review

Seasucker Talon Bike Rack

9
£249.99

VERDICT:

9
10
Ingenious rack sticks your bike on just about any car, and it's very quick and easy to use too
Weight: 
2,081g

The Seasucker Talon is just the thing if you need to stick a bike on the roof of your car but don't have (or can't fit) suitable roof bars. It uses rubber vacuum cups to stick to the roof, letting you mount a bike quickly and firmly to just about any car.

It's the sort of concept that will either make you think 'that's a really good idea' or 'there's no way I'd entrust my bike to that', reminding me a little of the Finn phone-mount we tested a while back. Set your doubts aside, though; it works just fine, enabling me to fit a bike on a car for which no roof bars are available. There was an important piece of information missing from the instructions, though, which left me with minor damage to my paintwork the first time I used it.

Seasucker have a range of similar devices, all based on the same suckers. The Talon can only carry one bike - if you wanted to carry more than one you could use a couple of Talons, but there are also models for carrying two and three bikes available. In all cases, you leave the bike's rear wheel in place and just remove the front wheel before mounting. Seasucker racks are much smaller and less cumbersome than most bike carriers, taking up less room in the garage when not in use.

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The key technology here is the high strength vacuum cup that Seasucker uses. They're not unique - near-identical ones are used extensively for handling glass in the construction industry. The Seasucker cups are made of UV-resistant rubber which is soft enough to conform to the curves in the roof of a car.

Attaching them is pretty simple - you push down hard enough to make an initial seal and then just pump the plunger a dozen times or so, sucking all the air out from inside the cup and creating the vacuum that holds it in place. Once a low enough pressure has been reached, the plunger stays inside and you're done. The plunger acts as a safety indicator - if the vacuum isn't strong enough, it'll pop out again (with a white indicator band making this easy to spot - albeit not from within the car). We found they hold their vacuum for hours anyway, especially if you wet the pads, and soon got past the need to keep checking them every 10 minutes.

The Talon has three suckers at the front, connected to a sturdy bracket made of high-density polyethylene. This can flex a little too, which helps it fit to more curved roofs. There's a metal bracket to which your front dropouts attach with an oversized quick release lever making sure they stay put.

To install the Talon, you attach the front bracket to the car first, before dropping the bike's fork onto it. At this point you need to be careful to close that big QR before the bike falls off, especially if your roof isn't flat. The bike's rear tyre will be resting on either the roof or the rear glass at this point, and you just lift it up and fix the remaining sucker in place below where it was, before using the thick Velcro bands to wrap around the rim and tyre.

It's almost ridiculously quick and easy in fact - massively less time-consuming than fixing roof bars and a bike carrier (when that's an option). The first time I installed it on my car I found the rear wheel was sitting on the join between the roof and the rear glass, where obviously the sucker wouldn't have been able to stick, so I just moved the whole thing back a couple of inches. Even with this extra stage in the process, it took well under five minutes.

You can mount the Talon on the roof, fit it to a rear hatch or even have it hanging from the rear window on an estate car or SUV. Maximum bike weight is 20kg and it works just as well with a mountain bike as a road bike. Modern automotive glass is plenty strong enough to support the weight of a bike, it turns out.

As standard, the bracket at the front takes standard 9mm dropouts, but you can get optional brackets for use with 15mm or 20mm thru-axles. With the bike on the roof, there's nowhere to put the front wheel, although Seasucker do offer an optional upgrade to the rear mount to add a wheel carrier if you want the full neutral service look, otherwise it just goes inside the car. Seasucker include one spare sucker in case one gets damaged.

Once the bike is fixed in place it's pretty firmly held there; Seasucker say you shouldn't drive above 75mph (although they've got a video showing the bike will stay in place at up to 140mph). We had no issues at top speed on a windy day during testing.

We did have one problem, though. After the first long journey with the Talon installed, we discovered that the bike's crank had been quietly bouncing on the roof of the car, wearing its way through the car's paint. The wind tends to push the pedals backwards and there's no included means of stopping this. It's an easy problem to solve with a zip-tie - just secure one crank to the chainstay - but it's a serious omission from the instructions and not one I was at all pleased to discover.

That issue aside, the Talon is a great idea and well executed. Even for cars where conventional roof racks are an option, the Talon is much quicker to install and remove, and for those where there is no other option, it means taking your bike is now a possibility. One final point - you won't want to leave your bike unattended in the rack - removing it would take a matter of seconds. If you need to leave it on, Seasucker offer security anchors which you can shut in the boot or door joint, for securing the bike(s) on the roof.

Seasucker racks aren't cheap - the Talon is £250 (and the three-bike Bomber is a rather alarming £450). They don't really have much direct competition, though, so if you couldn't put a bike on your car until now, this could be a price you're willing to pay.

Verdict

Ingenious rack sticks your bike on just about any car, and it's quick and easy to use too

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Seasucker Talon Bike Rack

Size tested: Black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Seasucker say: "Finally, a bike carrier that's easy to install and won't damage your car! SeaSucker bike racks use our incredibly strong vacuum mounts and allow you to temporarily but securely mount your bike to the roof of your car without the hassle of permanently attaching any hardware. SeaSuckers are non-marking, UV and weather resistant, and hold exceptionally well to glass or metal surfaces."

Includes one Rear Wheel Strap (6'� SeaSucker with hook-and-loop straps) to secure your bike's rear wheel and keep the tail from sliding left or right.

This rack has one fork clamp attached to three 6'� SeaSuckers. Rack body made of 1/2'� HDPE, which makes it strong enough to hold your bike yet flexible enough to follow the curve of your roof line. Designed to mount to your roof and front windshield, but can be used just about anywhere – on the roof, on the trunk, etc. Approximate size: 15'� x 12'�.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

* Holds 1 bicycle – up to 45 lbs.

* Made for roof top, trunk or hatchback attachment.

* Attaches to metal, glass or fiberglass surfaces.

* 1/2' thick high-density polyethylene (HDPE) body for strength and durability.

* One heavy-duty fork mount for 9mm dropouts.

* Three 6'� SeaSucker vacuum cups on body (210 lb. pull-strength rated each).

* Approx. 15' x 13' footprint.

* Approx. 6 lbs.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

You need to look after the suckers. They come with protective covers, and there's a spare, but if they get nicked or cut then they won't hold pressure. I had no issues during testing, though.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
10/10

Lighter and much less space-consuming than any other roof carrier I've come across.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Pretty expensive, but there aren't any direct competitors.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well indeed; easy to use and holds a bike very firmly. Just needs a note adding to the instructions about the need to secure the cranks.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's the only way I could take two bikes in my BMW Z4 (one in the boot, one on the roof).

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The fact that the car's paint got damaged the first time I used it.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

 

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

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