Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

  #1  
Old 05-18-2006, 02:31 PM
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Default Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

I have a dilemma. I want to haul a mountain bike on my FEH occasionally. The way I see it, I have four options, each of which has a downside or two. I'm looking for advice. I'm not looking for product names, as I know where and what to look for various bike racks (indeed, I already have a rack from my '92 Corolla that would work rear-mounted on my FEH).

Option 1:
Reconfigure my existing (Saris) bike rack for use on the FEH. The rack hangs down over the top of the lift gate and rests against the back of the vehicle.
-- Downside: Not the *most* sturdy solution, and obviously some sort of MPG hit due to changing the airflow around the vehicle (which is basically a box, anyway.) Also, some visual disruption because the rack would hold the bike near or totally in front of my liftgate window, just as it blocks my view somewhat when mounted on the Corolla.
-- Pros: Already have the rack.

Option 2:
Haul the mountain bike inside the vehicle, with the rear seats folded down. I have a Husky cargo liner in the back but nothing protecting the back of the seats. I would need/want to either carry quilts (sub-optimal because it's not waterproof and likely to get bunched up/caught in gears/oily from chain grease, etc.), or ideally, something waterproofed to protect everything from the cargo area forward to the back of the back seats... something like the cargo protectors aimed at dog/pet owners. So, there is an added cost in this option, at least in my case.
-- Downside: Probably need to remove the front tire, and have to be very careful to avoid hauling all manner of dirt and trail debris into the vehicle (which I intend to keep for a long time, and take care of, same as I've taken care of my '92 Corolla). Also worried about scuffs, scratches, etc. if the bike shifts, and due to other gear I'd often be hauling with the bike -- eg. tent, backpack, hiking boots, etc.

Option 3:
Buy a roof-mount bike rack that's compatible with the roof rack that's stock on the Ford Escape Hybrid. Sturdy solution (some even lock) and puts to use something that's already present on the vehicle. When not needed, I could remove the bike rack mounting system and not carry any extra weight than the stock FEH weighs in at.
-- Downside: I presume this is the worst place to carry anything when it comes to fuel economy due to the excessive amount of drag and disruption of airflow. How much of an MPG hit are we talking? Also, a little difficult to get up that high on the vehicle to mount/dismount the bike, though I could carry a little step stool or get one of those that rests temporarily over the tire to get up there. Costs thus include the bike rack assembly and a step stool.

Option 4:
Have a tow hitch installed just so I can buy a hitch-mounted bike rack. I will never tow anything with my FEH. If I need to tow, it will be in my husband's F-150 pickup with its larger towing capacity. But it will carry the bike low and behind the vehicle for least (I presume? This is where I get iffy) amount of drag, compared to all other exterior-mounted options, and least visual disruption. It would also be fairly easy to mount and dismount the bike from the rack.
-- Downside: I would be forced to haul around the extra weight of the hitch ALL the time, thus resulting in one permanent MPG hit. Add the bike and bike hitch mount when travelling with bike, plus drag, and I suspect this is the highest MPG hit of all options I've listed. That, and the cost of a hitch is a bit prohibitive since I don't need a beefy hitch that's really meant for a non-hybrid Ford Escape or other vehicles with far more than 1,000lb. towing capacity; I'd really only need a "wimpy" hitch that can handle the weight of an average mountain bike.

I overthink things, but in this case everything that involves MPG hits temporary and/or permanently, extra costs, etc. is making the decision less easy than I suspected. When I bought the vehicle I assumed I'd get a hitch at some point and go that route; indeed I thought a hitch was standard on the FEH (my bad: didn't really research that aspect and it wasn't a 'dealbreaker' when I discovered that was in error), since to advertise a towing capacity in my mind indicates the vehicle is ready to tow, right off the lot.
 
  #2  
Old 05-18-2006, 04:12 PM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

I'm not sure if you can do this-depends on if you can easily mount these to the back floor of the cargo area-and if the bike can roll in on it's rear wheel without hitting the roof and if it can go deep enough.

You bolt these to the floor and the bike front forks lock to the bed of the folded down seat/cargo area. The bike does not move and the forks take minimal shock. The front wheel can be placed next to it. Keeps the load balanced (can and keeps aerodynamics better (less drag), and the closer to the center of the SUV, the better for overall balance as well.

Here is the link:

http://www.orsracksdirect.com/rockym...bike-rack.html

or

http://tinyurl.com/zwjwy

Michael
 
  #3  
Old 05-18-2006, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

Assuming the inside option(s) don't fly, behind-the-vehicle is by far the better option. It'll do not pretty things for drag, but far less damage than up top. And its already turbulent back there anyway. Drag force in direct proportion to frontal area. Putting bikes up top only adds to frontal area.
 
  #4  
Old 05-18-2006, 05:07 PM
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Default Never put anything on the roof-kills mpg.

I did several trips (New Orleans to Flagstaff,AZ) with stuff(including bikes) on the roof vs suspended from a hitch rack. NEVER PUT ANYTHING ON THE ROOF.
I got 15.9 mpg VS 22.25 MPG .This was 2 3000 mile trips with both methods.
Inside or tuck it in behind the vehicle.Luck,Charlie
PS I'm about to find out how badly a "trunk rack" kills mpg on the Prius(same trip).
PPS On a trip without any racks, I got 24mpg, but the trip was different in other respects, so the extra 1.75 mpg might not be because of no hitch rack.The hitch rack will cost something MPG wise, but the 1.75 mpg would be about .2 gallons per hour at 66 mph. Seems a little high.
 

Last edited by phoebeisis; 05-18-2006 at 07:17 PM.
  #5  
Old 05-18-2006, 05:09 PM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

I'm planning to install a hitch and then use a hitch-mounted rack to carry my family's bikes. I could barely fit my bike into my former Explorer, so I doubt that anything other than a child's bike would fit comfortably in the Escape. Also, as you mentioned, you have the debris to deal with if the bike is inside the truck. Roof racks have issues with accessibility (unless you're tall and have a very light bike) and there's always the problem with the garage door removing your bike if you've forgotten it (also the occasional low tree branch or overhang). The weight penalty for a hitch would be minimal (it probably weighs less than a full tank of gas) and there should be no drag penalty from having the bike behind the vehicle as this is all turbulent air anyway. This also prevents scuffs on the finish as neither the bike nor the rack touch the paint. You'll have the additional costs of the hitch and the new hitch-mounted rack, but you've got to spend the money you're saving on gas somewhere.
 
  #6  
Old 05-18-2006, 10:15 PM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

I would say let how often you need to tote a bike guide your choice.

For a few times a month, I'd put down a plastic tarp, and put the bike inside... with front wheel removed if need be. The plastic tarp will protect the carpet/interior from dirt, grease, and moisture, and also aid in sliding the bike in and out.

For a few times a week, or near daily use, by all means, get a rear mount or hitch mount rack.

I think the top is out of the question for anything but once in blue moon use.
JMHO.
-John
 
  #7  
Old 05-19-2006, 06:46 AM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

I would opt for the hitch type option, too.

I have a luggage carrier for the roof, and it takes 12-15 pecent off of the mpg.

I believe there are (many) threads on the installation of the hide-a-hitch and others.
 
  #8  
Old 05-19-2006, 06:50 AM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

According to an old HCH1 review, a roof bike rack will reduce your mpg by 1 or 2. With a bike in the rack, it's a 5 or 6 mpg hit. He switched to a hitch rack. With an empty rack, no mpg hit. With a bike in the rack, maybe 1 mpg less.

Here's mine

 
  #9  
Old 05-19-2006, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

Originally Posted by gpsman1
I would say let how often you need to tote a bike guide your choice.

For a few times a month, I'd put down a plastic tarp, and put the bike inside... with front wheel removed if need be. The plastic tarp will protect the carpet/interior from dirt, grease, and moisture, and also aid in sliding the bike in and out.

For a few times a week, or near daily use, by all means, get a rear mount or hitch mount rack.

I think the top is out of the question for anything but once in blue moon use.
JMHO.
-John

LOL, we must think on similar wavelengths.

I have some tarps that I picked up for 37 cents at Aco that I use to when I'm hauling stuff with the rear seats down. They don't add any weight, were under a buck, and keep the airflow patterns intact while protecting the floor. Now, I haul equipment and the occasional piece of furnature, not a mountain bike.

Given the choices, if you can get away with it, I'd go with using the liftgate mounted option 1 that you already have. Unless you don't feel it can meet you're needs.

I'd avoid anything on the roof unless it's last resort.

I'd also avoid the trailor hitch unless you're going to use it constantly, or tow something.
 
  #10  
Old 05-25-2006, 07:36 AM
Jim
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Default Re: Best for MPG -- Roof rack or Tow Hitch Mounted Rack?

Geek gal, I just went through almost the exact same decision, right down to already having one of those rear strap-on racks.

The only things i can add are these:

The weight of a hitch receiver, or even the receiver plus bike rack plus bike, will not make a detectible difference in fuel economy. And the rear is certainly the best exterior place by far to put the bikes in terms of ease of access and fuel economy. Any fuel economy hit from wind resistance is likely small, and zero when no rack is used.

I tend to keep my cars forever, and I cycle a fair amount. I've coped with carrying bikes inside vehicles (bad idea!) and with fighting with the strap-on carriers and watching them constantly through the back window. So I put on a hitch receiver, bought a bike carrier for it, and am happy with it all.

If you are going to keep your FEH a long time and bike enough for the cost of the hitch and carrier to be worth it, by all means do that!
 
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