Review: Saris Super Bones 3 Bike Rack

Cycling journalist Matt Lamy puts the innovative Saris Super Bones 3 to the test and finds a rear-mounted car bike rack that sets a new standard for secure cycle carrying with your car.


I’ve tested a fair few bike racks — or cycle carriers for cars as they’re more accurately known — over the years. Quite frankly, the combination of straps and buckles and pivoting arms and rubberised feet can easily end up to be a massive headache. I’ve even tested some of Saris’s other products before, including the legendary Bones rack, which simplified things and introduced a rare element of funky styling to the bike carrier community.

But I can say quite confidently that all previous attempts to create the perfect boot or hatchback-mounted cycle carrier pale in comparison to the new Super Bones 3. The reason why this new model so good is because the biggest problem with most boot or hatchback-mounted carriers is the huge potential to misread, misinterpret or be simply befuddled by the instructions. There is next to no possibility for that to happen with the Super Bones. It is secure, beautifully designed and almost foolproof. But the only way I can fully demonstrate just how different this product is to other cycle carriers is to take you through the fitting process. So here goes…

Step 1

Taking the Super Bones out of its box isn’t a huge revelation because at first sight it looks just like a standard Bones rack. The simplicity of design and the strength of the original Bones involves the thick central splined beam — like a long, fat cog — to which the rack’s four legs and two arms are attached. The problem with that original Bones system was that there is no clutch mechanism for moving the arms or legs. You simply have to remove them entirely, position them as desired to suit your car shape, and slide them back on the central beam again, engaging them with the necessary section of teeth.

However, the first major upgrade the Super Bones 3 represents is that there is now a clutch mechanism for the upper legs and the bike-holding arms. By flicking up the ‘lock’ catch it is possible to revolve the upper legs and bike carrying arms around the central beam (the lower legs remain fixed).




Once you’re happy the legs and arms are where they need to be to fit your car and carry your bikes securely.




You simply click shut the locking levers.



Step 2

The next stage is to rest the Super Bones 3 against the back of your car, with its rubberised feet positioned correctly according to the instructions, and attach the upper hooks to your boot or hatchback lid. Again, there have been some improvements here. Instead of getting tangled up in straps and buckles, Saris has fitted all hook straps within the body of the Super Bones 3 and made them retractable — like a seatbelt. To extend the strap, you push the ‘Free’ button (fig 4) and it can be pulled to the required length.




Then place the hook over the top of the boot or hatchback lid.




Repeat this with the lower hooks at the bottom of the boot or hatchback lid.


Step 3

And now to another innovation. Rather than having to pull all the straps tight manually, those retractable strap systems have an internal ratcheting mechanism for tightening. Where we pushed on the ‘Free’ button to release the strap, we can pull back the lever, audibly clicking the strap tighter.




Once you’ve tightened all four straps — two upper hook straps, two lower hook straps — and locked the lock, the rack is ready to load up with bikes (fig 8).



Step 4

Finally, the moment of truth: loading the bikes. Although any innovations with the bike carrying arms aren’t as significant as the rack positioning and strap securing systems, the method used to attach bikes to the Super Bones 3 is still very well thought through. The Super Bones 3 will take three bikes, each secured with two top tube ratcheted straps (fig 9) and one articulated ratcheted strap below to secure the down tube (fig 10). Fit the bikes as the instructions suggest, top and tailing each one, and you’re ready to head off on a cycling adventure.





As well as the ease of setting up and the convenience of the new innovations, the proof of the pudding with any rear-mounted bike carrier is how secure it is. I have to admit, I was dubious that the ratcheted strap-tightening system would be able to match my own traditional ‘pulling-on-the-straps-until-the-car-threatens-to-come-off-its-handbrake’ technique. But I was wrong — the Super Bones 3 is the most stable boot or carrier-mounted rack I’ve ever used.
There are all sorts of arguments for which type of cycle carrier you should buy for your car — rear-mounted, towbar mounted or roof mounted. But if your preference is to go boot or hatchback-mounted, there really is no better bike rack than the Saris Super Bones 3.


>> Find out more about the Saris Super Bones 3 here <<


>> Browse Evans Cycles full range of car racks here <<




Steve 16/07/2016

Looks like a great bike rack, but are you sure the lightly-built Hyundai i10 is up to the job of supporting three bikes on the tailgate plus plastic bumper? I believe Hyundai discourage the use of rear mounted racks on my i20 and recommend that tow bar mounted units are used instead.

Dave Walton 16/07/2016

As with all the older carriers we used, they seem to have missed an important point in having the top feet on the window in that most hatchbacks have the feature that the rear wiper is automatically activated when the car is put in reverse and the front wipers are on. This causes the wiping to stall or the blade potentially being damaged against the foot.

ECF 16/07/2016

Sorry to say it but. Unfortunately another bike rack with locks that can simply be defeated by cutting securing straps with a knife……not only do you lose your bikes but you lose the rack as well!

nik 17/07/2016

Great report, however as police officer I must warn you that it is an offence to obscure either rear lights or registration plates. Please remember to use a light board

Phil Keeble 17/07/2016

Looks good, but only mentions boot or hatchback. Does this mean it’s no good for estate tailgates? Also, what about those cars with a plastic tailgate spoiler (like the BMW 3-series estate) … are these ruled out?

MikeC. 17/07/2016

One major problem with the saris bones I bought was the fact the clips that hook round my lovely very expensive paintwork are straight metal with no plastic covers. Ouch, massive repair bill. Won’t be buying another until this problem is overcome. Will probably give my one away as it’s just sitting in the original box collecting dust.

    Chris 6/09/2017

    Just read your post from 2016 regarding the saris bike rack and if it’s of no use to you I’ll have it. (cheeky or what).

Steve 18/07/2016

A superb piece of kit I’m sure, but doesn’t come anywhere near to solving the major problem with rear mounted racks. As the first picture illustrates quite clearly, both the number plate and rear light clusters are obscured by the bikes.

Drives William 19/07/2016

Do hope bikes are not arranged on rack as per illustration, likely to collect
any overtaken cyclist. Potentially lethal.


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