Cartop Carrier for LWB Recumbent Bikes
The Vision goes on a conventional rooftop carrier just fine, but the Linear was a problem.
The Linear is a folding bike. It folds at the head tube and where the chain stays join the main frame beam. The seat folds forward. It uses quick release locks at each folding joint.
The first time I wanted to transport the Linear with my car, I tried putting it on my Yakima rooftop carrier. I couldn't get the bars far enough apart on my car's roof, so I tried folding it at the head tube. This was no good. I couldn't tighten the quick release on the front folding joint enough that the bike wouldn't sag on the carrier. I worried about what would happen when the car went over bumps.
So my only option was to fold the bike and put it in my trunk. I had to remove both wheels and fully fold the bike to get it into the car. When I got to my destination, unfolding and setting up the bike took me about 45 minutes. When I was done I was covered with grease. Besides, folding and unfolding my Linear seems to bring back all the squeaks and creaks that I spend hours eliminating.
I have heard people talk about putting Linears on rooftop carriers without problems, and I've met others who talk about folding and unfolding their Linears as though it's no big deal, so remember that YMMV.
Anyway, I determined never to do either of these things again, if I could help it. I decided I needed a cartop carrier that could hold an LWB without folding. Since my Linear is relatively heavy (my bathroom scale says 40lb / 18kg) and long, I figured that lifting it over my head would be really awkward.
Several manufacturers make systems to help lift tandems off the ground onto the rack. Some are complete rack systems (e.g. DraftMaster) and others add on to your existing rack (e.g. Bike Lift from NewSport, Tandem Topper from ATOC). I felt these were too expensive, so I designed and built my own adapter for the rooftop carrier I already own.
The carrier consists of a "rail" that stays attached to the car and a removable "sled" that holds the bike. The bike attaches to the sled with a Bike Tight quick release for the front fork and a channel to hold the rear wheel. I made the channel from two 2"x2"s with stop blocks at each end and cove molding inside.
The sled consists of a 1"x8"x6' board with two 1"x2"x6' runners underneath. The runners are separated by the width of a 2x4 to straddle the 2x4x6' rail. The rail attaches to the rooftop carrier with U-bolts.
I fold the seat forward and secure it with a luggage strap so the wind doesn't catch it. The rear end of the sled has wheels to make it easier to maneuver the sled when it's off the car.
Hooks on the front end of the sled engage pins made from lag screws on the rear end of the rail. The hooks guide the end of the sled so I can lift it up onto the rail by myself.
The sled runners straddle the rail to guide it as it slides along to rail.
I use tie-downs to keep the bike stable. I initially tried clamping the rear rim into the channel (as on commercial carriers), but because the bike is so long, I found that it shook from side to side.
1/4"x6" bolts with wing-nuts pass through the runners and the rail to prevent the sled from sliding off the car.
The whole operation takes about 5 minutes. Getting the bike off the car is just as easy.
Add-ons to existing systems
Parts to build your own system