Ensuring your bicycle is properly installed on a frame contact rack is crucial not only for the safety of your bike, but also others on the road. This guide is suitable for all Swagman frame contact racks, including the Chinook, the Current, the E-Spec, and many more.

Proper Installation

Proper installation is key to preventing a missing bike from your rack when you look in the rearview mirror. 

First, it’s important to install the wheel trays onto the rack in the proper orientation. The wheel trays on all Swagman racks aside from the XC/XTC series should curve upwards towards the center of the rack. Installing them improperly - reversed - will often not allow the correct positioning to ensure the frame hook comes down at the lowest point on the frame. Setting these wheel trays up curving inwards allows you maximum adjustability to position your bike correctly. 

(XC/XTC series and Nomad racks have wheel hoops that should be positioned in the orientation as per the included instructions).

Second, it’s helpful to set up the wheel trays in the correct position in advance of placing your bike on the rack. You can do this by lining your bike up on the ground, in front of the rack, and eyeballing the position where the lowest point of the bike’s top tube is centered with the center post of the rack (which is where the frame hook will come down onto the frame).

Once you have completed this, you can place your bike into the rack, confirming that the wheel trays are positioned in such a way that the hook comes down on the lowest point of the toptube. Further minor adjustments may be needed. 

Once you have confirmed correct fitment, don’t forget to tighten the knobs that secure the wheel trays to the rack. 

Importance of Proper Installation

Some of the more common user-errors on frame contact racks can result in a bike coming off the rack, so make sure you keep your prized two-wheeled possessions safe by avoiding any of the following errors: 

Improper Orientation of Wheel Trays

The correct orientation of the wheel trays is with the slope of the tray curving upwards towards the center of the rack. For Roll-Thru Wheel Trays, it is important that the fully curved wheel tray is used for the front wheel of the bike. (see owners manual for further details on Roll-Thru Trays).

If the wheel trays are run in the improper orientation, extra stress and force on the trays can cause them to slide side to side, which may result in the frame contact hook no longer being in the correct position on the bike frame, resulting in a bike falling off the rack.

Improper Positioning of Wheel Trays

The wheel trays should be positioned so that they fully cradle your bikes tire when the frame contact hook is placed in the lowest position on the frame. 

If the wheel trays are not positioned in a way they can fully support your bike tires, they may slide side to side, which may result in the frame contact hook no longer being in the correct position on the bike frame, resulting in a bike falling off the rack. 

Improper Positioning of Frame Hook

The frame hook must come down onto the lowest portion of your bike frame. If the hook is positioned higher than the lowest point on the frame, any slight side to side movement of the bike may cause enough of a gap to occur that would allow the bike to fall off the rack. 


Hook Can’t Lower to the Correct Position

When initially installing 2 bikes on a new rack, or placing new different size or wheelbase bikes onto your existing rack, conflicts may arise where one hook cannot come down low enough because it runs into the hook on the initial bike. 

To fix this issue, you can try swapping the positions of the bikes, moving the inner bike to the outer slot, and vice versa. 

In rare circumstances where you cannot get both hooks to the correct, lowest position no matter the order of bikes, you can purchase an additional shorter hook from Swagman, to replace the longer hook. 

Step-Thru or Dropped Top Tube Won’t Allow Hook to Get Into Correct Position

Some bikes, such as cruiser bikes or smaller frame sizes may have dramatically sloping top tubes that do not allow the frame hook to lower in the correct spot. In these circumstances, you need to use a Bar Adapter. 

Swagman offers two sizes of Bar Adapters - one for most bikes, and another longer version for extended wheelbase bikes that were becoming more common for larger frame size cruiser bikes and ebikes. 

The Bar Adapter works by connecting to the headtube and seatpost of your bike, creating a virtual toptube for the frame hook to come down onto.

Proper Installation = Safe Bikes

To conclude, here’s a quick checklist to ensure your bike is safe and secure in your frame contact rack from Swagman:

1 - wheel trays slope inwards towards the center of the rack

2 - frame hook comes into contact with your bike at the lowest point of the top tube

3 - tires are fully cupped in the wheel trays

Please ensure you follow the steps above to make sure you can carry your bike safely into the future!

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Service Team who will be happy to assist.