Seconds from Disaster!

I’m posting this from the Highway 17 Express bus going home. My Specialized Roubaix 30 speed carbon fiber road bike is sitting at the front of the bus in the bike rack. As we zoomed along I-280 in San Jose at abou 60 mph THE BIKE RACK BROKE, leaving my bike dangling inches from the pavement at the front of the bus!

The bus driver pulled over and moved my bike to another spot on the rack. Disaster averted.

Apparently, those Sportworks 3-space “Trilogy” bike racks can break while in use! King County removed all of their Trilogy racks because of problems with the 3-space racks they experienced in the Seattle area that Sportworks claimed was user error — cyclists were not properly securing their bicycles.

Santa Cruz Metro uses the 3 bike racks on all of their buses, but I haven’t heard of problems until my experience tonight.

20 Comments

  • Ron
    June 25, 2009 - 5:16 am | Permalink

    Phew. If I'm not wrong about the design, the only real support that keeps the bikes from moving laterally due to the motion of the bus is the spring loaded support arms that go over the tire, correct? You mentioned the bus moving at 60mph but nothing about sudden brakes. Why don't they have a latch system that can be tightened around the rims, like they do for those Saris bike racks? Is it too time consuming to put them on, I don't think so. Its interesting that it would break regardless, as Sportworks claim so much about safety during movement and what not. Atleast your bike didn't fall off.

  • Ron
    June 24, 2009 - 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Phew.

    If I'm not wrong about the design, the only real support that keeps the bikes from moving laterally due to the motion of the bus is the spring loaded support arms that go over the tire, correct? You mentioned the bus moving at 60mph but nothing about sudden brakes. Why don't they have a latch system that can be tightened around the rims, like they do for those Saris bike racks? Is it too time consuming to put them on, I don't think so.

    Its interesting that it would break regardless, as Sportworks claim so much about safety during movement and what not. Atleast your bike didn't fall off.

  • Ron
    June 25, 2009 - 5:19 am | Permalink

    Wait. Did the mounting bracket on the bus bumper break off, or the support arms of the rack?

  • Ron
    June 24, 2009 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Wait. Did the mounting bracket on the bus bumper break off, or the support arms of the rack?

  • Yokota Fritz
    June 25, 2009 - 5:42 am | Permalink

    I should clarify — the spring loaded retainer arm broke completely off, leaving the bike flopping loosely in the rack. I was concerned because I heard a crack/crunch, looked forward and didn't see my bike. The bike bounced partially out of the track and was laying on its side.The retaining arm puts pressure on the front tire to keep the bike firmly in place.

  • Yokota Fritz
    June 24, 2009 - 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I should clarify — the spring loaded retainer arm broke completely off, leaving the bike flopping loosely in the rack. I was concerned because I heard a crack/crunch, looked forward and didn't see my bike. The bike bounced partially out of the track and was laying on its side.

    The retaining arm puts pressure on the front tire to keep the bike firmly in place.

  • Erik Orgell
    June 25, 2009 - 5:59 am | Permalink

    Wow, you got lucky, dude! Glad your bike didn't get to get used as a brake.You should get a lottery ticket and see if you can cash in on that good luck!

  • Erik Orgell
    June 24, 2009 - 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you got lucky, dude! Glad your bike didn't get to get used as a brake.

    You should get a lottery ticket and see if you can cash in on that good luck!

  • bikesgonewild
    June 25, 2009 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    …ya know…if they moved about 4 seats to out in front of the bus where the rack is now, they could prob'ly fit about that many bikes inside the bus, where they'd be much safer……okay, okay but i'm glad yer bike is a-ok…

  • bikesgonewild
    June 25, 2009 - 1:24 am | Permalink

    …ya know…if they moved about 4 seats to out in front of the bus where the rack is now, they could prob'ly fit about that many bikes inside the bus, where they'd be much safer…

    …okay, okay but i'm glad yer bike is a-ok…

  • Josh
    June 25, 2009 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Glad to read disaster was averted.

  • Josh
    June 25, 2009 - 5:04 am | Permalink

    Glad to read disaster was averted.

  • Rantwick
    June 25, 2009 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Carbon road bike on a bus rack! So there are people who do that… I was wondering if the owners of such sweet gear would be able to take the stress of it. Apparently so! I like the bike racks on London Ontario buses. They use a different method of trapping the wheel, with no springy arm involved.

  • Rantwick
    June 25, 2009 - 7:18 am | Permalink

    Carbon road bike on a bus rack! So there are people who do that… I was wondering if the owners of such sweet gear would be able to take the stress of it. Apparently so! I like the bike racks on London Ontario buses. They use a different method of trapping the wheel, with no springy arm involved.

  • kit
    June 25, 2009 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I had a very interesting recommendation while taking the MST-25 (I think) express from Monterey to San Jose.The driver told me to actually pull the spring arm all the way up until it clamped down on my front fork instead of my front tire. After observing the bike throughout the trip I have to say it looked a lot more stable. I would probably use that method again.

  • kit
    June 25, 2009 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    I had a very interesting recommendation while taking the MST-25 (I think) express from Monterey to San Jose.

    The driver told me to actually pull the spring arm all the way up until it clamped down on my front fork instead of my front tire. After observing the bike throughout the trip I have to say it looked a lot more stable. I would probably use that method again.

  • Yokota Fritz
    June 25, 2009 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks all! @BGW: Good idea! I'll make that recommendation at the next Santa Cruz Metro board meeting :-)@Rant: I've never had a problem with bike on rack before. I wonder who makes that rack.@Kit: Sportworks specifically recommends against that because it damages the spring arm.

  • Yokota Fritz
    June 25, 2009 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks all!

    @BGW: Good idea! I'll make that recommendation at the next Santa Cruz Metro board meeting :-)

    @Rant: I've never had a problem with bike on rack before. I wonder who makes that rack.

    @Kit: Sportworks specifically recommends against that because it damages the spring arm.

  • GeekGuyAndy
    June 25, 2009 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Both of my bikes are around $1200 retail and I use them on bus racks all the time. I can't say that I've seen any other higher quality bikes on the bus around here. I'd be a bit worried with putting a real $5k racing bike on one of those racks though.One bit of advice: Taking as much weight of the bike as possible is best on those racks. With my commuter/cyclocross bike, I always take any bags/gear off the racks so there's less mass to be flopping around.

  • GeekGuyAndy
    June 25, 2009 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Both of my bikes are around $1200 retail and I use them on bus racks all the time. I can't say that I've seen any other higher quality bikes on the bus around here. I'd be a bit worried with putting a real $5k racing bike on one of those racks though.

    One bit of advice: Taking as much weight of the bike as possible is best on those racks. With my commuter/cyclocross bike, I always take any bags/gear off the racks so there's less mass to be flopping around.

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