Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack
Review

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

Words Jon Harris
Photos Jon Harris
Date Apr 13, 2018

The beginning of summer brings out some of the scariest scenes on the highways heading out to the favored riding spots. Bike racks that have been stored away at the back of the garage for the past six months are hastily strapped to the back of the minivan and then laden with the whole family's bikes and secured with as many bungees as can be found. It's a common sight and causes me to cringe when I see a pedal stuffed into the spokes of the next bike in the stack, jostling around over every bump for mile after mile headed to this summers chosen vacation spot. 

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

Pride and joys loaded up after a muddy shred session. The RockyMount SplitRail is a cinch to use and after 18 months still feels solid when loaded up.

If you are reading this then the chances are you would never treat your bike in that way and probably take quite a bit of care in how your bike is transported on your vehicle. If you don't own a truck and your vehicle can take a hitch then the likelihood is that you are using a hitch mounted tray-style rack. RockyMounts is vying for your dollars in this market with the SplitRail

This SplitRail has been in my possession for the past 18 months so this is definitely a long term review. It has been used at least once a week, usually twice, removed from the vehicle regularly and dragged though all kinds of weather and road conditions. It's mostly carried one or two bikes but can take up to four on special occasions with the extra trays added. 

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

The trusty hook over the front wheel method of holding your machine in place is used for the SplitRail. The ratchet feels very robust and definite in action.

I've tested some roof mounted racks from RockyMounts previously, the amusingly named BrassKnuckles, and was impressed with the build quality and function. The SplitRail similarly impresses. Putting the rack together out of the box is pretty straight forward with sturdy hardware that builds trust from the start. In fact, the whole rack has a very sturdy looking build and cohesive look to it. The rack is built from a combination of aluminum and chromoly steel and weighs in at a claimed 45lbs. While maybe not the lightest hitch rack out there it's certainly manageable for me to get on and off my car.

In use, the SplitRail is very similar to its competitors. It folds up when not in use and will also tip away when loaded to access the trunk. Especially handy when your buddy has left his cash in his bag and it's his turn to buy the post-ride tacos. The handle to do that is easily accessed and makes moving the rack when loaded with one hand an easy task. 

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

Tilting the rack away when loaded up to access the truck is pretty straight forward. The handle to do this is easy to reach and the rack pivots smoothly.

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

When not in use the rack tucks up out of the way. The knob at the base of the rack is used to tighten the rack into the receiver, with a wedge that takes up any slack between the two.

The extendable swing arms are familiar to use and when hooked over your front wheel are easy to ratchet down to secure the bike. The ratchet seems very distinct with a reassuringly loud click when snugging the hook down onto the front wheel and the arm hasn't developed excessive play over this extended test. Releasing the arm is easy too, with a nice large button to push and I've not once had a problem even without any maintenance. A simple strap holds in the rear wheel for extra security.

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

Pulling this easily grabbed handle on the end of the rack moves the rack through its three positions, tucked up out of the way when not in use, ready to be loaded and tilted away to access the truck with bikes on board.

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

The rear wheel strap is straight forward but doesn't have some of the ways to really snug it down like some competitors. Not that this prevents making the bike secure and it does prevent over tightening it (and snapping it like I have in the past).


The trays are nice and wide to accommodate the growing girth of mountain bike tires, up to 3 inches wide. If I had one niggle it would be that the trays could be longer. The ever-increasing wheelbase on my bikes has the rear wheel hanging over the end of the tray now. Not so much to cause an issue but for peace of mind I'd take an extra inch or so more. The trays do have the ability to offset them against one another to minimize interaction between the bikes, but with dropper posts on all the bikes I've transported on the rack I've not had to worry about that. 

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

A simple cable lock is enough to keep your ride safe when within sight at the post ride watering hole but I wouldn't trust it for longer term security.

The rack secures into the hitch with a little wedge which takes up slack in that interface and does an incredibly good job in taking up the slop. RockyMounts imaginatively call this their anti-wobble system. With the hitch pin installed you can tighten the rack into the receiver with that wedge taking up any slack between the two. Add to that a lockable pin and everything locks in place so the rack is secure on the vehicle.

In fact it's the most noticeable thing when I first loaded up the SplitRail and hit the road, the lack of wiggle and bobbing that my bike was doing in the rear view mirror was impressive and still is 18 months later. It really is a nice solid rack to use. 

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

A simple ratcheted strap over the rear wheel holds it in place. A little hook holds the strap back while loading the bike to keep it out of the way.

Rocky Mounts SplitRail Hitch Rack

No glamour shots here, dirty bikes and a dirty rack covered in winter grime.

The SplitRail can be purchased in 1.5 or 2-inch flavors with the 2-inch rack being expandable to carry up to four bikes with additional trays available. RockyMounts may not be as prominent in this market as Yakima and Thule but they really do compete when it comes to build quality and ease of use. I'm more than happy with the rack and nothing is showing any evidence of premature wear. I'd recommend the SplitRail to any friends in the market for one. It's definitely a rack that's worth checking out. 

The base SplitRail retails for 499 USD with extra trays retailing for 199 USD ( I've found both cheaper online). They also offer two other hitch racks, the cheaper MonoRail and the BackStage which is a swing away platform rack.


Comments

DemonMike
0
mike  - April 13, 2018, 7:57 a.m.

aaahhh forget the rack , that Starling is dah bomb!!!!:)

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - April 13, 2018, 8:16 a.m.

I would love to see a review or at least more pictures of it.

Reply

shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - April 13, 2018, 8:20 a.m.

There was a Starling review over on PB earlier this week.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - April 13, 2018, 8:33 a.m.

Yeah I did see it.  Paul Aston lives on Finale and it probably suits the terrain really well - rocky, open and fast.

I would love to hear about how it performs in the PNW - slower, steeper and techy.

Reply

LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - April 14, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

long, slack and low works well in in the West Coast.

Reply

jon
+1 mike
Jon Harris  - April 13, 2018, 11:14 a.m.

A Starling, but not this one, will be flying it's way to NSMB soon. 

That's my personal idiosyncratic rig and I like it very much.

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
+1 mike
Niels  - April 13, 2018, 8:10 a.m.

As a European, even after 10 years in North America, I'm still puzzled that you can drive around like that here with the tail lights and license plate obscured.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - April 13, 2018, 8:25 a.m.

I've heard rumors of people getting ticketed for when tray-style racks are folded up (in BC), but its never happened to me.

Reply

krusty-rider
0
Krusty Rider  - April 14, 2018, 3:41 p.m.

I got a warning a couple weeks ago. Had my Yakima Holdup folded up blocking my plate. First time in 11 years.

Reply

amrskipro
0
AndrewR  - April 13, 2018, 8:47 a.m.

It is against the law but being ticketed would require meeting an RCMP officer that a. knew that; b. wasn't watching something on the internet on his phone when parked up; or c. busy at Dominos.

On a more serious note: does that cable lock extend far enough to go through the front triangle of the frame?

Reply

shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - April 13, 2018, 8:53 a.m.

I was wondering about the lock too.  Not sure id like to have that cable wrapped around my stanchion and it isnt really secure at that point either.

Reply

jon
0
Jon Harris  - April 13, 2018, 11:12 a.m.

There is enough cable to wrap around the downtube. It was purely down to me being lazy that I didn't do that. 

I don't have the bikes locked on when in motion, usually just if I'm nipping in somewhere to grab a post ride snack or drink.

Reply

rugbyred
0
Eric Van Sickle  - April 13, 2018, 8:50 a.m.

Crossing into the US one time, a border guard told me that my rack with the bikes on it was illegal but he didn't care as he was not the police. Just need to know your license plate number when you get to the window as the camera can't see it.
Eric

Reply

JVP
0
JVP  - April 13, 2018, 9:47 a.m.

That green sticker on the rack is hawt.  Props.

Reply

Kenny
0
Kenny  - April 14, 2018, 8:29 a.m.

Sweet bikes. Not convinced on the rack though. It seems only 50-100 bucks cheaper than a 1UP USA? I can't see the point to be honest. As far as I'm concerned the 1UP has no equal as far as tray style racks go, and this thing does not threaten that status.

Reply

lostlunchbox
0
person person  - April 14, 2018, 12:58 p.m.

Unfortunately one up doesn't do a swing away. I have the Rocky Mount swing away and am pretty pleased with it. A couple things that I'd change, but that's the story with anything generally. It's only ~$50+ iirc. There's a retailer in Calgary that i got it from late fall for I think 650-700 Can all in , including shipped to BC.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - April 15, 2018, 7:48 a.m.

Things may have changed since I looked into them last, but getting a 1UP into Canada = big bucks.

I snagged a couple roof mounts used though, I don't think I'll ever give them up.   Very nice racks and I think they can be converted to a hitch rack with the right parts.  The way the hitch mount trays step up is a pretty significant design improvement as well.

Reply

Kenny
0
Kenny  - April 15, 2018, 8:50 a.m.

Its not too bad IMO. I bought a 1up double bike heavy duty hitch rack this winter. FedEx ground to Vancouver was $56 US. 

I do like the swing out version of the rocky, I can't see 1up building a rack like that, though, the way 1up mounts are constructed.

Overall though the means of attaching and detaching the bikes from the rack is so much more convenient for me than the typical wheel-strap-and-fork-crown-destroyer-hook that I would still accept the lack of swing away as a tradeoff

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - April 16, 2018, 7:49 a.m.

Dang, that's surprisingly affordable.  I had heard tales of massive shipping costs plus high duties on top of an already high list price in american dollars.

I may have to move towards replacing my Kuat hitch rack with a 1Up then...I really like the 1 UP.

Reply

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