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Monday
Jul202009

Remove the bike from the roof rack before driving into the garage

If you are carrying bikes on a car roof-rack, remove the bikes before you drive into your garage. Sounds like stating the obvious, but over the years I lost count of the number frames I repaired after being damaged in such a way.

Often the owner would be embarrassed and tell me he was in an accident, but the front fork bent forward was always a giveaway. Even if a person was talented enough to ride backwards at a high rate of speed, I doubt they could hit something hard enough to bend a fork forward.

Usually if the fork was bent this way it could be easily straightened cold with no damage to the paint. On the other hand, if the bike was facing rearwards on the roof-rack, it usually meant the top and down tubes would buckle just behind the head lugs as they would in a front end crash. These tubes would have to be replaced, and the frame repainted; a costly proposition.

A steel front fork blade has a fairly stout wall thickness, and will usually bend without rippling, whereas the thinner main tubes of the frame will ripple quite easily.

The steel blade starts out as a round tube of uniform diameter. It is rolled between rollers to make it tapered; this operation is done cold. The top end is made oval, also done cold, and finally the framebuilder bends the fork blade to the desired rake, again cold.

So if a steel fork blade should get bent in an accident and is re-straightened again cold, it is well within the safe limits of what the material will stand.

I emphasize, such straightening only applies to a steel frame; it is one of the advantages of steel.

As long as the tube is not kinked or rippled. (Picture left.) If it is it must be replaced as it will eventually break at that point.

If you have just bought yourself a roof-rack and are carrying your bikes in this manner, the first thing you need to do is remove the garage door opener from the sun shield, and place it in the glove box or some other place out of reach.

Because at some point you will arrive home, probably tired, hit the automatic door opener, and pull into the garage as you always do. There will a tremendous crash, followed by a sickening “Oh No” moment. If the remote opener is not there, you can’t do that.

It is not just your own garage that is a potential bike buster, but anywhere there is limited overhead clearance; like indoor public parking, drive through restaurants, etc, etc.

One tip I would suggest, get a tie on label and write the words, “Bikes on Roof,” on it; then tie it to the top center of your steering wheel. Failing that, tie a ribbon, or a bandana to your steering wheel.

The bikes on the roof are out of sight, and out of mind, so some other visual reminder in front of your face really is a good idea.

 

Reader Comments (11)

Yes indeedy. Willesden CC Audax rides start at a car park in Ruislip with a 'loading gauge' entrance. Driving to the start one has to remind oneself over and over, 'Stop the car and take the bike off the roof before driving in.'

Not so many people in the UK have a drive-in garage with remote opener of course.

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Hayman

I dont drive a car. But I just cannot imagine how someone could forget that they have something on their roof before entering the garage. You can extrapolate this further and ask the question...'how are these same drivers out on the road? Do they forget to see a red light? Do they check their shoulders to see a cyclist?' Its a little scary.

In terms of bikes on top of cars, I think a better proposition would be to place them in the back. This won't spoil the aerodynamics of your car and the bikes have a safer position. You can even turn around or look in the rear view mirror and see if they're still there.

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRon

I cringe just reading this post. I have never had a car-top rack, and for this reason I don't think I ever will.

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdb

I've done this before in the 90s. It's easy to forget that you have a bike up there. After a long ride, you're tired and your mind is in a whole different place. Unless you drive with a bike on your roof every day, you will forget. The collision makes a horrible sound.

My home owner's insurance covered my thrashing of the bike. The agent said that we'll claim the house hit bike. :-)

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

I have a friend who's done this three times, its getting kind of ridiculous. Luckily there has never been any serious damage to the bikes, the roof rack has either broken or released. the last time though the metal work on the car got quite bent up by the window frames. I wonder which is klutsier driving into the garage with the bikes up top or not strapping the bikes down properly and having them fall off on the motorway, because i've witnessed that also.

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbooka

If you can believe it, just as bikes get bonked into garages, bikes also fall off roof racks and end up on the road. There was a posting on my local Craigslist: "Found - Bike in the middle of the road. Probably fell off of a rack. Please contact me to claim it." Amazing, no? :-)

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBoris

I did that to my LeMond (pre Trek) years ago. Was lucky that the roof rack actually popped off and the bike was fine! I had a big dent in the top of the roof, but the rack covered it. Yay!

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarla

I've never done this - but know people who have.

One friend pulled into a carport, then after hearing the crunching noise, backed out in a panic - causing further damage. The Yakima rack never budged - but dented his car roof. Bent fork and frame for bike, plus exploded seat off the rails while backing out.

I've witnessed someone driving into a low level garage - cleaning the rack and bike right off the roof. Excellent.

Once while driving down the highway, someone passed me in the fast lane - noticed bike was tilting to the left as he went by. Sure enough, a few miles down the road, watched him retrieving bike from grass median.

Some motorcycle pals of mine hit a bicycle that popped off a car on a busy highway. One guy missed it, the other crashed due to it and broke his leg.

I'm kind of paranoid when I have bikes on the roof and always make sure they're securely up there.

July 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

When I was a mechanic & bike salesman, I actually was happy to see bikes come after an accident on the rack. It meant two things - people were riding their bikes more and people were buying expensive roof top racks. Both were good for my business. As were the accidents.

What I saw more often than wrecks involving garage doors were ones involving drive-up windows, either for fast food or drive-up bank tellers. Both had a coefficient of haste involved that made remembering the bikes on top more difficult - a rush for calories or a rush for gas money to get to the start of the ride.

July 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Yes, its easy to forget your bike is up there. I drove into my garage with my mountain bike on the rack. As it was on a small car, the saddle took the heat and the fork popped out of the mount, probably saving frame damage. But, alas the brand new Thomson setback post was further setback (although it didn't break to Thomson's credit), and the titanium rails on the WTB saddle (also new) were bent and snapped in two when I tried to straighten them. So without frame damage it was still a nearly $200 boo-boo. I haven't done it again!

July 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTed

When you load the bike on the roof, pulll your garbage can or something similar into the garage in the space for the car. That way you'll have the exit the car to move it when you get back.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrian
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