Take your bike anywhere, anytime with the versatile Allen Sports premier hitch mounted 3-bike carrier. As an avid biker, you probably know that investing in a quality hitch-mounted rack is a worthwhile thing.
When it comes to bike transportation racks, there’s no shortage of options. Previously, folding trunk racks were all the rage but hitch mounted racks are proving more popular thanks to the plethora of benefits they offer over trunk folding racks. What’s more, hitch mounted racks can carry multiple bikes, just like the Allen Sports S-535 Premier 3-bike hitch rack.
In the rest of this post, we delve into the details about of this multi-bike hitch mounted rack.
Allen Sports offers a range of hitch mounted racks to suit user’s varied needs. Like all Allen Sports racks, the S535 fits on standard 1¼-inch and 2-inch hitches and has capacity of up to 3 bikes. This is a huge plus if you frequently need to transport multiple bikes.
The S535 has a snappy setup mechanism that lets you install the rack in minutes, thanks to the unique ‘quick set straps’ that fasten into place out of the box. The carry arms are spaced in such a way as to accommodate a range of frame sizes; as such, the S535 will fit a variety of bike types and sizes.
Features & Setup
Out of the box, the S535 includes a ratchet (or rack; a U-shaped bar with six carry arms), ⅜ inch bolts, a strap kit, a mast, and a hitch that secures the rack to the car’s trunk. Assembling the rack is fairly easy but takes a bit longer than the advertized 5-minute install. With the right hitch-fitter and ratchet, however, the setup is fairly straightforward.
The bolts hold the ratchet securely in place and if properly fitted should prevent any vertical movement. It’s worth noting that there will likely be a bit of movement One major advantage of the S535 compared to other 3-bike racks is that it’s relatively lightweight. This has multiple benefits; in addition to better gas mileage, as you drive around, you’ll find it easier to carry the rack away for storage or when adjusting its position up or down.
When fully set up, the rack comprises 2 carrying arms with six tie-down cradles (3 on each arm) evenly spaced to prevent the bike frames from rubbing against each other; a mast that easily tilts to allow access to the trunk. When not in use, the carrying arms can fold down to provide space; simply press the red release buttons on the rack and the arms will drop away smoothly. When carrying 3 bikes, you need a bit of creativity to ensure the pedals and handlebars fit nicely without rubbing against each other.
A nylon strap holds the bikes firmly onto the rack to prevent shaking. It gets the job done nice and easy but it’s a tad short so it does not easily strap around 3 bike frames and wheels. Investing in a bungee cord. Smaller bikes (with wheels less than 20-inches) are also somewhat tricky to fit on this rack. Again, a little bit of creativity will go a long way to getting the job done in this case.
When carrying one or two bikes, the S535 is a pleasure. Everything holds up tightly and there’s little noticeable noise from the rack when moving. However, with three bikes on the rack, a little extra care is needed to ensure as little inconvenience as possible. For instance when the rack swings down, the third bike down will touch the surface. It’s not a big deal when the car is not moving but some people may not be happy with it.
Overall, when you make a proper setup that fits with the size of your trunk, everything works out great with the S535 rack.
Pros & Cons
- Very easy setup. As mentioned already, the S535 has quick set straps that quickly snap into position. Only 3 bolts are needed to secure the rack in place and you’ll before you know it you’ll be out on the road.
- The S535 is a lightweight rack, weighing about 50% lighter than most 3-bike carriers at 25 pounds.
- Carries 3 bikes. The capacity to carry up to 3 bikes is a huge benefit since most bikers typically own several bikes and like to carry them all on expeditions.
- Very affordable. With a price point below $150 (as of this writing), the S535 is one of the best racks you can get for cheap.
- Carries a variety of frame sizes and types. Additionally, you don’t need a frame-holding clamp.
- Easy to unmount when not needed.
- While the rack fits on both 1¼-inch and 2-inch hitches, its 3-bike carrying capacity means that it is more suited to 2-inch hitches and, therefore, works best for bigger SUVs.
- Extended car length leads to difficulties when parking. This applies to all hitch-mounted racks though, not just the S535.
- While it is convenient to transport your bike using a hitch-mounted rack, it also makes it inconvenient to access your trunk.
- Adds a little bit of extra weight. Depending on where you’re driving to, this can be an issue.
- The nylon strap that secures the bikes on the rack to prevent shaking is somewhat short. You’d need to invest in a longer cord to make life easier.
In all, the Allen Sports S535 Hitch-Mounted 3-Bike Carrier is a quality rack that’s ideal if you’re looking for a good balance between price and quality. Currently selling for under $150 at Amazon, the S535 offers functionality and versatility with little inconvenience.
It’s quick to setup and adapts to both the 1¼ and 2-inch hitches. For added versatility, the S535 allows for more bike carrying options on 2-inch hitches where you can mount up to 4 bikes. It also allows for tray-based mounting styles.
The S535 has a few downsides that generally apply to most hitch-mounted racks but overall, it’s an affordable option for bike owners who regularly need to transport more than one bike.