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FAQ's

Is it okay to hang bikes by the rims?

The rims are one of the strongest parts of a bicycle. Each rim is designed to take all the weight of the bike, plus the weight of the rider, along with a large safety factor to account for jumps, bumps and curbs. When hanging on the rack, the rubber coated arm distributes the load of just the bike in the direction that the rim is strongest, radially. We are happy to say that we have no reports of any damage occurring to any bicycle rims that have been transported by the Totem Pole bike rack. Most bike shops store their bikes for long periods by hanging by the rims.

What if I have both very small and large bikes to carry?

How does the rack adjust for this?
The rack has an easily adjustable rear support arm that can be moved where needed up and down the vertical member. Load the small bikes first and adjust this bar with wheel saddles so it is near the bottom of the rear tires, and then when loading the longer bikes, the bar will be towards the top of the rear wheel.

What about bikes with Hydraulic Brakes, are they safe to carry using this rack?

Hydraulics are fully sealed, closed systems. They should not leak at any angle. It is perfectly safe to transport them using the Totem Pole bike rack.

What about bikes with Oil filled shocks?

About 99% of shocks are oil filled or hydraulic shocks are sealed on top, so there is no leaking. However, on long drives transporting the rack, or even storing for long periods while hanging, oil may flow to the top of the shock, requiring you to cycle the shock a few times to return the oil to the damper. This does not harm the shock.

Do I need a hitch to connect to my vehicle? What kind?

Yes, you will need a US Class III or greater, 2” hitch receiver to connect the rack to your vehicle.

Do I need tools to assemble?

You only need a wrench (supplied) to attach the elbow to the vehicle. All other pieces attach with quick pins. The elbow can be left on, by itself, ready to use the next time you need the rack.

How heavy is the rack?

The rack itself has a total weight of around 45 pounds, but no one piece weighs more than 18 pounds, so it is easy to assemble.

How many bikes can it hold? How much weight can it hold?

The Totem Pole can hold a total of 200 pounds. A good rule of thumb is: Road bikes ~ 20 lbs., Mountain bikes ~ 30 lbs., Downhill Bikes/Cruisers ~ 40 lbs. So depending on your mix of bikes, you can carry up to 6 bikes using the Totem Pole bike rack. Make sure to weigh each bike if you are unsure of the weight and might be approaching the 200 pound limit.

Is there a special way the bikes should be loaded?

The bikes should be loaded on the left side first, starting with the smallest or shortest to the longest. This is because the natural slope of the top bar offers greater ground clearance as the bikes are loaded away from the vehicle.

How do I know if I should order the 6” Extension or not?

If you have a really low hitch receiver (like on a minivan or car) and/or if you have really long bicycles (like Cruisers or Downhill Mountain bikes), you may want some extra clearance between the rear wheels and the ground. A simple formula we have created is the “Rule of 54”.

Rule of 54

Take the Hitch Height (measured from the bottom of the hitch receiver on vehicle to the ground, in inches) we will call this the HH value. Take the length of the longest bike, in inches, call this the BL value. If 54 is greater than (BL –HH) than no extension should be needed. 54 > BL- HH then you are good to go.

Example: Bike Length is 70” (BL = 70”)
Hitch Height is 18” (HH = 18”)

So then, BL-HH will equal 70”-18” = 52”
And 54” is greater than 52”, so no extension would be required.
On the other hand, if you have a HH = 14”, and a maximum BL = 70”, then: BL-HH = 70”-14” = 56”.

54” is not greater than 56”, so an extension would be recommended in this case.

If in doubt it is always safer to order the extension. The extension simply raises the height of the Top Bar and can easily be removed or added as required.

How close together are the bikes when they are on the rack?

The rack holds the bikes at 8.25” (210 mm) apart from each other. The typical standard “2 arm” racks that hold the bikes by the frames typically have less than 5.5” (140 mm) spacing between bikes. That’s 50% more space between bikes for the Totem Pole Bike Rack!