eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Falling Crane- A Caution for Old Style Draftmaster Users

with 6 comments


This is no way to drive the Spaulding Turnpike at 60 MPH

On our way home from the Montreal Bike Festival, Jeanne dropped me off in Ossipee and I rode home on my Slipstream. She continued home to Dover on the Spaulding Turnpike home with just one bike on the Crane (see earlier post The Crane), a Draftmaster Hitch carrier set up for two LWB recumbents.

Locking Pin in RackWhile driving along the Spaulding at 60, she thought she had a blowout and pulled over to the side of the road. Her tires were fine but the locking pin was out and the Draftmaster was dragging on the road. Amazingly, the rack and bike both stayed attached to her car even though the car was traveling at 60 MPH.

Locking Pin in Rack

Both the safety and wheel straps had torn and a good bit of the bottom of the rack had abraded off but thankfully the bike and rack had not torn away. This could have been a much more serious accident.


Original Cotterless Locking Pin


Torn Safety Strap and Abraded Bottom of Rack

If the bike had or rack had been torn off her car and hit a car behind her at 60, I don't know what would have happened but it would have been very serious.

I called ATOC (the company that now owns Draftmaster) and got a call back around 10 PM last night. After discussing, we both came to the same conclusion. Either the hole that the locking pin sits in had worn or the ball in the pin had bound up and the pin could vibrate out. ATOC suggested that I look in the McMaster-Carr Catalog for a linchpin.

They still use what appears to be the same safety and wheel straps and sold me a new set for around $22.

I'd always though the pin looked marginal but it seemed to work. According to ATOC the design was changed in 1997. I think I bought the Crane in 1998 from an Exeter Bike Shop. That timing makes sense given the usual lag from to design to production and the clearing of inventory.

My Draftmaster Hitch Rack is about 8 years old but it has only been used 12 to 15 times. We only use it when we travel with the Recumbents, usually to Montreal. It is stored in my garage and was in pretty good shape.

What I've Done

I have ordered new safety straps and believe with a locking pin this problem will not occur again. I agree with ATOC that the original cotterless pin although very handy and strong is not secure enough for this application.

I found the locking pin shown in the picture, a 5/16 X 2 1/4 pin with wire lock, at Home Depot for $2.25. This pin looks very secure but if someone has a better suggestion please let me know.


New Locking Pin

The rack itself is abraded at the bottom and scratched and has a very slight twist but still looks very usable. This rack is definitely very sturdy and with a locking pin an excellent way to transport two LWB recumbents.


Written by Roland

June 7, 2006 at 2:34 pm

6 Responses

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  1. […] That has certainly not been my experience with Draftmaster. They have a serious safety problem with their older racks (see Falling Crane). It may be only a matter of time before a very serious accident happens unless they are very lucky. If and when that happens, they may discover that they can not disclaim all liability for a deficient if older design. […]

  2. It was with interest reading the post on Draftmaster. I purchased the new Draftmaster to carry my Rans V2 and two upright bikes. Approximately 3/4 of a mile from my home, a motorist waved me back. The upper cast aluminum brackets that held the horizontal bar fractured and dropped the bikes backward pivoting on the lower horizontal bar. Two bikes badly damaged at over $300 damage. ATOC replaced the fractured parts. That was it. Yes, you are right, the Draftmaster is an accident waiting to happen. Cantilevering 40 – 70 lbs. of bikes off the back of a car or pickup is folly. They should be recalled and removed from the market before someone is killed. My Draftmaster is repaired and sits in the garage, I won’t use it again!


    August 15, 2007 at 3:06 pm

  3. My Draftmaster sits in my garage. My wife is justifiably afraid to drive with it attached to the car.

    All companies have problems but good ones fix their problems.

    From your comments it sounds like the new models also have problems and that you got the same kind of response I got from Draftmaster. They charged me $22 to replace the $0.50 strap that had failed. Not a very positive sign that this company is thinking about servicing its customers in a positive way.


    September 3, 2007 at 8:43 am

  4. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you


    December 15, 2007 at 11:27 am

  5. Idetrorce, what don’t you agree with? It would be good to hear some other opinions on the safefy of the DraftMaster rack and the service they provide.


    December 15, 2007 at 1:30 pm

  6. I replaced mine with with a T-handle push-button quick-release pin. The small steel ball on the end is retracted by pushing the button. It has never come out on its own and doesn’t ruin the aluminum frame holes. I purchased one with a lanyard from http://www.mcmaster.com. They offer any style or size needed.


    February 10, 2008 at 10:33 am

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