RockyMounts SplitRail was by far the favorite of the racks tested. It is the easiest to use both in terms of getting the rack on and off the vehicle, as well as to operate once on the vehicle. Mounting and retrieving bikes from the rack is pretty standard for these sorts of racks. The only improvement wished for was for the joints to be a little tighter to completely eliminate wobble.
Setup The assembly instructions for the SplitRail are clear and easy to follow and RockyMounts designed the build to attach the base unit to the vehicle before trying to assemble the rack. Also, RockyMounts built the SplitRail to only require two tools to assemble it to keep it simple.
Stability The SplitRail uses a wedge and screw brace system in the hitch receiver unique to the racks we tested making it the most stable in the hitch. The interface between the hitch and the rack is notoriously the culprit for the rack wiggle and the SplitRail wedge is designed to eat up the extra room in the hitch receiver. An internal screw drive draws the rack and the wedge into the hitch to eliminate wiggle. Otherwise there is just a tiny bit of wiggle, less than a quarter inch, at the hinge where the rack tray can fold up against the vehicle for storage. One small initial concern was how deep the rear tire well is such that the strap did not touch the inside rim like on many other racks. But after continual use it turned out to be fine.
Ease of Use RockyMounts is the only manufacturer in this test to place the release lever on the outside (farthest from the vehicle) of the rack where it is easiest to reach. This makes any function of folding the rack tray the easiest of all the racks tested. It’s no big deal for the owner of the rack, but, it provides good entertainment when asking a friend who is unfamiliar with the lever to raise or lower the rack since the lever hides out of sight when the tray is down. Mounting bikes on the rack is simple like all racks of this kind with one little bonus: a small nub next to the rear wheel strap is handy to hold the strap out of the way for placing the rear tire. Removing bikes is pretty standard with a trigger release for the front wheel hook. The trigger can be a little sticky if the hook position is so tight that it pushes in on the tire some. Removing the rack from the vehicle hitch is very easy. Just loosen the anti-wobble screw drive (this might require the included 8mm hex wrench depending on how tightly it was put on) then remove the large hitch pin that pulls out from the side of the hitch and pull the rack out. Installing is just the reverse and does not require wedging yourself between the rack or laying on the ground to screw the hitch pin in like on all the other racks in this test. This rack is by far the easiest to attach to the vehicle.
Versatility While the SplitRail will take a standard range of bike sizes including the new “plus” size tires, it does not mention the ability to take full fat tire bikes. Nevertheless, just to see, we mounted a full 4” wide fat tire bike to the rack just fine. There is 4” of side-to-side adjustment for the wheel trays to offset handlebars, seats, pedals, and/or to keep bikes from sticking out beyond the vehicle’s rear view mirrors. An expansion kit is sold separately to add one or two more bike trays to accommodate a total of four bikes.
Features In addition to the features mentioned above like the anti-wobble wedge, the easy-to-reach lever and the rear tire strap nub, the SplitRail also comes with built in lock cables that extend from the load arm as well as a lock on the hitch pin to keep everything right where you left it. If you already have other locking RockyMounts products like a ski rack, you can request compatible lock cores so all your RockyMounts locks use the same key set. Also included in the standard package is something unique, a wall mount. Instead of having to store the rack on the floor of the garage (or elsewhere on the ground) you can hang the SplitRail when not in use.
Cameron Martindell is the Gear Institute's Gear Test Director, responsible for coordinating our gear testing team, recruiting new experts, and maintaining the Gear Institute's editorial standards for product testing.