She’d entered a triathlon. It was eight months after our daughter arrived, and this was the first time we would all be travelling together with a bike. Our car was big enough for all of the baby stuff plus her bike, surely? And then we started to list what we would need to take with us…
It was now Wednesday. We were to leave Friday evening. We need a bike rack after all. Like, NOW. Sense went out the window – I didn’t need to be faffing with a crappy rack that’s been lingering in my LBS gathering dust because nobody wants it (your average Aussie LBS doesn’t carry stock of such bulky, low turnover items), only to finally get it sorted, get on the road and then get stopped by the police because I didn’t have a bike rack licence plate holder. In fact I didn’t want any faffing at all. When I remembered the SeaSucker Hornet I knew I had the answer I wanted – as long as somewhere in (or near) Sydney had stock. Sure, the cost was OTT for a single bike option, but it was (apparently) a one-minute install and we were done.
My mind was made up, and having sourced one and begged on the phone for the shop to run it to the Post Office “NOW!!… please?” all that was left was to sit on my doorstep and hope it landed in time (bear in mind it was now approaching Thursday lunchtime). It had to – the need to put the bike inside the car was the determining factor between taking the big, comfy, off-road buggy or the completely unsuitable but nice and small pushchair, and whether or not I would even be able to take a change of clothes for the weekend…
Obviously it did arrive, or I wouldn’t be writing this now. Literally within five minutes of unpacking it the bike was mounted to the car so securely that a tug on the handlebars made the car waggle. First impressions were VERY good.
For those not aware of SeaSucker, their main business is in mounts for boats for devices like iPads to stop them moving around and preventing them from taking a dip. Realisation that their mounting method – a clever pump-action suction device – could be adapted for other uses has lead to their range of bike racks, of which the Hornet is their most compact (in fact it is claimed to be ’The World’s Smallest Bike Rack’). Whilst some of the SeaSucker bike racks are intended for roof mounting, the Hornet is specifically designed to attach to the rear screen of a hatchback, SUV or estate / station wagon.
The set – which comes in a very neat zipped semi-hard case – consists of nothing more than two of their suction devices and a strap. The suction cups are attached towards the top of the rear screen, either side of centre. The top side of the suction cup has a cutout that the handlebar rests in, and a ratchet strap the clicks through to grip the handlebar in place. The strap is then slotted behind the hatch panel (where the hatch hinges) and strapped around the head tube or stem. Done. Yes, it really is that easy.
Whilst the rack is designed to just plonk the bike on ready-to-ride, I opted to remove the wheels – partly as a security thing, knowing we would stop for a bite to eat en route, but mainly ‘just because’. I’m glad we did because the added length at the back of the car without the wheels was already significant, and is definitely something to be aware of when using the Hornet (although this is likely to damage the bike less severely than forgetting it is on the roof, in my opinion!). I can’t help thinking there is a fuel efficiency benefit in removing the wheels too.
We used the SeaSucker without any extra ties for the first journey without issue, though I did opt to add an extra bungy cord to keep the bike from moving on the return leg. Don’t get me wrong, the bike wasn’t flailing about, but it did move an inch or two left and right throughout that first drive (with only the cups and strap holding the bike on, the rest of the bike just rests with the saddle against the boot lid and is free to pivot around the headset bearing). I was much more comfortable knowing the extra strap was there on the second leg.
This is an expensive option for a single bike – of that there is no doubt. However, I’ve realised a number of benefits that help to offset that. Firstly, packed up neatly in its case I now always have a bike rack in my boot, and it takes up no space at all. Secondly, with the ease of installation and removal there is no need to leave it in place. From a security perspective, this means nobody needs to know you have travelled with your bike which might make your holiday home / hotel room / caravan / etc. less appealing than somebody else’s to break in to. Whilst the bigger racks in SeaSucker’s range are slightly less portable, the security benefit is still there – particularly as you generally wouldn’t remove a roof-mounted bike rack, whilst you can with the SeaSucker options. The roof-mount SeaSuckers are still smaller than most other bike racks when removed too. Then there’s the fact that they’re not specific to a particular car, or even to a car type. Finally, and as already eluded to, not having the bike on the roof (with the Hornet, or some of their other options mounted on the rear screen) means zero risk of the dreaded bike-garage, or bike-car park entry, wreckage that we’ve all cringed at.
The SeaSucker Hornet is well designed, well finished, ridiculously easy to use, incredibly portable, works regardless of bike type and is easy to share across different cars. As a bike rack, that’s a fairly unique proposition.