Review: SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike RackBy Inge Mares | Published Sep 10, 2014
We all have a bike rack or two hiding in our garage that has quickly fallen out of favor. Whether the rack promised to be “damage-free” to the car and wasn’t, required a rocket science degree for installation, or left the bikes perilously dangling in the breeze while heading down the highway, we have all been there. As a reviewer, even I have had a few racks that have been sent to the retirement home early, in hopes that the next rack will be "the one."
I have been searching for an easy to install rack for my small VW hatchback for quite some time, trying a variety of systems along the way without satisfactory results. Previous rack experiments had straps fail, parts wear out, or various components disappear on the road all together. As a competitive cyclist, quick installation, security, and the ability to handle multiple race bikes were all critical requirements for a bike rack. As my car did not have a hitch mount and had very little real estate around the hatchback door, my options appeared to be limited. The ultimate challenge however, turned out to be the round curvature of the hatchback itself.
When I first visited the SeaSucker booth at a show, I was skeptical of the holding power of this simple rack. Vacuum cups? Can it really be that simple? Indeed it can. After talking extensively with Greg Casagrande from SeaSucker, I was impressed with the staying power of those white vacuum cups (210 lbs. each!) and wanted to run it through the CX racing gauntlet.
As soon as the Mini Bomber 2-Bike SeaSucker rack arrived on my doorstep, I dove into the box like a kid on Christmas morning. I gave the car a bath, dislodging any sap and tar that had accumulated (WD-40 works great for this by the way) to make sure the vacuum cups had a clean surface to work with. After removing the bright orange protective caps from the Mini Bomber cups, I moistened the cup edges with water and attempted to place it on the hatchback door. Sadly the SeaSucker mounting plate did not flex enough to meet the dramatic curvature of the hatchback. What to do? The roof of course!!!
After placing the Mini Bomber on the roof, just a few pumps were needed on each vacuum cup to draw the air out until the orange band on the plunger was no longer visible, and voila, we were in business. After securing all 4 cups on the Mini Bomber front rack, I removed the front wheel of my bike and lifted the bike overhead, loosely placed the fork into the Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mount which is included with the Mini Bomber racks. This helped me eyeball where the rear wheel vacuum cup needed to go. Removing the bike from the Mini Bomber, I applied the rear wheel strap vacuum cup and with a few pumps, it too was secured into place. I returned the bike to the rack, tightened the front skewer, undid the Velcro fasteners and secured the rear wheel in place. The bike was ready to roll with no rocking whatsoever. Placing the additional rear wheel strap vacuum cup for the second bike was just as easy. Installation complete!
As there were no straps, clips, or buckles to fuss with, I found it was lightweight and easy to install for the first time by myself. Installation was relatively quick with one person, but even faster if you have additional person to assist with installation. Once in place, the bikes were truly secured and did not move. Best of all, no cables, ties, nylon webbing to deal with, or bikes/pedals crashing into each other or the car. Because the system is portable, installing the Mini Bomber did not require expensive modifications to the car (ie. roof rack or hitch installation) in order to use the system and can just as easily be moved from car to car. By far the easiest rack that I have ever installed. Removing the SeaSucker was just as easy: simply pull up the edge of vacuum cup and slowly release the pressure. Upon removal, I was happy to see that the rack did not mark or damage the car, just as promised.
As far as maintenance goes, the vacuum cups can be left in place when not in use. When the vacuum cups start losing vacuum strength over time, the plunger will reverse itself, revealing the orange bar. Simply give it a few pumps to restrengthen the vacuum and you are back in business. If you are not going to use the rack for a while, SeaSucker recommends removing the rack, clean the vacuum cups and replacing the orange cup covers before storing to help keep them clean and protected when not in use. In our testing, we left the Mini Bomber in place to monitor the how long it would take to loose staying power. After about 3 days, the orange just started to appear, but the holding power remained. After about 7 days, we started to see some loss in power, but not much. The Mini Bomber held up for the CX season, withstanding rain, hail, snow and mud. Cleaning the rack after a muddy race is just a matter of hosing the mud and debris off the rack and letting it dry. SeaSucker has also posted a video showing how to clean and re-lubricate the vacuum pumps.
The Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mounts are heavy duty and can easily accomodate up to a 9mm dropout. As an added bonus, you can easily lock your fork into place using lock of your choice. SeaSucker also offers vinyl coated trunk or window cable anchors that extend from the hatchback or window when the door is closed. If you are mounting the Mini Bomber to the rear of your vehicle, you can easily run a cable lock system through the trunk anchor to keep your bikes secured. After a full day of racing, it's nice to lock up the bikes and enjoy a cold beer with the team.
We Didn't Like
The only improvement we could recommend is to change the existing material on the orange protective plastic cup covers, which tend to crack after repeatedly taking them on and off.
The Final Say
Cyclists with small vehicles can finally rejoice in having a convenient of system that is portable, easy to use, and can be quickly stowed in the trunk when not in use. My VW hatchback has finally met it's match in the SeaSucker Mini Bomber rack! It's clear that the folks at SeaSucker put a lot of thought into the Mini Bomber rack.
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- Mini Bomber
- SeaSucker Mini Bomber
- 12.5 lbs
- The Mini Bomber has a 3/4” thick, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) body that will hold up to all the elements. The rubber vacuum cups have amazing holding power at a whopping 210 lbs. each. All the metal parts of the vacuum cup are high grade stainless steel to ensure that they perform in even the harshest conditions.
The Mini Bomber can hold 2 bikes, with a foot print of 29.875" x 9". The rear wheel strap vacuum cup as well as the vacuum cups on the Mini Bomber are 6" in diameter. SeaSucker also offers the Talon, Falcon, and Hornet racks that hold a single bike each, as well as the 3-bike Bomber. Additional wheel straps and accessories are available for different configuration options.
- Fits perfectly on any flat, clean surface
- Black HDPE with white vacuum cups
- The SeaSucker crew has created a routine maintenance video with easy to follow instructions: http://youtu.be/Ps27VDuH664
Simply clean the surface, moisten the 4 vacuum cups, and place the Mini Bomber. With a few pumps of the vacumm plunger until the orange disappears, you are ready to go. The Mini Bomber holds the bikes firmly in place and stays on until you remove it by pulling up the edge of vacuum cup and slowly releasing the pressure. The rack can go on the roof, tailgate, and even the side of the car without the need for installing any permanent hardware.
The Mini Bomber kit comes with the front rack that has 4 vacuum cups, 2 rear wheel straps, and 2 Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mounts. While a simple design, the Mini Bomber is very effective in quickly mounting and securing a rack to your vehicle. The Delta fork mounts and optional vinly coated trunk or window cable anchors make locking your bikes up a breeze. The high visibility orange on the pump plunger lets you quickly check if the rack is ready to go before heading out on your next adventure.
Scott Mares interviews current world cyclocross champion Sven Nys the day after Cross Vegas 13.
CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com is currently taking submissions for the 2011 Cyclocross Gear awards. This is an annual series of awards presented by CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com that include the following categories: "Cross Bike of the Year," "Cross Gear of the Year" (equipment and clothing), and "Cross Shoe of the Year." The winners will be announced and presented at the 2011 Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, NV.
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450g total weight
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