Last weekend, Nancy and I went to NY state for a family get-together. I drove up on Thursday with the dog and the bikes. When I got to NJ, I had just gotten onto 287 at speed (over 60 mph) when I heard a really loud bang right outside my driver-side door. Now the noise itself scared the shit out of me but the sight of my less-than-two-week old bike dangling off the side of the car was significantly worse.
WTF! I quickly got the car to the shoulder while uttering “fuck fuck fuck”. I got out of the car to survey the damage. The bike was held onto the car by the strap that holds the rear tire to the bike rack. A $1 piece of plastic was the only separating my bike from being at worst a lethal weapon or slightly better a piece of scrap metal… I quickly got the bike back into the rack and made sure that there was no serious damage to the bike. Next was the car itself (my lesser concern). With the exception of some deep gouges to the paint on the side panels/windows and some small dents, there was no serious damage to the car either. My lucky unlucky day!
Once safely in Glens Falls, I really checked the bike over quite thoroughly and there was nothing wrong with the bike. I lost everything in the unzipped bag pockets on the bike but that was it. (Note to self, zip pockets on the bags before mounting on the racks.) Definitely amazing! The strap on the car had done its job but now needed to be replaced.
On Wednesday, when I got back from the trip, I called Yakima to order a replacement strap. The woman Deb on the phone could not have been more helpful. First, she described the rack and told me that it had been recalled for just the very problem I was describing. She told me that Yakima would replace the rack, fix my car, and would have replaced the bike if it had been destroyed in the mishap. Thankfully that was not necessary. Normally, this would have been the point where I would have become more of a jackass since Yakima used to guarantee that your bike or the car would fail before their rack but Deb was such a great customer service rep that I came away more impressed with Yakima than pissed off.
I will update this story when I get the replacement rack and car fixed.
As a side note, REI which sells Yakima racks and may very well be the biggest seller of these racks does not post notice of any of these recalls. They knew that I owned this rack, I am assuming that Yakima notified them of the recall, and yet I heard nothing… No bonus points for REI on this one.