First look: Saris’ New Modular Hitch SystemBike Rack

Saris was one of the first brands to offer a tray-style rack that keeps bikes without frame contact with their Modular Tray System (MTS), and now they have redesigned their system, calling it the Modular Hitch System ( MHS). The Saris MHS has options for cars with 1.25 “hitches and 2” hitches, and you can mix and match the different products to carry anywhere between one and four bikes behind your car.

The foundation of the Saris MHS is the Modular Base that you can buy in one, two or three bike option. The base works in conjunction with MHS trays and accessories, which are purchased separately. The 2-bike setup I have for my Honda Fit, which has a 1.25 “height, uses the MHS 1-Bike Receiver Base Universal Hitch ($ 199 USD) with the MHS Duo 1-bike Tray ($ 349 USD), and the MHS Duo 1-Bike Add-On ($ 349 USD).

Modular Hitch System Details
• Accommodates 20 to 29 “wheels & 5” wide tires, wheel bases up to 53 “
• Max bike weight: 60lb per bike (spots 1 + 2), 35lb per bike (spots 3 + 4)
• Options for 1.25 “and 2” hitches
Includes hitch slot plus additional slot cores
Zero frame contact
• Includes integrated steel cable that stores in drawers
• Tilting base
Rack Weight: 76.6lb (31.1kg) as pictured
• MSRP: $ 899 USD as pictured

The Saris Modular Hitch System fits 20 to 29-inch wheel sizes and up to a 5-inch wide tire.

Technical details

Depending on what size hitch you have on your car and how many bikes you want to carry behind it, you can choose the MHS 1 + 1 Base with a universal hitch ($ 199 USD), the MHS 2 + 1 Base with a 2 “hitch ($ 199 USD) or the MHS 3 + 1 Base with a 2 “hitch ($ 249.99 USD).

From there, you have to buy trays, each costing $ 349.99 USD. There are two types of trays, the MHS Duo Tray and the MHS Duo 1-Bike Add On. The MHS 1 + 1 base offers space for 1 Duo bin and 1 Add-on bicycle bin, the MHS 2 + 1 base offers 2 Duo basins and 1 Add-on bicycle bin, and the MHS 3 + 1 base offers 3 Duo bins and 1 Add-on. – On the bike rack. You can run the rack without the Add-On Bike Tray if you do not want the extra capacity.

If you have a 1.25 “hitch, you can carry one or two bikes with the Saris MHS, but if you have a 2” hitch, you can carry anywhere from one to four bikes behind your car. Whatever type of bike you are able to transport, the Saris MHS fits everything from a 20 “wheel to a 29” wheel and up to 5 “wide tires. The two closest trays to your car can carry up to 60 pounds (27.2 kg) and if you have a third and fourth load, they can each carry up to 35 pounds (15.9 kg).

The rack is easy to use, with a simple design that holds the bikes without frame contact. All you have to do to open the arms is press on the silver lever at the bottom of the rack arm and then just press anywhere on the arm to close them. There is an adjustable front wheel block and a rear ratchet belt to keep your wheels in place for driving. To remove your bike from the rack, simply release the ratchet strap and press the silver buttons on the arms to release your wheels.

If the rack is not in use, you can tilt it against the back of your car by pressing the handle on the rack. The tilt function also slides into a downward position, so if you need to access the back of the wheel when there are bikes on the rack, you can tilt the rack under parallel instead of removing it.

The rack has integrated cable locks for each bike that are neatly stored in the middle of the drawer, as well as a lock that locks the rack to your hitch so it won’t be stolen. Key bolts are secured with the supplied fraud-resistant Allen key, which should reduce the chance of your rack being stolen from your car as they are less frequent.

Press the silver lever on the bottom of the rack to open it and then simply press anywhere on the arm to close it.

You can squeeze the lever to close the rack underneath in parallel to gain access to the rear of your car.


The rack came partly assembled in two giant boxes, plus one smaller one, and I was able to put it together with the clearly printed instructions in less than half an hour. Basically, all you have to do is hook the two trays to the base with plain and the supplied tamper-proof Allen keys. The Add-On Bike Tray is set on second and is increased compared to the Duo Tray, so make sure you add the second if that is the rack you are buying.

You then install the front wheel blocks and the ratchet files before using the blank key to install all the locks. Once the rack is on the car, you can adjust the height of the wheel holders to the bikes you will be carrying. You can do this part without tools. Then you are set to put your bike on the rack with the ratcheting arms.

At 76.6 pounds (34.7 kg), it is not the lightest rack to tilt up and down, move between cars or put in storage, but it feels extremely robust.

Install the trays, wheel blocks, ratchet straps and locks before adjusting the height of the wheel holders to the bikes you will be carrying.


Let’s compare the Saris Modular Hitch System to the last rack-style rack where I did a First Look, the Thule Helium. The first thing I noticed is that the Saris MHS is much heavier. The Thule Helium is a weight of 43.2 pounds (19.6 kg) compared to the Saris MHS ’76, 6 pounds (34.7 kg). That weight makes a difference in how your car drives, gas economy, and how easy it is to move the rack from one car to another, but it also means the Saris MHS feels more sturdy.

The Thule Helium is a super lightweight rack, but it does not hold up to the rigors of off-road driving. First the ratcheting arms started moving less smoothly after I drove along a dirt road in my Honda Fit, and then one of the arms finally broke off when I moved it to my partner’s Tacoma for a week-long road trip in the interior that included a rough ride up Mount 7 in Golden, BC. Thule could replace the arm, but overall it is a rack that is more suitable for drivers staying on paved roads. In comparison, the ratcheting arms on the Saris MHS are still sharp and smooth after a few excursions on dirt, although I’m looking forward to seeing how they hold up in the long run.

A second thing I like about the Saris MHS is where the cable locks are stored. Similar to the fully functional Kuat Piston Pro X bike rack that Daniel Sapp reviewed in August, they are in the middle of the rack, which means it’s easy to lock your bike around the frame and they can not get out of the rack. rack fall as you ride. On the Thule Helium they were stored at the ends of the rattling arms and they often came loose and dragged across the road. Sure, most riders probably will not lock their expensive bikes for long with these cable locks, but that does not mean they do not have to work.

The main difference, however, is that the Thule Helium has a limit of 37.5 pounds. If you have a heavy downhill bike or an eMTB, you will be over capacity compared to the 60 pound weight limit per bucket on the Saris MHS and the 67 pound weight limit per bucket on the Kuat Piston Pro which at most downhill and eMTBs.

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