Over the past few years, I’ve developed a love for all things two-wheeled. I find motorcycles to be a natural fit for the cyclist; both as a complementary hobby and a great mode of transportation that can match the speed and range of a car while still providing that sense of freedom found riding and racing a bicycle.
Of course, time on the motorcycle realistically means less time on the bike; not a trade-off I often want to make. My wife also kindly informed me that if I want to go for a long bike-ride or race on the weekend, I can’t also immediately follow that up with a long motorcycle ride and still expect to be married; fair point. So, it was time to do a bit of problem solving; if only I could combine a motorcycle ride with some training on the road bike. Luckily for me, a little company called 2x2 Cycles had the solution I needed.
2x2 Cycles makes a few specialty racks, including a bicycle rack specifically designed for motorcycles. The design is innovative yet minimal; with the bike supported by left crank-arm, a quick-release clamp on the fork, and a strap which goes over the handlebars of the bicycle and is attached directly to the motorcycle frame. It’s worth taking a closer look at each of these connection points, but first, you probably want to understand how the rack actually installs onto the motorcycle.
The bike rack is designed to be mounted onto your motorcycle’s OEM or aftermarket luggage rack. 2x2 Cycles makes a few different configurations of their motorcycle bike rack. I called the company directly and spoke with Garrett to see which one would work best with my CB500F. He suggested their mini-rack, since the Honda is a relatively small motorcycle. The base-plate on the mini-rack has two channels pre-cut into the metal, and 2x2 provides carriage bolts to mount it to your motorcycle’s luggage rack. I acquired an SW-Motech aftermarket luggage rack and the 2x2 rack lined up amazingly well.
I was able to fit two of the carriage bolts into pre-drilled holes designed for an aftermarket top-box, and was able to use washers to securely mount the final two carriage bolts where the SW-Motech design had larger holes at the back of the luggage rack. I decided to supplement the supplied hardware with lock-nuts and lock-washers. I figured this would provide extra security against the natural vibrations of the motorcycle.
After about half-an-hour, and with some help from my teammate Adam, we had the luggage rack/bicycle rack combo assembled and installed on my motorcycle.
Securing the Bicycle
2x2 Cycles has created an informative video that covers how to actually secure your bicycle to the rack once it is installed on the motorcycle. It is definitely worth watching before putting your own bike on the rack for the first time. As I mentioned above, there are three contact points between the rack and the bicycle: the crank-arm holder, the quick-release clamp and a strap that goes over the handlebars. The crank-arm holder is unique to the design of this rack. You place your left crank-arm into the padded holder, which means that there is no need to secure the rear-wheel to the rack itself. The holder is mounted to an adjustable arm, so it can accommodate any size of bicycle. The quick-release clamp at the front of the rack holds the fork of the bicycle in place; this is a design anyone who has used a car bicycle rack will be familiar with. Finally, this rack requires the use of a strap that goes over the handlebars and connects on either side to the frame of the motorcycle. When tightened, this strap pulls the weight of the bicycle forward on the rack, ensuring the bicycle is a static load on the back of the motorcycle. This not only reduces vibration and possible damage the underlying luggage rack, but also improves handling of the motorcycle since the bicycle is securely held in place.
First Short Ride
After some harsh winter riding, it was time to bring my Torelli into the shop for a tune-up. I decided to take this opportunity to test out the 2x2 Cycles rack. It took me longer than expected to secure the bike for the first time. With the CB500F on its kickstand, I had to load the Torelli in on an angle. This wasn’t overly difficult to do, but it did take some extra time, and a bit of swearing, to get used to mounting my bicycle this way. After loading and securing the bicycle, I was off to the shop, Kissing Crows. I’ll admit, even after watching videos and reading about the 2x2 Cycles rack in action, there was a small part of me that thought I would soon be picking the pieces of my bicycle off the road at some point between my home and the shop. I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case. In fact, my motorcycle handled so well with the bicycle on the back, I had to check my mirrors to make sure it was still there. The ride to the shop passed by without incident, outside of the thumbs-up and smiling waves I received from pedestrians and other drivers. Not the typical reaction I get from other road users when I’m on my motorcycle.
First Long Ride
About a week after my ride to Kissing Crows, I had a race out the the valley, about 60km away. This would be my first chance to take the setup on the highway and over a large suspension bridge, which often experiences heavy crosswinds. The race was pretty early in the morning so this was a great chance to take the motorcycle on the highway with little traffic. Getting my race-bike, a Cinelli Experience, onto the motorcycle was easier this time; I had gotten used to securing the bicycle while on an angle. I was a bit cautions getting up to speed on the highway, but only experienced one minor difficulty accelerating with the bicycle attached; more on that below. Overall, I was able to transport the Cinelli with minimal impact to motorcycle handling, even at speed and in the cross-winds I rode through going over the Port Mann bridge. I continued to get positive reactions from drivers, many looking surprised to see a bicycle on the back of a motorcycle. One big positive in this reaction from motorists was the space they gave me; I imagine they were somewhat concerned that my Cinelli might end up flying onto the hood of one of their cars. I can’t really complain if drivers don’t realize just how secure this setup is; the more space given the better after all.
There were a few issues I encountered testing this rack, all of which I would consider relatively minor. The first had to do with the vinyl rollers that were on the quick-release which secures the crank-arm into its holder. These rollers are placed over the metal to protect the crank-arm from scratches. This works well for most crank-arms. My problem was due to the fact that I use a Stages power meter on my left crank, which increases the overall width of the crank-arm. Due to this extra width, I couldn’t get the quick-release properly inserted into the crank-arm holder. I had to remove the stock rollers and cut some thinner vinyl tubing to cover this quick release. This works quite well, I would recommend it for anyone using a Stages crank.
Another issue I encountered had to do with my front and rear-wheels when they were on the rack; specifically, the wheels are free to rotate once the bike itself is secured. This would likely have an adverse effect on motorcycle handling, so I secured both wheels to the frame with some old toe-straps. This solution worked well to keep the wheels in-place. The instructions actually mentioned using a high-viz Velcro strap to secure the wheels, but none were included with the rack itself.
There is one, small handling issue I encountered while riding with this setup. As I accelerated between 47-52kph, I experienced a very slight oscillation in the front end. This was almost imperceptible and easily controlled with my hands, but it did consistently occur. It also only happened in that speed range, if I was riding slower or faster there was no oscillation at all. Also, I made sure to pay attention to my motorcycle when I was riding without a bicycle on the back. When the rack was not in use, I was able to smoothly accelerate though that speed range with no issue. I’m sure there is a good physics-based explanation for this based on the drag created by having a bicycle attached to a motorcycle, but that is outside my area of expertise. Overall, it is a very manageable handling issue.
I found the supplied strap, which goes over the handlebars and attaches to the motorcycle frame, to be longer than needed. This is likely due to the fact that many buyers of the 2x2 Cycles rack are mounting it on larger displacement, “adventure” motorcycles. On my CB500F, the tightened strap results in a very long, loose tail. This needs to be tied up and secured, otherwise you risk having it fall into your rear wheel while riding. I don’t want to find out what would happen if this were to occur. It was easy enough to wrap the loose end a few times around the tightened strap and tie it securely.
Finally, the mounted bicycle does potentially obstruct the motorcycle’s brake light and rear turn-signals. This could, obviously, be a major safety issue. 2x2 Cycles provides and easy to install auxiliary LED brake light if you feel the setup is obstructing your motorcycle’s OEM brake light, which can be mounted below the licence plate. Luckily for me, due to the angle of the rear section of my motorcycle frame, the brake light and turn-signals were still visible when the bicycle was mounted, so there was no immediate need to install the additional light. I still may do it at some point, as there really isn’t a downside to increasing the visibility of the back of my motorcycle. Depending on the motorcycle make and model you want to use for this setup, it may be necessary to install this auxiliary light.
Simply put, this rack exceeded my expectations with regard to the ease of transporting my bicycle by motorcycle. From the start, dealing with 2x2 Cycles was a great experience, the install itself was relatively straightforward and the excellent design of the rack means your motorcycle will still ride and handle well with your bicycle mounted on the back. I found that my motorcycle handled so well with a bicycle on the back, that after a few rides I was briefly convinced that there was virtually no impact to having the bicycle mounted at all. After once again riding with the bicycle off of the motorcycle, I did realize that this was not the case entirely; the mounted bicycle does somewhat change the overall ride quality of my CB500F. I can, however, confidently say that the impact of riding with a bicycle on a 2x2 rack is significantly less on handling versus riding with heavy luggage or a passenger. Yes, there were some other minor issues that I encountered with my first few rides and I expect more may come up this summer as I use the rack more extensively. All of these problems were easily dealt with. If you are looking for an affordable, reliable, off-the-shelf solution to transporting your bicycle by motorcycle, I highly recommend the 2x2 Cycles rack. Once I have a few more motorcycle riding/bicycle training days under my belt, and once we have Adam’s 2x2 Cycles rack installed on his Triumph, I’ll provide an update regarding my long-term impressions of the product.