5 bike racks we liked at the Sea Otter Classic 2023

5 bike racks we liked at the Sea Otter Classic 2023

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A number of new and updated racks were on display at Sea Otter Classic 2023. Most of them are reimagined for e-bikes, with necessarily higher weight limits, rear lights, and even an automated lift system to make transporting a heavier bike simpler.

The one with the most buzz – and people around it – had to be a yet-unreleased 1Up rack that can carry up to a massive 150 lbs (68 kg) per tray. Most other racks seemed to pass under the radar. The Saris Door County isn’t particularly new, but it is unique in how specific it is to electric bikes, with a built-in electric lift to make getting on the bike and wheels under each tray to make moving the rack easier as well. And the Kuat Piston Pro keeps the easy on-off feel of the flashy Piston Pro X rack, just without the Kashima and brake lights.

A new bike rack isn’t particularly flashy, and once you have one, you don’t have to think about it unless it’s absolutely necessary. But considering the diversity of bikes folks are carrying around these days, it’s worth checking out which designs are our favorites.

There was a major buzz around the new 1Up XD hitch rack. The XD rack can carry bikes and even motorcycles up to 150 lbs per tray. That means the Sur-ron electric motorcycle in the back easily fits out back, not to mention electric bikes and more. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

The 1Up XD rack is rated for 150 pounds per bike tray. The cradle arms are essentially doubled up for extra strength. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

1Up’s ratcheting arm uses an aluminum piece to keep the bike in place on the rack. This metal-on-metal process results in a positive, mechanical feel, but the XD rack’s larger indexing piece – what they traditionally call their ‘Glide Arm’ looks to be twice as big here, and even more satisfying to use. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

1Up also showed off new anodized colors for their rack spools and handles to accentuate their racks’ industrial aluminum look. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Saris Door Country
Saris showed off their new Door County hitch rack. This one comes straight from the factory with integrated lights front and rear, and get this, an electric lift option to make adding and removing bikes less back-breaking. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

The Door County rack secures bikes using these two arms. Tighten the strap around the top tube of your bike to secure it in place. Both arms include a locking mechanism, not a guarantee even at this price point. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Saris Door County hitch bike rack electric lift
A look at the Door County when folded up. The hitch rack comes with wheels to make transporting the rack easier. On the right is the button-operated lift; the green buttons raise and lower the rack. The central red button pauses the lift wherever you want it. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Saris’s new MHS (Modular Hitch System) rack separates the bike tray from the base. Doing so allows for the use of not just bike trays, but things like baskets for storage, and more. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

A look at how each accessory attaches to the main MHS system. A pair of bolts with clamps tightens each rack down. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

The Yakima Stage Two hitch rack has a number of clever features. Firstly, it installs onto a hitch without the need for tools. The two-bike rack can be converted to carry four bikes, and in doing so the handle for the tilt feature moves to the end of the rack, too. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Perhaps my favorite part is what Yakima refers to as Stadium Seating, where the base is pitched at an upright angle to not only greatly improve clearance height, but also to stagger the bikes so you’re far less likely to encounter overlapping handlebars and saddles. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Bikes are secured by a ratcheting hook arm seen here and a strap out back. The arm is beefy in feel; it had better be considering this rack is designed to carry up to a 70 lb bike per tray. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)
The Yakima Stage Two rack has the option for brake light extensions as well as a lit-up license plate. Further, the lights also pivot 90 degrees, meaning your lights will always point in the correct direction regardless of whether the rack is folded or in use. The brake light accessory requires just a four-pin electrical connection, but I do wish this wiring was a bit better integrated. (Image: Alvin Holbrook/CyclingTips)

Kuat Piston Pro hitch rack complete
Kuat showed off their new Piston Pro rack. Think of it as the Piston Pro X without the excess. The collapsing cradle arms are hydraulically assisted to make opening snugging down your bike low-effort. What does it lose compared to the Piston Pro X? The nifty integrated brake lights and gold Kashima coating on the rack’s struts. You hate to see it, folks. (Image: Troy Templin/CyclingTips)

Kuat Piston Pro hitch rack strut
Each arm opens and closes not with the help of a ratchet but with a locking strut on each arm. Squeeze to tighten the little lever, and each arm easily tightens against the bike’s tire to keep it in place with no contact with the frame. Squeeze it again, and the rack opens back up with minimal effort. (Image: Troy Templin/CyclingTips)

Kuat Piston Pro hitch rack strut detail
A closer look at the lever Kuat uses here. The hydro-pneumatic arms are perhaps the easiest to use that we’ve seen in a hitch rack. (Image: Troy Templin/CyclingTips)

Kuat Piston Pro hitch rack arm detail
Wheel size adjustment is tool-free on the Piston Pro. Squeeze a pair of tabs inside, and you can easily adjust between the different wheel sizes. It’s all so easy, which it better be at MSRP at $1098. (Image: Troy Templin/CyclingTips)
Kuat was also showing off the Piston SR roof tray. They took the Piston Pro X and essentially made a roof tray that packs all the same technology. At the show, they had it mounted to the new IBEX truck bed rack that is targeting the overland crowd. (Image: Troy Templin/CyclingTips)

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