There’s no getting around it: full-sized bikes are bulky, awkward things to transport.
One big reason why I got Bino way back when was the greater ease by which even my diminutive yet space-efficient Honda Jazz could ferry him around. Once Bino required frame maintenance, and I was carrying Hyro in his stead, it dawned on me just how awkward the whole process was. Even at best, Hyro made a mockery out of my car’s expansive cargo hold. I had no choice but to lay him flat on the cargo floor, and I certainly could not stack things on top of him.
The most common ways of transporting bikes by vehicle are racks. They broadly fall under two categories: roof-mounted racks move all the awkwardness up top, while hitch-mounted racks hook up to a tow hitch and typically carry bikes on the rear of the vehicle.
Both have their downsides.
Roof-mounted racks will require some assembly to semi-permanently mount to my car’s roof, as it has no pre-existing longitudinal rails. I’m also a little nervous about all that extra height in case I have to drive under a bridge or through an underpass.
Hitch-mounted racks sound great, but they are effectively a two-stage expense. To make a hitch-mounted rack work, you need a tow hitch, and my Jazz never had one as it was never designed to tow anything. Any hitch for a vehicle bike rack would need to be made custom, accounting for a certain car’s frame and suspension for the mounting points.
A variant of the roof-mounted type are suction-cup-type racks such as the ones made by SeaSucker. These are great for cars with very limited space (just about the only option if you want to transport your bike on a mid-engined sports car), and numerous reviews have shown them to work really well, but these things are expensive.
I decided to go with alternative solutions that can transport bikes inside the vehicle. This was how I arrived at the Minoura Vergo-TF2-WH kit.
- Holds two bikes stably inside your car’s cargo hold
- Two sets of fork mounts with angle adjustment
- Compatible with forks with 100 mm QR dropouts and 100 x 15 mm TA dropouts
- Compatible with optional Vergo-TF Wheel Support accessory
At its core, the Vergo TF line is a shaped aluminum rail, available at three different lengths, and supported by two large rubber feet at each end. The “TF2” designation means it’s the middle variant, and is long enough to support two of the Vergo TF fork mount units.
There is an even longer “TF3” model, but you will need to measure just how large your vehicle’s cargo hold is first. The TF3 variant would have been too long to fit crosswise inside a Honda Jazz.
Speaking of those fork mount units, here’s one disassembled. It has a bottom foot that slides along the center track of the Vergo TF’s main rail. The actual fork mount, in white, has an included QR skewer with an oversize cam on the lever, so that it has greater range when opening and closing, and less need to use the acorn nut to adjust tightness. Finally, the red knob threads through everything and secures the position of the fork mount unit along the rail.
This unit will accept most forks with 100 mm hub spacing. Minoura gives you instructions to disassemble the QR skewer and its dummy axle, so you can secure a fork with a 15 mm through-axle if your bike comes with that instead. A 12 mm through-axle, as found on most new disc-braked road bikes, should fit in here as well, but I’m not sure Minoura makes a relevant reducer adapter for that. You might have to make one on your own.
To pull off the big rubber foot at the end, you undo a knob bolt on its underside. Then you can slide both it and the fork mount off. This is a required step to mount the Vergo-TF Wheel Support accessory.
The “-WH” suffix means my kit has it included in the box. It’s a lightweight aluminum beam with a mounting foot that’s meant to slide onto the Vergo-TF main rail. Once on, it has two knobs you can tighten: one to secure its position along the rail, and the other to adjust its angle. That said, Minoura does say that even when the Wheel Support arm is used, any front wheels it’s holding should still rest on the ground.
The business end of the Wheel Support has a dropout at the end, where you just slide on the wheel via its QR skewer at the acorn nut side. Tighten it up enough, then close the QR lever to secure the front wheel.
If you have a second front wheel to secure, you use the hole in the arm. You will need to unthread the acorn nut off the second wheel’s QR skewer, then poke it through the hole, reattach the acorn nut, and tighten down accordingly.
Actually mounting it in the car just involves carrying the main rail and plopping it onto your cargo area floor. Bring your bike into the car and secure its fork in the mounts.
In the case of Hyro, some modification is needed to make it work with the Vergo-TF2. The front fender has to go, as leaving it on while in transport will deform its rear edge. As seen in the photos, the Jazz’s cargo hold is also a little too short to accommodate Hyro’s full length; his brake hoods and handlebar are long enough to impede full closure of the rear hatch.
To remedy this, at first I tried to take advantage of the pivoting feature of the fork mounts. The little holes in their bases are detents set at 45-degree increments; I tried turning the fork a full 90 degrees. While possible, it’s not a great arrangement for transport, as turning the fork that much in one direction removes the stability of the Vergo-TF2.
I decided to keep the fork straight, and loosen and turn the stem instead. This requires a little bit of work, some added slack in the rear brake hose, as well as a torque wrench to set correct torque when re-straightening the handlebars, but otherwise this worked out very well.
Wondering how the front wheel is secured? This photo is a little dark but it shows enough to explain the arrangement.
As Hyro now has hydraulic disc brakes, some extra care is needed whenever the front wheel is off the bike. Pulling the brake lever while there is no brake rotor inside the caliper will lead to the self-adjusting pistons popping out of the caliper body. Shimano includes this orange travel spacer with its hydraulic brakes to guard against inadvertent brake piston movement while there is no brake rotor. It just snaps into the pad retaining pin.
This was how I transported Hyro to Clark to attend the 7-Eleven Tour 2019 SCTEX race. This was my maiden voyage with the Vergo-TF2 carrying any sort of bike, and I didn’t want to take any chances with stability, so I used bungee cords to lash Hyro down to the Jazz’s interior tie-down hooks. As long as there was enough space between front wheel and STI lever, Hyro traveled in style and remained a happy camper. With this arrangement, I had room for my big duffel bag of clothes, a track pump, my roadside emergency bag, and other things.
What about transporting two bikes – Hyro and Bino – at the same time?
Bino unfortunately does not fit on the Vergo-TF2 fork mounts, because rim-braked Dahon folding bikes are built around a hub width of 74 mm. The next best thing was to lash him to one side in folded form via my ever-reliable bungee cords, and this worked pretty well.
In this photo, I have both bikes lashed down by a second bungee cord, but on the drive home I had actually forgotten this. Not like it made any difference: Hyro just remained upright, even with some enthusiastic driving around curved highway on-ramps.
It’s been early days, and I haven’t yet been able to use the second fork mount on the Vergo-TF2, but so far I have been impressed with this thing. Front fender removal, stem twisting, and re-torquing aside, as simple as it is, the whole arrangement just works…and at under PhP7,000 before shipping, it’s not that pricey either. It can be hard to find, though.
Okay, so Hyro is a relatively small-sized bike, and your mileage may vary if you have larger bikes in your quiver and/or you have a GD Honda Jazz like me. However, if you have a larger vehicle, and you’re okay with transporting bikes inside it, the Vergo-TF2 will transport them securely while maximizing your vehicle’s cargo space.