Alta Planning + Design Sportworks Product Review

Alta-Planning-Apex-3

Altoid Review: Sportworks Apex 3 Transit Rack

Julie Gregg // 05.20.2015

Living Car Free in Seattle, Commuting by Bike & Transit

Originally published on the Alta Planning + Design Blog www.altaplanning.com on
by

reprinted here with permission

Dina Winkel

by Dina Winkel, Senior Engineer, Alta Planning + Design

Buses can be a great complement to bicycle trips around town (and beyond, although I don’t manage that too often!). I’ve put my bicycle on a bus when I had a flat, when I wanted a one-way ride instead of a round-trip, and occasionally when I’ve suddenly gotten lazy or longed for a warm and dry seat out of the rain. In Copenhagen, where I grew up, you just roll the bike onto the bus, barely having to lift it onto the floor, but in Seattle buses are outfitted with a rack mounted on the front and, while I’m not a huge fan, they do seem to get the job done and allow for more room for passengers inside.

My primary complaint with the racks has been the difficulty of lifting a heavy steel bike up while at the same time aligning it and positioning it in the wheel slots. It also required quite a bit of hand strength to squeeze the handle when opening the rack, and to pull the arm out to place the hook over the front wheel. Another issue is the three adjacent racks—I know the capacity is needed, however I don’t look forward to being the third bike that has to squeeze in behind two other bikes. I’d be awfully tempted to wait for another bus!

Current Metro bus racks are stressful for bicyclists to use

I recently tested the Apex 3 Transit Rack from Sportworks, hoping it would address these issues with the current crop of bus mounted bike racks. I immediately noticed the smooth operation of the handles and hinges—what a pleasure not to struggle to pull out the handle while holding your bike. Clear, bright yellow labeling provided helpful instructions.

New racks developed by Sportsworks
Apex 3 Transit Rack developed by Sportworks
Simple instructions make the learning curve much gentler for new users
Simple instructions make the learning curve much gentler for new users

The stainless steel rack is heavy—not a problem when opening the rack—it falls into place without bouncing back. I lifted my bike and the front tire easily fit into the wide groove—no tenuous balancing act with a heavy bike at hip height! The handle for the front tire arm is large and ergonomically designed. It easily fit over the front tire, locking the bike into place. So far, so good. In my mind, I imagined taking a ride on the bus, enjoying the view, ringing the bell and preparing to get off…sportsworks racks1

Again, the telescoping front tire hook worked smoothly and retracted back into itself. I lifted my bike out of the rack, squeezed the yellow handle and with some effort, slowly lifted the rack up to the vertical position. Anyone able to lift their bicycle up to hip height has the power to lift the rack and it’s really just a question of doing it slowly and deliberately.

All in all, the Apex 3 Transit Rack appears to be of very high quality. I can imagine the new Sportworks racks working well for years to come with minimal maintenance. Meanwhile, it’s a pleasure to use.

Update: As it turns out, Sound Transit is responding to some of the complaints about the current Metro racks and installing the Sportworks racks on their buses!

Dina Winkel

About Dina Winkel

Dina has worked in civil engineering as a designer and project manager for ten years. Her area of expertise is in road and trail design, grading, drainage, utility design and coordination and surface water management.