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by Dave Everett
December 12, 2017
Photography by David Everett & Tim Bardsley Smith
When it comes to the bike rack market, there are a few different mounting options available. Some systems attach to roof racks, others attach to the towball, some attach directly to the car boot. SeaSucker takes a different approach, using suction cups to secure its range of roof-mounted bike racks.
CyclingTips reporter Dave Everett has spent several months testing two SeaSucker roof racks — the Komodo and the Mini Bomber 2. Read on for Dave’s verdict on the two.
SeaSucker first started making vacuum-sealed parts for boats back in 2005. Fast forward to 2009 and the Floridian company had ventured into the cycling world by developing their first car bike rack. Since then SeaSucker has released several new models and has grown its range to include everything from single bike racks to pro team car roof racks that hold multiple bikes and wheels. They’re now even an official supporter of the UCI.
SeaSuckers differ from every other roof-mounted bike rack in that they’re mounted via 6-inch vacuum cups, making them compatible with pretty much any car (soft tops/convertibles are obviously excluded). According to SeaSucker, each of the vacuum cups is rated to pull up to 210 pounds (95kg). Videos of racks mounted on racing cars shooting around tracks demonstrate how powerful these cups are.
Attaching the racks is a simple undertaking. Wet the underside of the rubber cups with either water or the included lube, press the pads down firmly then pump the buttons on each cup until they form a secure seal. You’ll know this has happened when the red tabs on the buttons are no longer visible. With that done you’re ready to throw your bike on and dash down the road with magic suction holding your pride and joy in place.
The Komodo is SeaSucker’s premier consumer rack and is designed to carry a single bike. It’s unique in the range in that it’s the only rack built from a single piece of machined aluminium alloy (the rest are made from high-density polythene). The pads are made of a rubber that includes a powerful UV inhibitor that should stop them from drying or breaking down.
The Komodo’s frame has two articulated rear legs and two fixed front legs, each with a suction pad on a ball joint that swivels slightly. Between the back legs and the ball joints, there’s enough adjustability to make it light work to mount and attach the rack.
The Komodo is such a good looking bike rack it’s sure to turn just as many heads as a nice bike it’s designed to carry.
With its small footprint (18″ x 13″ or 45cm x 33cm) it takes up a minimal amount of space. This is great if you’ve got a sports car but as we found out, it’s not so great on vehicles with large metal roofs. If not placed on a firm-enough part of the roof, the Komodo caused the rooftop to flex while driving. This issue could be eliminated by placing the Komodo in an area of the roof where there was underlying support, or close to the front of the roof where it met the windscreen.
Attaching the bike is a simple affair. A standard quick-release skewer clamps the front fork in place while the rear wheel sits on a small but stable tail. The rear wheel is held in place by a plastic ratchet closure system with a soft pad that loops over the rim, stopping your expensive carbon rims from getting scratched. I did find that the ratchet system was a little temperamental to undo at times due to the robust plastic that’s been used. (Note: If you have a bike with thru axles, there is a adaptor available that means you can still use the Komodo.)
The Komodo’s small frame gets even smaller when you want to store it away. Pulling a small pin out from below the base of the tail allows the rack to fold in half on top of itself. There are also four plastic covers supplied with the rack — these clip on easily to the base of the rubber pads, protecting the pads from wear and tear when not in use.
Beyond the Komodo’s insect-like design and high-quality finish, it’s the hefty price tag that’ll catch your eye. At US$1,395 / AU$1,950 it’s not exactly cheap for a single bike rack. But on some level, SeaSucker can be forgiven for this — I know I don’t fall into their intended market for this product.
The Komodo isn’t aimed at the everyday cyclist who needs to carry one (or multiple bikes) on the roof of their family run-around. Instead, it’s squarely aimed at the cyclist who owns a car that, as SeaSucker’s website puts it, “doesn’t have a lot of open space” — that is, sports cars and convertibles. These are cars that, for the most part, cost a lot more than the average run-around.
The team at SeaSucker is quick to point out, though, that the Komodo it’s primarily designed for sports cars it’ll also fit onto a variety of other vehicles. Which was lucky for the CyclingTips team because, with no sports car on hand, it was on a Peugeot Partner Tepee that we tested the Komodo during this year’s Tour de France.
All in all, it’s an elegant system that’s been well thought-out and executed, but one for those with deep pockets.
Price: US$1,395 / AU$1,950 / £1,050
If the Komodo is the Campagnolo Super Record EPS of the SeaSucker’s range, then the Mini Bomber 2 is the mechanical Ultegra.
Just like the Komodo, the Mini Bomber 2 is secured to the roof of a car via vacuum cups. There are six in total — four for the front body of the rack, which holds the two 9mm fork mounts made from machined aluminium (these can be swapped out for thru axle mounts-sold separately), and two separate cups that hold the rear wheels.
The Bomber 2 is not as flash as the Komodo but is my preferred rack of the two.
Installing the Mini Bomber 2 is arguably even easier than the Komodo. First, you install the main body toward the front of the roof. Once secure, I found it best to place the bike on the rack, clamp the forks in place and then simply positioning the rear vacuum cups under the rear wheel. Once you’ve stuck the rear cups on and attached the back wheel with the thick velcro straps, you’re ready to hit the road.
SeaSucker includes two extra velcro ties with the Mini Bomber 2, allowing you to strap your crank arms in place to prevent them swinging about in transit and scuffing the roof of the car. It’s a nice little touch — pretty low tech but it works wonderfully.
Over the years I’ve used a variety of bike racks — boot-mounted, towball racks, roof racks — but of all the racks I’ve used, the Mini Bomber 2 is by far the quickest to install. It’s a hassle-free process that only takes minutes to complete.
It’s near-universal compatibility also makes it perfect for those who often travel with their bikes and have to use hire cars. It’s relatively low weight (12 pounds/5.4kg), and size (approximately 27″x 8″, or 68cm x 20cm) allows it to fit in a suitcase or bike bag.
So far so great. But there is just one small underlying problem: security. Or to be more precise, the lack of in-built security. It’s an issue that affects both the Komodo and the Mini Bomber 2.
Mounts for different fork drop-out types can be purchased and swapped in easily enough.
Where many other roof-mounted racks have in-built locks — either fork locks or frame clamps — the SeaSuckers lack any sort of in-built security device at all.
Removing both the Mini Bomber 2 and Komodo from the roof is straightforward — merely pull lightly on the tabs of each cup to break the vacuum seal, and off the racks come. It’s a job that takes seconds. This is great most of the time, but also means thieves can easily take your bike and your rack without too much hassle.
Luckily SeaSucker has addressed this problem by offering a variety of options with the aim of (hopefully) keeping your bike and rack theft-free. They offer rubberised steel anchors that hook on the inside of a closed boot or door and also a hook that sits over and inside a closed window. You can then lock your preferred cable lock through these simple anchor points, securing your bike and rack to the car.
It’s not an ideal solution, but it works (as a theft-free three weeks at the Tour de France proved).
Price: US$440 / AU$639 / £350
The Komodo is an exceptional rack. It’s installation is hassle-free, it’s made from quality materials and being a single item it won’t see you misplacing parts of it in the garage. It looks great, something that you can’t say about many bike racks. It seems to be a product that should see years of service with little trouble, which you’d hope for given the asking price. Realistically though, the asking price means the Komodo’s always going to appeal to a limited segment of the market.
If I had a flash sports car, and it was my only form of motorised transport, and I wanted to bring a bike along, the Komodo would be an ideal product for me. But I don’t — I own a 2007 Renault Megane.
Out of the two racks tested it’s no surprise that I preferred the Bomber 2. For starters, it holds two bikes, fits on pretty much any car, and does the same job as the Komodo at about a third of the price. It’s portable, lightweight (for a rack) and holds bikes just as well as any high-quality rack I’ve used in the past. There are very few downsides, bar the slightly higher-than-average price and the aforementioned security issue.
Over the course of a month-long Roadtripping adventure we used the Mini Bomber 2 on a daily basis, throwing bikes on and off the roof for photo shoots in multiple locations. Not once did it cause us problems, nor did we have to adjust and re-pump the buttons too often to secure the rack.
It worked faultlessly in every type of weather, from 35-degree sunshine to snow storms (both of which we had in the course of a week in Switzerland). The clamps for the forks are secure and like every other part of both racks, they’re made from high-quality materials.
If you look after the rubber pads (which are also replaceable), the Mini Bomber 2 strikes me as a rack that would see years of service, no matter what car you put it on. For its slightly higher than average price you’re getting a product that, if you change car or travel enough, will soon pay for itself.
It’s a well made, well thought out rack that sucks in only the way you’d want it to.
We used the Mini Bomber 2 throughout September on a CyclingTips Roadtripping adventure in Switzerland. The rack worked well in every weather condition we threw at it, from 35-degree days to two days of snow storms.
The bikes stuck firmly to the roof of the car, even when we dashed up the famous Gottard pass with its kilometre after kilometre of cobbles.
Installing the rack and placing the bikes on the roof is a simple and quick job.
Two of the rear mounting cups come with the SeaSucker Mini Bomber 2. The velcro holds the wheel in place very well.
How do the vacuum cups work? Simply press the button several times until the coloured area isn’t visible any longer. This is the sign that the cups have formed a secure seal with the roof of the car.
The quick release skewers are solid and work well, even if they are a bit basic in design.
The Komodo is compact and easy to store when folded in half.
You can pull the pin out from below the halfway joint of the Komodo then flip the tail of the rack to sit on the top half. This is a quick and easy process when you need to store it away.
Though the rack is tough, it did get some scratches on the rear wheel support. It’s not a big deal, but this was one area that looked a little tired after only a month of use.