American Made Six Pack
Words & Photos by Nic “U-Turn” Hall
Mountain bikers appreciate a good rack, and the shortcomings of most racks keeps us on a perpetual search for the ideal way to transport our bikes. During our quest, we heard about a small Oregon based company called Lolo that offered a tough and unique six-bike hitch rack. After a summer of shop shuttles, long haul road trips and rallying it on the back of a Ford Raptor at speeds not to be disclosed, we can now report the rack as thoroughly tested.
Lolo applied their training as engineers and designed what they believe to be a superior way to transport bikes of all kinds. We stopped by their garage-based workshop on a recent trip through Portland to update our prototype rack with their newest retaining hooks. The visit quickly derailed into a quest to jump a bike over a car with a box jump they just just built. Joe did in fact clear the car, however the jump resulted in Joe seriously breaking his foot on a hard landing. I believe there was an agreement between the two, that it was Matt’s turn to drive to the hospital, so at least they had a plan. These are the kind of people you want building your rack, dudes that rip and live to push limits.
So, what do we look for in a bike rack?
1. Bike retention.
2. Ease of loading.
Let’s see how Lolo’s offering stacks up to Nic’s abuse:
1.Bike Retention: There is a road in Pemberton that has successfully ejected entire loads of bikes off various hitch racks three years in a row, including an early Lolo prototype. This would be our ultimate test of bike retention. The road is between 12% and 15% grade with 24” water bars every 50 feet. Any rack that drops below your rear bumper or doesn’t have a firm grip on the bikes is going to be an issue. The newest hooks with retention cords are the first system that has not ejected a single bike on that road. 5/5
2. Ease of Loading: The standard for any good shuttle rig is the tailgate pad: simple, effective and easy. But if you don’t have a pickup truck or need the bed room for camping supplies or gear, a hitch rack is your only option. Lolo’s handlebar mount is about the easiest loading vertical rack I have used. No stuffing your bike in a slot too small and no head tube/fork issues. Six bikes, including 2 DH bikes, were on the rack within a minute or two. Unloading is equally easy. 5/5
3. Durability: I happened to pick up a Ford Raptor about the same time Lolo had their first prototype ready for testing, which means that I generally reach speeds a tad higher than the average user when shuttling off road. The rack is built to take a beating, with heavy gauge steel and top grade bolts– this thing is bomber. Drifting gravel roads with a six-pack of trail bikes didn’t phase the Lolo. Bottoming out hard on G-outs didn’t seem to be an issue either. Not a bolt was sheared or a single piece bent. The powder coat on the hitch bar was the only casualty. 4/5