Review: 21 lb. Saris Freedom Hitch Tray Rack

Gear

Why You Want

Hitch racks are the best best way to transport a bike given the easy of mounting, fuel economy and less wind noise. Plus crashing your bikes on the roof rack in to a low garage is never fun.

But hitch racks are usually heavy at over 50 lbs and expensive at $500+. The Saris Freedom rack offers a solution at 21 lbs and $239. Curious? Then read on.

Pros

Adjustments make it easy to fit most bike frames and types – with a weight limit of 35lbs each. Three ratcheting straps keep the bike secure in addition to adjustable arms that can either cradle the frame or hold it down. Fits a 1 ¼” receiver natively, but does include an adapter to fit 2” hitches as well. Since the tire cradles can be positioned left to right, many wheel sizes are easily accommodated. And because of this adjustability, the rack is space efficient but with still the flexibility of minimizing saddle and handlebar interference between two bikes.

Most two-bike hitch racks weigh in at 50+ lbs. They are so heavy and cumbersome that it is impractical to remove them from the car often. The 21 lb. Freedom rack gives you that flexibility.

This is a USA tray rack for $239. Again, that’s about half the price of the competition and Saris has really made the ‘behind-car’ method of transporting bikes affordable.

A hitch style tray rack allows the easiest method to carry a bike and it can save thousands of dollars in fuel costs compared to a roof rack over the life of the rack.

Cons

This is not a heavy duty rack with a true 2″ hitch that can accomodate downhill bikes or very rough roads. 35 lbs is the bike weight limit and there will be a bit of bike movement on rough roads.

This is not as easy or quick as a Kuat or 1upusa rack that simply press on the tire with a big lever arm. So the first time mounting bike to this rack will require more adjustment.

Mtbr Take

The Saris Freedom Hitch offers those on a budget the ‘freedom’ to take a pair of bikes just about anywhere without worrying about their bikes swinging back and forth. The rack requires very little assembly; it can be put together in less than 10 minutes. The completed rack weighed in at just 21.04 lbs on our scale, ridiculously light for a tray style hitch rack

The Freedom uses two small cradles and an arm to support your bike with three ratcheting straps to secure your bike. Early versions of the strap were a little finicky but the latest versions of the straps called the Cuscino (meaning pillow) are much easier to use and protect the structure and finish of even the lightest carbon bikes. The 4 cradles are adjustable, sliding left and right, and make it fairly easy to mount your bikes onto the rack; a strap at each of the cradles locks your bike into place.

The upright arm of the rack also carries two hold down straps for a third point of contact to secure your bike to the rack, this is where it becomes slightly tricky, because you’ll have to adjust the hold down strap and arm to work with your bikes frame. Sliding the wheel tray cradles back and forth until you find the perfect combination that works for your bike. It’s advised that you start with the heavier of your two bikes and mount it closest to your car, and then repeat with the second bike on the other set of cradles. Once you have this set, you won’t have to fuss with this again.

The Freedom rack’s receiver bar fits into 1 ¼” hitch receiver natively, but if you have a 2” hitch, Saris does include an adapter. We have a 1 ¼” hitch setup, so we didn’t make use of the adapter. With the 1 ¼” setup, the rack interface was solid, no movement whatsoever. When the bikes were mounted, we had every bit of confidence they were secure and not going to wiggle or bounce around. A relief from the hang and swing options we’ve tried in the past. The hitch arm is a good length, leaving plenty of room between the bikes and the rear of the car. When not in use, the Freedom’s arm can be released and lowered to allow easy access to the rear of your car. While down, the rack looks neat and out of the way, so much so, we figured it might be a better idea to leave it up so cars behind us would see the rack and not get too close and potentially hit the low key rack.

If you’re looking for a solid rack without too many frills that will get the job done, the Saris Freedom should be at the top of your list. It’s manufactured and assembled in the USA, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

And at this price and this weight, it really has no equal.

Find out what mtbr forum users have to say about the Saris Freedom here: http://forums.mtbr.com/car-biker/saris-freedom-772131.html

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $239.99 MSRP
More Info: www.saris.com

Continue reading for Saris Assembly and Installation Videos.

Review: 21 lb. Saris Freedom Hitch Tray Rack Gallery
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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Tom says:

    Can you lower the rack when two bikes are on it, so that you can open the vehicle’s tailgate?

  • Leonard says:

    Still has a problem with number plate visibility. In our Australian nanny state, we’ll need to pay for another plate with yearly fees to fit onto the rack itself. Roof racks are still to go in our instance.

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