Arvika Bike Rack
Arvika is a Canadian company that manufactures and sells bike racks for RVs. We've always been interested in the tongue-mounted units and this spring we bought one.
The bad news:
- the website is poorly translated and barely navigable
- the instructions have good illustrations but very little in the way of procedure, which is left to the imagination
- they aren't cheap
The good news:
- they're very well built
- the fit and finish are very good
- they're pretty intuitive to assemble
Five boxes - rails, rack, tongue mount, front stabilizer and (optional) receiver adapter. We had the boxes thoroughly inspected before they were opened. You can't be too careful these days:
Rails on the rack frame:
End caps installed:
Upper stabilizer arms installed:
Wheel straps. One was defective but that was a quick fix:
Some heat shrink over the road side inner bolt to protect the wiring:
Tongue bars installed:
You can see the stabilizer bar in front; it clamps the rack frame to the tongue jack shaft.
The rack came with pins to prevent it from folding once installed. I've replaced those with padlocks.
The stabilizer arms on the top of the rack frame clamp to the bike frames to secure the top. Bikes get loaded from smallest at the back to largest at the front so that the stabilizer arms for the middle and outer ones can reach over the inboard ones. Emily is eight and her bicycle is small; the small arm can be moved down to the vertical bar of the rack frame.
The longest stabilizer arm (which secures the largest, foremost bike) has a keyed lock; when locked the tensioning knob spins freely on the threaded shaft without engaging the threads.
So far it looks good. I can lift our bikes up from the ground but Dawn will need to steady each one in turn as I climb a step stool to secure the stabilizer arms.
First trip of the season (and first trial of the rack) starts tomorrow. Reports to follow.
2013-05-17 to 2013-05-20
We loaded up the bikes. Even the first time it was pretty easy, though it is a two-person job. I lifted the bikes onto the rack and Dawn steadied them while I climbed our handy folding step stool to secure the upper arms. That done, we attached the wheel straps and we were set. Per the instructions, we alternated the direction the bikes were facing (left-right-left). During the loading we learned that placement of the pedals is key in getting the bikes to sit together well.
That done, we were off for a two and half hour drive to Westcott Beach State Park. The bikes didn't budge during the drive and the rack stayed firmly in place without loosening or slipping. With the locks in place we felt secure in leaving the trailer and bikes unattended during an enroute stop.
When we arrived and were setting up, I found I could unload the bikes by myself. The rack tilts slightly to the rear so they don't fall off when the upper arm is unclamped and rotated away. After that I could come down from the step stool, remove both wheel straps and lift the bike down. I find it best to lift the bikes by the fork and the seat tube. My height was an asset here.
Several weeks after we purchased the rack Dawn and I sold our relatively lightweight hybrid bikes and bought a pair of Dutch-style city bikes - heavy, upright 3-speeds - Emily got a new-to-her bike around the same time. We had to reconfigure the attachments, a simple task because of the flexibility of the design. And I can still lift them down, though it's harder than before. We've logged a lot of travel time with the racks and they continue to perform to our complete satisfaction.