Purchasing Mountain Biking Gear from Your Local Super Market
You know how you start a new hobby, and it takes you awhile to start liking it and even a while longer before you quit borrowing/using your buddy's hand-me-downs and want to invest in your own gear?. Well, that's what happened here. I had just reached that point, and I was all excited. I had finally decided that I enjoy mountain biking enough that I was willing to invest in some gear of my own. And guess what rookie mistake I made ... while buying groceries at my local super market, I gave in to a whooping of a sale on a bike rack.
And yes, before you yell at me, I knew that purchasing mountain biking equipment from my local super market was probably a bad idea, but the bike rack was name brand and 50% off. And the only information that the bike rack said was that it could hold up to 70 pounds or so. There was no other specification of what bikes the bike rack could or could not securely hold. So, I thought I had gotten extremely lucky and found a good piece of equipment for a ridiculously low price. Of course, my instincts were screaming that often times, things that seem too good to be true ... are too good to be true. However, like every other person that thinks they are a semi-savvy consumer, I rolled the dice anyways and kept on hoping that I had hit the jackpot.
... Boy was I wrong.
- Yes, the bike rack would attach to my car. However, the bottom feet of the rack were very small and did not do a good job of distributing the weight of my bike across my trunk. The straps, themselves, felt fine in strength, but the fact that the only thing holding them in place was torque and no locking mechanism had me worried.
- Yes, the rack would hold a "bike." However, and this is why I mentioned that the information listed on the bike rack had no other specifications than weight about what type of bike it was intended to hold, the rack seemed like it was made for a road bike or a child's bike. The place on the arms where you would set your bike was cupped too small. A mountain bike's top tube would be able to slightly rest in the cupped section, but only barely. Also, if you have a full suspension bike like me, you probably have a top tube brace. Which in this case and for nearly every other full suspension bike meant, there wasn't any other way to put my bike on the rack than placing it on ... sideways ... sideways.
- No, I could not adjust the arms of the bike rack so that the weight of my mountain bike was spread over them equally. The arms are a very simple, non-adjusting design, which is often times an all right thing, because less moving parts there are to wear and tear is often times better in the long run. Unfortunately, had the arms been adjustable in this case, I might have been able to get my bike on the rack without all of the weight being shifted to one side and my bike hanging sideways.
- No, the tiny velcro straps did not make me feel confident that my bike was safe and secure. So, the bike's weight rests on the aluminum arms, and the velcro straps are really only for holding the bike in place while the car is moving. I get that. But these velcro straps were so tiny and so thin that I didn't trust them to do even that. I mean, I felt like I might rip them while just trying to get a tight fit.
- Yes, I worried incessantly about whether my bike was about to fall off of my car.
Basically, the point is: do not buy anything for your Mountain bike from your local super market or general store. Unless, the store specifically caters to mountain biking, I advise against buying anything, even if it seems like a heckin' good deal. Even if you find a name brand, the quality and build of that product is most likely still on the lower end of ends.