The Saris Freedom 2 is a versatile hitch mount rack that is compatible with both one and one-fourth inch and two-inch receivers. A unique design combines some of the features of tray mount racks, like our Editors' Choice Thule T2 Pro, with other designs that use the frame as the primary point of attachment. No front wheel removal is required, and the Freedom 2 will carry a broad range of bikes. It is a bit difficult to adjust, but we like the low loading height, light weight, and easy assembly.
Saris Freedom 2-Bike Review
Cons: Support straps contact frame, no access to rear of vehicle when loaded, difficult to adjust, no security features
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Saris Freedom 2 has a unique design — the wheel trays support the weight of the bike while stability is achieved by a frame cradle and strap. It is the only hitch mount rack in our test group that is compatible with both one ¼" and 2" hitch receivers.
Ease of Everyday Use
From an ergonomics stand point; this model has a lot to offer. Wheel removal is not required, and by design, the loading height is very low. Once a bike is lifted onto the wheel trays, the rack supports its weight while the frame cradle is adjusted into position. When it comes to ease of use, the Freedom 2 falls short of our Editors' Choice, the Thule T2 Pro. The wheel trays must be adjusted to match the wheelbase of each bike you will load onto the rack. If you have multiple bikes, adjustments will be required every time you load a bike.
There is no way to get the wheel trays adjusted correctly by eye-balling the wheelbase, so often setup requires lifting the bike up and down multiple times to get it right. Loading more than one bike further complicates things, as the trays must be adjusted not only to accommodate each bike's wheelbase but also in a manner that limits bike-to-bike contact. We found it challenging and time-consuming to get many combinations of bikes to fit without significant bike-to-bike contact. We also discovered that the frame cradles often make contact with the down tube at the same point as bottle cages and suspension pivot points.
Ease of Removal and Storage
Once assembled, the Freedom 2 is easy to attach; the receiver bar slides into the receiver, and a threaded bolt is inserted through the receiver and threaded into the receiver bar on the rack. A ¾" wrench is required to tighten down the hitch bolt. This rack takes up less space when stored than other hitch racks like the Thule T2 Pro XT.
This model has a two-bike capacity and a weight limit of 70lbs. The Freedom 2 is the only hitch mount rack we tested that is compatible with both one ¼" and 2" receivers, which makes it unique. It comes with a plastic adaptor that slides over the receiver bar, increasing the size to 2 inches; for one ¼" receivers, the rack is used without the adaptor. We like this feature as it increases versatility, especially if you have two vehicles with different hitch receiver sizes.
The bicycle attachment system is a hybrid design that combines some of the features of the Kuat NV with features from other vertical racks such as the Thule Parkway 4-Bike. Wheel trays support the weight of the bike and a cradle with a strap clamps the down tube. This mounting system places less stress on the frame than racks like the Parkway by supporting the bikes' weight at the wheels but still uses the frame as an attachment point. A wide range of bikes will fit on the Freedom 2, but the frame cradle is only adjustable in height, so on some frames, it will hit the down tube in the same place as water bottle cages or front suspension pivot points.
Ease of Assembly
This model was one of the easiest hitch mount racks we tested to assemble and attach. Tools are not included, and you will need an 8mm hex key, 17mm wrench, and a ¾" wrench. We wish that tools were included, but most people have these items available in a home tool kit. The directions are clear, concise and easy to follow.
This bike rack has no security features. A locking hitch pin can be purchased from Saris for $35.99.
The frame is durable and rugged. The wheel trays and cradles are made of plastic, and we had obvious durability issues during testing with these parts. We broke two of the plastic knobs used to adjust the position of the wheel trays and frame cradles. We scoured online consumer reviews but found no evidence suggesting that this problem is widespread.
This competitor is best suited for transporting road bikes and lightweight mountain bikes. Many full suspension frames will fit, but we recommend you check for fit at a retail establishment before purchase. The Freedom 2 has a 70lb capacity, limiting the weight of each bike to 35lbs, so it is not well suited for transport of downhill mountain bikes.
At $270 the Freedom 2 is the most affordable tray style hitch rack we tested. Despite the low price, we feel that other more expensive racks like the Thule T2 Classic are a better value due to enhanced versatility and an easier to use design.
The Freedom 2 has a unique design, but it does not provide any advantage over the more traditional tray style hitch mount model. The frame clamps are not as secure as the wheel clamps found on most other tray style hitch mount racks and the design makes securely carrying some frames difficult.
— Curtis Smith