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Verdict: 
Incredibly portable and quick-to-use bike carrier, but the price is shocking and I'm just not convinced by the concept
Weight: 
804g
SeaSucker Hornet Bike Rack
3 10

The folk at Seasucker have come up with another bike rack, and this one is even smaller than the Talon that we tested last year. The Hornet uses a pair of 4.5in suckers that are attached (typically) to the rear window of your car, holding the handlebar of your bike in place. The good news is that it costs less than the £250 rrp of the Talon, but you get a lot less for your money too, making this look shockingly overpriced. And while it does hold onto your bike reliably, I was a lot less happy using this than I was the Talon.

Seasucker designed the Hornet as the first of its range of sucker-mounted racks where you leave the front wheel in place. All the previous models worked by clamping the front dropouts down, with the front wheel first removed and then either stowed in the vehicle or mounted via optional brackets alongside the bike. Some questioned whether carbon forks were designed to take the different loads that result, and some bike frame manufacturers say that their bikes shouldn't be mounted to roof carriers via the dropouts.

> Find your nearest dealer here

With the Hornet, you leave the front wheel on and simply attach the bike via the handlebar, with the wheels facing outward. The bike's saddle rests against the car without an attachment.

Seasucker Hornet - saddle position.jpg

Seasucker Hornet - saddle position.jpg

I tried fitting it to a range of cars and was able to find a workable position on each of them – Skoda Octavia hatchback, BMW Z4 coupe and Nissan X-Trail SUV. If your car has a bootlid spoiler below the window then it gets more complicated, but you can normally find a position that works. Fitting and removing it is extremely quick – once you've got an idea of where it best fits, you can have the bike fitted in literally about a minute.

Each of the two suckers has a plastic ratchet strap attached, looking a lot like those used on snowboard bindings. Unlike those (or those on cycling shoes), there's no lever to allow you to really crank it down, so it'll only go as tight as you can push the strap through with your thumb. However, I found that just pushing the strap was enough to keep a firm hold on the bar.

Seasucker Hornet - suction cup 2.jpg

Seasucker Hornet - suction cup 2.jpg

The adjustable length of these straps means you can use it to fix drop-handlebar road bikes as well as flat-bar bikes (either around the grips or the bar itself). I found that with the rather tall hoods on SRAM's hydraulic road brakes, the top of the hoods would be pushed against the car body when you tightened the straps. This seems like it might be A Bad Thing.

Seasucker Hornet - ratchet.jpg

Seasucker Hornet - ratchet.jpg

The angle of the tailgate to which you attached the Hornet will affect how the bike's weight is shared between the two suckers and the saddle. When fitted at a shallow angle, most of the weight goes via the saddle, generally onto the bootlid body panel below the rear window.

Seasucker Hornet - full car.jpg

Seasucker Hornet - full car.jpg

I have several reservations about this. First, even a 7kg race bike is enough to flex the body panel inwards a bit. With a heavier bike (such as a full-suspension mountain bike), there is the risk of permanently denting the body panel, not least as when you drive over bumps the bike will bounce on the saddle. The fact that the saddle isn't attached means that when you go around corners, the bike tends to sway from side to side, with the saddle sliding back and forth across the paintwork. I would expect that over time this would cause damage to the car's paint, and probably quite quickly if you had any gritty dirt on the saddle.

Depending on the shape of your bootlid and the angle at which you set your saddle, there's a good chance that it'll be just the nose of the saddle in contact with the car, as in our pictures, further concentrating the load on the bootlid (and on the saddle itself).

> Beginner's guide to carrying your bike by car

As with the Talon rack, I had no concerns about the Hornet's ability to keep a hold of my bike and not drop it on the motorway. However, the risk of damage to the car meant I was pretty unhappy using it on my own vehicle for a journey of any length. The side-to-side swaying of the bike when going around a corner was more than a little disconcerting. We talked to Seasucker about this at a tradeshow and it suggested that you could buy a third sucker and put it under the saddle to keep it better fixed in place and avoid damage to the car. I think this would be an improvement, but wouldn't work on every car as you'd need a 4.5-inch strip of flattish metal to attach it.

As well as the pair of sucker-strap units, you get a back-up strap with a plastic bar on one end, designed to be trapped in the top of your bootlid and then looped around the bike, to provide extra reassurance in the unlikely event that the suckers released unexpectedly. The whole lot is supplied inside a padded zip case, which is remarkably compact – about twice the size of a large sunglasses case.

Seasucker Hornet - strap.jpg

Seasucker Hornet - strap.jpg

So what about that price then? Pump-action suckers very similar to those used here can be had for around £30 a pop. So you're paying a further £120 for the fixing straps and that case. No, I'm not sure how that works either. If you need to fix your bike to a car that doesn't have conventional roof fixings, you could use a conventional tail-gate mounted rack like the Saris Bones, which could carry more than one bike and is cheaper to boot. Obviously it's nowhere near as portable as the Hornet.

Seasucker Hornet.jpg

Seasucker Hornet.jpg

If my need was for an exceptionally portable means of fixing one bike to a bashed-up old car then I might consider the Hornet, but I'd really struggle to stomach the price considering what you get for it. I really liked the Talon (and the matching Bomber range) from Seasucker, but I am much less convinced by the Hornet.

Verdict

Incredibly portable and quick-to-use bike carrier, but the price is shocking and I'm just not convinced by the concept

road.cc test report

Make and model: SeaSucker Hornet Bike Rack

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Seasucker says: "Our new Hornet 1-bike rack is a small-scale revolution. Billed as the 'Smallest Bike Rack in the World', the Hornet is so compact that it fits into an included 9.5'x7'x3' zippered carrying case for easy storage and travel. The Hornet is far and away the most travel-friendly rack on the market, but it works equally well for everyday use.

"The Hornet is our first 'leave-the-front-wheel-on' bike rack. It is designed to mount to the back window of any hatchback, SUV or minivan using two of SeaSucker's powerful 4.5in vacuum cups (120 lb. rated pull-strength each) to hold the handlebars and hang a bike weighing not more than 35 lbs from the rear glass. Plastic ladder straps securely hold both road and mtb bars to the vacuum cups and make attaching and removing the bike a breeze.

"As with all SeaSucker bike racks, the pump-action vacuum cups also allow the user to attach the rack in just seconds, making the Hornet one of the easiest and fastest racks to install. Simply pump the two vacuum cups onto the back windshield, close the ladder straps around the bars and you're done. And when it comes time to remove it, the Hornet detaches just as quickly and breaks back down into its component parts for storage in its case.

"The Hornet also comes with a safety strap that loops around the bike's steer tube and into a sewn in cam buckle. The strap's tail has a built in plastic peg that, when closed in the hatchback, secures the strap to the car."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

4.5 inch vacuum cups will hold 120lb load each

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Good quality plastics used.

Rate the product for performance:
 
4/10

Held my bike securely but I found it quite disconcerting how it would sway around during cornering, as only the handlebar is held in position. There's a risk of damage to paintwork where the saddle rests on the boot, particularly as it doesn't stay in one place.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No issues observed.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

Find me a lighter bike rack, go on...

Rate the product for value:
 
2/10

The Seasucker Talon seemed pricey. This costs less, but there's a lot less to it. I can't really see how it can justify the price, if I'm honest.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I would trust it to hold on to my bike and not let go. However, I didn't like how the bike would sway around and I wouldn't use it on my own car as I'd be concerned about damage to paintwork.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's very portable, so if you need to travel with a rack, it's hard to beat. It's also extremely quick to fit and remove. However, I'd choose the Talon over this.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Bike isn't held steady, risk of damage to car paintwork.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not especially.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they had an old car and couldn't stretch to the Talon.

Use this box to explain your score

The Hornet is overpriced and doesn't strike me as a very good method of carrying a bike. Yes it's very portable itself, but it just doesn't do the job it's designed to very well.

Overall rating: 3/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 188cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh  My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

17 comments

Avatar
Bigpikle [94 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Appalling idea frankly. Apart from the bike bouncing against the car all the way and certainly marking the paint, it still obscures the number plate so to be legal you still need to sort that, and potentially the high level brake light as well. All for the price of......

Avatar
The _Kaner [1046 posts] 9 months ago
3 likes

....and a damaged saddle....thought up by a 2 year old....

why not just lash on stabilizers to the bike and tow it behind the car...where's that kickstarter phone number...

Avatar
Mark_1973_ [26 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

By coincidence, I bought one of these to try just today. I wasn't happy with the mounting method displayed as I thought there was too much risk of either reversing damage or somebody else driving into the bike. However, I experimented with different mounting options and came up with the idea of mounting the bike as shown in the picture (hopefully it displays).

When I travel, I'll remove the pedals and the seatpost so there'll only be about 5kg on the back. I'll also position the bike slightly higher on the window and use some pipe lagging on any parts of the frame that might touch the bodywork. I can still open and close the tailgate and the number plate won't be obscured. I also won't have to book a high vehicle space on the Eurotunnel shuttle.

Avatar
jterrier [94 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Hmmm. Its not great is it.

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dodgy [216 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Not keen on this at all. I'd feel like every time I used it and :

* nothing damaged the car
* the suckers stayed attached to the window
* Nothing fell off the car

I'd be proving it's actually not a bad idea at all, but every time I used it I'd be thinking "is this the day it all goes wrong".

Avatar
thecyclingscot [11 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
Mark_1973_ wrote:

By coincidence, I bought one of these to try just today. I wasn't happy with the mounting method displayed as I thought there was too much risk of either reversing damage or somebody else driving into the bike. However, I experimented with different mounting options and came up with the idea of mounting the bike as shown in the picture (hopefully it displays).

When I travel, I'll remove the pedals and the seatpost so there'll only be about 5kg on the back. I'll also position the bike slightly higher on the window and use some pipe lagging on any parts of the frame that might touch the bodywork. I can still open and close the tailgate and the number plate won't be obscured. I also won't have to book a high vehicle space on the Eurotunnel shuttle.

 

Personally I wouldn't be happy paying that amount of money for what you get and then having to modify it. Plus, this way the number plate is still obscured. 

Avatar
Mark_1973_ [26 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

£129 from CRC with British Cycling discount....

Avatar
unconstituted [2355 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
Mark_1973_ wrote:

By coincidence, I bought one of these to try just today. I wasn't happy with the mounting method displayed as I thought there was too much risk of either reversing damage or somebody else driving into the bike. However, I experimented with different mounting options and came up with the idea of mounting the bike as shown in the picture (hopefully it displays).

When I travel, I'll remove the pedals and the seatpost so there'll only be about 5kg on the back. I'll also position the bike slightly higher on the window and use some pipe lagging on any parts of the frame that might touch the bodywork. I can still open and close the tailgate and the number plate won't be obscured. I also won't have to book a high vehicle space on the Eurotunnel shuttle.

 

Not happy about the chain hanging like that. Looks like there's enough sway to mark your boot up.

Avatar
The _Kaner [1046 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Refund please!

What on earth possessed anyone to 'design' this abomination?

Give me my Saris Bones anyday.

If you have to go to all the trouble of dismantling your bike to transport it (wheels off, seatpost off, pipe lagging to prevent paintwork damage etc....)....put it in the boot...

Avatar
DrG82 [120 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

You can buy double suction cup glass carrying tools for £10 each so add a few quid for straps and flog them for £170. Hmm, I should go into business and undercut them.

Avatar
Mungecrundle [662 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Mark_1973_ wrote:

By coincidence, I bought one of these to try just today. I wasn't happy with the mounting method displayed as I thought there was too much risk of either reversing damage or somebody else driving into the bike. However, I experimented with different mounting options and came up with the idea of mounting the bike as shown in the picture (hopefully it displays).

When I travel, I'll remove the pedals and the seatpost so there'll only be about 5kg on the back. I'll also position the bike slightly higher on the window and use some pipe lagging on any parts of the frame that might touch the bodywork. I can still open and close the tailgate and the number plate won't be obscured. I also won't have to book a high vehicle space on the Eurotunnel shuttle.

I'd be very wary of that setup for more than an emergency use. Bike tubes rubbing against the edge of the boot lid will damage both, and the seat stay could be subject to side on stresses that it is not designed for.

Has anyone mentioned security? How easy are the straps to undo or simply can the suckers be disengaged while the bike is mounted?

Avatar
Mark_1973_ [26 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

The photo I've uploaded is only an experiment of a different way of using the rack, as I certainly don't like the official way of it sticking out the back. My boot will be full and all the seats will be occupied on a journey to Europe. I basically just want to transport the bike with the minimum fuss and really don't mind removing the wheels and seatpost for this long return journey.

I wouldn't use this as a day to day product but I feel it will suit my needs on this occasion. When I get to my destination or even a hotel stop overnight, I can simply remove the frame, with the suckers still attached and bring it into my room.

When I actually make the journey, the frame will fit almost perfectly over the rear window and won't obscure the number plate - I will also be able to easily open the tailgate, something not possible with most other systems.

I also have a Morgan Blue chain-keeper that will take care of the dangly chain.

Avatar
Username [206 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I think Mark has come up with the best way of using it.

 

I won't like to see what my Brooks' copper rivets would do to my car's paintwork in the manufacturer's suggested mounting.

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Yorkshire wallet [976 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

I hope nobody put their life-savings into this. Certainly an "I'm out" Dragon's Den invention.

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lordrobs [4 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Looks like an incredibly stupid design. The review and other comments have picked up on the reasons why. Also, does anyone know what the load bearing capacity of their rear window is? I'm sure the answer from any car manufacturer would be nil, nada, zero. After they've stopped laughing of course.

Mark, that looks like a tidy car. Don't ruin it by trying to drive it like that. Even with the chain held in place and contact points wrapped in foam I'd feel like a very lucky boy if that didn't leave a few paint scuffs.

Avatar
PaulBox [627 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
Mark_1973_ wrote:

I wasn't happy with the mounting method displayed as I thought there was too much risk of either reversing damage or somebody else driving into the bike.

That is the first thing I thought of, I have a black bike, with black wheels and tyres. I wouldn't risk using the rack as the manufacturer intended during daylight hours, at night it would be a definite no - no.

I quite like the way that you have set it up to hold your frame flat against the window. If you secure / wrap everything as described and use the safety strap it could be a tidy way of moving your bike.

Price is ridiculous though.

Avatar
PaulBox [627 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

A couple of these triple suction cup glass lifters (£9.99 each) and some mini ratchet straps I think:

http://www.screwfix.com/p/triple-suction-lifter/89531?kpid=89531&cm_mmc=...