1up Bike Rack Review: The Car Rack You Need – Buy Side from WSJ

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Video 1up bike rack

When I got heavily into road cycling more than a decade ago, one of the first things I bought was a rack for the car. I was on vacation and just wanted to get the bike home, so I went with the local bike shop’s cheapest option. It was a rather flimsy device that attached via straps and rested on the rear window of my Volvo wagon. I spent the entirety of that six-hour drive caught between the psychic hells of I-95 traffic, worrying my pricey bike was going to fall off and get ground into the asphalt by the stream of following cars, and whether insurance would cover it.

I eventually got a roof-mounted rack from a well-known brand. It was an improvement but still had flaws. For one, though I’m 6-foot-3, I still had to stand in the footwall of my car to secure it into place. For another, with the particular design of this rack, it was never entirely clear if I’d properly tightened the bike’s carbon forks into the quick-release mechanism—and, indeed, on at least one occasion the bike came loose as I drove down the highway, saved only by the rear wheel strap. Lastly, attaching the bike meant removing the front wheel. After one particularly grueling race, I put my bike up top but forgot the wheel lying nearby. (As city dwellers, we didn’t have to worry about a common problem with roof racks: people driving into their garage with bikes still attached and not making the clearance.)

One day, my friend Michael, a fellow rider in Brooklyn, showed me the one his wife had bought for his birthday: a new hitch-mounted rack, meaning it connects via the car’s rear hitch adapter.

The rack, which had no visible logos, came from a company called 1Up, in Wisconsin.

It was American-made of powder-coated aluminum, precisely tooled and looking more like something you’d find in a high-tech machine shop. Michael praised its simplicity—it had a patented locking system that has since been copied by others—and felt he was saving gas mileage by not having it up top (less aerodynamic drag, although, for the record, 1Up also makes roof racks if that’s your thing).

I ordered 1Up’s Quik Rack Single straight away and found conveyance bliss. No more struggling to hoist in bikes of different sizes; just plop any bike—road, mountain, e-bike—into the tray, move the two arms toward the wheels until they click into place, and that bike is going nowhere, except to your destination. All with what feels like Indy 500 pit crew speed.

The rack itself attaches to the car’s hitch adapter with equal ease, thanks to an “expander ball” that you move via a wrench with a proprietary design (so no one steals it). It’s got a simple mechanism to flip it up if you need to save space when not using it. With nary a shred of plastic to be found, it’s not the lightest thing in the world—and I generally take it off when I’m not using it, with a simple twist of the included wrench—but it is idiot-proof.

Future-proof, too. For standard bikes, users can have up to two additional racks, so when my daughter began riding bikes, I ordered an “add on” one. Combined, they stick out a little more than two feet from the back of the car. The rack itself, which I’ve had since 2016, has outlived two of my road bikes and it’s still going strong. “No hassle, no wobble,” is the company’s tagline, and indeed, there’s nothing nicer when you’re carrying bikes than to not be thinking about carrying bikes.