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Alex’s Custom Fat-Bike Car Rack

Mukluk riding New York friend, Alex, wrote this piece about a cool rear rack that he constructed over the Christmas Holiday Weekend. Thanks for the story Alex!

Christmas Eve

Went for a brilliant second ride on my Mukluk (thanks Alan at Bikeman.com for hooking me up!!). The trails were filled with a permafrost of tiny muddy icicles reaching inches out the trail. The puffed up leaves and mud brought my Cat 1 racing buddies to a crawl. I was the only one with a Fatbike and was rolling rings around them. What a blast! If only I could have this kind of advantage at the races!

So I now know that I will be ridding her every weekend during the “off season”. That means a lot transporting of my fat beast. I hated taking the wheel off and put her wet, muddy and frozen into the back of my car. It was slow, messy and just plain annoying.

I had a older style rack that held the bike from the top tube but it was in the way when using the tail gate, also it was awkward with a zig-zag of  bungee- cords, not really doing the job.

Christmas Day

After ridding I had nothing to do (that I wanted to be doing). I went out into my studio workshop, I am a furniture/sculpture artist, with a great amount of tools, to come up with a solution.

Some of my design parameters:

  • Need to solidly hold my fatbike.
  • Need to be quick on and off.
  • Use materials that I already have laying around (Cost me as little as possible)
  • Need to also carry my 29er race and singlespeed bikes (and I guess my road and cross)
  • Simple as possible, without being too simple.

I had previously taken some stainless 2” square tube, and welded a piece of stainless “I” beam to mount an old Yakima “big mouth” style down tube car top bike carrier. I also had drilled a hole into the two inch receiver and welded a stainless nut in place. That way I could bolt and really tighten the rack to the hitch. It was simple and worked ok. BUT after three years on the back of my car the adjustment screw to hold different size frames was rusted stuck to only one downtube diameter. It also allowed the bike to wallow fore and aft- making marks into the downtube from the rubbing. I didn’t really care but maybe it was too simple. The bike wheel tray was too skinny for my new best friend- so while trying to modify it, I decided to toss it out and start from scratch.

I had been seeing these very simple racks for smallish motocross bikes. A simple tray, with a up turn at the end and some straps to hold it down.  Looked like a starting point. A friend gave me two; ten foot sections of 4” U Channel Aluminum that I was saving for something….Wow the tires fit perfect!  A quick miter, and TIG weld and I bolted up to the stainless I beam of the previous rack. It held ok, would have worked, but rocked too much.

I wasn’t satisfied. I need to sit down and push a little more. After a few sketches of ideas I had the basic concept. Hold the front wheel low, and clear the drivetrain bits in the back. I kept refining to make it as simple as possible without being too simple!

Before cutting up and wasting time and materials, I made a quick 2×4 prototype. Looked good. Some quick cuts (spent more time clearing a space to work, and looking for tools). Cutting down the old stainless, to fit the lower front wheel. Some ½ stainless bolts and done!  Add a Surly long strap to hold the rear wheel and…Winner!

8 Responses to Alex’s Custom Fat-Bike Car Rack

  1. Dave Gross January 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Nice job on that rack. I am still able to use my dual Thule rack. Just have to tilt the bike to get the front bar on the tire. and bungee the rear.

  2. steve January 7, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Awesome Rack……I need one of those!

  3. Doug@MnBicycleCommuter January 7, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Maybe it’s the angle the picture was taken, but it appears the back wheel sticks out beyond the side of the car. Is this a good idea?

    For anyone that lives in an area that uses salt/sand on the roads, a bike on the back of the car, or top, gets a complete covering of road crud during snowy weather. The best place to transport a snowbike is inside the vehicle. A vehicle like the Honda Element is a great choice because of all it’s interior cargo room.

    • Boomking January 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Howdy Doug!
      To answer your question if it’s a good idea, I say yes!
      Just the rear tire sits barley over the drivers side. Otherwise the rack would sick out the passenger side too much, and since the rack is empty most of the time I wanted it covered within the back of the car.
      And I HATE putting the bike inside the car. All the mud, ice, and road salt now drips all over. I also hate taken the wheel off and on. It would mean organizing and cleaning the inside of my car. Before I built this rack, the bike is so big the rear tire has to fit between the drivers and passengers seats.
      The back of my Element gets a little road salt, but not that much. It’s shielded by the car.
      And yes we too sometimes (I guess not this year)get winter in upstate NY

      • Doug@MnBicycleCommuter January 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

        I apologize if my tone was a bit negative.

        On a positive note……excellent job designing and building this car rack. Well done sir!!

  4. Boomking January 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Hi Doug!
    No worries!
    I’m working on a new and improved version!
    Onward and upward!

  5. Sean January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Very nice contstruction!

    I experimented with a roof rack and the Mukluk last year. Used some old VW factory upright tray that clamped the down tube. Profile of the tray sides were really low so the tires fit fine but I had to use Surly Junkstraps to secure the front and rear wheels as the factory ratchet straps were too short.

    In the spring I tore down and rebuilt the Mukluk and noted a lot of salt corrosion in all the steel bits, despite only riding on trails. So I’ve been putting the bike in the back of my Pilot which has the full cargo liner and a couple extra floor mats for full coverage. The bike stands upright with the seat dropped and front wheel off and I’m using a Swagman forkclamp (modified) bolted to a long plank to secure the fork and stabilize the bike.

    Good luck with your rack, it looks solid! I didn’t want to deal with all the salt in my bits this year.

  6. K8 January 10, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I WANT ONE ! Fantastic from preliminary day dreaming and point of procrastination all the way to execution !!!! Nice welds, lines, materials, and design !

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