Saris Bones 3: Comprehensive Car Bike Rack Review

The Saris Bones 3 car bike rack stands out as a leading choice for cycling enthusiasts who seek a reliable solution for transporting their bikes. Known for its striking design and robust functionality, this model has garnered attention for its balance of style and practicality. It allows users to carry up to three bicycles, making it an ideal option for families and groups of friends. This review delves into the features, benefits, and potential drawbacks of the Saris Bones 3, providing a comprehensive overview to help you decide if it’s the right fit for your car and cycling needs.

Design and Build Quality

The Saris Bones 3 is instantly recognisable due to its unique arc-based design, which not only adds a stylish touch to any vehicle but also serves a practical purpose by positioning bikes at different levels, thus minimising the potential for contact and damage during transport. Constructed from injection-moulded plastic, the rack is exceptionally lightweight yet sturdy, capable of withstanding both the rigours of road travel and adverse weather conditions without succumbing to rust or wear.

This rack’s legs are famously articulated, allowing for an excellent fit on a wide range of vehicle models, from sedans to hatchbacks. The arms, which hold up the bikes, are coated with rubberised material, ensuring that the bikes remain secure and are not scratched. Each arm is adjustable, providing flexibility and ease in accommodating different bike frames and sizes.

The overall durability of the Saris Bones 3 is a major selling point. Users report that the rack maintains its integrity and functionality even after years of use, underscoring its excellent build quality. This durability is backed by a lifetime warranty from Saris, which is a testament to the company’s confidence in its product.

Saris Bones Car Bike Rack

Ease of Installation and Use

Installing the Saris Bones 3 car bike rack is generally straightforward, a process that can be completed in just a few minutes without the need for tools. The rack arrives mostly pre-assembled, and the included instructions are clear and concise, guiding users through the steps of attaching it securely to their vehicle.

The first step involves positioning the rack’s legs appropriately on the car’s rear, using the articulated design to adjust the angle and fit. The strong, injection-molded arms are then extended and hooked to the edge of the trunk or rear window. Six straps, which include coated hooks, are used to anchor the rack securely to the vehicle, with side straps preventing lateral movement and top and bottom straps holding the weight vertically. These straps can be tightened by pulling them through the built-in ratchets, ensuring a snug and stable fit.

Once installed, loading bikes onto the Saris Bones 3 is equally simple. The ratcheting anti-sway straps secure each bike to the arms, preventing movement and protecting the bikes from bumping into each other or the vehicle. The rack’s design accommodates a variety of bike frames, although extremely irregular frames might require an adapter, which is sold separately.

Users appreciate the minimal effort required to mount and dismount bikes, as well as the peace of mind that comes with the stable and secure hold during transport. The Saris Bones 3’s user-friendly setup and operation make it a popular choice for cyclists of all levels.

Capacity and Compatibility

The Saris Bones 3 is engineered to carry up to three bicycles at once, supporting a maximum weight of approximately 16 kilograms per bike. This capacity is well-suited for a variety of bike types, from lightweight road bikes to heavier mountain bikes, though it’s crucial that the total load does not surpass the recommended limit to ensure both safety and stability.

One of the standout features of the Saris Bones 3 is its broad compatibility with different vehicle types. Its adjustable arms and legs allow it to be installed on a diverse range of vehicles, including many saloons, hatchbacks, people carriers, and even some SUVs. The unique arc-based design of the rack helps to better space out the bikes, minimising the risk of them coming into contact with the vehicle or each other during travel.

Potential users should, however, verify compatibility with their specific vehicle model to prevent problems such as obscured number plates or rear lights, which can occur with certain setups. Saris offers a detailed compatibility guide on their website, which can be consulted to check if the Bones 3 will fit properly on your vehicle.

Moreover, the rack’s capability to adapt to various bike sizes and frame styles is facilitated by its adjustable arms, which can be positioned to best accommodate the bikes being transported. This adaptability is particularly advantageous for families or groups needing to haul different types of bikes. Nevertheless, owners of bikes with unusual frame shapes might need to buy a separate frame adapter to ensure the bikes are securely attached to the rack.

Best Features

The Saris Bones 3 bike rack boasts several features that distinguish it from its competitors and make it a favoured choice among cyclists. Here are some of its best features:

1. Arc-based Design

  • The innovative arc-based shape of the rack not only enhances the visual appeal when mounted on your vehicle but also serves a functional purpose. By elevating the bikes at different levels, it prevents bike-to-bike and bike-to-vehicle contact, reducing the risk of damage during transport.

2. Lightweight Yet Durable Construction

  • Made from injection-molded plastic, the Saris Bones 3 is lightweight, making it easy to handle and install without assistance. Despite its low weight, the rack is highly durable and resistant to rust, ensuring long-term use and reliability.

3. Easy Adjustment and Installation

  • With articulated arms and legs, the Saris Bones 3 can be easily adjusted to fit a wide range of vehicle types. The installation process is tool-free, involving simple steps that can be quickly executed, making it convenient for users to set up or remove the rack as needed.

4. Integrated Ratchet Straps

  • The rack includes built-in ratchet straps that simplify the process of securing bikes. These straps tighten around the bikes and the vehicle, providing a firm hold that minimises movement and enhances stability during transport.

5. Lifetime Warranty

  • Saris offers a lifetime warranty on the Bones 3, reflecting the company’s confidence in the product’s quality and durability. This warranty provides buyers with peace of mind, knowing that their investment is protected.

6. Compatibility with a Range of Bikes

  • The adjustable arms allow for the accommodation of various bike frames and sizes, making the rack versatile enough for different types of bikes. This feature is especially beneficial for families or groups that might need to transport a mixture of bike types.

These features collectively contribute to the Saris Bones 3’s status as a top choice for transporting bicycles with ease and security.

Worst Features and Limitations

While the Saris Bones 3 car bike rack offers numerous benefits, it is also important to consider its limitations and potential drawbacks to provide a well-rounded review. Here are some of the key issues that users may encounter:

1. Weight Distribution Concerns

  • Despite its sturdy build, the Bones 3 can struggle with weight distribution when fully loaded with three heavy bikes. This can sometimes result in excessive sway or tilt, particularly on longer trips or on rougher roads, which might concern some users about the security of their bikes.

2. Vehicle Compatibility Issues

  • Although the rack is versatile, there are still some vehicle models, especially those with plastic spoilers or integrated rear spoilers, where fitting the Bones 3 can be challenging or not recommended. This limitation can restrict the rack’s usability for owners of such vehicles.

3. Obstruction of Vehicle Features

  • In some configurations, the rack may obscure the car’s rear license plate or taillights, which is not only inconvenient but can also be illegal in some regions, requiring additional planning or adjustments to ensure compliance with local laws.

4. No Built-in Locking Mechanism

  • Unlike some of its competitors, the Saris Bones 3 does not come with a built-in lock to secure the bikes to the rack or the rack to the vehicle. This omission means that users need to invest in additional locks to prevent theft, which adds to the overall cost and inconvenience.

5. Necessity for Adapters for Certain Bike Frames

  • As flexible as the Bones 3 is with different bike types, some bike frames, particularly non-standard ones like women’s, children’s, or full-suspension bikes, may require an additional adapter. This need for extra accessories can be a hassle and an extra expense.

6. Plastic Components Durability

  • While the high-quality plastic construction helps keep the rack lightweight and rust-free, some users have raised concerns about the long-term durability of these plastic parts under heavy use or in harsh weather conditions.

These limitations highlight some of the challenges and considerations potential buyers might face with the Saris Bones 3. Understanding these aspects is crucial in making an informed purchase decision.


The Saris Bones 3 bike rack offers a compelling combination of style, functionality, and adaptability, making it a popular choice among cycling enthusiasts. With its distinctive arc-based design, ease of installation, and capacity to accommodate various bike types, it stands out as a robust solution for transporting bikes securely and efficiently.

However, potential buyers should also consider its limitations, including the absence of a built-in locking mechanism, the necessity for additional adapters for certain bike frames, and potential compatibility issues with certain vehicle models. The rack’s performance in terms of weight distribution when fully loaded might also be a concern for those planning to transport heavier bikes or travel long distances.

Overall, the Saris Bones 3 is a solid choice, particularly for casual or recreational cyclists. Its ease of use, coupled with the lifetime warranty, offers substantial value despite some drawbacks. Buyers looking for a reliable, flexible bike transportation solution will find the Saris Bones 3 to be a worthy investment, provided the rack fits their specific vehicle and biking needs.

This review should help you decide whether the Saris Bones 3 meets the requirements of your active lifestyle and provide the assurance needed to make an informed decision about this bike rack.