FAQs

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
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Warranty/Registration
What parts are covered under your Limited Lifetime Warranty?
Where can I register my Softride purchase?
Racks
What advantages and benefits do Softride racks provide?
Can the rack be locked to the vehicle?
How should I care for and store my rack?
What is the difference between the Dura 4 and Element 4 bike racks?
How do I know if my bikes will fit on your rack?
Which of your racks will carry my tandem/recumbent/other unusual bike?
How should I use the soft straps that came with my rack?
If the rack arms feel stiff or tight in the top plate, should I use some kind of lubrication on them?
Can I mount your racks on the back of my trailer or RV?
What’s the best way to load four bikes on a Softride two-arm-style rack?
If I have a spare tire on the back of my car, what are my options for a bike rack?
What kind of hitch receiver do I need for your hitch-mounted racks?
Can I carry road bikes on the hanging-style racks (the Hang2 and Hang5), or only mountain bikes?
What do I need to know about getting my rack’s hitch bar into the receiver hitch and tightening the hitch bolt?
What is the difference between the Dura 4 and Alumina 3 bike racks?
How do I load a women’s bike or a step-through frame or child's bike or other bike with an alternative frame (slanted frame) onto the arms of a Softride rack?
Why aren’t the bike rack arms level with the ground?
The cable lock on my new rack appears to be missing – where is it?
My bike rack’s hitch bar only has a hole for the bolt on one side – do I need to drill another hole on the other side so the bolt can go through?
Why won’t the Dura Assist stay lowered when it is empty of bikes?
I just got a new Softride bike rack and the hitch bolt is missing. Where is the hitch bolt for my new rack?
What is the difference between the Alumina 3 and the Element 4 bike racks?
Hitch/Towing
I wanted to buy one of your steel ball mounts. Why don’t you sell them anymore? Can I still buy this from you?
I have a QuietRide Ball Mount, and tried to put it on my 2013 Toyota Tacoma, but the pin is too short. Is there a part to fix this, and how may I order it?
Bikes
Do you still manufacture and sell the Softride suspension stem system for bikes? Can I order replacement or spare parts for a Softride bike?
I have an issue with my Softride suspension stem; can you help me? I am looking for a manual for my Softride suspension stem; can I access one online or have a printed one mailed to me?

Keys/Locks
I need replacement keys for my bike rack or my hitch lock. What should I do?
Can I go to the locksmith to get a copy made of the key to my Softride product?
Parts/Repairs/Instructions/Tips
What general tips do you have about using your products?
Some parts feel a little stiff – should I use something like WD-40, spray silicone, or other lubricant to ease things?
How can I get replacement rubber straps for my Softride bike rack?
Why are the holes in the new rubber straps round, when the old ones were oval shaped? Can I use the new straps with the round holes on my old bike blocks, even though my old strap holes were oblong?
I lost one of the spacers or I broke of the spacers on my rack arm. What can I do?
Where can I find instructions or manuals for the Softride product I own or am interested in buying?
Where can I find information about replacement parts?
What does it mean if a product on your website says “For Reference Only?”
How do I get information about or support for one of your discontinued racks?
I bought one of your bike racks from another online dealer, and now one of the parts is broken. How can I go about getting a replacement part?
I backed into something, or someone hit my vehicle, and I think my rack is damaged. What should I do?
Are the rubber straps stretchy and elastic?
How do I install a Universal Hitch Bar kit?
Purchasing
How can I find a local dealer who carries your products?
Can I purchase products directly from Softride?
Can I find out if a specific product is in stock at a dealer near me?
What is your return policy?
Where can I learn more about shipping and handling, delivery, ordering, international orders, returns, privacy, and more about ordering online through Softride.com?
Contact Us
How do I contact Softride for support or for answers to my questions?


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Warranty/Registration
What parts are covered under your Limited Lifetime Warranty?
Softride, Inc., warrants the original owner of new Softride Access Racks™ and QuietRide™ Towing Accessory products against defects in workmanship and materials for the lifetime of the product provided it is purchased from an authorized Softride dealer. This Limited Lifetime Warranty is non-transferable and shall only apply to normal and ordinary use of this product.
The Limited Lifetime Warranty does not cover normal wear and tear (including and not limited to: scratches, dents, fading, oxidation), improper assembly, lack of maintenance, or custom alteration/installation of any parts or accessories not originally intended or compatible with the rack or towing accessory as sold. The warranty does not apply to damage or failure resulting from an accident, abuse, or neglect. This Limited Lifetime Warranty does not cover racks that are mounted on the back of a trailer.
Our Shuttle Pad carries a one-year limited warranty.
See warranty details here.

Where can I register my Softride purchase?
Our warranty registration form is online here.



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Racks/Accessories
What advantages and benefits do Softride racks provide?
• Patented parallelogram design allows for easy rear vehicle access even when bikes are loaded
• Parallelogram action lowers away, keeping bikes level to ground while loaded on rack
• QuietRide tightening eliminates wobble
• Rugged powder-coated steel
• Spring-loaded pull-pin release at chest level
• Anti-sway cradles (included on most)
• Brass Hitch Lock (included on most)
• Cable Lock (included on most)
• Safety reflectors
• Limited lifetime warranty

Can the rack be locked to the vehicle?
Yes. All our hitch-mounted racks come standard with our QuietRide tightening anti-rattle hitch bolt and lock (except the Element and Hang2 racks, where our standard hitch lock is optional and sold separately).

How should I care for and store my rack?
To extend the life of rack parts, protect it as much as possible from the elements; e.g. rubber straps will age more quickly if exposed constantly to the sun. Remove arms from the rack when not transporting bikes, to protect the arms and parts. Another protective strategy for a rack that is never used in winter is to remove it from the vehicle and store it indoors. One storage solution offering year-round storage convenience is our Garage Storage Station.

What is the difference between the Dura 4 and Element 4 bike racks?
Both carry four bicycles, and both feature Softride’s distinctive parallelogram design, which allows bikes to be lowered away from the vehicle with bikes loaded and level. Differences include:
• Weight capacity:
The Dura Rack has a higher weight capacity, able to carry four 40-pound bikes (or 160 pounds total), while the Element can carry four 30-pound bikes (or 120 pounds total).
• Arm style:
The Dura rack arms insert horizontally into a top plate; arms do not fold down, but instead lock into place and remove via thumb triggers, and are fixed in width at 7 inches apart. The Element arms are held in place via a PTO pin, and have multiple positions (folded down for stowage, fully removed, and adjustable in width between 7 and 9 inches apart).
• Accessories:
The Dura rack comes with a hitch lock, cable lock, and anti sway cradles. The Element rack does not include these accessories (reflected in the lower price point), but those may be purchased as individual parts to upgrade the rack as desired.


How do I know if my bikes will fit on your rack?
If this is not certain, probably the best action is visiting a local dealer to see a rack in person to determine if your specific bike(s) will fit.

Which of your racks will carry my tandem/recumbent/other unusual bike?
Softride bike racks were not designed to carry recumbent bikes or tandem bikes. One idea to try is carrying the recumbent bike upside-down, to distribute the weight differently. If you’re looking to purchase a rack and there is a concern about a specific bike, it’s best to visit a local dealer to see the product.

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How should I use the soft straps that came with my rack?
The SoftWraps that ship with many bike rack products can be used in numerous ways beyond securing bike tires during transport. See the SoftWraps page for a few suggestions on how to use these "hook and loop" straps.

If the rack arms feel stiff or tight in the top plate, should I use some kind of lubrication on them?
We do not generally recommend using a penetrating product like WD-40 on our rack arms. This would likely damage the powder coating that protects the steel or break down the plastic parts. Generally the issue can be resolved a different way (for example, adjusting bolt tightness). If you have a question about a specific issue or product, please feel free to contact us and ask.

Can I mount your racks on the back of my trailer or RV?
We do not recommend using our racks on the backs of trailers or RVs; this (or similar) violates the instructions and therefore voids the warranty.

What’s the best way to load four bikes on a Softride two-arm-style rack?
Alternate the orientation of each adjacent bike, so each faces in the opposite direction as the one next to it.

If I have a spare tire on the back of my car, what are my options for a bike rack?
You may need to purchase our Extended Hitch Bar which will replace the hitch bar that comes with our racks, to provide additional clearance beyond your rear-mounted spare tire.

What kind of hitch receiver do I need for your hitch-mounted racks?
A Class 2 or higher hitch should be used, and not a Class 1 hitch, for all Softride racks. Many of our racks may be used with either a 1.25” or a 2” hitch, but to be sure, refer to the rack’s specifications (found on the individual product’s page), as well as the specifications for your vehicle and hitch.

Can I carry road bikes on the hanging-style racks (the Hang2 and Hang5), or only mountain bikes?
Yes. The Hang2 can carry two road bikes, and the Hang5 can carry three road bikes (or four with some reconfiguration).

What do I need to know about getting my rack’s hitch bar into the receiver hitch and tightening the hitch bolt?
Place the lock washer on the hitch bolt and hand-thread it into the nut in the hitch bar. Tighten to 60 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Note, the bolt is not intended to go through the other side of the hitch bar or receiver hitch. Tip: This is where the torque wrench is useful until you have a good feel as to what 60 foot-pounds is with your ratcheting box wrench.

Once the hitch bolt is hand tightened, gently wiggle the hitch bar in the receiver hitch and retighten to 60 foot-pounds if necessary. Tip: A 7/8” ratcheting box wrench will speed up install and un-install process and is easy to stow in the car so it is always near the bike rack. This is easier and more cost effective than using a deep socket set in most cases.

What is the difference between the Dura 4 and Alumina 3 bike racks?
There are three main differences between these two racks:

The first is weight: with all-steel construction, the Dura weighs 39 pounds, while the Alumina has an aluminum body and is lighter at 25 pounds (base weight of only 10 pounds with arms removed). This weight difference will make installing and uninstalling the Alumina rack much easier.

The second is carrying capacity: the Alumina carries up to three 30-lb bikes, while the Dura can carry up to four 40-lb bikes.

The third difference is how the arms attach to the rack base. The Dura rack arms insert horizontally into a top plate; arms do not fold down, but instead lock into place and remove via thumb triggers, and are fixed in width at 7 inches apart. The Alumina rack arms are held in place via a PTO pin, and have multiple positions (folded down for stowage, fully removed, and adjustable in width between 7 and 9 inches apart).

Both racks include anti-sway cradles, cable lock, and anti-rattle hitch lock, and both feature Softride’s distinctive parallelogram design which allows bikes to be lowered away from the vehicle with bikes loaded and level.

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How do I load a women’s bike or a step-through frame or child's bike or other bike with an alternative frame (slanted frame) onto the arms of a Softride rack?
To carry ladies' bikes (woman-specific frames), children's bikes, or other alternative-frame bicycles on our two-arm bike carriers, you may purchase and use our Softride Top Tube Adapter. One end of the adapter grips the bike just below the handle bars, and the other end grips it just below the seat. This allows the rack to carry the bike more level and creates better ground clearance. This accessory is also helpful to carry full-suspension mountain bikes or cruiser bikes or kids' bikes or bikes with a small front triangle. The Softride Top Tube Adapter may also be used on other brands of bicycle racks. Another option that does not require this accessory is to load the bike onto the rack arms with wheels facing up rather than down.

Why aren’t the bike rack arms level with the ground?
That slight upward angle is intentional. It’s designed that way to keep the last bike loaded farther from touching on the ground. When it’s loaded, the upright will pull closer to vertical, and will flatten out a little, but the end goal is that the outermost bike be slightly higher than the bikes closest to the vehicle. The angle also adds some natural security to the bikes, making it more difficult to lose a bike that isn’t strapped down.

The cable lock on my new rack appears to be missing – where is it?
It may have remained in the upright tube while the top plate was installed. To locate it, remove the top plate again (by taking off the four carriage bolts of the top plate), and look down the larger tube. Pull it up and out then reinstall the top plate per the instructions. If you do not see the cable lock within the upright tube (the vertical part of the parallelogram), then contact Softride.


My bike rack’s hitch bar only has a hole for the bolt on one side – do I need to drill another hole on the other side so the bolt can go through?
No, it’s intentional that the bolt only goes into one side of the hitch bar to secure it into the hitch receiver. Softride’s anti-rattle design holds the bolt securely in place, with the nut located within the hitch bar, rather than on the outside. Please do not drill or cut any part of your Softride rack without speaking to our service team first. Cutting, drilling, or modifying the rack in this way voids the warranty and may affect safety.

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Why won’t the Dura Assist stay lowered when it is empty of bikes?
The hydraulic assist feature works primarily to pull the rack back up to vertical, which is most helpful when lowering and raising a rack fully loaded with bikes. When lowering and raising a rack that is empty (or with only one or two light bikes loaded), you may find it more helpful to have the hydraulic disengaged. To use the rack without hydraulic assist, while the rack is in the upright position, release the lever on back of main upright. See instruction manual for more about this option.

I just got a new Softride bike rack and the hitch bolt is missing. Where is the hitch bolt for my new rack?
Check the parts bag in the package to see if the hitch bolt for a two inch receiver is already attached to the lock set, which it often is prior to shipping. Locate the lock, and if the bolt is attached simply turn the key to release the bolt. Also ensure the corresponding lock washer for the bolt is located and always used with the bolt.

What is the difference between the Alumina 3 and the Element 4 bike racks?
There are three main differences between these two racks:

The first is weight: With all-steel construction, the Element 4 weighs 35 pounds, while the Alumina 3 has an aluminum body and is lighter at 25 pounds (base weight of only 10 pounds with arms removed). This weight difference will make installing and uninstalling the Alumina rack much easier.

The second is carrying capacity: The Alumina 3 carries up to three 30-lb bikes (or 90 pounds total), while the Element 4 can carry up to four 30-lb bikes (or 120 pounds total). (See how that model name/number thing works?)

The third is what accessories are included: The Alumina rack comes with a hitch lock, cable lock, and anti sway cradles. The Element rack does not include these accessories, but those may be purchased as individual parts to upgrade the rack as desired..

Both racks feature Softride’s distinctive parallelogram design, which allows bikes to be lowered away from the vehicle with bikes loaded and level. Both racks feature arms that attach to the base in multiple positions (folded down for stowage, fully removed, and adjustable in width between 7 and 9 inches apart). Both include anti-rattle hitch bolts, and parts compatible to mount on either a 1.25” or 2” hitch receiver.


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Hitch/Towing
I wanted to buy one of your steel ball mounts. Why don’t you sell them anymore? Can I still buy this from you?
We switched to aluminum because the price of the steel ball (based on our manufacturing costs) would have doubled and gone beyond an acceptable price point for customers.
Any hollow shank ball mount may be purchased from another supplier, and then paired with our Anti-Rattle Hitch Pin with Lock (see here), to achieve the same anti-rattle functionality as the complete ball mount unit Softride manufactured in the past.

I have a QuietRide Ball Mount, and tried to put it on my 2013 Toyota Tacoma, but the pin is too short. Is there a part to fix this, and how may I order it?
Yes, this part is available directly from Softride here. It was updated in 2012, and now includes an extended hitch pin bolt. This is a longer hitch pin for accommodating non-standard receivers requiring a longer pin, such as newer OEM Toyota hitch receivers. To compare prices from other dealers, refer to the appropriate part number on the product page.



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Bikes
Do you still manufacture and sell the Softride suspension stem system for bikes? Can I order replacement or spare parts for a Softride bike? I have an issue with my Softride suspension stem; can you help me? I am looking for a manual for my Softride suspension stem; can I access one online or have a printed one mailed to me?
No. Unfortunately, we no longer manufacture, sell, stock or support bicycles or bike parts, as of 8 or 9 years ago, nor do we know of any retailers that stock Softride bikes or bike parts. You are welcome to view all the products we currently offer here on our website. Thank you for your loyalty and interest in Softride.



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Keys/Locks
I need replacement keys for my bike rack or my hitch lock. What should I do?
Information about replacement keys is here.

Can I go to the locksmith to get a copy made of the key to my Softride product?
In order to provide greater security for you, Softride uses a proprietary key system, and keys cannot easily be copied at a standard key-cutting location. We have the blank key you would need. If you need a replacement key, please see this page for instructions on how to obtain a replacement.




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Parts/Repairs/Instructions/Tips
What general tips do you have about using your products?
• Make sure your hitch receiver is clean each time you use it. Check inside the receiver hitch for dirt, debris or burs and remove them from inside the hitchbox. A clean receiver hitch ensures maximum anti-rattle capabilities and helps prevent rust from migrating from receiver hitch to bike rack.
• Store your rack indoors when not in use to extend the life of the rack parts.
• When travelling long distances, consider using SoftWraps (sold separately) to prevent the front wheel from spinning in the wind turbulence behind the vehicle. SoftWraps can also be used to limit rotation of the crank arms (pedals) on long trips.
• Be sure to use the appropriate torque when making adjustments to the bolts (torque specs are in our rack instructions); you may want to use a torque wrench if you’re not familiar with this.
• Check the tightness of bolts and nuts periodically as they may loosen slightly during normal use.
• DO NOT drive the vehicle with the bike rack in the lowered position.
• Rack MUST be removed from the vehicle before going through a car wash.
• Do not use a penetrating product like WD-40 that would break down the powder coating or plastic or rubber parts.
• Refer to the instructions and contact us if you need assistance. Improper use of Softride products may void the warranty.
• We love to see photos of and hear stories about our products in use - drop us a line here.
• Have a great time!


Some parts feel a little stiff – should I use something like WD-40, spray silicone, or other lubricant to ease things?
We would not generally recommend using this type of product on our racks as something like WD-40 could damage the powder coating on the steel, weaken the rubber straps or plastic parts, etc.

How can I get replacement rubber straps for my Softride bike rack?
Straps or Super Straps may ordered online directly from our website here, or one of our online dealers, or you may purchase them at or order them through your local bike shop (Find a Dealer here).

Why are the holes in the new rubber straps round, when the old ones were oval shaped? Can I use the new straps with the round holes on my old bike blocks, even though my old strap holes were oblong?
The new longer Super Straps are universal and can be used as replacements on your older Softride rack. Our standard replacement straps (sold here) are the most current design for use with the new replacement bike blocks, and were updated with new material and a new shape as of May 2011. If your previous straps do not look exactly like these, then Super Straps are a better choice to ensure compatibility. Another option to secure bikes is our hook and loop SoftWraps.

I lost one of the spacers or I broke of the spacers on my rack arm. What can I do?
You may purchase replacement spacers from us by contacting us. If you want to use your rack without replacing the spacer with an identical one from Softride, or need a temporary DIY solution, take a bike inner tube (i.e. a used one you’d be throwing away otherwise), wrap it around the arm 4 or 5 times and secure it with one or two zip ties. That should suffice and use recycled materials (except the zip ties). Call us if you need further detail on this workaround.

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Where can I find instructions or manuals for the Softride product I own or am interested in buying?
Instructions are posted on the relevant individual product page, or on our Instructions page. You may view or print them from there for your reference.

Where can I find information about replacement parts?
Many replacement parts are available for purchase. Browse our Accessories page to view the parts we sell. If you don’t see what you need, please contact us via email or our customer service page. If you bought your product from a local dealer, you may prefer to visit them for support. Refer to part numbers listed on the product page to ensure you purchase the correct part.

What does it mean if a product on your website says “For Reference Only?”
We post product information on some of our discontinued items on our website for customers’ reference and information (for example, looking up a product manual for a bicycle rack we no longer manufacture).

How do I get information about or support for one of your discontinued racks?
You may find information posted about a discontinued product, indicated by a “Reference Only” notation on the individual product page. For an older product, you may contact our support team.

I bought one of your bike racks from another online dealer, and now one of the parts is broken. How can I go about getting a replacement part?
Spare parts are likely available for purchase on our website – check our Accessories. Alternatively, you may go ahead and ship the part back to our warranty team for inspection, repair and or replacement. Please ship via a parcel delivery service such as UPS or FedEx, as USPS parcels will not reach this shipping address. Include your contact information. Ship to:
Softride Warranty Dept.
909 Squalicum Way
Unit 111
Bellingham, WA
98225
If your product arrived damaged from shipping, please contact the merchant where you made your purchase.

I backed into something, or someone hit my vehicle, and I think my rack is damaged. What should I do?
Please contact us in a case like this. Do not use your rack before speaking with Softride. Safety is of utmost concern.


Are the rubber straps stretchy and elastic?
No, the rubber straps are not stretchy like rubber bands. The material of both the shorter and longer straps is TPR (thermoplastic rubber), making the straps pliable and bendable, but still solid and strong.


How do I install a Universal Hitch Bar kit?
To adapt a bike rack with a dedicated 1.25” hitch bar to fit a 2” hitch receiver, or vice-versa, use the corresponding hardware that comes in the Universal Hitch Bar Kit.

To convert a rack originally with a dedicated 1.25” hitch bar to fit a 2” receiver:
First remove the lower two bolts from the vertical mast of the rack. Then, remove the original 1.25” hitch bar assembly and replace it entirely with the 2” hitch bar from the kit. Align the holes in the hitch bar with the holes on the main body of the rack, then attach and tighten the nuts and bolts to secure the new 2” hitch bar to the rack. Retain the parts for a 1.25” hitch receiver for potential future use.

To convert a rack originally with a dedicated 2” hitch bar to fit a 1.25” receiver:
Follow the installation steps in our current racks to add the 1.25” assembly onto the existing 2” hitch bar. Learn how by watching this video, and refer to the instructions for the specific rack model. Retain the parts for a 2” hitch receiver for potential future use.



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Purchasing
How can I find a local dealer who carries your products?
Find a dealer here on our website; from there, choose a retail location near you or a web dealer, whichever you prefer. You may visit our Dealer page and select the appropriate link for the type of product you want and your location. The retail location listed may not carry the exact product you want, so you may wish to call before visiting.

Can I purchase products directly from Softride?
Yes, you may purchase Softride products directly through our website or by contacting our service team. We ship to the USA and Canada.

Can I find out if a specific product is in stock at a dealer near me?
You may visit our Dealer page and select the appropriate link for the type of product you want and your location. The retail location listed may not carry the exact product you want, so you may wish to call before visiting.

What is your return policy?
Please refer to the terms in our Warranty first. For specific issues with a product, please contact our Customer Support team so we can assist you. If you made the purchase through our website, you may read more about returns and policies here. If you made your purchase through another website or another retailer, you should contact the original point of purchase regarding shipping damage or returns or questions about the financial transaction, although we will gladly assist in directly supporting our products as much as possible.

Where can I learn more about shipping and handling, delivery, ordering, international orders, returns, privacy, and more about ordering online through Softride.com?
You may access information about all those things via our online store.

Contact Us
How do I contact Softride for support or for answers to my questions?
If our website does not provide the information you need, please contact our team for assistance. Find contact information and an online contact form here.
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