Saris Freedom 2-Bike Review
Cons: Support straps contact frame, no access to rear of vehicle when loaded, difficult to adjust, no security features
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. Its versatility is further enhanced by the convertible design that works with both 1.25" and 2" receivers.
Ease of Everyday Use
From an ergonomics standpoint; 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's no way to get the wheel trays adjusted correctly by eye-balling the wheelbase, so 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 due to how close the wheel trays are to each other. 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 larger 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 one of the only hitch mount racks we tested that is compatible with both 1.25" and 2" receivers. It comes with a plastic adaptor that slides over the receiver bar, increasing the size to 2 inches; for 1.25" 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. While the receiver adaptor is a nice touch the use of plastic isn't ideal and we much prefer the metal sleeve used on the Kuat Transfer's convertible hitch.
The bicycle attachment system is a hybrid design that combines some of the features of the Kuat NV with features from other vertical racks. Wheel trays support the weight of the bike while a cradle with a strap clamps onto the down tube. This mounting system places less stress on the frame some other racks 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. 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. We prefer racks that come with locks or at least have the option of installing lock cores to help secure your precious cargo.
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 or e-bikes.
The Freedom 2 is one of the most affordable platform hitch racks 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. We'd also point people towards the Kuat Transfer which retails for just $18 more and is superior in virtually every way.
The Freedom 2 has a unique design, but it does not provide any advantage over the more traditional platform hitch mount models. The frame clamps are not as secure as the wheel clamps found on most other platform hitch mount racks and the design makes securely carrying some frames difficult.
— Curtis Smith