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Swing Away Vs. Fold Down - Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

Saturday, May 30, 2015 7:47:57 AM America/Denver

Most SUVs, trucks and wagons have some sort of lift gate or swing door to access the rear of the vehicle.  As a result, current hitch bike racks in today"s market have been designed to allow you access to the back of the vehicle while carrying bikes.

Loading and unloading your bikes is easier with a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack than a Roof Mounted Bike Rack because you only have to lift the bikes up waist-high.
Loading and unloading your bikes is easier with a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack than a Roof Mounted Bike Rack because you only have to lift the bikes up waist-high.

Hitch mounted bike racks are the easiest racks to operate.  As opposed to hauling your bikes onto the roof of the car, rear-mounted hitch racks make loading bikes easier since you only need to raise your bike waist-high.  Hitch mounted bike racks also install easily and can be removed easily with a single tool, or sometimes no tool at all, making it a great choice for weekend warriors or people who only want a rack for seldom use.  The Thule 9043 Helium Aero 3 Bike Rack is made of lightweight aluminum and incorporates a no-tool installation.

thule-9043-helium-aero-3-bike-rack
The New Thule 9043 Helium Aero 3 Bike Hitch Mounted Bike Rack is lightweight, has a no-tool installation knob, is fully equipped with locks, and fits 2" and 1 1/4" receiver hitches.

There are many features that round out the lineup of hitch racks.  Some racks have folding bike arms that can be stowed when not in use.  This feature is handy when parallel parking for example, since the rack is not sticking out behind the car.  This is a standard feature on all of the "Hanging Style" hitch mounted bike racks that we carry.

The Yakima Quick Cam Lever makes it easy to fold down the bike rack arms which minimizes the footprint of the rack on the back of the vechicle.

Thule has developed their version, the Hitch-Switch, which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch.  This feature is available on the Apex series, the Vertex series, the Helium Aeros hanging style bike racks.

Thule has developed there version called the Hitch-Switch which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch
Thule has developed there version called the Hitch-Switch which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch.

This same Hitch-Switch is also incorporated into most Thule bike racks for another benefit, lowering the entire bike rack to gain access into the back of the vehicle.  After you unload the bikes from the rack, pull the Hitch-Switch at the bottom of the rack to release the upper portion of the rack allowing it to tilt down away from the vehicle.  You now have enough room to open up your tailgate or hatch, gaining access into the back of your vehicle.

The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle
The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle

Yakima uses a similar system consisting of a spring loaded pin that, when released, allows the rack to fold down and away from the vehicle giving you complete access into the back.

The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle
Yakima Spring Pin controls the racks upright position - pulling the pin releases the rack to be folded down to gain access to the back of your vehicle.

Integrated locking systems not only lock the bikes to the rack, but also lock the rack to the hitch.  Both locks are keyed alike, meaning you will only need one key to access either the bike lock or the hitch lock.

The integrated cable lock on the Yakima Swingdaddy is used to lock your bikes to the bike rack and in stored conveniently inside the bike rack
The integrated cable lock on the Yakima SwingDaddy is used to lock your bikes to the bike rack and in stored conveniently inside the bike rack when not in use

Vehicles with swing out doors, like the Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Toyota Rav 4 will most benefit from a swing out bike rack.  There are many advantages to swing-away bike racks versus fold down bike racks.  When the rack is swung open, you are afforded complete access to the rear of the vehicle even when the rack is fully loaded with bikes.  This means you do not have to remove every single bike from the rack before folding the rack to gain access to the back of the vehicle.

thule-9027-apex-swing-hitch-bike-rack-open-with-bike
The Thule Apex Swing gets completely out of the way of the trunk with bikes loaded. Very convenient when needing to access the back of vehicle.

 

On the other hand, using a fold-down bike rack on a vehicle with a swing-open rear door will not provide complete access to the rear of the car, since the rear door will not be able to clear the rack, even when it's folded down completely.  Fold-down bike racks are a great choice for many vehicle applications, especially when access to the rear of the car can be achieved through an independent, lift-up rear glass, like the Toyota 4Runner.  While the fold-down rack will allow you to lift any lift-back or hatchback door, it is extremely cumbersome and awkward to fold down the rack when bikes are loaded, even with just 2 bikes.

Swing-away racks, such as the Yakima SwingDaddyYakima FullSwingThule Apex Swing, and the Thule Vertex Swing do require a bit more work to operate than a fold-down rack since you need to completely loosen the wing bolt to open the rack, and reattach it securely to close the rack when preparing for transit.

Preparation for swingaway racks involves loosening the security bolt and pulling the security pin
Preparation for swing away racks involves loosening the security bolt and pulling the security pin.

If your application requires you to move from a 2" receiver to a 11/4" receiver, have no fear, most of the hitch mounted bike racks from both Thule and Yakima are designed to adapt to either size receiver hitch options.  All that you need to do to adapt your rack to a different size receiver hitch is either attach or remove the sleeve located on the rack's tongue.  The only exception to this is the swing-away racks which only fit 2" receiver hitches.

The platform-style upright mounted hitch racks, such as the Yakima 2443 Hold Up, are sold in different varieties designated for hitch size.  You cannot attach a 2" upright rack to a 1¼" hitch receiver; you must buy the 1 ¼" version bike rack to do that.

Platform-style Upright Bike Racks, like this Yakima 2433 Hold Up, are receiver hitch size specific
Platform-style Upright Bike Racks, like this Yakima 2443 Hold Up, are receiver hitch size specific
 
Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

SmartPhone Apps for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 7:45:41 AM America/Denver

In this new age of the Smart Phone, we can become overwhelmed by the technology available for us to simplify our busy lives, thus not really simplifying anything.  But with the Smart Phone you have an all-in-one tool for survival and fun that includes internet access, GPS coordination, cameras and much more.  With new apps being developed everyday, you can turn your phone into just about anything that you can think of.  We, your helpful Cracks & Racks crew, have put together a small selection of apps that can be fun and useful for outdoor enthusiasts to use during their activities.

AccuTerra

If you like knowing where you are at the touch of a button while skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, mountain biking, camping, backpacking or whatever your calling may be, then check out AccuTerra.  AccuTerra is a one-stop, GPS-based, outdoor recreation app with terrain, trail, and ski area maps designed for the iPhone.  While comparable recreation maps for expensive dedicated GPS units can cost hundreds in additional fees, AccuTerra gives you access to millions of square miles at a fraction of the price.  Choose from over 220,000 miles of trails, thousands of trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas, it's the ONLY app available that displays all major public land boundaries.

GoSky Watch Planetarium & Google Sky Map

Go outside and check out the stars with the GoSkyWatch Planetarium App for the iPhone or Google Sky Map for Android.  These are impressive apps, which allow you to easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more with a just a touch of the screen or by simply pointing to the sky.  Have fun with family and friends discovering the night sky.  Many of the new features are specifically designed for efficient outdoor use.  The red light mode is designed to preserve night vision.  The planets are shown with relative brightness for easy identification, and with touchless navigation, heads-up information display, and full 180 degree display you can see at a glance what is in the sky and where.  Looking for a planet or star?  Just use the finder and let the arrow guide the way.

iBird Pro

During your down-time while you sit back and relax and enjoy the outdoors this year, try out the iBird Pro app.  This app, iBird Plus, is an interactive guide to the most popular bird species found in the backyards of North America. Designed for both  the iPhone and Android platforms, this product contains illustrations, photos, bird calls and comprehensive facts to help you identify and enjoy 234 North American bird species. With no need for an Internet connection, and all of the data right at your fingertips, you can make bird identification a fun activity no matter what your outdoor passion is.

All-In Pedometer

There are some especially cool apps that you can use every day in your busy life like the All-In Pedometer. The Pedometer is the perfect tool for working out or just measuring how much you walk in a day. The built-in music player will get you pumped for the workout and the body tracker will show you the changes in your body, speeding up the progress toward your ultimate goal.  Just start the application, put your iPhone or iPod in your pocket, and get movin'!  The Pedometer does all of the calculating for you.

Knot Guide

You don't have to live by the old saying, "If you can't tie a good knot, just tie a bunch of bad ones" anymore once you download the Knot Guide for iPhone and Android applications.  People of all walks of life since ancient times have found knots both fascinating and essential.  Knots are used in sailing, climbing, tree trimming, jewelry making, and everyday tasks such as attaching a load to your vehicle.  Whether you're a novice or you have experience with tying knots, Knot Guide will assist you!  17 different categories include: Bends, Binding Knots, Climbing Knots, Decorative Knots, Fishing Knots, Hitches (End), Hitches (Middle), Lashings, Loops (Fixed), Loops (Slip), Rope Care, Sailing Knots, Scout Knots, Shortenings, Splices, Stopper Knots, and Whippings.

Weather Channel

Planning any outdoor adventure requires you be in touch with the weather, and we prefer to use the app from the Weather Channel because frankly, their forecasts are most accurate. This app takes your weather experience to the next level with full screen maps, extended forecasts, severe weather alerts, and more, all at your fingertips.  This app features a full screen, interactive radar map, it uses Google Mobile Maps for faster zooming and panning, it can pinpoint your location at launch, contains seasonal information, and it can post weather directly to your Facebook Wall.  Most importantly it shows you the dew point, which we all know is must have info to know when the next big storm is going to hit!

Google Earth

Sometimes exploring the world can be a little confusing.  Have no fear - the Google Earth App is here!  With Google Earth for Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, you can fly to far corners of the planet with just the swipe of a finger. Explore the same global satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop version of Google Earth, including high-resolution imagery for over half of the world's population and a third of the world's land mass.

MyNature Animal Tracks

Another fun and educational outdoor app is the MyNature Animal Tracks.  We've all been there before, fishing a sandy riverbank, hiking over a lush green forest trail, gliding through a fresh snow fall on a clear crisp winter morning. Then, right there in front of you, you see a set of tracks. You wonder, which way they're heading, what animal was it, was it just here. Is it a canine or feline or maybe it's a bear?  Animal tracks can be found in nearly every square mile of North America!  With the MyNature app you are now equipped with a database with 7 search-able track categories fully illustrated by size and shape for quick selection, illustrations of both fore and hind feet.  Plus a complete description of track measurements, full color digital images of an actual track in the wild, gorgeous photos of each individual animal featured, illustrations of the most common gait pattern for each animal, sound files for an example of each animals vocalization, and even range maps showing each animals distribution across North America.

Elevation Pro

For those of you who like to explore the higher elevations check out the Elevation Pro App.  It brings worldwide USGS elevation to your fingertips and is now even better with fully integrated Google maps and Twitter sharing.  You can get elevation for any habitable place on Earth just by touching the location on the map!  Share your current Elevation on Twitter and have an unlimited number of Elevation Waypoints in Map, Satellite, or Hybrid views.  View two sources of elevation data - GPS and USGS data sources - for unparalleled accuracy.

Camping Recipes

When mac and cheese doesn't cut it,  check out Camping Recipes App for iPhone, where you will find delicious and easy camping recipes that will satisfy big or picky appetites. Do you have a particular way that you like to cook outdoors?  Find camping recipes suited to your style of cooking.  This app offers easy, delicious recipes for camping and hiking!  Why is it that food cooked outdoors always seems to taste better?  Now take it to another level.

Posted in Lifestyle By Cracks & Racks

Winter Vacation Planning Tips

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 7:44:53 AM America/Denver

Insider Tips for Planning a Ski & Snowboard Trip

Are you planning a winter getaway this year?  We're not referring to a "winter escape" to Hawaii or Costa Rica (sounds nice though), we're talking skiing and snowboarding.  There"s nothing like that cold fresh air, crisp powder in your face or flying down freshly groomed corduroy to get your senses tingling and muscles burning.

Here are some ideas from the crew at Cracks & Racks to help you plan and make the most from your trip.

Check These Websites for Great Deals While Planning

If you're still in the planning phase of your trip, check out websites like ski.comskitherockies.com, or snowventures.com.  These are valuable resources that can help you find a package deal to a number of destinations that may include lift tickets, ski rentals, and transportation to and from the airports to your lodging.  If you're making plans on short notice, you can also find special last minute deals.

Buy Lift Tickets Ahead of Time

Skip the lines at the ticket counter on your first day of riding and buy your lift tickets in advance of your arrival.  If you book through a website like Ski.com, your package may already include lift tickets.  Many resorts have advanced sales and offer price breaks when purchasing multi-day tickets in advance.

A website like Liftopia.com partners directly with ski resorts to bring you lift ticket deals you won't find anywhere else. Book online and save up to 80%!

Rent Skis - Buy Boots

Traveling with skis is costly and with ski & snowboard technology changing every year, renting skis & boards makes more sense than purchasing.  Instead, purchasing a pair of well fitted boots will be the best investment and last the longest.  Renting boards allows you to get the latest equipment, matched to current conditions.  Local ski shops can be very helpful getting you the right gear for your level of skiing or riding.  You can swap gear too, which is especially nice when the skinny cruising skis you were on yesterday aren't the best choice for the 8" of new snow that fell overnight.

When you're renting gear, head over to the ski shop in the evening, before your first day on the mountain, if possible.  That way, you won't spend valuable time in the shop the morning of your first ski day.  Even better, contact a company like D2D Ski RentalsBlackTie Ski Rentals and Ski Butlers will come right to your hotel or condo delivering the latest gear, having you ready to hit the slopes first thing in the morning.

Make Dinner Reservations in Advance

If you want to head out on the town at night for a steak dinner and a bottle of wine, you'd best have a reservation.  If your plans are during the high season, around the holidays, you"ll want to make reservations well in advance of your arrival, unless you prefer eating at 9:30 at night.  If you"re staying at a hotel, call ahead and speak with the concierge and ask them to make some reservations for you.

If you"re still looking for a place to eat, check out OpenTable.com.  You'll find even the highest rated restaurants here, and with smartphone apps, getting a last minute reservation is possible.

Grab a Local Newspaper

Once you've reached your destination, the local newspaper is the best resource for learning about upcoming events you may want to check out like live music shows, or movie listings, or special events, which are typical in resort destination communities.  You can learn a little bit about the community and pick up some great ideas for after ski activities.  Plus, you can catch up on the latest gossip around town, which can help start some pretty interesting chairlift conversations.

If you're interested in live music, make sure you check in advance of your arrival for ticket availability.  Contact the venue box office prior to your arrival.

Try Something Besides Skiing or Snowboarding

Not a skier or boarder or maybe you just want to take a day off from skiing to rest.  Fortunately, there are a bunch of other fun activities besides skiing & snowboarding at most destinations.  Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing are fun and inexpensive and allow you to soak up some fresh air, see some countryside and get away from the crowds.  Fly fishing is a year-round sport and you'll likely have the river to yourself during the winter while you chase trout.  Ice skating and sledding are fun for all ages, although sledding on the ski area is absolutely forbidden.  Soaking up the warmth in the hot tub or local hot springs can be a great way to spend some time too.

Contact the local chamber of commerce where you are visiting for ideas and the names of reputable outfitters to help you with your alternative activities.

Take it Easy on Your First Day

Enduring an entire week of skiing will be easier if you don't wreck yourself the first day.  We understand the thrill and anticipation of getting out skiing, especially on the first day, but remember, skiing can take a toll on your body and you're going to get sore if you haven't skied since last season, or done ski conditioning prior to your arrival.  Our best advice is to stay hydrated, eat well, get plenty of rest and don't overdo it on the alcohol, especially at altitude!

We hope you found this article helpful for planning your next winter getaway and hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Posted in Lifestyle By Cracks & Racks

Cold Weather Rack Care Tips

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 7:44:02 AM America/Denver

It's the time of year when days are short, the sun is scarce, and down jackets prevail.  A time when your feet are cold, windshields need scraping, and the roads get messy.  It's this time of year that we love, because it means skiing and riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and crisp cold weather.

With the change in season, we have some suggestions for caring for your racks during the cold months so you'll get the most out of your investment for years to come.

Remove Your Bike Racks

If you're not going to be hitting the roads or trails with your bikes for a few months, take off your bike mounts.  Roof bike mounts, as well as Hitch Mount Bike Racks, have lots of moving metal parts and whether you encounter salt or sand in the winter, the cold wet environment can lead to rust and premature aging.  Most bike racks are easily removed and don't require a lot of storage space, and dry storage through the winter months will keep them working properly for years to come.

Lube the Locks and Other Moving Parts

If you have a Cargo box, or ski rack, or any other rack accessory that you'll be locking and unlocking in the cold, it's a great idea to spray the lock cylinder with some silicone lubricant or other lubricant like graphite or lithium grease.  The lube will help prevent the lock tumbler from freezing.  If you find that the lock is frozen, warm the key up with Bic® Lighter for a bit and insert the key into the lock.  Let the heat dissipate through the lock cylinder and then try turning it.  Don't forget all those other moving parts too, like hinges and latches or the slide rail on your Thule 91726 Pull Top Ski Rack.

Spraying some lube inside the lock cylinder of your rack will help prevent freezing when the mercury heads south
A little lube on the sliding mechanism of the Thule Pull Top Ski Rack will keep this rack moving smoothly
Lube the sliding rod that secures the box lid on Thule Cargo Boxes
Spray some silicone lube inside the points where the lid secures into the base
Yakima Cargo Box Mechanism
Lubing the Yakima Sky Box will keep it opening and closing smoothly
Yakima Sky Box Latch Point
Keep the spring inside the Yakima Sky Box latch lubed for smoooth action

Wash Your Car

Even though it's going to get dirty quickly, washing your car will not only keep your rack in good working order, it will keep your vehicle in good shape too.  Salt, Magnesium Chloride deicer, and other road grime can quickly work through your rack and vehicle finish if it's not rinsed off regularly.  Be sure to give your car or truck plenty of time to dry (don't wash it at sunset).  Frozen doors and key holes can wreak havoc on getting to work on time or worse, getting in line for the lift on a powder day!

Last But Not Least

As always, exercise caution while driving in winter conditions.  Keep plenty of spacing between cars, have good winter (snow) tires, good windshield wipers, clean and clear headlights and plenty of washer fluid that won't freeze.  Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your gas tank too.

Also, remember a winter emergency kit.  You can include a sleeping bag, gloves and a hat, a shovel, jumper cables or jump box, a camping stove to melt snow, chains, fire starter, flares, flashlights or headlamps, or anything else you think can be handy.

The Thule Large Trunk Organizer is an excellent way to carry all of these items together, in a zippered compartment, where they'd stay organized in the back of your car.

We want you and your gear to arrive safely!  Have a great winter!!!

Posted in Roof Racks By Cracks & Racks

Toyota Prius Roof Rack

Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:43:22 AM America/Denver

We've had a bunch of requests for rack photos of the Thule Traverse Rack System on the 2010 Toyota Prius.  So when this Prius came in this morning, we snapped a few photos to show the Thule Traverse Rack installation.

This install includes the Thule Rapid Aero Traverse Foot Pack, with the Traverse Fit Kit 1566 and RB53 Rapid Aero Bar.

This rack system can be purchased as a complete Thule Traverse Rack for the Toyota Prius.

Toyota Prius Roof Rack
The Thule Traverse Rack System pictured on a 2010 Toyota Prius without a glass roof
Toyota Prius Thule Rack
The Traverse Towers clamp inside the front and rear doors creating a 27 1/2" bar spread - optimal for many rack accessories
Thule Traverse Tower Toyota Prius
The Thule 480R Rapid Traverse Tower, coupled with the Traverse Fit Kit 1566 creates a precise and solid foundation
Toyota Prius Rack System
The Traverse Rack System is easy to install and creates an eye pleasing and functional rack system for any 2010 Toyota Prius
Posted in Roof Racks By Cracks & Racks

The 10 Best Gifts for Skiers & Snowboarders - Staff Pick

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:42:23 AM America/Denver

1. Helmet

The Smith Variant Helmet

Helmets aren't just the coolest accessory to have on the mountain, they make sense for lots of reasons, besides safety.  Helmets are a great way to keep your temperature well-regulated and because they won't fly off in the event of a wipeout, your goggles won't end up full of snow.  Step it up a notch and get a helmet with audio headphones integrated into the earpiece, either by plugging in your mp3 player or streaming the audio wirelessly through a Bluetooth connection.

Check out the Smith Variant Audio Helmet MSRP $170.00 - Lots of ventilation, secure fit, and cool styling.

2. Goggles

Smith I/O Goggles

To go along with a helmet is a good pair of goggles.  Skiing or riding in sunglasses may look cool in the spring time, but they're pretty impractical when its snowing or the light is flat.

A good pair of goggles will have interchangeable lenses too, so you can go adjust according to the day's conditions.  Buy goggles at the same time you buy your helmet, to make sure they fit properly and don't leave a big gap in between the helmet and the top of the goggles.

Cover your eyes with Smith IO goggles to work with your helmet.  MSRP $165.00 - Easy, interchangeable lenses and fighter pilot good looks

3. Neck Gaiter

The Buff®

Scrunching your face into your jacket works well on the chairlift (barely) but just doesn't work when skiing or riding.  When you scrunch your shoulders up and tuck your chin in your jacket, you're affecting your posture enough so that your neck and spine will be out of whack for proper skiing or riding technique.  Besides, being cold just plain sucks! This is why you need a gaiter or a mask to wear under your helmet or around your neck.  Be warned, big fluffy fleece gaiters will make you sweat and fog up your goggles, so buy something lightweight and breathable, like the Buff®.  You won't overheat, and you'll be surprised at how much warmer you'll be, especially on those crisp, cold powder day mornings.

Pick up the Original Buff MSRP $22.00 - $30.00 -  It's super versatile, and long enough to go over your nose and keep your neck warm too.

4. Socks

Let's face it, the wrong socks can quickly turn a good day on the mountain into a bad one.  Spend some dough and get a couple of pairs of sport-specific socks.

Bridgedale Ski Socks

A common misconception is that a thicker sock is going to be warmer.  On the contrary, thicker socks will take up more volume in your boot, preventing adequate blood flow to your little piggies, making your feet achy and cold.  Try a thinner pair of socks, almost dress socks, and marvel at the warmth and precision you get.

Slip on a pair of Bridgedale Ski Socks MSRP $20.00 - Select from a variety of styles and warmth factors. Take care of your feet and they'll take care of you.

5. Base Layers

You've heard it before, but dressing in layers is the best way to stay temperature regulated, which means wear your reindeer sweater grandma knitted for you around the fireplace, not on the mountain.

Ice Breaker Base Layers

There are lots of synthetic materials out there that wick moisture from the body, but none of them work as well as good old-fashioned wool and I'm not talking about the scratchy stuff you wore as a kid.  Merino wool is soft, comfortable, insulates when it's wet and won't leave you stinking after a day of skiing like you just finished a week-long backpacking trip.

Suit up in the morning with the Icebreaker Legless Base Layer.  MSRP $64.95 - Soft merino wool makes a perfect choice for reducing bulk during serious boot wearing activities.

6.  Gloves

Like cold feet, cold hands will make you feel like a 4 year old learning to write cursive when you sign your credit card receipt in the lunch line.  Good gloves should fit comfortably, and not bind when articulating your fingers.

Hestra Heli Ski Glove

Even better, gloves that come up over the cuff of your jacket will keep pesky clumps of snow off of your hands, especially if you regularly find yourself playing in deep snow.  Leather palms are also good for wiping the outside of your goggles in a pinch.  But no matter how good or warm your gloves are, if your body is cold, it will steal blood from your extremities to keep your core warm, so dress warmly to keep your hands warm.  If you've dressed too lightly, keep a pair of hand warmers with you to bust out when you want to stay on the hill rather than sip hot chocolate inside.

Glove up with the  Hestra Heli Ski De Cuir Glove MSRP $135.00 -  A long cuff, leather palm and removable wool liner combine all the necessities for mountain supremacy.

7. 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America

50 Classic Ski Descents of North America

Get your adventure seeker the latest offering from ski mountaineer Chris Davenport, Art Burrows and Penn Newhard and let your buddies drool over 208 pages of gorgeous photos of big lines, steep couloirs and soft snow brought to life by some of skiing's most iconic figures.  More than a coffee table reader, this book will make any skier feel like they're laying down perfect turns on the way back to the kitchen for a 2nd helping of turkey dinner.

Available at Wolverine Publishing MSRP $55.00 - The book is timeless and truly inspirational for any aspiring ski mountaineer

8. Flip Video

Pictures are great, but when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, capturing the sweet spot of a skier mid-turn or at the precise moment of the powder face-shot is best left to a professional photo shoot.  Enter the Flip Video.  Enjoy HD video in a package about the size of your iPhone that is easy to use even with cold fingers.

Flip Ultra HD

It interfaces with a built-in USB plug for any computer and simple, easy-to-use software allows you to edit clips, create movies, lay down audio and best of all, capture an individual frame and save it as a .jpg file to show off to your coworkers or impress the ladies. PRO TIP:  Capturing video while skiing with the camera is a surefire way to induce vomiting, so shoot from a stationary position to capture the footage.

Become the next Greg Stump with the Flip Ultra HD MSRP - $149.95 - $199.95.  Available anywhere electronics are sold.  Relive the glory days for years to come.

9. Hydration Pack

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you're not losing water and beginning to dehydrate.  Add the hot tub you took yesterday and the cocktails you sipped last night with dinner, and the reason your legs feel so heavy in the morning is because you need water.

CamelBak Zoid Hydration Pack

Stay ahead of the game with a hydration pack and enjoy better performance on the mountain all day long.

Winter hydration packs, like those offered from CamelBak, can be slim hydration bladders or full-on day packs that allow you to carry an extra layer, energy bars and even your skis on your back when you decide to go for an extended hike on the resort's hike-to terrain.

Take a drink with Camelbak Winter Hydration Packs MSRP $55.00 - $100.00.  Give your kidneys a break and stay hydrated.

10. Ski/Snowboard Rack

In all sincerity, it's not safe to haul your skis or snowboards inside the car.  Stop short on an icy road! You get the picture.

Yakima Fat Cat 6 Ski & Snowboard Rack

You can throw them in your car and you'll surely ruin the interior of the car either with the metal edges of your boards, or the binding brakes will snag on the upholstery.  Give yourself some peace of mind and save yourself from buying a You-Saw-It-On-TV upholstery repair kit and rack those boards!

Check out a complete selection of Ski & Snowboard Roof Racks and Cargo Boxes at Cracks & Racks!  MSRP $89.00 - $209.00 for Roof Ski Racks

Happy Holidays!!!

Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

Buying the Right Rack for Winter Gear

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 7:38:30 AM America/Denver

So you're planning on heading up to the mountains this winter to do some skiing or snowboarding.  Regardless of how far you travel to the ski area, getting your gear to the mountain safely is as important as remembering to pack your gloves and boots.

Of course there are lots of options for carrying your winter sports gear and unfortunately there's no one-size-fits-all application.  You could choose from a variety of roof ski racks, cargo boxes, dedicated snowboard carriers, or hitch mounted ski/snowboard racks.

Before you can determine which way you want to go, you must consider your carrying capacity.  Will you be carrying skis for just you and a ski buddy?  Or are you a family of 4 that make weekend trips regularly with luggage?  If you can think of what you'll be carrying, you can make smart decisions on how to carry it.

Roof Racks

Probably the most recognizable way of carrying skis & snowboards is on the roof.  Many of today's SUV's and crossover vehicles come equipped from the factory with some type of rack system pre-installed.  And for skis and snowboards, these factory installed roof racks make a perfect foundation for attaching a ski rack.  While it's true that many factory roof racks aren't as strong as aftermarket rack systems, they're most often completely satisfactory for hauling skis and snowboards.  Bikes, on the other hand, create more torque on the crossbars and should be used with caution on these types of roof racks.

Even better, today's roof mounted ski racks, like those offered from ThuleYakima and Rocky Mounts all have hardware that is designed to work on factory installed crossbars right out-of-the-box.  If you decide to eventually purchase an aftermarket rack system, you won't need to purchase additional hardware to attach these racks.

Ski & snowboard rack mounting hardware is designed to work on a variety of different crossbars right out of the box.

So what happens when your car isn't equipped with a factory installed crossbar or roof rack?  This is when you have to add a multi-sport base rack system to the roof of your vehicle.  The base rack system becomes the foundation for accessories, like a ski/snowboard rack, cargo box or other sports like biking or kayaking.  While the initial investment is greater, the long-term versatility and lifestyle improvements will eventually outweigh the initial outlay.

Roof ski and snowboard racks are all featured similarly.  Today's roof racks are designed to carry the skis base to base - the same way you would carry them on your shoulder.  Gone are the days of splitting up your skis and laying them down individually.  A push-button opens the rack allowing you to lay your equipment down on soft, padded rubber.  Once loaded, you'll close the top and secure the latch. It's that easy.  The trick is determining which one works best for you, your car, and your carrying needs.

If you're carrying snowboards, or think there is a remote possibility that you will be carrying snowboards, don't shoot yourself in the foot and buy a rack that is too narrow.  Remember, snowboards are about the equivalent width of 2 pairs of skis.  You'll eventually end up carrying it in the car, and risk damaging your vehicle's interior, windows, or your occupants.

When you see ski racks that carry 6 pairs of skis, be reminded that this really means the rack will carry UP TO 6 pairs of skis.  The exception to this is the Yakima Fat Cat 6, the largest of all ski & snowboard roof racks.  Because ski technology is leaning towards bigger and wider skis, a good rule of thumb is to remember that a rack designed to carry up to 6 pairs of skis will likely fit 5 pairs of skis comfortably and a rack that is designed to carry up to 4 pairs of skis will fit 3 comfortably.

Some racks, like the Thule 575 Snowboard Carrier are dedicated snowboard racks designed to carry 2 snowboards.  This is a good rack to use when space on the crossbars is limited, or you need the ability to carry extra snowboards that won't fit in a traditional roof ski/snowboard rack.

Not all roof racks have to mount directly to a crossbar.  The Thule 5401 Snowcat is designed to clamp down to an elevated side rail that runs front to back on the roof where no crossbar exists.  An example of this might be a Volkswagen Passat or Jetta wagon.  The Snowcat has a built-in crossbar that telescopes out towards the sides of the vehicle.

The Thule Snowcat is designed to attach directly to vehicle siderails that run front to back and doesn't require a crossbar system

Cargo Boxes

Also carried on the roof, cargo boxes offer versatility and security that a rooftop ski rack cannot.  Cargo boxes can be used during the summer months as well for carrying camping gear, luggage and just about anything else you can load inside.  From a winter sports equipment standpoint, the cargo box is ideal.

The features on today's cargo boxes are pretty impressive.  Many are designed to open from either the driver or passenger side of the vehicle ( but only 1 side at a time) which is great when you're forced to park against a snow bank on one side, for example.  The mounting hardware is also designed for easy installation and removal to all types of roof racks, including factory installed crossbars.

Security is also a bonus feature of a cargo box since all boxes include lock and key entry.  Also, because boxes have 3 points of security associated with the latch mechanism on each side, you can be comfortable leaving your gear locked in the box overnight.  Besides, thieves will rarely spend the extra time trying to get into a cargo box if they have no idea what is inside, if anything.

When the roads are wet and slushy, and you're driving with your wipers on all the time, your skis and snowboards (and poles) can be safe from the elements, and not exposed to the outside conditions.  This keeps your bases clean and your bindings free of dirt, road grime, salt or magnesium chloride, depending on where you live or will be traveling.  Better yet, at the end of a long ski day, you'll be able to drop your skis/boards back in the box, and be on your way.

Cargo boxes are sold by volume, which is measured in cubic feet and there are some considerations to take when looking at a box.  First, make sure the box you are interested in is capable of handling your longest ski.  Even though alpine skis are shorter these days, Nordic skis and race skis can still be in the 200cm range, and since Nordic skis are so wax dependent, you don't want to force yourself to carry them outside, exposed to the elements if you're buying a cargo box for your ski equipment.  Right?

Secondly, make sure the box will fit your roof without rear hatch/door interference.  If you drive a small vehicle, and want the biggest cargo box you can buy, you're likely to have a lot of the cargo box hanging over the windshield or not be able to open your rear hatch all the way.  In our experience, 12" or so of the cargo box hanging over the windshield will be unnoticeable to the driver.

A Cargo Box should fit the roofline of the vehicle so there is no interference with the rear door when it's opened

Hitch Mounted Ski Racks

Often, people feel that roof loading skis or other sporting gear is too difficult because they're either too short or their vehicle is too tall. Enter the hitch mounted ski and snowboard rack.  Typically, these racks, like the Thule 987xt Hitch Ski Carrier, or the Softride Ski Attachment will use a bike rack as the foundation for mounting.  So when purchasing one of these units, you'll need an existing bike rack to start or need to purchase one.

The upside to rear mounting is that the capacity can be larger than a roof rack, and all of your gear is easily accessed from the rear of the car instead of the roof.  The downside, however, is that all of the wet road grime that splashes up behind your car is going to get on your skis.

There are other benefits of rear mounting, and that is when your parking situation has low overhead clearance. This is where the Softride Ski Attachment excels because it carries the skis on a slight angle.  In any event, it's best to know your clearance before purchasing any rack system.

We hope you found this article helpful in making your decision on how best to carry your winter sports equipment.  Cracks & Racks is a full-service, rack specialty store located in Aspen, Colorado and our friendly and knowledgeable staff is only a phone call away from answering any of your questions or assisting you with an order.

Posted in Roof Racks By Cracks & Racks

Kuat NV Bike Rack Review

Friday, May 1, 2015 7:37:43 AM America/Denver

The top-of-the-line rack from Kuat Innovations is the Kuat NV Bike rack.  The NV is available for 2" and 1¼" receiver hitch models.  This platform-style rack is made of heat treated aluminum and weighs in at a modest 47 lbs, which is about 10 - 12 pounds lighter than the competing Thule T2 and the Yakima Holdup racks. The NV is packed with premium features including the Trail Doc, which is a built-in bike repair stand.  Among the most striking features of the NV are the black chrome and orange anodized aluminum finishes.  Without a doubt, the NV is easy on the eyes.

A cursory look over the rack shows attention to detail at every level. So enough gawking, let's get down to using the NV and start by looking at loading and unloading bikes.  The NV, like other platform-style racks, uses a hook arm that ratchets over the front wheel to secure the bike.  The rear wheel is held in place with a single strap.  Unlike other racks, there is no plastic rear wheel tray.  Instead, the rear wheel sits in a "dished" section of the aluminum tray.  This is a big benefit as other competing racks sometimes interfere with bumpers when folded into storage mode.  The rear wheel strap goes over the rim of the wheel and secures into a ratchet connection - simple and easy.

Kuat NV Rear Wheel Tray and Strap
The NV uses a dished section of the wheel tray and a sliding, adjustable ratchet strap to secure the rear wheel to the rack

The hook arm actuates easily with one hand.  When loading the bike, the ratchet arm stays flat, and out of the way while you load the front wheel into the wheel tray.  Once your front wheel is loaded, the rack's hook arm effortlessly moves up and over the front wheel and ratchets down in place.  What is noticeable are the relatively short intervals that the hook arm engages, making micro adjusting to your tire easy and secure - a nice feature that helps prevent over tightening.  Big wheeled riders on 29ers will be glad to know that the hook arm leaves plenty of room to get up and over their big wheels without a struggle.

Kuat NV Loading Bike
The front wheel rests neatly in the tray as you prepare to bring the ratchet arm over the top
Kuat NV Ratchet Arm
The ratchet arm will easily fit over 29er wheels (26" wheel pictured)
Kuat Nv Ratchet Arm on Wheel
When secured, the ratchet arm holds the front wheel securely

Bike removal is just as easy and could be done really quickly.  Release the wheel strap and move to the hook arm and depress the release button at the top of the arm.  We found that giving a slight downward on the hook arm helped release the button easier.  Move the hook arm out of the way and your bike is ready for use.

The NV also stores really neatly when not in use.  The oversized, aluminum lever at the base of the rack tilts the rack perpendicular to the road and an audible "click" lets you know the rack is secured in its storage mode.

Kuat NV in Storage Mode
The NV folds perpendicular to the ground for storage mode
Kuat NV Stores Flat
The NV in its storage mode has a very small footprint
Kuat NV Oversized Adjustment Lever
The Orange Oversized lever is spring loaded to allow you to raise the rack into storage mode, lower it for use, or tilt it away for rear-of-vehicle-access

Most impressive is the angle that the rack tilts away when bikes are loaded in order to gain access to the rear of the vehicle.  Another pull on the oversized lever tilts the rack away from the car - with bikes loaded- for users to lift a hatchback or liftgate.  No unloading the bikes and no interference with rear bumpers.  On the Honda Element, for example, we're able to completely fold down the tailgate with the bikes loaded.

Kuat NV on Honda Element
The NV pictured here on a Honda Element
Kuat NV tilts away for vehicle access
The NV tilts further than competing racks for easy rear-of-car access
Kuat NV Tilted Down on Honda Element
The NV, when tilted down, allows total access to the clamshell opening of the Honda Element

Security is always an issue with bike racks, so the NV comes equipped with an integrated cable lock that stows inside of each of the bike trays.  Kuat recommends wrapping the cable through the rear triangle of the bikes to securely lock them.  We found, as others have noted, that the cables could be a little bit longer and we could foresee trouble trying to lock 2 bikes through the rear triangle.

Kuat NV Bike Lock - Male
The male end of the bike lock stores neatly inside one of the bike trays
Kuat NV Bike Lock Female
The female end of the bike lock stores in the other bike tray, on the opposite side of the rack
The NV bike lock
The bike lock of the NV is designed to pass through the rear triangle of the bike
The Kuat NV Bike Lock
The integrated bike lock is great for 1 bike, but we found it a little bit tight for trying to lock 2 bikes

EDIT 10/14/2010:  After speaking with Kuat about the length of the cable, Bill from Kuat points out, "If you moved it to the inside of the bike that will free up a few more inches and make locking two bikes easier.  It will create the shortest route from point a to point b.  You should be able to lock two bikes 99% of the time if you use the two short routes."

Assembly of the rack, while not difficult, can be slightly time consuming for a first timer.  The payoff is big, though, so don't let this be a deterrant.  Installation into the hitch, however, is really easy.  Simply insert the rack into the hitch, line up the holes, insert the pin through the rack and secure the included lock on the other end.  Next, tighten the installation knob on the front by hand until it's as tight as you can get it, and then use the 8mm hex wrench that is included to finish off the installation, taking the wobble out of the rack.  It's a nice install, where most of the tightening isn't done underneath the bumper, which we appreciated.

Kuat NV Locking Hitch Pin
The NV includes a locking hitch pin which is used to secure the rack to the vehicle hitch
Kuat NV Tightening Knob
The tightening knob pushes a wedge against the hitch to remove the wobble from the rack
Kuat NV 8mm Wrench
The inlcuded 8mm Hex wrench tightens the locking knob as well

For users who want to take the rack on and off every time they use it, we find it to be easier than other competing racks. One thing that left us scratching our heads over was the locking hitch pin was keyed differently than the integrated cable lock for the bikes.  While it did include a handy bottle opener and 3 keys for each lock, we couldn't really figure out why these weren't keyed alike.

Lastly, is the Trail Doc bike repair stand.  We find this to be a well-constructed tool that makes bike cleaning and lubing really easy for most applications, and a perfect solution for cabling and derailleur adjustments that need to be done in the field.

Kuat Trail Doc Repair Stand
The Kuat NV comes equipped with the Trail Doc - A built in bike repair stand
Kuat Trail Doc Quick Release
The Trail Doc raises and lowers using a quick release located at the base

One quirk we found is that you can lift the Trail Doc right out of it's sleeve if you pull up too high.  While not a big deal, it can lead to theft, and the users we have talked with pull the trail doc out of the slot and store it in their vehicle when worried about this. Overall, though, the Trail Doc is a top-shelf accessory for any bike rack, and is sold separately to adapt to the Thule T2, Kuat Sherpa, and the Yakima Holdup.

Kuat Trail Doc Removed
The Trail Doc can be removed from the sleeve if desired to prevent theft
Kuat Trail Doc Closeup
The Trail-Doc has an easy-to-use lever to clamp down to a seatpost or a frame
Kuat Trail Doc on seatpost
The Trail Doc is designed to attaches securely to a bike seatpost
Kuat Trail Doc Carrying Bike
The Trail Doc is adjustable, so you can bring the rear of the bike up or down for derailleur adjustments

Unlike it's cousin, the Kuat Sherpa, the Kuat NV is capable of carrying 4 bikes, with the Kuat NV 2 bike add-on, which was launched in the late summer of 2010.  Turning the NV into a 4 bike rack is especially nice for growing families, since the NV works on all types of bikes, including kids bikes with the included 20" wheel adapters.

Overall, the NV from Kuat gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from the crew at Cracks & Racks.  We feel it is a refreshing design with premium features and really nice, solid construction.  Simplicity is better in our book, and this rack excels at making complicated features perform easily.  A slightly longer cable lock would probably have given it 5 stars, though this was only a minor detail. The Kuat NV bike rack - List Price $499.00, Sold for $475.00

Posted in Kuat Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Yakima Swingdaddy vs Thule Revolver

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 7:36:27 AM America/Denver

Yakima 2422 SwingDaddy vs. Thule 964 Revolver

When it comes to the fully-featured, swing-away bike racks, both Thule and Yakima have heavy hitters.  They're both well made, feature laden, carry four bikes and look pretty good for something sticking off the back of your car or SUV.  There are a few differences though so let's take a look at them individually.

Let's start with the most notable difference, which are cosmetics.  They look different and looks matter to a lot of people.  Arguably, Yakima has a cooler looking bike rack.  It's a bit sleeker, curvier and has the signature Yakima graphite and red appearance, making it stand out a bit more which can be good for other people not running into your rack or bikes.

The Thule Revolver is squarish and mechanical looking with less plastic coverings making it look tough.  Its all-black finish implies rigidity and simplicity.  This is all opinion so let's move on to the more important differences: features, functions, and security.

The Yakima SwingDaddy is a re-design of an earlier model the FullSwing.  One of the major upgrades is the narrower, more versatile bike arms, which will accommodate a larger variety of bikes with unique frame geometries.  The next advantage the Swingdaddy has is the one of a kind Sliding Switchblade Cradles, which makes it easier to load bikes onto the Yakima.  They move effortlessly along the bottom of bike arms and fold up and out of the way with no resistance making it super easy to load up multiple bikes.  After loading your bikes the Cradles fold down to attach to the bike and lock into place assuring you that your bikes are completely stable.

The Swingdaddy offers great security with a fantastic locking cable that locks the bikes to the rack and a Hitchlock to lock the rack to the vehicle.  The Lockdown locking cable attaches to a pin that is conveniently located on the end of the bike arms, which also contains two bottle openers for that end of the day brew.  The Hitchlock attaches to the end of the hitch bolt that secures the rack to the receiver hitch, and uses the same key as the Lockdown Cable.

Thule's Revolver still uses the more traditional individual T3 cradles with the No-Sway Cage, anti-swing cradle attachment that attach around the traditional tube-style bike rack arms.  While this is a traditional style, it still works well with most bikes, but does involve quite a bit more work, needing to re-position them when loading and unloading bikes from the rack.  The Revolver's security goes hand in hand with the Swingdaddy, offering a cable lock for bikes to rack security and a hitch lock for rack to vehicle security both utilizing the same key.  The only difference being that the Revolver's cable lock stores in the bike racks' arms instead of the bike rack mast.  Thule's cable lock being built into the arm of the rack has been an issue in the past for many people though.  In fairness to Thule, this is really an operator error issue, but one that a lot of people mistakenly do.  The lock cable has a rubber strap that secures it into place, inside the arm.  What happens is when the rack is not in use and the arms are folded down, people forget to secure the lock cable end with the attached rubber grommet, and it ends up dragging on the ground for miles, wearing it down, rendering it useless.  While this is primarily the users fault, it is something that could use a little redesigning on Thule's behalf and looks to be a near future change.

Both bike racks swing-away ability are exceptional and have equal quality of operation.  They both utilize a pull-pin style release with a back-up security bolt that needs to be unscrewed before the rack will swing away from the vehicle.  It is important to remember to use and tighten this bolt again before driving to ensure the rack doesn't swing out as you are cruising down the highway, and this goes for both the Thule and the Yakima.  Both racks offer a safety pin that secures the rack when fully extended to prevent it from swinging back into the vehicle.  Both racks offer a lever-style switch to fold the bike rack arms down when not in use and they perform flawlessly every time.

When it comes down to the brass tacks, the Swingdaddy is easier to load, will fit more bikes, looks nicer, and will open your beer at the end of the day.  Yes this may sound similar to your dream girl, but it is actually your dream bike rack and it's sold everyday at 10% below retail at Cracks & Racks.

Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Gearing up with Bike Racks For Spring Riding

Friday, April 24, 2015 7:32:22 AM America/Denver

Nothing like getting all the friends together to head for the desert and hit the trail.  Nothing beats getting there comfortably with all your gear.  Check out some of the newest gear and bike rack solutions for your truck or car - and have more room with less hassle.  When you combine a top of car bike rack with a new gear holder like the Thule Boxter Cargo Box (611) and not only will you have room for more, but your rig looks tricked out for the adventure...great combo!

roof bike rack thule boxter 611
Cracksandracks.com
Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Thule 91725 Ski Rack Install

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 7:31:06 AM America/Denver

chevy tahoe ski rack, roof rack, ski rack, ski racks thule, thule, thule 450,thule 45058 rack, thule 91725, thule ski rack

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Posted in Ski Racks By Cracks & Racks

2010 Ford Flex - Thule 480R Traverse Rack Install

Friday, April 17, 2015 7:30:21 AM America/Denver

I gotta admit, I wasn't a fan when i first saw it, but now, I'm a believer...the ford flex is a really cool car - and that is coming from someone who drives a honda element - arguably the ugliest car on the road....

I'm also going to add in, this was one of the most satisfying sales we've made in awhile.  The first contact with the client came by way of email, and a screenshot of a product review that was on amazon.com...it turned out, this lost-in-cyberspace product review resonated enough with this customer to earn his business, which we were proud to accept.

As usual, we offer a personalized consultation for the purchase of a rack system.  There are just too many configurations and products out there to be a one-size-fits-all solution.  Every car is different, every car owner's needs are different too.  That's how we ended up with the Thule 480R Rapid Aero Complete Rack System.

Here are the pictures to show:

The Thule Rapid Traverse Foot Pack installed on the 2010 Ford Flex
The Thule Rapid Traverse Foot Pack installed on the 2010 Ford Flex
The 2010 Ford Flex with dual-sunroofs, equipped with the Thule 480R Rapid Aero Load Bars
The 2010 Ford Flex with dual-sunroofs, equipped with the Thule 480R Rapid Aero Load Bars
The Rapid Aero Load Bars, used with the 480R, create a solid and eye-pleasing foundation
The Rapid Aero Load Bars, used with the 480R, create a solid and eye-pleasing foundation
The 480R Traverse Rack is a very precise fit that works great on the 2010 Ford Flex
The 480R Traverse Rack is a very precise fit that works great on the 2010 Ford Flex

The parts shown on this car are the following:
1 x Thule 480R Rapid Traverse Foot Pack
1 x Thule Traverse Fit Kit 1518
1 x Thule RB60 Rapid Aero Load Bars
1 x Thule 544 Lock Cylinders - 4 Pack

Posted in Rack Installation By Cracks & Racks

Audi Q7 Roof Rack and Cargo Box

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 7:29:28 AM America/Denver

Let's face it, the Q7 is a pretty nice looking SUV.  Smooth body lines, and a luxurious interior have caught my eye over the past couple of years everytime we install a rack or replace a windshield on them.

This time, it was a rack install.  Previously, we had installed the roof rack, but today, the customer was getting ready for winter by adding in a thule cargo box.

The rack system is a 460 podium complete rack system.  As you can see from the photo, the 460 foot and the fit kit 4002 really clamp down nicely to the flush mounted side rail on the audi.

The Thule 460 Podium Foot Pack with Fit Kit 4002 for Audi Q7
The Thule 460 Podium Foot Pack with Fit Kit 4002 for Audi Q7
The Thule 604 Ascent 1600 is a nice fit on the roof of the Audi Q7
The Thule 604 Ascent 1600 is a nice fit on the roof of the Audi
The Ascent 1600's width enables easy access to the dual-sided opening feature when mounted in the center
The Ascent 1600's width enables easy access to the dual-sided opening feature when mounted in the center
Even with the rear door open, the Ascent 1600 doesn't interfere or hang over the windshield
Even with the rear door open, the Ascent 1600 doesn't interfere or hang over the windshield
Posted in Cargo Carrier By Cracks & Racks

Thule 916XTR T2 vs. Yakima 2443 Holdup Hitch Bike Racks (Updated)

Thursday, April 2, 2015 7:27:40 AM America/Denver

Updated 07-01-2013.  Yakima has changed the Holdup in 2013 with the introduction of the Yakima 2443 Holdup.  

Lately we've been having lots of discussion about the differences between the Thule 916XTR T2 Bike Rack and the Yakima 2443 Holdup bike rack.  Both of these racks are tray-style, hitch-mounted bike racks that carry the bikes by hooking around the front wheel.  There are some several new features of the Yakima 2443 Holdup which are outlined below.  Of note, is the color change to a glossy black finish.

In the past year or two, we've really noticed a growing trend in the popularity of these types of bike racks.  With more and more people riding full-suspension mountain bikes,  "standard", hang-style,  hitch-mounted bike racks, like the Thule 9029 Vertex 4 or the Yakima 2451 DoubleDown Ace Bike racks racks don't work as efficiently without the use of a frame adapter.

Additionally, there has been a resurgence of popularity with upright bike carriers for the roof - the kind where you keep both wheels on the bike.  This is largely due to mountain bike forks being equipped with thru-axles and the Cannondale Lefty forks.  With both of these styles, you have to use an adapter to make your fork fit into a fork-mounted bike rack.

Back to the hotly debated topic of which bike rack is better.  There is no short answer to this question,  it depends on what is most important to you...so let's break down some of the design and functionality of both so you can make an educated decision.

First, both racks come in a 2" receiver hitch option and a 1 1/4" receiver option.  Only the 2" receiver option can utilize the 2 bike add-on.  If you have a 1 1/4" receiver hitch, and want a 4 bike rack, you may need to rethink the rack you purchase, because your capacity with these 2 racks is 2 bikes.

Both racks have many of the same features that, in the end, work exactly the same.  For example, both racks will fold up vertically when not in use, minimizing their footprint behind the vehicle.  Yakima intentionally uses red buttons at the touchpoints and on the Holdup this is done by pulling out a small, spring-loaded knob to release the rack.  The T2 achieves this foldup by pulling down on a gray lever and folding the rack up.  From experience, the Yakima rack pivots a little easier, while the Thule has some resistance.  Folding the rack up in storage mode is easier on the Yakima, but the weight of the rack could get away from you easier on the way down.  You would also find that each of the racks folds down, about 20 degrees, away from the vehicle, so that you can access the rear liftback of your suv, truck or car with bikes loaded.

Yakima 2433 Holdup Bike Rack
The Holdup tilts up and down by pulling the red spring lever
Thule 916XTR Tilt Lever For Hitch Bike Rack
The T2 folds up and down by pulling on a gray lever

That brings up the next point - both of the racks are heavy.  Not including the 2 bike-addon's that are available for both racks, the Yakima Holdup weighs 49lbs, and the Thule T2 weighs in at 56lbs.  You won't find those numbers on the manufacturer's sites because they're kind of daunting.  When you put on the 2 bike add-on, each of these racks weighs upwards of 80 lbs.  So if taking the rack on and off the car regularly is important, we might suggest a different rack, like a lighter, Kuat Sherpa.

From our experience , we haven't noticed any instability carrying bikes, or any instability of the racks themselves.  They are both well-made, solid racks and we would be comfortable mounting a $6000.00 mountain bike on either rack.  We are asked this question alot, and our answer is always the same, if the rack wasn't stable or solid, we wouldn't carry it in our store.

So what's the difference?  Surely it's gotta be more than just a Coke vs Pepsi dilemma...and it is.  The biggest differences - from a functional standpoint- are the adjustability and security.

The Yakima Holdup, while easier to assemble and install, does not offer the same adjustability as the T2.  The bike trays that are assembled to the horizontal mast on the Holdup are pre-drilled and threaded, making the spacing between the bikes,  and the front-to-back adjustability fixed.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The new Yakima 2443 Holdup provides side to side adjustability of the bike trays for better nesting of handlebars/saddles.  On the T2, the installer has some flexibility to adjust the "recommended" spacing between the bikes, as well as the front-to-back distance of the bike tray. Why is this important?  As an example, one of our customers who loves his T2 came in to have us adjust the spacing of the bike trays because some of his bikes (he has 4 downhill racing bikes) are larger than others and the handlebars and seats would interfere without moving them slightly farther apart and forward.

From a bike security standpoint, Yakima first identified that locking the hookarm over the front wheel of the bike won't prevent someone from stealing your bike.  One could simple remove the front wheel of the bike, slide the bike off the back, and the front wheel off of the front and walk away with the bike. That's why the Yakima Holdup comes with a cable lock that can go through all of your bike frames and attach to a security bolt on the rack.  We feel this is a really smart design and is included in the cost of the rack.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The New Yakima Holdup now comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike that stores neatly inside the top of the Ratchet Arm.

Previous versions of the T2, (916 and 916xt)  could only lock the bikes by inserting lock cylinders into the hookarm of the rack, leaving the bike vulnerable.  The newest version of the T2, the 916XTR, addressed the issue and now includes a built-in cable lock for each bike.  Even further, you can purchase 2 additional lock cylinders and also lock the hookarm simultaneously for added security.

Thule T2 Cable Lock Included with Hitch Bike Rack
In this brilliant photograhic exhibit, you see the cable lock that extends from the Thule T2, designed to wrap through the bike frame
The New Yakima 2443 Holdup comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike, eliminating the need for an external cable lock
The New Yakima 2443 Holdup comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike, eliminating the need for an external cable lock

Lastly, the T2 includes a lock that locks the rack to the hitch - The Thule STL2 lock, while the Yakima Holdup does not.  Although this is an inexpensive accessory - Yakima 7235 HitchLock, we feel a rack at this price point should include a complete security system.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The Yakima 2443 Holdup now includes the Yakima 7235 HitchLock!

Another feature that should be noted is the rear wheel strap on the T2 has a tendency - a strong tendency - to detach itself when not engaged by the ratcheting buckle.  In fact, we have replaced this strap for more people than any other strap on any other bike rack, cause it's so easily lost.  The Yakima Holdup, on the other hand, has a really nice ratcheting strap that is consistent with the rear wheel strap we've seen on the Yakima Sprocket Rocket and the Yakima Forklift.

So at the end of the day, it's unfair to really say which rack is better because they are both high quality products and when you order and receive either one of these racks, you won't have any regrets.

The Yakima Holdup is a pretty tidy package when it's folded up in its storage mode on the hitch
The Yakima Holdup is a pretty tidy package when it's folded up in its storage mode on the hitch
The Thule T2 is a premium hitch mount bike rack
The Thule T2 is a premium hitch mount bike rack
Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Thule 480 Traverse Rack Install Photos - 2009 Ford Edge

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 7:24:53 AM America/Denver

The first photos are in of the first thule traverse rack sold in the us.

Congratulations to John R. of Chester, NY for outfitting his 2009 ford edge with the newest rack offering by Thule in quite some time.  John utilized the complete rack system to make his purchase and left it to us to choose the right traverse fit kit for his car.

In a follow-up email to john, he wrote, "Easy to setup and very secure on the car.  Test drove at highway speed and not a bit of noticeable wind noise with the fairing.  What a great setup!"  He went on to say, "Thanks again for the GREAT customer service and the easy shopping experience with the "complete rack system".

A great look at the 2009 Ford Edge with the new Thule 480 Traverse Rack
A great look at the 2009 Ford Edge with the new Thule 480 Traverse Rack
The 480 Traverse Foot, Traverse Fit Kit 1530, and Thule Fairing
The 480 Traverse Foot, Traverse Fit Kit 1530, and Thule Fairing

 

The parts shown on this car are the following:
1 x Thule 480 Traverse Foot Pack
1 x Thule Load Bars 58"
1 x Thule Traverse Fit Kit 1530
1 x Thule Fairing 872xt - 44"
1 x Thule Lock Cores - 4 Pack

All of these parts are available as a complete rack system for the 2009 Ford Edge

Posted in Rack Installation By Cracks & Racks

AGRSS Conference - Safe Windshield Installation

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 7:23:51 AM America/Denver

Just spent the last 2 days working through the Las Vegas convention center checking out a bunch of cool products at the SEMA show.  But this trip is short and succinct.  I've hardly had time to lose money playing blackjack.

It's on to the AGRSS Conference regarding safe windshield installation.  It's a collection of the best folks in the industry - a regular who's who in the auto glass industry - an industry that has had trouble respecting itself until AGRSS came along.  Tonight i had dinner with some folks i met who run a successful glass business in Pueblo, and Kerry Soat from fas-break windshield repair.  Kerry is largely responsible for me being in this business for 14 years.  He is a straight shooting, fair, and knowledgable asset to the industry - and he's been at it for 34 years.

Tomorrow, breakfast with Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane in the hudson river, followed by a speech from the man himself.  That should be interesting.  I wonder what goes through your head when you finally realize and commit to the decision to put 'er down in the hudson.

I will keep everyone posted on his remarks.  Until then, i gotta get some sleep!

Posted in Auto Glass Repair By Cracks & Racks

SEMA Show Update Day 1

Friday, March 6, 2015 7:22:45 AM America/Denver

What a day cruising through the SEMA show.  The entire convention center is gigantic and i barely covered the north hall today.  I spent most of the day in some really great online marketing seminars geared towards automtive aftermarket companies.  I am back at my hotel room starting to digest the information i got.  What really struck me today was a product i stumbled upon at the very end of the day.  A clear film that is installed to the exterior of the windshield that prevents rock damage altogether.  Here is a product i think we will be able to use.  Primarily, i think fleet accounts will benefit the most from this product or other vehicles with expensive windshields or heavy users  .For now...I'm thinking sushi.  Stay tuned for more later

Posted in Auto Glass Repair By Cracks & Racks

Thule 480 Traverse Rack Early Release

Monday, March 2, 2015 7:19:22 AM America/Denver

It's official...

November 3, 2009:  Cracks & Racks announces the early release of the new Thule 480 Traverse Foot Pack and Thule Traverse Fit Kits. Originally set for release in January 2010, cracksandracks.com is among a select few Thule dealers around the country stocking and shipping the product now, two months ahead of schedule.

New Thule 480 Traverse rack footpads for 2010 cars and trucks
New Thule 480 Traverse rack footpads for 2010 cars and trucks

The new Thule 480 Traverse tower works in conjunction with the new fit kits and and Thule Crossbars to create a complete Thule Traverse 480 rack system that fits a broad range of vehicles that lack factory installed roof racks, including many new 2010 models and other hard-to-fit vehicles. Like the traverse, Thule and Yakima rack accessories enable you to load ski, bike, snowboard, kayak, and other gear for camping, work, or just general outdoor fun.

Choosing the proper Thule Traverse Fit Kit and the proper length Thule Load Bar is easy using the free interactive Thule rack configurator at cracksandracks.com. Customers also have the option to contact one of our car and truck rack 5 star rated rack professionals that can assist with choosing the right parts for their vehicle when they provide their vehicle information at checkout.

The best Yakima Thule internet rack dealer now has a newly redesigned website and now includes easier product navigation of its hundreds of products, an easier checkout process fanatical customer service, and free FedEx Ground Shipping on orders over $99.00.

Craacks and Racks now introduces an exclusive 110% Price Beater Program which guarantees we will beat the competitors' lowest, out-the-door price by 10% on most in-stock products. A 30 Day Price Protection Guarantee refunds existing customers 101% of the difference in price if they find a competitor's lower, out-the-door price within 30 days of their original purchase. This programs ensures that when you shop for your next car or truck vehicle rack we will have the guaranteed lowest prices online for Yakima and Thule racks

A Personalized Rack Quote is available to customers who need guidance choosing the right parts and accessories for their vehicle and lifestyle through a simple, online questionnaire form. Customers receive an email reply within 24 hours with product suggestions and website links to facilitate purchasing.

About CracksandRacks.com:
Cracks & Racks is located in Aspen, Colorado and has been a Thule dealer since 2001 and is recognized by Thule as a 5-Star Dealer for exhibiting outstanding customer service above and beyond ordinary retailing. Cracksandracks.com also carries a complete line of Yakima Roof Racks and a wide variety of home storage solutions that can help you manage your gear, tools, and outdoor activity travel needs. Cracks and Racks also provides local automobile windshield repair service in Aspen Colorado

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Posted in Roof Racks By Cracks & Racks

2010 Subaru Outback Roof Rack

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 2:32:51 PM America/Denver

Whoa!  We just got a really good look at a brand new 2010 Subaru Outback wagon with the glass roof.  It's a really nice looking car...and the factory installed roof rack is something we haven't seen before from Subaru.  The car is equipped with a side rail running front to back. But wait...the siderail is modular and can pivot across the car and become a crossbar too!
In the siderail configuration, there isn't much versatility to add a tower system like the Thule 450 Crossroad.  Tthe bar spread just isn't there - only about 24 inches, which isn't good for really anything, except maybe a ski rack.
When you configure the factory roof rack to the crossbar position, you've got a nice bar spread - about 30". 

While this car was here for a windshield repair, we talked about putting a narrow cargo box and a bike rack that attaches to the factory crossbars, like the yakima forklift on the roof for the customer.  I never thought I'd say this, but I think this new 2010 Subaru Outback is best configured with bike, ski and cargo accessories using the factory installed crossbars!

Posted in Roof Racks By Cracks & Racks

October Snow

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 2:28:38 PM America/Denver

There's a bittersweet feeling in the air for me today with the arrival of the first snow that has the potential to stay here until spring.  It's never easy to put the mountain bike away this time of year.  But with 8 new inches of snow on the ground, it looks like the season has ended in the upper valley.  As i write this, my bike is sitting warm and dry in my office still with red dirt in the drivetrain from last sunday's ride on Mushroom Rock.  Sure, you can venture to Fruita or Moab for a weekend, which is awesome, but there's something about riding from the house that i'll miss until next spring.
Then there's my neighbor, Beige, who probably rode his bike to work today, regardless of the 1" of ice on the road, and blowing snow.  He leaves every morning while I'm walking the dogs drinking coffee all winter long.  Studded tires only go so far...motivation and desire go much further.
I'll hang on for a little longer, hoping to sneak in another cold ride on Mushroom Rock before racking the bike for the winter.
I'll admit it - walking outside this morning, early morning sun peeking through some light snow, watching the clouds lift away from Red Mountain, breathing in the crisp, cold air - i'm getting pretty psyched for ski season!!!

Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

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