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1UP Bike Rack Mini-Review

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I have now owned the 1UP rack system for about 6 months, and I have to say, with some minor quibbles aside, I still very much enjoy and love it.

A fter a terrible experience with the Recon Rack (that saga could easily be a whole new post), the 1UP Heavy Duty hitch rack has been like a breath of fresh air.

Within two weeks of getting the rack last year, we set off on an epic voyage to Moab, UT for a week of biking mayhem. The truck was stuffed with five bikes… four on the 1UP hitch rack, and one in the bed of the truck. I was nervous at first about the hitch locking mechanism (and still am, to be honest). The 1UP rack does not use a standard locking hitch pin to secure the rack to the hitch. Instead, it relies upon a bolt that when tightened, forces a ball to wedge against the rack draw bar and the inside of hitch tube. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. The reality is that you stick the rack into the hitch, tighten the security bolt (which has a special hex bolt pin head), and the rack is tight and wobble-free.

"It mounts to your vehicle in 10 seconds with a unique corner expander ball that eliminates all wobble and play. To mount the Quik-Rack just insert it until it stops, then tighten the anti-theft security expander bolt (1-2 turns). That's it! No Hitch Pin or bolt to install or lose."

- 1UP USA website"

 

I don’t have a ton of faith in the "security" bolts that 1UP uses. Not because there’s anything wrong with them, but simply because I don’t think it would be that hard for a thief to procure or make the special hex key needed. 1UP does sell a drop-in "Hitch Bar Lock" that prevents access to the bolt head, meaning you can't loosen the rack from the vehicle hitch. However, after seeing how easy it is to break most 1/2" locking hitch pins (videos here and here), I don’t put much faith in the 1/4" shaft of 1UP’s lock. Instead, I now wrap a hardened steel chain and lock from Kryptonite around the bottom bar of the 1UP rack and lock it to one of the steel "ears" on my truck’s hitch (where you would normally attach a trailer's safety chains).

On to the rack itself. It’s made almost entirely of aluminum (with steel hardware), and made in the USA! The base rack holds 2 bikes, and with the Heavy Duty rack, you can attach up to 2 more with the "Quick Rack Add On" racks. In it’s standard configuration, the rack will fit up to 3.25" tires. 1UP also makes a fat bike conversion kit, which I installed on one of my add-on racks, that will allow fitment of 3.1" - 4.9" tires. I’ve had it loaded with a friend’s Surly Wednesday and his 4.5" tires were no big deal. The rack arms open like vertical suicide doors, and clamp down over the top of the tires. Loading and unloading is extremely easy, and you adjust the position of each bike on the rack super easily to avoid bike-to-bike contact. The rack also easily pivots up flat against the vehicle when not in use, and can pivot down low to allow the opening of a rear hatch or door, even with bikes loaded. Though it should be noted that trying to lift the rack back into position with four bikes on it is no easy task and usually requires two people (one to unlock the rack’s position bar, and one to simultaneously lift the bikes/rack).

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The 1UP fully loaded and hitting the Wake & Bake Cafe in Moab.


Moab, the first major maiden voyage with my 1UP (fully loaded with 4 bikes) proved rather uneventful. Over the course of several hundred miles of driving and shuttling, none of the bikes came loose and there were no major complications or issues with the rack. I did obsessively re-tighten the hitch bolt, which did seem to loosen some each day with the four bikes bouncing around on rough roads. The rack never moved or threatened to come out however. I also have to admit it was a bit disconcerting to watch the bikes in the rearview mirror when on rough roads or hitting bumps. Because of the pivot system that allows the rack to move into different positions (up when not in use, down to open a tailgate/rear hatch), there is a tiny bit of play in the pivot lock bar that translates to a bit of free up-down movement of the rack platform. In the rearview — with the movement of the vehicle itself, plus probably some flex in the rack itself, plus that up-down play in the pivot — it looks like a scary amount of bouncing is going back there. Over the months of using this rack, I have learned it’s totally harmless and normal.

This is no fault of 1UP’s, but I will say that I would caution against using a hitch rack of this style on smaller vehicles. Even on my lifted 1/2-ton Ford F-150, I can easily feel the weight of 4 bikes fully loaded on the rack. The suspension definitely wallows a bit more on highway woops and bumps. I have to imagine that despite each bike weighing less than the rated 50lbs maximum, the cumulative rack weight, plus the fact that all that weight is levered out over 4-feet off the back of the hitch, creates a helluva a lot of torque on the rear of the vehicle. Four average 35lbs. bikes (140lbs.), plus the weight of the rack itself (84lbs. including two add-ons) is a substantial 220+ lbs. You’ll see what I mean when you try to lift the lowered rack back into position with bikes loaded. I would advise caution on smaller vehicles that aren’t design to tow, like a Subaru, or short wheelbase vehicles where the center of gravity could shift backward when the rack is fully loaded.

6 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    What were your issues with the recon rack? I’ve been trying to pick a rack and it is on my shortlist. I found your review as I was looking for reviews on the recon

    • Spoke Twist says:

      Hey Brian. I had several issues, some of which were with the rack itself, and some of which were with the man behind Recon. I had issues with the upper tire basket significantly damaging a 27.5×3″ Plus tire (despite the rack being advertised to fit this size). I also had some frame rub damage between two bikes. I don’t want to get into too many details about my dealings with the owner of Recon, but suffice to say, he was not a pleasant person to work with after I complained of my issues. He blamed the problems on me; disparaged Plus and fat bikes (and their riders); insulted me with various accusations and name calling; and forced me to take down a fair and truthful (but negative) review of him and his product on a bike forum before he would issue me a refund. That said, the rack is extremely sturdy with high quality materials and workmanship. Do take note that the rack is VERY unwieldy off the vehicle, and I hit my head on it a few times with it on the vehicle. It’s certainly not as svelte as something like the 1UP that folds up flat. I saw a newer Recon the other day, and it looks like he’s redesigned the upper wheel basket, hopefully negating tire damage issues with larger tires. However good the product may eventually become, I personally choose not do business with Recon as a company in the future. YMMV.

      • Brian says:

        Thank you for your reply. I just found your site again as I am still thinking about a new rack. I have a 2 bike Kuat that works great, but my son and daughter’s bikes are getting bigger and I need to move up to 4 bikes. Are you still happy with the 1up and how it handles 4 bikes? It looks like a great product. Just wish they were a little more affordable. I have looked at the cheaper options, but I am a firm believer in going for quality and only feeling the hurt once.

  2. Spoke Twist says:

    I am still happy with the 1Up overall. It is extremely easy to use and remove/install from the vehicle. I typically use it in 2-bike configuration and leave the extension add-ons off unless I need them. But since it’s only 2 bolts to add/remove an add-on rack, it’s super easy. It also works well for kid’s bikes. My son’s 24″ wheel holds easier if I adjust one of the arms top mounts in one hole. The rack is built exactly for this adjustment, and it only takes about 30 seconds and one bolt. My sole complaint has been some excessive up/down movement from the rack when it is fully loaded with 4 bikes. I talked to 1Up about this extensively, and sent photos and everything. They confirmed that everything was working as designed and nothing was wrong. They did have me tighten up the large main pivot bolt and that seems to have mitigated some of that movement. That said, I’ve yet to lose a bike or have any real issues.

  3. Mike Evans says:

    When the rack is in the open position (not folded up, not tilted down), can the tailgate of the F150 be fully opened without hitting the rack?

    • Spoke Twist says:

      Hey Mike! Yes actually. With the rack in the horizontal/open position, with the tire arms CLOSED, the F150 tailgate can fully open. I can post a photo of the clearance if you like. With the tire arms fully open and the rack tilted down, the tailgate can also open. But with the tire arms up, even with them fully open, the tailgate touches them. With a bike in the rack, with the rack tilted down, I can open the back glass cap door; I can also open the tailgate a bit but you can’t put it down. It works in a pinch if you need to grab something inside.

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