I have a Mini Countryman and being a keen mountain biker I ordered the official Countryman bike that integrates with the bike rack prep.
Received the rack last week and used it for the first time yesterday. Overall, I'm very impressed with the quality but given the RRP (£400) I expected nothing less. My friend has a Thule rack and he thinks they have designed it for BMW as there are a lot of similarities to their tow hook solutions.
Fitting is simple and can be completed in less than 5 minutes. First the tow hook caps are removed, then the rack slides into the guides holes. Once in, you use a beefy allen key to screw the rack in place. When doing this you must alternate between the two sides after 3 turns of the allen ket whilst gently lifting the rack upwards to alleviate the pressure on the threads. When you can't screw any further you then use a rod (supplied) to tighten the allen keys to the correct torque setting. The allen key heads have lockable covers so the rack cannot be removed without a key.
The electrics are easily connected, simply take the plug from the rack and find the socket under the car to connect. Twist and turn and it snaps into place easily. The electrics provides brake lights, indicators and registration plate illumination. Once connected the system disables the PDC.
After that it's time to load the bike. The wheel holders slide on a rail so it's very easy to set them to the width of your bike. An arm holds the top tube of the bike and resembles a giant zip tie. This is also lockable to provide some additional security although i'm sure a determined thief would be able to circumvent it with the right tools. The wheels are held in place with buckle straps.
Once in place the bike is very secure, i didn't notice any movement when i was on the road. The rack takes two bikes but i've only had one loaded. The rack can slide out to allow the boot to be opened with the bikes fitted. Dismounting is also very simple and quick.
My only gripes are that my rack came with the wrong screws to attach the registration plate (supplied for free by my garage) but that was easily solved. The zip tie arrangements are a bit stiff, perhaps these will loosen up with use. The rack is actually quite heavy and quite large (it came in a huge box) so may be a bit unwieldy for some when fitting.
I'll post some pics soon.
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I carry 2 full suspension bikes no problem, my bikes weigh 27Ib each. 30Kg is about 66Ib so I have 12Ibs spare capacity. If you're carrying Downhill Mountain Bikes then they probably weigh well over 33Ibs each so that would be a problem. You could always remove the seat and seat post as well as the pedals, that might help.
I picked up my car on Tuesday and tried to order the bike rack today from a local dealer. The 'man from parts' informed me that the car would need to be put into workshops for 3.5 hours for initial installation work and re-mapping to be done. He then went on to produce a ream of instructions to be used by the service team for this work.
I thought £400 was steep for the rack but was prepared to pay it as I'm tired of taking muddy wheels off bikes to get them into the car. The estimated cost of the 'installation work' was put at almost £400 making the rack ridiculously expensive.
I was about to call Mini customer services when I saw your email. It seems you've got away with doing exactly what I'd intended. Have you had any problems?
I have subsequently spoken to Mini customer services who were unaware of any specific instructions to have the electrics re-mapped, thought £400 was more than enough and advised me to just buy one and fit it like you!
We live in the same area so I'd be grateful if you would let me know where you got the rack from and I'll order it from there.
Just to say, I bought the bike rack from my dealer for £401 back in November. It just came in a box and away I went.
It's been on the car this weekend and it's a great, sturdy piece of kit. Just plug the socket for electrics into the hole at the back of the car, and the lights all work...it holds my husbands full suspension mountain bike and my heavy silly american looking bike no problems.
I picked my rack up from Stratstones no special mapping required, just plug and go as all Countrymans come with bike rack prep as standard. Plug the electric socket in and the lights just work and your PDC will be disabled. That's all there is to it. It really is a fantastic bit ok kit. Everywhere I take my bike people comment on the rack (and the car)!
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