Turf Blog 12-07-22

Last year on Turf Blog 08-09-21 I posted about fitting a tow bar to the car to allow me to carry my bicycle on turfing expeditions further afield. Now, while it has served its purpose fairly well, loading up the bike onto the rack is something of a hassle. As I use frame bags on all my bikes, these have to be removed whenever I want to carry it on the rack. Conversely, I need to reattach the frame bag when I arrive on location. So, remove bag, reattach bag, remove bag, reattach bag. And when there’s actually nine Velcro straps on the frame bag, it’s a pain especially after a day at the coast when the bike is covered in wet sand or freezing cold snow and ice in the winter. I also have to do the same with the pedals as they foul the car’s bodywork and we don’t want that, do we? I have also been finding that the hassle of loading/setting up the bike has been putting me off taking the bicycle places for turfing. So, time to get more practical bike carrier.

I did the usual online research and found various makes that looked okay such as Thule and Halfords but one manufacturer caught my eye, Pendle Bike Racks in Nelson, Lancashire. Not only will they accommodate the wide tyres of my Surly Pugsley fat bike but they are simply made to do the job required of them from good old-fashioned powder-coated high-tensile steel. None of that plastic rubbish you get these days. They look like something designed and made by a proper engineer, one with real qualifications, years of actual experience and not a sales and marketing person. I imagine this would be the kind of bike carrier Fred Dibnah, who is also from Lancashire, might create. Pendle Racks will also carry electric bikes, something on my future to-do list.

The rack requires assembly and the instructions are easy enough to follow. Just one good tip and that is to leave everything loose until your mount the bike and adjust to fit. Then tighten everything to the correct torque setting as advised. One part called the universal mounting block is left attached to the tow ball on the car. The rack itself is then simply slotted into the two vertical tubes on the universal mounting block then secured with two lock rings and a locking bar. The bike is then lifted on and secured with three straps.

The benefit here is that I can fully load the bike along with frame bag, leave the pedals on and even have the lights and other luggage mounted. Then on location, undo the three straps, lift the bike off, hop on and pedal off into the sunset. The rack is the W1 (One Bike Rack) and cost £299.00 with a further £55.00 for the larger fat-bike compatible wheel supports. One final task will be to drill and mount the rear number plate (when it arrives).

One issue that has come to light is the security of the rack when left unattended on the car. It would not be too difficult for someone to steal it if they had time and opportunity. All they would need are a few spanners and Allen keys. To solve this, I think drilling a 10 mm hole through the vertical tube on the universal mounting block with the rack attached will allow me to use a long-shackle padlock. Good to have some peace of mind that the rack will, hopefully and more likely, be there when I get back to the car. All that remains now is to see if I need to get electrics installed on the car. Hope not, it was a right pain when I tried previously in an earlier Ford Focus.

Now, fast forward and hour and I’ve just washed the car and guess what, the reversing sensors are detecting the universal mounting block and bleeping like crazy when revsering. There’s always something else. However, there are two options. Option one, install dedicated tow bar electrics which should deal with this but at a price. Option two, crawl under the car and disconnect the offending two centre sensors. This still leaves the outer pair along with the reversing camera and three rear view mirrors. That should be fine. After all, we didn’t have all these toys in the past and could reverse just fine without them. Option two it will be, at least for now. Probably a good idea to install electrics anyway. Back soon.

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