Saris Bones 3 Bike Rack

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How The Saris Bones Works

Saris Bones 3 Bike Rack

The Saris Bones is a hanging rack, which means that the bikes frame hangs on the racks arms. The other most common type of rack is a platform or tray rack. With platform racks, a bikes tires sit in a tray. There is no contact between the rack and your bikes frame.

The Saris Bones is also a trunk rack. This means that it attaches to your vehicle via a strap system, rather than with a hitch receiver. Almost all trunk racks are hanging racks.

Locking Mechanism Not Available On Most Models

The Bones and Bones EX do not come with, or offer as upgrades, any locking mechanisms. This means you cant lock the rack to the car, and you cant lock your bikes to the rack. Only the much more expensive SuperBones has car and rack locks.

Trunk racks are tricky, because most of them have mounting straps that could easily be cut off a vehicle.

The Bones Is More Than Just A Good

Match Your Personality!

There is a place where function and form collide. Where practical becomes practically gallery-worthy. And that has never been more true with the wide array of colors to choose from. Itâs a tested statement of style, design and durability.

Designed by the pros!

When the Bones rack made its debut in the 1990âs, it started a trunk rack revolution. Its iconic design won the world over, and twenty plus years later â the Bones rack has sold well over 1 million. Crafted by famed Italian designer Fabio Pedrini and built with materials from Americaâs heartland.

Bones 3-Bike Trunk Rack Highlights

  • Carries 3 bikes .
  • Spring buckle straps with vinyl-coated hooks.
  • Strongest frame on the market.
  • Articulated rubber feet to protect paint.
  • Ratcheting anti-sway straps for a secure hold.
  • Arc-based design separates bikes on different levels.
  • Lightweight at 11 lbs.

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Easily Folds But No Rear Car Access

Trunk racks are at a disadvantage to hitch racks because you have no access to your trunk or hatch while the rack is installed. Hitch racks like the hanging Thule Apex XT, for example, can tilt away from the hatch or trunk. This comes in handy more often than you might think. It also makes leaving the rack on the car in-between frequent rides a lot more convenient.

Trunk Racks Cant Tilt Away for Hatch Access

That said, if you really dont need access to your trunk or hatch for a few days, the Saris Bones arms fold down so the rack stores more compactly on your car. But remember you cant open your trunk or hatch even if there arent any bikes loaded on the rack!

If your rack isnt loaded, its always best not to have rack arms sticking out when youre driving. Depending on the length of your vehicle, it also may may be necessary to fold the arms down to store it on your vehicle in the garage.

The rack arms on the Saris Bones have a unique mechanism for folding down. You un-tighten the large black plastic screw on the arm, slide the arm to the center of the silver cylinder, and fold it down. You then slide it back to the side and re-tighten the screw. Each arm moves independently of the others.

Loading Bikes Onto The Bones


Before loading bikes, position the rack arms so that they are angled parallel to the ground, with the cradle farthest from the car highest off the ground. They should not be sloping down or up.

To load bikes onto the Bones, lift the bike onto the rack so that the rack arms are positioned underneath the top tube of your bike. Rest the top tube in the rack arm cradles, and secure the top tube in place with the ratcheting straps.

Each bike also has a third cradle and ratcheting strap that goes around the seat post of your bike. These anti-sway straps help to minimize damage to bikes and your vehicle that can be caused by the sway of bikes back and forth.

Loading bikes on any hanging rack can be a little bit tricky. You have to lift the bikes frame up and over the ratcheting straps, which usually get in the way. The side-sway strap is the biggest problem, so make sure its turned on its side to give you sufficient room to fit your bike over the arms. This is an issue for any hanging rack that has anti-sway cradles .

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Saris Bike Beam Top Tube Adapters

It is always easier to hang bikes with flat top tubes. Unfortunately, this usually only includes mens bikes. Most womens and kids bikes have slanting top tubes and may need a top tube adapter to mimic a flat top tube.

Saris top tube adapter is called a Bike Beam, although an adapter from any brand will work. On the left you can see a 24 inch kids bike with Bike Beam, while on the right, the bikes flat top tube doesnt need an adapter.

Using top tube adapters is more time consuming, but necessary for many bikes. In addition to the time it takes to put the adapter on, it may be necessary to raise your saddle a bit if you ride with it slammed down or close to the collar.

To get a top tube adapter to fit on a 16 bike, you will almost certainly have to raise the saddle to its max height to create enough mounting space between the bikes seat post and headset. Just makes sure to never raise the seat height above the seat posts minimum insertion point, and tighten that seat post collar very securely.

An important note: the Saris Bike Beam was too long to fit between the seat post and headset of our 16 bikes. However, we were able to use both the Allen and Yakima top tube adaptors. If you dont have 14.5, you should try the Allen Deluxe Trunk Rack, which is excellent at accommodating 16 bikes.

Arced Mounting Arms Make Loading Bikes Easier

The Saris Bones mounting arms are also arced, instead of being perfectly straight and perpendicular to your vehicle. The arc allows the mounted bikes to have staggered heights, which results in less handlebar/saddle interference.

I was easily able to load up several different configurations of bikes very quickly, with minimal re-positioning. Hanging racks like this are notorious for being time-consuming to load up your bikes, with jig-saw puzzle skills required to get everything to fit together. The Bones was significantly easier.

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Free Shipping Over $50*

Get free shipping, on most items, with your $50 purchase today! Same day shipping on most orders if placed by 3pm PST.

PLEASE NOTE: This offer is only available to physical shipping addresses in the 48 continental United States , and some exclusions apply.

Oversize Charges Some large and/or heavy items are subject to additional oversize charges that are separate from standard shipping costs.

Bike Build Process All bikes are built, tested, tuned, and ready to ride upon shipment. The bike build process typically takes 2-3 days to complete depending on the bike model and the complexity of the build.

Stock Status Orders for in-stock items placed by 3PM PST usually ship on the same day. Orders that include special-order or backordered items may be subject to shipping delays depending on product availability. Refer to estimated delivery times in cart when selecting shipping options.

Fitting The Saris Bones 3

Saris Bones 3-Bike Installation

The Bones arrived well-packed without any prior assembly required. The initial test fit to the car was something of a trial and error process, my aim being to have the bikes sitting as close to the car as possible in order to avoid compromising its handling.

The rack is attached via an array of arms, legs and straps. The arms sit on the top of the boot/window, the legs sit on the rear bumper and the rails that hold the bikes are all adjustable via a splined system to get the optimal fit.

Saris website vehicle fit checker confirmed our Toyota GT86 was compatible, however the instructions stated there was to be no contact with any of the hooks to the spoiler. After some trial and error, I realised this wasnt possible with the side hooks, so I cut a couple small pieces of rubber out of an old tube to protect the spoiler from any unwanted marks. Having fallen foul of rival manufacturer clip-on racks with previous cars, I also applied Helicopter tape to the bodywork where the rack made contact, in order to offer some extra protection.

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Car Compatibility Fits More Cars Than Most Trunk Racks

Trunk rack compatibility can be tricky. With hitch racks, if you have the right-size hitch, pretty much any hitch rack will fit your car. This is not the case with trunk racks.

Because the mounting arms of the rack rest on the bumper, trunk, windows, etc, the shape of your car will affect compatibility. Rear spoilers can also be hugely problematic.

With uniquely arced arms, the Saris Bones EX was designed to fit 20% more vehicles than the standard Bones. Of the original Bones, SuperBones, and Bones EX, the EX is the only rack that fits our Honda Pilot.

With any rack, but especially trunk racks, you should check compatibility with your specific vehicle before purchase. Saris provides a Fit My Vehicle tool that will show you all racks in their line-up that will fit on your car.

Who Is The Saris Bones Not The Best Fit For

  • Large families who need to transport more than 3 bikes
  • People who want to keep the rack on their car regularly cant access trunk or use rear windshield wiper when rack is installed
  • Bike lovers who are worried about bikes hitting one another and causing potential damage
  • Car aficionados who dont want any chance that a bike will hit their car

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How The Bones Mounts To Your Vehicle

We highly recommend watching the official Saris installation video before mounting the rack. Its short and clears up some potentially confusing things pretty quickly.

Mounting Legs

Two upper and two lower legs stabilize the Saris bones on your car. Each leg moves independently around a center cylinder. The huge advantage of this design is that it allows for a really customizable fit for your specific vehicle. The ends of the legs have pivoting rubber feet for additional customization to the angles on your vehicle.

The position of the upper legs is adjusted by unscrewing the tightening bolt, removing the leg from the center cylinder, and then re-inserting the leg. While the lower legs can move, they generally dont need to because the upper legs are positioned in relation to them.

Mounting Straps

To tightly secure the Saris Bones to your vehicle, three sets of straps anchor the rack in place. These straps originate from the center cylinder of the rack and hook to upper, lower, and side panel gaps on your vehicle. The hooks are coated in vinyl to protect your vehicle from damage.

The straps are plenty long to accommodate all sizes of vehicles, so there will probably be quite a bit of excess strap hanging out once youve cinched the straps down. Not to worry, Saris has provided a simple solve with their strap management system. Just fold those extra strap ends up and and wrap them with the attached velcro loop.

Saris Bones Trunk Rack Models

Saris Bones 3 BikeTrunk Mount Rack Bicycle Carrier SUV Cars GREY ...

The Saris Bones trunk rack comes in three different price tiers, and five different models.

Saris Bones : The original, most affordable, and only model available for many years. Comes in 2 or 3 bike capacity.

Saris Bones EX : Recently debuted as an upgrade to the original. The unique arc of the EXs mounting legs make it compatible with more cars. For example, the original Bones would not fit on our Honda Pilot, but the Bones EX does. Comes in 2 or 3 bike capacity.

Saris Superbones : A more luxury version of the original Bones, it features retractable straps. It also has a locking system to lock the rack to the car, and your bikes to the rack. Like the original Bones, the Superbones does not fit on our Honda Pilot. Comes in 3 bike capacity only.

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Bottom Line On The Saris Bones Car Rack

If your car doesnt have a hitch, the Saris Bones trunk rack is easily one of the best-quality and easiest-to-use options. We particularly love how fast we were able to get bikes on and off the rack, and how effortlessly it accommodated our kids bikes!

In case youre wondering about the final price for this rack on my Honda Pilot: Base price is $240, plus $150 worth of Bike Beams, $25 for a Hatch Hugger, and $15 for Protect-O-Pads grand total is $430.

If youre interested in getting a hitch for your car, be sure to check out our 10 Best Hitch Bike Racks for Families.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review. No monetary compensation was provided for this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View ourTerms of Use.

Weight Capacity Changes With Hatch Hugger Use

All models of the Saris Bones have the same weight capacity for loaded bikes 35 pounds per bike. So a 2-bike model has a max 70 pound limit, while the 3-bike racks max out at 105 pounds.

While mid to high-end bikes will almost always be under 35 pounds , bikes bought at big-box stores can be very heavy. For example, the 24 inch kids Huffy Scout weighs 36.4 pounds, which would be too heavy to carry on this rack. And thats a kids bike! If you dont know the weight of your bike, dont assume its under 35 pounds. A bike shop can weigh it for you if necessary.

One caveat to the weight limit of the Bones , is that if your vehicle requires the use of a top strapHatch Hugger adapter to mount the rack to your car, you can only load a maximum of two bikes. While this doesnt affect a 2-bike rack at all, a 3-bike rack can only be used as a 2-bike rack in that scenario. The weight limit is unaffected if you are using a Hatch Hugger on the side or bottom straps.

Remember to use the Find My Fit tool before purchase. It will tell you ahead of time if you need Hatch Huggers, and if the capacity of the rack is affected by your vehicle.

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Proximity To Your Vehicle Closer Than Hitch Rack

Trunk racks place your bikes much closer to your vehicle than a hitch hanging rack, opening up the possibility of the closest bikes pedal or front wheel hitting your car. Even if you use anti-sway cradles, bikes on hanging racks still sway.

As you can see below, if we hit a bump in the road and caused major sway, the pedal would hit our car. To prevent damage, you can add one of the Saris Protect-O-Pads.

Keep in mind this will not happen to all vehicles and all bikes. The flat back our our car requires us to splay the mounting legs more. If you were mounting the rack on a sedan with a truck, the hump of the rack would be more exaggerated and the mounting arms would stick out farther from the vehicle.

Who Is The Saris Bones Best For

Saris Bones Trunk Rack Review (Why This Top-Selling Bike Rack is So Popular!)
  • Families who dont have a hitch or roof rack system
  • Families who want a lightweight rack that is easy to take on and off the car
  • Those who need a hanging rack but are worried about bike sway and damage the anti-sway cradles are a huge help, and the bikes are spaced farther apart than many other hanging racks
  • Families who want to carry 20 bikes and up

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Rear Window View While Loaded And Unloaded

Like almost all bike racks, the Bones car rack does limit your rear window view, whether loaded or unloaded. Hanging racks carry your bikes much higher than platform racks. Heres how our Honda Pilot looks with the Bones loaded, vs. the platform Saris SuperClamp hitch rack.

Rear Window View: Bones vs. Saris Platform 4-bike Rack

Unloaded, the Bones still interferes with our rear window view, but not drastically. The type of vehicle you have will affect how the Bones mounts to your car, and will also affect rear window visibility. For reference, heres the Bones trunk rack vs. a the Thule Apex 4 hanging hitch rack, which keeps the rear window completely clear on our Honda Pilot.

Rear Window View: Hanging Trunk vs. Hanging Hitch

More Than Just A Good Looking Rack

There is a place where function and form collide. Where practical becomes practically galleryworthy. And this is the place where the Bones rack was conceived by Saris and famed Italian designer Fabio Pedrini. Awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars from Bicycling Magazine, Bones has proven that it’s more than just another rearmounted car rack, it’s a tested statement of style, design, convenience and durability.

The three dimensional product configuration of the Bones rack is a registered trademark of Saris Cycling Group, Inc.

Also available in a 3-Bike version

Also available in a 2-Bike EX version, fitting 20% more vehicles

  • Arc-based design fits over most spoilers and separates bikes on different levels.
  • Injection-molded arms and legs are the strongest on the market.

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