Swagman XC2 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The XC2 falls in the lower end of the price spectrum of Swagman's range of hitch mount bike racks. It's far from fancy, and it has a relatively simple, no-frills design that is highly adjustable to accommodate a wide range of bike, wheel, and tire sizes. We had the opportunity to test the XC2 on several different vehicles, with a variety of bikes, and on varying road surfaces. We took this rack to its limit to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Testers praised the XC2 for its adjustability, versatility, lightweight, and small collapsed size. A lack of security features, obvious wobble, and clamps which contact the frame proved to be the rack's low points. Read on to find out how the Swagman XC2 stacked up to the competition.
Ease of Everyday Use
Overall, we found the XC2 to be well suited to everyday use, assuming you don't mind the clamps making contact with your bicycle frame, and you drive on relatively smooth road surfaces. It is easy to load with a low loading height, although the oblong wire loops that are the wheel trays need to be adjusted by hand for bikes with varying wheelbases. The wheel trays are adjusted by loosening and tightening their plastic knobs and sliding them along the horizontal center bar of the rack. This does take some guessing and checking and tends to be far less convenient than the easier to adjust systems found on the Editor's Choice Award winner Thule T2 Pro XT, or the Yakima Dr. Tray.
The vertical bar in the center of the rack has two soft rubber coated hook-shaped clamps that slide up and down on a ratcheting system to hold the bikes by their top tube with downward pressure. These clamps are easy to adjust by pressing the small metal tab on the side of each clamp housing. Loading the bike closest to the vehicle can be slightly awkward because the clamp bar is in the vertical position when loading, forcing you to lift the bike in between it and the vehicle.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The XC2 comes with mounting hardware that requires the use of tools to install and remove the rack from the receiver. It has a threaded hitch pin and a cotter pin to secure it in case it comes loose during use. The included hitch pin fits 1.25" receivers, but we found it to be too short for the additional width of 2" receivers, at least on the vehicle used for testing. The XC2 is lightweight, weighing in at 25 lbs, so it is easy to carry once removed. The horizontal bar also folds up on both sides making this rack impressively small when collapsed for storage; it will easily fit into your trunk or take up less space than most hitch mount tray racks when stored. The only other hitch mount tray rack that folds up compact like this for storage is the 1Up USA Heavy Duty Quick Rack.
We were reasonably impressed with the XC2's versatility. It is highly adjustable to fit a huge range of bike sizes. The wheel trays slide along the horizontal bar and can accommodate wheelbases anywhere within the range of 15-52 inches. The included oblong wire loop wheel trays are compatible with wheel sizes from 20-29 inches in diameter and tire widths up to 3.5 inches. These wheel trays aren't wide enough to fit fat tire bikes, but fat tire wheel trays are available as an aftermarket accessory. The vertical bar on the rack has a ratcheting length of 29 inches down to 15 inches to accommodate tall to small bicycles as well. The rack has a total weight limit of 70 pounds, 35 pounds per bike, so it isn't well suited for use with heavier downhill or e-bikes. The rack has an adapter system that makes it compatible with both 1.25" and 2" receivers, although the included hitch pin was too short to work with the 2" receiver we tested it on.
Ease of Assembly
The XC2 comes partially assembled in the box. The vertical and horizontal bars are already attached to the center point of the rack. The rack comes with easy to follow instructions and It took approximately 10 minutes to finish the remaining assembly at home. The receiver bar needs to be attached to the center point of the rack, the wheel trays slid onto the horizontal bar, and the clamps onto the vertical bar. The only tool needed was a Phillips head screwdriver to install two small keeper screws which prevent the wheel trays from sliding completely off the rack.
The XC2 offers no included security features. As it comes there is no way to lock the bikes to the rack or the rack to the vehicle, and therefore it scored quite low in this rating metric, especially when compared to high scoring racks like the Yakima Holdup and the Kuat Sherpa 2.0. Swagman does offer aftermarket locking hitch pins and a locking cable for those looking to add some security. The Chinook is another affordable hitch mount tray rack made by Swagman that comes standard with locking security features.
The XC2 is a reasonably durable product. It is virtually all metal, except for the plastic knobs on the wheel trays and the rubber coating on the clamp hooks and should hold up to weather and abuse well. The rack's carrying capacity is 35 pounds per bike, for a total of 70 pounds, and we could see the rack getting damaged if this weight limit was exceeded. Assuming you keep using the XC2 primarily on smoother road surfaces, we expect the hardware and fittings to hold up to several years of use.
We feel the XC2 is best suited to light duty use on smooth roads and for people who don't leave bikes on their rack unattended. This rack is not ideal for anyone who might drive on dirt roads as it tends to wobble and the clamps make contact with the frame and may cause wear to the paint of your bike. That said, if you only occasionally use a bike rack and don't want to break the bank, this rack gets the job done, and it's lightweight and easy to store.
From a value standpoint, the XC2 is hard to beat with a retail price of $180, although it can usually be found online for less. It lacks many of the features of the much more expensive models, but if you only have basic bike rack needs, then this rack could be a good fit for you.
It may not be fancy or packed with all the features of the far more expensive models on the market, but the Swagman XC2 is inexpensive and does the job. It is quite versatile, very lightweight, and folds up small for storage. If your bike rack needs are relatively basic, you don't mind clamp to frame contact, and you drive on smooth paved roads, then the XC2 is an affordable option that gets the job done.
Other Versions and Accessories
Swagman makes a full line of bike racks and accessories including the Swagman Chinook which is also a part of our test selection. The Chinook retails for $270 and offers a similar design with a higher weight rating and security features included.
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