To enable our nascent time-trialling careers we needed a way to get our bikes to the event. We chose the SeaSucker Mini Bomber which we bought from Corley Cycles: it’s out of stock there right now because we bought the last one.
Several cars ago I had roof bars and a Thule bike carrier which was secured by a clamp around the down-tube. I never liked that design because it stresses the frame in a way for which it is not designed. If you have a unidirectional carbon frame (I don’t) this is a critical issue but it seems like it might also be a bad idea for butted metal frames (like all of mine) where the middle part of the tubes is thinner than the ends.
The more modern bike carrier systems address this by changing the mounting mechanism. As before the rear wheel is secured with a simple strap system, but the bike is now secured by clamping a front hub simulacrum into the fork dropouts. This obviously lets you use the same (high) force to secure the bike as you would use to secure the wheel while riding without stressing any component in a direction it isn’t designed to cope with.
Thule make a carrier with this kind of mount, but it presumes you already have roof bars on the car; I don’t and don’t really want them. It also looks like their current model is compatible with quick-release and 20mm through-axle forks but not the 15mm through-axle fork I have on my mountain bike, but I’d ruled it out based on the hassle of roof bars and only even looked at that for the purposes of writing this paragraph.
We haven’t had a lot of practice yet, but it already takes us well under 10 minutes from leaving the house to being ready to leave with two bikes securely fixed on the roof. I never got to that speed with the previous system even with one bike, because the down-tube clamp is 30-40cm above your head while you’re trying to manipulate it; on the fork-clamping systems you’re working at-or-below eye height the whole time. I’m not even counting the time/hassle to fit the roof bars as that would make the margin of victory somewhat ridiculous.
The only not-entirely-positive thing to report is a whistling noise which starts to be audible inside the car at about 45mph and grows in intensity thereafter. This may be specific to the angle of attack at which it meets the air when mounted to a Suzuki Swift. As Cerys said it was initially annoying and then becomes almost comforting – if you’re hearing it you know your bikes are still there. Indeed in some cross-tailwind conditions it dies down and almost disappears which does start to worry you.
Overall I am very pleased with it as a solution. The system cost to carry two bikes at a time (either two QR or one QR one 15-through) is comparable to the price of roof bars and two bar-mounted carriers. But unlike roof bars which are so inconvenient to fit that you leave them on your car the whole time, this isn’t costing me 20% of my fuel economy when I’m not even transporting bikes.