weighed ~15 - 20lbs, iirc.

Is it possible to buy the longest Thule load bars and add bike carriers at the very outside ends? I don't know how much of the roof your kayaks/canoe's take up.
 

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2016 Tungsten Outback 3.6R w/Eyesight. My 6th Subaru.
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332 Posts
I have s Saris Bones RS which lists a setting for the Outback but i have not tried it on yet.
 

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2002 Outback 2.5i Limited/2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the feedback.
Seems like most people currently carrying bikes on their Outback must be using hitch racks. I was hoping that more were already using the strap-type rear carriers so I could get some feedback as to what their experiences were.
I will keep looking around and see if I notice any Outbacks with rear carriers.
 

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2012 Outback 3.6 Ltd
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44 Posts
Having owned or tried just about every type and brand of bike rack, my personal preference is on the roof--at least when moving 3 or 4 bikes. Hitch racks can work well, but here's my view:

1. The simple racks with horizontal prongs work best for one, or maybe 2 bikes--at least if you are concerned with preserving bike frames and components. Getting 2 or 3 (or 4) bikes shoved together on the prongs is at best frustrating and time consuming.

2. Hitch racks with horizontal wheel trays are much better, but again think 1 or 2 bikes. since the trays commonly have reasonable spacing, a 4 bike rack sticks out kinda far. Not a problem on a big truck, but might be enough to tweak the handing on your OB.
 

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2002 Outback 2.5i Limited/2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks bkrantz. I was hoping to hear from someone who had actually used different racks. I generally carry kayaks on the roof and need something easy and secure to carry one or two bikes occasionally. At 235K miles I'm hesitant to put a hitch on the car, so one of the rear carriers is probably my best bet. If I go with adding a roof carrier would you suggest wheel on or off type? I would be carrying a road bike (or 2).
 

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2013 2.5i Limited, Special Appearance Package, Brilliant Brown Pearl, Saddle Brown Leather, HK Audio, Moonroof, Navigation
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214 Posts
I have a Curt 13990 Class III hitch with a Yakima "Big Horn 4" bike rack on the back of my 2013 OB. It will hold 4 bikes.

The Yakima (Big Horn 4) model is nice since it has a tilt "swing" feature where I can access the rear hatch without the carrier or bikes being in the way.
 

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2012 Outback 3.6 Ltd
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My bias is for leaving wheels on. Over many years of family rides I got tired of installing and removing 4 wheels at the start and end of every ride. Wheels-on racks also nearly eliminate issues around fork and front axle size or type (more of a mtb issue). But, wheels-on roof trays require a taller reach!

I have to say I always admire a car, Subie or other, with bikes, kayaks, skis, and more all on the roof at the same time.
 

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2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited
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I use Thule 9025 Apex 4 Bike foe the hitch. The bike carrier is very nice and Im very happy with it. It has a lock that locks to a hitch and a separate build in lock that keeps the bike safe when you are away from the car. I did cary 4 bikes on it with no problem. It also has No-Sway Cage to prevent bike to bike contact. Moreover it has Folding Hitch Switch that allows the arms to fold when not in use and tilts the carrier down for rear of vehicle access.

This is my first hitch bike carrier so I can't compere, but I'm very happy with it.

Good Luck :)
 

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2016 Tungsten Outback 3.6R w/Eyesight. My 6th Subaru.
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Why are people discussing their hitch mouted racks in this thread?
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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I think the intent of the OP was to find a cheap way to haul some bikes around on his aging Subaru with 200k+ miles. Getting something as permanent as a hitch system just doesn't justify the cost, if he or she doesn't think the car will be around that much longer. Sure the hitch rack itself can be transferred to a new car, but the cost of putting on the hitch on will be lost.

A strap-on rack might be the cheapest solution to tied (tide?) him over until a new car. Look on the local craigslist in both the bike and the auto parts section. 2nd hand racks tend to get listed in either place.
 

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2002 Outback 2.5i Limited/2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As much as I hate to think of my Outback as "aging", it does have 235K miles on it and Central NY is Not nice to cars. You are correct - I am looking for an inexpensive way to carry one or two bikes without investing in a hitch. If I buy a new Outback I will probably get a hitch just for the convenience, but putting one on this car at this point might be a waste of money.
Keep the thoughts coming on any experience you've had with rear racks. I'm also considering a roof mount, so the input on wheels on or wheels off is relevant.
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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As much as I hate to think of my Outback as "aging", it does have 235K miles on it and Central NY is Not nice to cars. You are correct - I am looking for an inexpensive way to carry one or two bikes without investing in a hitch. If I buy a new Outback I will probably get a hitch just for the convenience, but putting one on this car at this point might be a waste of money.
Keep the thoughts coming on any experience you've had with rear racks. I'm also considering a roof mount, so the input on wheels on or wheels off is relevant.
The long and short of it is that the best strap on rack will be ungainly in comparison to even a cheap hitch rack. The only strap rack that stands out is the Thule Raceway 9001, which uses steel retracting cables instead of nylon straps, and you can really crank that thing down for security. Then there's the very overkill Raceway Platform, which...well, you can see for yourself if you search for pictures of it. And it looks monumentally heavy. Remember that the rack and the bikes are always being held on by two cables / straps. I'd rather trust the better security of a hitch or roof rack if frequent bike transport is in your plans.

Speaking of roof racks, how much room do your kayaks and canoe take up of your roof once they are loaded? And what type / how heavy are your bikes?
 

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2013 Subaru Outback Premium 2.5i All-Weather+Moonroof Venetian Red Pearl W/ Ivory Coth
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We have an older Yakima hitch rack (circa 1999) we have used on our Honda CRV, but because of the rear tire we had to use an extension to clear the rear tire. With an extension the rack move around quite a bit. We just purchased a new Outback and getting a hitch so Im glad we wont have to use the extender. Its only a two bike but works well for us. The SKS lock system works well too. Only thing i'm concerned about is the proximity of the bike to the back of the car on the rack as its relatively close to the back of the back of the vehicle. The roof rack attachments to the standard movable frame rails probably are the best for vehicle preservation though. I also have the Saris Bones rack and it is by far the best trunk type rack for its adjustability
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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...Only thing i'm concerned about is the proximity of the bike to the back of the car on the rack as its relatively close to the back of the back of the vehicle. ...
This can be easily remedied with a cheap cargo strap. Once you load and secure your bikes to the hitch rack, pass the strap through both front and rear wheels of the bikes, as well as around the hitch rack's main pillar, and cinch the strap down. This will keep the bikes from flopping around on the rack, and the handlebars and front wheel from spinning into your rear bumper. If the strap is long, just wrap the extra length around something and tie it off to keep it from flapping behind your car.
 

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2014 Outback
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Just purchased a 2014 outback and I'm looking to add a hitch bike rack. Does the bike rack make the rearview completely useless or can you still get a good view?
 

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I have a Hollywood "Gordo" rear bicycle rack, and tried installing it on my new 2017 Outback 2.5i Limited. To finish the install, I needed to open the rear hatch, but when I did so, it started beeping madly, which quit when I removed the rack from the car. My guess is that somehow the top hooks were interfering with proper opening of the rear hatch.

I'll investigate more another time, but for now I just stowed the bicycle inside the car with the rear seat down.
 
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