A friend of mine recently asked if I could recommend a bike carrier. Having used a Saris bike rack for a number of years, I immediately suggested he look at the two-bike Saris Bones model.
A couple of days later, he said that wasn’t an option as he had no bumper (fender to our US cousins). Now I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the current trend is for cars to have a smooth backside, probably as much as design as it is for drag reduction, and in turn, improved fuel efficiency.
Being the nice chap that I am, I thought I’d help him out. So I jumped on the Saris website and saw that they had a Vehicle Fit Guide, which may seem pretty obvious but there aren’t many bike carrier suppliers that have this.
Bike Carrier for Mercedes SLK
So what car did we need a bike carrier for – Mercedes SLK. The Saris website is clearly created by a US Company – prices in US Dollars, telephone number is 1-800 and that friendliness that us Brits feel awkward with.
So it was with some pre-conceived doubt that I expected to find our German made Mercedes SLK listed. Within a couple of clicks in the Vehicle Fit Guide – select location, make, model and year – we were presented with several options:
- Thelma Towball Mounted 3-Bike
- Thelma Towball Mounted 2-Bike
- Axis Towball Mounted 3-Bike
- Axis Towball Mounted 2-Bike
- Freedom Towball Mounted 2-Bike
- Bones RS
- Sentinel 2-Bike
- Sentinel 3-Bike
I didn’t want a towball carrier so those were immediately dismissed, and quickly followed by the Bones RS, as this was beyond our budget at $325.
This left either the 3-bike or 2-bike Sentinel, and the Solo.
The Saris Solo is, as the name suggests, for carrying just one bike. Whilst this was all that was required, my concern was that the carrier was pictured as being flush against the car and as such, the bike would be very close to the car. This made me worry that the bike, may, scratch or dent the bodywork of my friend’s lovely new Mercedes. This just left the Sentinel.
Saris Sentinel 2-Bike
The Sentinel carrier comes flat-packed but unlike my Bones carrier, can be set up and ready to use in just one second, literally (excluding fastening the straps of course). It can just as easily be returned to it’s flat-pack status for a compact and convenient storage option.
The Saris blurb states that the Sentinel was created for ease of use and value for cyclists – Lock. Click. Go. Having now received and used the carrier, I can absolutely confirm they delivered on their objectives.
Good quality bikes are quite lightweight these days but the Sentinel can carry 2 or 3 bikes, up to 35 lbs (16 kg), each, which I think is pretty impressive.
The carrier has a unique system of straps, or hold-downs as Saris calls them, which hold the bikes firmly in-place and securely separates them from each other. When you’re spending several thousand on each bike, it’s important that you don’t spoil the paintwork by using a sub-standard bike carrier.
In a similar sentiment, it’s important not to scratch the car’s paintwork. The Sentinel comes with coated hooks to protect the car.
The two-bike carrier cost just £45 from Winstanley Bikes, whereas other UK Dealers are around £55 so it’s worth searching around the Internet for the best price.