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Features

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 16kg each
  • Unique wheel trays fit road, MTB and kid’s bikes of all sizes
  • Fits ISO 50mm tow balls
  • Rack tilts down for fast access to rear of vehicle
  • Tow ball clamp locks rack to vehicle
  • Lightboard and license plate holder included
  • Made in Italy
  • Weight: 15kg
  • TUV GS certified
  • Price: RRP R 5,195.00 (on special for R 4,155.00 at the time of publishing)

Assembly

As with the Saris Thelma we reviewed in April, the Freedom arrived flat packed and required some assembly to get up and running. Fortunately just about everything you need is inside the box, with the exception of a size 17 spanner that is required to secure the tow ball clamp to the rack’s frame. The rack arrives just about 90% assembled and only needs the last bits put in place and secured.

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The assembly is fairly straightforward with the included instructions easy to follow and it only took me 10 - 15 minutes from start to finish. A Euro 13 pin plug comes standard and requires an adapter to fit the 7 pin female plug that is standard locally. Fortunately I had one in the cupboard, but something to keep in mind with your purchase. If you’re feeling handy, rewiring to fit a 7 pin plug is a quick job.

Fitment to the vehicle

The rack is secured to the tow ball by lifting a yellow lever while the securing arm is in the open position. All you have to do is push it down on the tow ball and then pull the arm down. The clamp, which secures the rack to the tow ball and base frame of the rack, feels solid and locks in place with a reassuring clunk. Both give confidence that the rack is fit to do the job. The clamp also features a key lock which prevents the lever from lifting, leaving the rack a little more secure on your vehicle.

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As with the Thelma, the Freedom rack features a light board with the standard array of lights and a number plate mount. The rack also sports a simple quick release mechanism which tilts the rack down providing access to the boot even with bikes attached.

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Attaching Bikes

The Freedom uses two small cradles and an arm to support each bike. Two ratcheting straps secure your bike's wheels to the cradles and one strap on the arm that goes around your bikes down tube to keep your bike upright. The 4 cradles are adjustable, sliding left and right. Loading your bikes for the first time does take a little patience.

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To keep the bikes from touching you need to slide one bike to far left and the other far right. This is done by loosening a plastic screw-down and sliding the cradles over. The next step is to to adjust the second cradle to fit your bike's wheelbase before you will be able to strap it down. It's an easy job, but takes some time to get it 100% right. I prefer to load my bikes with the front wheel as far behind the vehicle as possible to keep it from moving around in the wind and with the heavier bike closest to the vehicle.

The hitch arm is a good length, leaving plenty of room for bikes with wide handlebars. On a hatchback with a rounded back or sedan this almost seems too long, but some SUV's or people carriers with a flatter rear (think VW Kombi or Jeep Wrangler) the extra space is welcome.

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The rack features what Saris call Cuscino (Italian for pillow) straps. In short, the straps have a rubber cushion to add an extra layer of protection to your bike's frame. The cradle that attaches to the bike's down-tube has slots for cables to keep them from rubbing against the frame. It shows Saris' attention to detail and carries a lifetime warranty.

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Longer straps for the wheel cradles as well as special fatbike cradles are available aftermarket for those who will need them.

On the Road

Once set up and bikes loaded for your vacation or trip to your favourite trail, the rack does exactly what it's supposed to do. Bikes are kept in place and where they do make contact with the rack they are protected against scuffing. The Cuscino straps do a great job of keeping your bike scratch free (as long as it's clean when you strap it down) and the fact that it's adjustable to match the angle of your bike's down tube means there's little leeway for your bike to move around - the biggest culprit of bike rack damage

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When not in use, the Freedom’s arm can be released and lowered to allow easy access to the rear of your car without having to tilt the rack down. Another nice touch and one that's unique to the Freedom range of racks.

Although the rack locks to your vehicle, the rack does not come with a bicycle lock as standard. I would strongly suggest you invest in a good cable lock or two to protect your investment.

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Verdict

All contact points have a quality feel to them and everything that needs to lock down or click into place leaves you in no doubt that your bikes and the bike rack is secure. The Freedom is competitively priced and doesn't stand back in terms of quality and features. The range of adjustments available make it a versatile and well-priced offering, certainly worth looking in to.