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BikeBar: Stability Bar for Roof Racks



BikeBar is a lateral stability system that keeps your bike safe and secure while mounted on your fork or wheel mount roof rack.

Conventional roof rack systems look great and keep your bike stable from the front and back, but offer almost no lateral support. This makes the bike very wobbly when faced with side-to-side forces seen when hitting a bump, pothole, manhole cover etc. BikeBar offers you lateral stability for your existing roof rack.

Your own BikeBar. Upgraded with stronger straps and hooks.

Story: 

"My friend’s road bike worked its way out of the mount as I was driving through a busy intersection near center city Philadelphia. It came all the way out so that the bike was hanging over the side of the car held on only by the rear wheel strap"

As cyclists, we love to ride, and that often means taking our bikes with us when we travel. Whether we’re going on vacation, driving to another city so that we can ride with a friend, or just hitting the trails for an afternoon, there are so many times when we drive with our bikes. For those times, many of us use roof racks. They are easy, convenient, and best of all, they look great on our cars.

https://vimeo.com/116210083  

When we drive, we realize that it is unpredictable. Potholes, crazy drivers, rough roads, construction zones, and those funny lumps in the pavement coming up to a stoplight. There are plenty of obstacles in any environment that will shake up you and your car. So what happens to our beloved bicycles when you encounter these conditions? If you haven’t yet, you should watch the video. Thinking about our bikes shaking and rocking around up there is distracting, and the last thing we need as drivers is another distraction on the road.

Our roof rack systems are great, but they all rely on two points of contact with the base rack on the car, one near the fork/front wheel of the bike, and one near the rear wheel. This makes them stable from the front and back, so you need not worry about accelerating or braking too quickly. However, because there is no lateral support, these racks are very wobbly when they are hit with side-to-side forces such as the kind you might experience when you hit a bump, pothole, manhole cover, uneven lane, curb, or drive on a gravel road. 

I thought about this a lot. Two cars ago, I had my BMX bike break free of my rack and come crashing down on my roof after passing over some train tracks near Pittsburgh. Then I had a pickup truck for a couple years so it was a non-issue. When I got my latest car, a hatchback, I ‘racked up’ right away. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for me to start noticing problems. I once again would occasionally have my small BMX bike, with its smooth front dropouts pop loose on one side or the other. This was definitely an unpleasant nuisance, but so far, no real damage.

Not long after, something worse happened. My friend’s road bike worked its way out of the mount as I was driving through a busy intersection near center city Philadelphia. It came all the way out so that the bike was hanging over the side of the car held on only by the rear wheel strap. Knowing this wouldn’t stay for long, and hearing the steel pedal scraping on my car’s roof, I pulled over on 8th street just past the I-676 off-ramp. With cars honking and speeding around us in the remaining 3 lanes, I got out to re-mount the bike. It was then I remembered that my roof rack has built in locks, the keys to which were on my keychain which was in the ignition. It’s fair to say that I was somewhat traumatized by this experience, which only got worse when my mechanic quoted me $350 to fix the dent and repaint the beam. In my research, I saw that a blogger posted the below image after his carbon fork cracked off at the dropouts while mounted on his rack.

It didn’t take long to come up with idea for the BikeBar. But getting it to where it is today took much longer. I come from an Industrial Design background, so I knew that to make this product marketable, it would have to appeal to the people who would be using it, cyclists! I wanted to make it with materials that would be familiar to us. That is why it is constructed from sleek aluminum tubes which are light, stiff, and resemble those which make up a bike frame.

Next, it had to be adjustable, so I made the tubes telescope by using one slightly larger tube on the outside with a diameter of 31.8mm so that it could accommodate a standard bicycle seat post clamp.

 I got some rubber plugs for each end so that it won’t scrape up your bike or roof rack. 

Furthermore, the prototype in the image/video uses bike fender straps to attach at either end, however I will be sourcing stronger straps and hooks like those found on trunk mounted bike racks in the final product for extra stability on the road. 

Lastly, the entire thing is riveted together to be extra strong and vibration proof. The rivets, and all other parts on the BikeBar are aluminum, stainless steel, or rubber so you’ll never have to worry about rust or weather.

The BikeBar is fully compatible with any bike and almost any roof rack setup. All it needs to function is the bike, and one rail running parallel to the bike to which it can attach. Many cars already have two parallel rails going from front to back. You can safely strap to whichever rail is opposite your bike. 

Even if you don’t have these, you most likely have a second bike rack rail running parallel to the one that your bike is on, this is a great place to attach your BikeBar.

Don’t have this setup? Well then I have an adapter for you!

The BikeBar adapter is made from the same aluminum tubing as as the bar and the nuts and bolts are stainless steel. The clamping plates are aluminum. It has one simple job to do – turning one of your perpendicular rails into one that is parallel to your bike. Now you can strap the other end of your BikeBar to the adapter rail making it totally compatible with any bike/roof rack set up. The adapter is constructed with rubber pads so that it won’t scratch up your base rack and is compatible with both square type or aero type bars.

I’ve used my prototype every time I take my bike anywhere, most recently, on a trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and back again. During both testing and regular use, I’ve put well over 2000 miles on my BikeBar with 3 very different types of bikes, from my big, heavy, all-mountain Cannondale, to my lightweight Fuji cross-bike, and even my little BMX. I even drove my old Kona Scrap to the pump track using the BikeBar. This product has honestly put my mind at ease, and with your help, we can improve the lives of cyclists everywhere by making this product widely available. Thank you!

Risks and challenges

When it comes to risks and challenges to this project, the BikeBar has very few. The aluminum factory that makes the tubes has supplied me with a great sample which I used to build the prototype shown in the video. The factory is ready to go and can provide me with more tubing than I can possibly imagine as soon as I have the money for the first order. Another factory is ready to supply the seat post clamps at the proper diameter. The only parts that are not ready to ship are the heavy duty rubber straps and hooks. Since this is a recent update to the product, I’m still negotiating with a potential supplier and expect to resolve this within a few weeks. Once again, I need only money get the parts I need.

Included in the funding goal budget is money for six months of office/shipping/packing space at a building in north Philadelphia, as well as money to cover the cost of using a metal working fabrication space for the same amount of time. I have a shipping account to fulfill your orders and I will hire a helper to make sure we get everything done on time.

I have experience executing design projects from my degree work at school and from several freelance jobs since that time. If any issues arise, I am confident I can address them and successfully produce this user-friendly and useful product in a timely manner.


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