Tuesday, September 4, 2018

BSNYC Fall Product Review Spectacular Part 1: Saris SuperClamp EX!

Okay, it's September and I'm officially Done Fucking Around.

Okay, now I'm Done Fucking Around, because today we settle all family business:

Or at least we start.  See, I've got all this sweet stuff I'm supposed to be "reviewing:" the Renovo, the Jones, Stracci...and starting now I'm going to sum up my feelings on all of them before returning them, or else keeping them and saying "You want it back?  Then come get it!" to the people who sent them to me as the case may be.  To that end, let's start with the Saris SuperClamp EX:

As I've mentioned, because I'm a massive hypocrite I still operate a motor vehicle, and because tires and axles are getting increasingly chubby I've been wanting a hitch rack.  Of course as a city dweller who selfishly hogs public curb space I can't just leave the hitch rack on the car, so the big question for me was whether installing and removing the Saris would be a major pain in the ass--and basically the answer is: "No."  As long as I've got a socket wrench handy I can bolt the thing into the receiver in a matter of seconds.  All I really need to do is bring it up from the basement along with whatever bicycles I'm schlepping, so it's really no more difficult than bringing along another bike--or removing the front wheels and hoisting the bikes onto the roof for that matter.

As for actually going places, I got to spend some proper time with the rack last week when we loaded up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and embarked on our annual upstate family vacation:

Here's how it looked when we stopped at the local chain pharmacy before hitting the Thruway:

Two things:

1) The single-arm design still managed to hold both bikes securely despite the considerable size difference between wheelsets;

2) When I posted this picture previously at least one person expressed concern that the bikes were extending too far past the side of the car.  Please note this is mostly just a trick of perspective, and here's how much wheel is actually sticking out:

As you can see, it protrudes no more than the sideview mirror, if that, and is therefore a non-issue.

That being said, before we go any further, I have a disclosure to make.  The Saris SuperClamp EX comes with two locks: one locks the pin to the hitch receiver so nobody can take the rack off the car, and the other is for the integrated cable locks so nobody can take your bikes off the rack.  Both of these locks are keyed the same for your convenience.  However, Saris accidentally sent me a hitch pin lock that was keyed differently from the cable lock, and because I only had the hitch pin lock key before hitting the road the upshot was that I was not able to use the cable locks during my trip.  (They have since sent me a new hitch pin lock so I'm all set now.)  So there you go.

Anyway, there's not much to say about the actual drive except that the bikes stayed on, which is what you want from a rack.  Also, as a roof rack user I enjoyed being able to see them out the rear view mirror.  (When the bikes are up on the roof you basically just hope.)  On the way to our final destination we stopped at the fabulous Colonie Center mall in Albany, NY, where we indulged in a lavish meal at the Cheesecake Factory and then bought roughly $50,000 worth of groceries at Whole Foods with which to stock up our vacation cabin.  (We all get intense withdrawal symptoms if forced to live without our favorite artisanal food items.)  As I mentioned earlier, the bikes don't stick out laterally too much, but as a hitch rack novice I was still a bit worried that someone might manage to clip them in the busy parking lot:

Fortunately, we left unscathed.  Also, while I totally forgot to take a picture, we were easily able to load our $50,000 worth of Whole Foods groceries into the trunk without removing the bikes thanks to the rack's handy tilting action:

Then we nipped across Central Avenue to the liquor store where we picked up a fuckton of booze before undertaking the final leg of our journey, and about an hour and 20 minutes later we arrived at our vacation spot:

Backing up that steep driveway is pretty much the only time I ever take advantage of the Outback's AWD capability, and if I had any brains at all I'd have gotten a Toyota Yaris and had lots more money left over to spend on bike stuff.  (I'd also have saved even more money by removing the roof rack and increasing my fuel economy, but since the hitch rack was new I figured I'd keep it on there just in case.)

Speaking of waste, since our vacation spot is a great big beautiful lake I'm pretty much the only person in the family dumb enough to squander precious leisure time by riding a bicycle.  We bring my older son's bike just in case, but the novelty of being able to run out the front door and right into the water is far more compelling to him, and we stuff my younger son's bike in the trunk because if his brother is bringing a bike then he has to also or else he'll have a fit.  My wife doesn't bother, and even I don't ride that much.  Basically what I do is wake up early, ride up the nearest hill, and then come right back down again, to wit:

Then I've got the rest of the day free for swimming, grilling, and drinking.

Last year I did take in some token Vermont gravel, and I'm sure as the years go on I'll further afield, but having just returned from Portland a few out-and-backs were more than sufficient.  

Anyway, it was a blissful escape, and before I knew it we were heading back to the city:

Once again, the bikes stayed on, and even in my state of road-weariness unloading them and removing the rack at home was a simple affair.

Of course this being my first hitch rack I don't really have any basis for comparison, but I can't think of anything more I'd want from a rack.  Loading and unloading is as easy as can be.  (I don't even think you need the wheel straps unless you're using a bike with fenders, but I did anyway.)  Plus, like my Milwaukee, it's made in Wisconsin, which surely counts for something.  So if you too find yourself compelled to carry a pair of bikes on the ass end of your motor vehicle, it's hard to see how you could do much better.

If you have any questions* feel free to ask.

*[I mean questions about the rack, but if something else is eating at you feel free.]


Some guy from upstate said...

What, you were in town and you didn't stop by? Yeesh. I liked the Whole Foods better when it was Sears.

Also, when I am roof racking, I find I can usually get a glimpse of bike by tilting the side view mirror all the way up. On sunny days there's the shadow.

Also also, podium?

Steven King said...

So is that a real person reflected n the side of the Wildcat mobile in the forth photo, of a ghost?

Pelon said...

That looks like an amazing bucolic adventure. You should have brought the renovo to "get back to its roots." Welcome back to the world of "work", Happy September RTMS podium

Watch and Camera Guy said...


nos·tal·gia - A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. said...

n"If you have any questions* feel free to ask."

Was the Colonie Center there 1984 to 1989? If so I don't remember it, I'm proud to say. I do remember several bicycle touring trips from Albany to Lake Champlain, but we always stuck to the other side Lake George; too much, and too fast, traffic on the stretch of 9N that includes your strava ride. Also remember the industry strength underwear made out of sail canvas worn by two (2) young ladies at the College of St. Rose. But that is a story for a different blog...

Skidmark said...

Feeling free as temporal anomaly.

cyclejerk said...

Ugh. Fell off my track stand.

BikeSnobNYC said...


It was there during my time at SUNY Albany (91-95). Beyond that I dunno.

--Tan Tenovo

pbateman wants to stop work already and have a bourbon drink said...


either willingly or unknowingly using old and ugly products because you have no sense of good taste and likely have cut off jean jorts.

that dude and/or dudette trackstanding has bar ends. do they not realize how hideous that is? total no-stylegia with that guy/gal.

i have a question: what kind of pressure you run when muddling the mint for your julep? hope you deflate and go light 'cause its delicate stuff.

also, don't actually do a muddled mint julep. make the simple syrup. its much better that way.

Mark said...

Can't you move the individual wheel trays side to side? Or fore and aft as the bikes see it.

That way you could get the bikes centered better on the car, the wheels wouldn't stick out as much, and they'd fit better with the single arm design.

BikeSnobNYC said...


The front wheel tray doesn't move very much, you adjust for the wheelbase with the rear wheel tray. Again, the perspective makes it look like the bikes are sticking out a lot but they really aren't.

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said...

(By the way, I just did an image search for most of the major hitch racks and they all give the illusion that the bikes are sticking out by a mile on each side. Probably not a coincidence that the actual product shots are taken from an angle.)

Anonymous said...

I have the same rack, and I didn't know it could tilt. This may be the first legitimately useful thing I've learned from this blog.

The cable locks work, but they seem a little short - they are basically just long enough to snake around a chainstay, you might be able to grab a spoke too. It's a bit annoying that the key must be inserted to open it, and can't be removed until it's locked. It's not like the yellow one for the hitch, where you can open it, then lock it and remove the key and just snap it on. You need to insert the key to the cable lock, turn it, put both ends in, and turn it again before you can remove it.

I'm also mildly concerned because even though you can lock the bikes to the main beam, it's just two 8mm hex bolts to remove the main beam from the part that goes into the hitch. So having the hitch lock is kinda pointless since you can just take apart the rack. But it's not like I'd park this thing in a bad neighborhood with a pair of Cervelos (Cérveloé?) anyway, as a pair of bolt cutters would make quick work of the cable lock. It certainly seems adequate for leaving my MTB locked up in the parking lot at work, or for being able to run into a rest stop for lunch on a road trip.

I agree with you on the wheel straps. Have you found a way to tuck them out of the way? They are kind of annoying to fasten especially for short trips. One trick I found is if you unhook both of them, they flop outwards from the cradles and you can lift the bike up to catch them between the spokes, which is easier than just dropping the bike on top and trying to pull the straps out from under the tires.

JLRB said...

Well, come back

HDEB said...

Lake George must be nice but I pass it by on the way to steep and deep (icy). Nearly back to skool for the NYC kiddos : )

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 2:26pm,

Yes, I sort of hook the straps with the rim when mounting the bikes. BTW here's what the manual says about them:

NOTE: For rear fender, 20’’ bikes, bikes over 50 lbs, wheel straps should be
used in the «A» wheel trays(Back Wheel). Bikes between 45’’- 48’’ wheelbase
require two wheel straps.

So theoretically it looks like you don't need them for most bikes...though again I'd use them anyway.

I'd imagine any lock on any rack is only going to stop an opportunist.

--Tan Tenovo

Chris P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

It's easier to buy a bike and leave it at the cabin than to schlepp back and forth.

BikeSnobNYC said...


If I owned the cabin I would.


dancesonpedals said...

I started having chills at the mention of Colonie Center (are Macy's and Sears still the anchors? Twarn't no Cheesecake factory in 1973). Growing up 30 miles to the north (Burnt Hills), Hague was a 45 minute ride up the Northway & I camped there every Memorial Day Weekend. (meanwhile my future wife was spending summer vacations with her friends from Queens in Silver Bay). That climb up to Granite is a bear, and a regular feature of local triathlons. When your 17 children are big enough, sign up with NYS Parks for one of the campsites at those islands just offshore.

Some guy from upstate said...


Macy's is still there, Sears is now where the Whole Foods is. Next time I break a Craftsman socket I will see if they can replace it with some kale salad.

And in my personal experience, 9 months is plenty big enough to take a child island camping, you just need a big canoe and a mom with operational mammary glands.

Anonymous said...

In 1973, I was wrenching at Klarsfeld's Schwinn, across Central Ave from Sears. It's still a bike shop, under different ownership, though the name "CK Cycles" is a nod to old Charles K. Met my wife of 39 years there, when she came in at closing time for toe clips. Not sure she ended up with the best part of that deal.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this blog for a good little while now, and near as I can tell, this is the first time Snob/Tan/Wildcat has solicited questions. Must be a contractual thing.

Thing is, it's such a comprehensive, almost clinical review, (as if our author has gone legit or something), there's really nothing much to ask. He's pretty well much covered it all. Thoughtfully though, he did also make the amiable gesture of inviting question on other matters... that's too good an opportunity to turn down! So:

~ What booze did you buy?

Olle Nilsson said...

Looks like an awesome vacation spot.

#whattorqueyourunnin on that hitch bolt?

Anonymous said...

I used to have the rear view mirror replacement guys on speed dial so not sure letting wheels stick out that much is such a good idea...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 8:45pm,

Rum to make Dark & Stormys!

--Tan Tenovo

Mr Plow said...

I grew up ( so to speak) just up the road in Ticonderoga. awesome riding in those parts but to be honest i was more of a boat fred in those dyas.

dop said...

Fairwell Sears (my father always said the catalog was too shiny)

I never saw Klarsfeld’s. I got my first ten speed from that ski shop in Latham.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I hope you bought Bundaberg Ginger beer from Australia and Mt Gay Eclipse rum from Barbados.

After years of trial and error, I have found that these two combine to make the ultimate dark and stormy.

huskerdont said...

Drove by Lake George once on the way to the larger Lake Champlain (Vermont side). It looked cute.

Still appreciating the review of this. Considering the Saris with the option of throwing a third bike on the roof (rather than getting the x4), but then the kayaks go up there so what's a fredster to do? For now, the Thule hanger still does the job, with some creative hanging for the girl's MTB-of-odd-geometry.

JLRB said...

Nobody cares but today I had to drive the car to work and got to laugh at how silly bikecylists look in their day glo and helments - as they made it to work in about 1/2 the time it took me, and actually enjoyed themselves. We are a laughable lot, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Chazu said...

Not that anyone cares. But these things are related to the concept of the Hour of the Wolf, and succumbing to Strava:

Last weekend; I broke out the Swobo Blasphemy jersey I wore in the days when Swobo didn't sell bikecycles. It hadn't experienced daylight in several years.

And my fred-naissance will be complete when the new wheels with the White Industries hubs arrive.

ooh ooh, I have a question! said...

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Anonymous said...

1UpUSA hitch rack allows you to position your bikes however you want so they don't stick out as much. Overall, superior materials and quality...and made in Dickeyville, Wisconsin!

Coleminator said...

Have you noticed any side-to-side tilt play developing in the main pivot point on this rack? Mine seems like it's been getting worse in the recent weeks, and it's less than a summer old yet. The carriage bolt & nut aren't loose, I've checked that several times, it almost seems as if the part of the channel on the hitch side of the rack that the channel on the tray side of the rack nestles inside of is getting larger

BikeSnobNYC said...


I haven't had the rack very long but no. It's hard to visualize what you're saying: do you mean the part that pivots when you fold the rack up or down? I imagine Saris would be able to address any concern.

--Tan Tenovo

Coleminator said...

Yes, that is the part of the rack I'm talking about, the fold/pivot area. Maybe it's better explained by saying that when there are bikes on the rack, the entire thing moves like a seesaw. The wheels of the bikes can move vertically along with the whole rack beam probably about an inch or more. I've yet to return to the shop where I bought the rack, but when I do I plan on asking them if it's normal.