Videos are provided as a guide only. Refer to manufacturer
installation instructions and specs for complete information.
The Softride Element features a tilting parallelogram design that keeps the rack arms and bikes level at all times. Most racks tilt down and dip bikes close to the ground when they allow rear vehicle access. The Element, however, maintains a straight angle when it moves away from the vehicle, always carrying bikes in an upright position.
When not carrying bikes, the rack arms fold down for convenient storage in places like garages or parking lots.
Rugged tie-down straps safely secure bikes to the soft, rubberized cradles. The arms adjust in width to accommodate children's and adults' bikes. A spring-loaded, quick-release pull pin handle is located near the top of the upright bar. Simply pull it out to allow the rack to tilt away from the vehicle, providing trunk or cargo access. Safety reflectors at the end of each arm provide nighttime visibility.
The Element has two parallel upright bars that move together to provide the unique tilting parallelogram design.
Replaces SR26045 and SR26044
Video of Softride Element Parallelogram Tilting 4 Bike Rack for 1-1/4" and 2" Hitches
Videos are provided as a guide only. Refer to manufacturer
installation instructions and specs for complete information.
Today we are going to review the Element bicycle rack from Softride, part number SR26248. A few quick facts about this bicycle rack are it is designed for a 2 inch receiver hitch and also for a 1-1/4 inch receiver hitch with the included adapter. And for a 1-1/4 inch receiver hitch, you can only use it on a class II receiver. The Element bicycle rack does come with two anti-rattle devices, one for the 2 inch version and one for the 1-1/4 inch adapter bar. The best part about the Softride Element is that it features a tilting parallelogram design. That basically helps keep the arms, that hold the bikes, level at all time. It also makes things a lot easier to load up when it is at a lower point towards the ground. The arms that hold the bicycles do fold down for easy storage and also are adjustable from a narrow stance to a little bit wider stance. That way, you can accommodate kid bikes as well as adult bikes. The cradles that actually hold the bikes are made of a rubber material that gently support the frames and also have groves built in them to accommodate the cables that are on a lot of bikes. And also the cradles come with rugged tie-down straps that hold the bikes in place while you are going down the road. 0:58
For this demonstration, we are going to use the bicycle rack in a 2 inch configuration but, for the 1-1/4 inch application, we will go ahead and show you how to change it out. It is actually really simple. This is the original bolt that will hold the bicycle rack to the hitch, which we will not need anymore. And this insert right here, you can just pull that from the inside out. And we are just going to use a plain screw-driver. And we are just going to barely catch the end of the plastic and part of the nut and just pull it on out. And then, this plate goes on the inside. Then you take the 1-1/4 inch adapter bar that goes on the bottom here and then your bolts run through. And then we are going to tighten these bolts down with a 5/8 socket. And with that, your bicycle rack is ready for service in a 1-1/4 inch receiver hitch, class II. 1:46
We will go ahead and install it on a typical 2 inch receiver here. The first thing you notice when we install the bicycle rack is that you have two hitch pin openings here and they are both threaded to use the anti-rattle device. The pin threads into place and basically bolts the bicycle rack to the hitch. Depending on how much clearance you have between the bumper and the bicycle rack, you can either use one of these two holes. That way, you can keep the bicycle rack as close to the vehicle as possible. We will install our anti-rattle bolt and then you can tighten it down with a 7/8 inch wrench. Alright, we are just going to snug it down and it is pretty secure. Alright, let us go ahead and load up a bike and show you how it works. Now, we are going to take advantage of the tilt on this bicycle rack to make it a little bit easier to load them up. 2:27
Disconnect the straps here and we are just going to put a bike on the end. It is always a good practice to load your bikes up with the heaviest ones closer to the vehicle. But, to keep things easy to see, we will just go ahead and put this one on the end for now. You can also see how the cable fits nicely into the groves of the cradle. Now we will take our straps and just put them into place. Then once you have all of your bikes loaded, you can simply push everything back together. The bicycle rack also comes equipped with four blue little straps. What those are designed for is to keep the bikes from swaying while they are on the bicycle rack. And your next bike will actually get tied off to your first bike. With that, our bicycle rack is loaded up and ready to go. And there you have it for part number SR26248.
All right, at this point we will actually go ahead and install a bicycle on the bike rack and give you a little better idea how it looks and how it gets tied down to it. We are actually going to install it on the end here for a little more clarity and visibility so you can see what is going on. But generally, when you want to load the bikes up on the bicycle rack - and this applies to all racks - you want to keep your weight as far forward as possible. All right, next we will demonstrate the best feature about this rack that makes it different from everybody else that is out there. It is how it tilts away from the vehicle. This whole arm will stay level as you pull it away from the vehicle. And you can see how the bike still stays level? And you have access to the back of the vehicle. Lastly, the Softride bicycle rack comes with a set of four straps. What you want to do is, you just wrap it around the bike rack and the bike itself, and this helps keep the bike from swaying around a little bit. It helps keep the bikes from swaying around. What you want to do is after you do your first bike, when you put your second bike on, and that chain links to the next one. All right, and with that, that covers it for part number SR26248 from Softride, the Element Bike Rack.
Average Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (24 Customer Reviews)
Very good bike rack. We have used it once so far with no problems. My wife has a Raleigh woman's bike, the distace between the frame bars is too small to fit in the bike frame arms, so it has to be placed on top of the bars. No problem with that aside from having to lift it higher. The angle down of the rack makes loading easier. Bottom of rack rubbs against the bumper of a 2013 Ford Fusion so I had to place a rag between the two. The Fusion has a 1 1/4" class II hitch. 71129
by: Kelly T.09/11/2011
Love the Softride Element! Exactly what I had in mind when I started researching bike racks. Bulletproof design and heavy duty construction. Trial run was 275 miles over Tioga pass to the White Mountain trailhead near Bishop CA at 12500 feet. The last 16 was on a tight twisty mountain road at high elevation, not for the faint of heart! Hauling bikes to the park is now a breeze! Thanks Softride!23731
Great Rack for Rear Access I did a lot of review reading before I ordered this one. I’m going to use it primarily on a mini van and wanted a rack that I could leave mounted and still use the rear door. I narrowed my selection down between this rack and the Swing Daddy full extension. I was a bit apprehensive it was going to work as described, but was more uncertain of the ease of the full extension types such as the Swing Daddy. I just received this rack today and couldn’t wait to try it out. I’m very happy with my choice. Easy to assemble, install and use. There is plenty of clearance when tilted back to open the back door of my van. I love the fact the arms fold down on this unit when not in use. This is a feature not found similar models. You do have to pull the clevis pins on each arm to fold down. Some sort of quick release would have been much better, but not a big deal. Tilting the rack is as simple as pulling a spring loaded pin – although when the arms are folded down, they block the pin from being pulled. Anti-sway cradles do not come standard and must be ordered separate, as well as hitch and bike locks. So by the time you total up the accessories, the price is around the same as some of the other top end racks, but none have a slick tilt design like this one! 2948
by: Brad A.06/21/2012
Bought this to take the family's 4 bikes on my 2011 Acadia. Was very easy to set up an install on a 2" receiver. Some reviewers felt the rubber straps felt flimsy; the ones I received felt very thick and sturdy, and not at all likely to tear. Maybe SoftRide improved the quality. I particularly like how the rack tilts down out of the way to access the rear hatch. When folded and removed, the rack is much more compact than I expected. I take the rack off the car aver every ride and it easily hangs on a hook I installed in the garage ceiling. One note on the attachment method since it's not especially clear from the product description: the rack attaches ONLY via the anti-rattle bolt. There are holes only on one side, so a standard hitch pin cannot be used for quick removal of the rack unless a hole is drilled in the metal. It would be nice to be able to use a hitch pin for users like myself that don't plan to leave the rack on all the time, and sacrifice a little rattling. The bolt takes about a minute to remove and is pretty easy to take out with a wrench, but it would be nice to have the hitch-pin option. 45090
by: James D09/27/2013
This is a great rack... went on a month and and a half trip over 2,000 miles and the rack is great...no noise...sturdy,,,and easy to load and unload bikes...I like the way it leans back and allows for access to the back of my SUV...Have spread the word about how great these racks are...101812
by: Fred D.05/22/2012
I have used this rack only one time and love it. The tilt feature is great no problem opening tailgate. Easy assembly and off we went. The only downside to it is the straps are little hard to fasten at first but you know your bikes are secure. The sway straps are nice to have. Shipping was fast and packing was great. I would of given it a 5 if the straps were a little bit easier to fasten and could hold more weight. Overall this is are first bike rack and we are pleased with it. Thank you etrailer 41246
Solid and very sturdy. On the heavy side but this is to be expected considering its sturdiness. Issues: 1. Cradle Straps are made of very hard rubber. Their holes are very small and so securing the straps is somewhat inconvenient. 2. Arms holding the bikes can be folded only after removing and repositioning two pins (there is no easy, press-a-button way). They can also be stolen that way. 3. Rack tilting is very hard - one has to use some decent force to press it down. I may try to loosen the screws in the two connection points.40242
by: Stephanie C.08/11/2013
We have used the Softride once since receiving it from e-trailer and it's been great. We were not able to use the quick hitch that we bought separately at a local store on our car because of the receiver size but can bolt it in, and it's not too bad. We absolutely love the ability to tilt the rack away from the car. We used it when we went to a kids' triathlon, and they needed to get into the back of the car more than a dozen times throughout the morning, so having the tilt made that process easy. As for e-trailer.com as a company, I cannot express how satisfied we were. Upon ordering, we received an email confirmation that the product was available, then within a couple hours (late at night), we received an email that it shipped. Then the next morning it shipped and was at our door within a day and a half of ordering. We could also track our order along the way. GREAT!!94424
solid bike rack. Only thing holding me back from top score is....unit is built with pins to hold racks in place. Racks can be extended out or in, depending on needs for particular bike. This requires two sets of holes to be precisely drilled, so they line up and pin can go through. These two holes were NOT lined up on one side of carrier, so pin needs to be driven w/ a hammer to go in, and consequently, hammered to come out. However, love the concept of leaving bikes on rack, and lowering out of way to open back minivan hatch.89123
by: Linda c06/22/2013
We have assembled the bike rack but have not had a chance to use it yet. We tested the rack out on our vehicle, and everything seems to function as advertised. We have a Jeep Wrangler and we were able to open the back door without taking the rack off the hitch. The rack seems to be made of durable material. We received the product from etrailer in a very short timeframe and have been impressed with the followup that we received from the company. So far so good.85558
by: Jen - NC05/28/2013
I could not be happier with the great interactive site that not only educated me on the types of bike racks out there...it led me straight to the racks etrailer had available that fit my needs! This rack was easy to install and use. It offers the ability to open the back hatch on an explorer, while not having to remove the bikes from the rack. It is a little difficult to put smaller children's bikes on, but I don't fault the rack at all. Easy to use and having the ability to pivot to open the hatch outweighs any downside to having to figure out the way to strap a kid's bike down!82141
I've only used the rack two times so far (same weekend). Initially I was worried that the four bikes were not going to fit. It is a tight squeeze and you have to work out the right system to make 4 mountain bikes fit. The rubber straps are pretty strong but somewhat difficult to use in these early days. They may break in soon enough. So far I am vet pleased overall. It's great to have the flexibility to load the bikes and the Subaru wagon at the same time. I will say that it takes some muscle to life the rack into position when loaded with 4 bikes, but I did not elect to get the assisted version. 79071
I like this hitch. YOu can load bikes AND load the car at the same time. Some of the other fold-down hitches require the bikes to ALL be loaded, and strapped down BEFORE you rotate it back to load the vehicle. If you have 2 people loading, only one can work at a time, this is a waste of help. In addition, when the hitch is rotated back, it remains level, so its even EASIER to load it, because the bikes are just a few inches off the ground. The Softride is the way to go! And reasonable price too.57942
by: Nate G10/09/2012
This is the only hitch 2 bar bicycle rack that I found that would both fit my triathlon bike, and rotate down for storage. I would have preferred if there was a button to push instead of the pins, but it does what I need. It is solidly made. It is new, but currently the straps are a bit difficult to put on. 56804
by: Frank G07/22/2012
This is a great product. I had another bike rack which cost a lot more that was twice as heavy that I returned before I bought this one. This is the simplest bike rack in many way and the arm extends out easily so that I can open the back door of my Town and Country. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the rubber straps which have little holes that are really hard to hook onto the little nipples. It requires a lot of strength. So far so good with it though and for the first 200 mile journey it is doing precisely what it is supposed to do without a hitch (if you'll pardon the expression...you of course, do need an actual hitch!!).48838
by: capt harold12/15/2010
Labor Saver Easy to assemble. Easy to load. Clears the tail gate when down. The anti-sway cradle works great!! It works just like the vidio shows.4159
by: michael s07/09/2012
Fit great, wish I would have spent the extra money on the model with the stabilizers and locks included.47205
by: Alvin I.03/26/2012
I am very pleased with this product! It's features and design is more than what I expected. It's also ready to install. There's no figuring out needed! Best bang for your buck!35222
by: Bill S.07/10/2011
Exactly what I wanted and arrived at my door 2 days after I ordered.19056
looks good,very solid. best tracking info ever!! and i buy many things online, fast shipping. 17152
Seems to do everything promised. Easy to put together and mount. Sturdy (and heavy).102873
by: Mark Z08/19/2013
Better than expected. Solid piece of e quipment.95740
by: M C Jaques08/19/2012
Thank you for the great customer service I received on my order!52292
Well done! 45273
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