Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

TriMet tests rubber coating on MAX train bike hooks

Posted by on May 28th, 2008 at 11:20 am

Rubber coated MAX bike hook.
(Photo: Tomas Quinones)

TriMet has confirmed that they are testing a rubber coating on the bike hooks in some their MAX light rail trains.

According to bike programs intern Colin Maher, they have been testing the rubber coating on five trains for the past two months. “We’re testing the durability of the coating,” says Maher “and making sure that the hooks can still accommodate most tire and rim combinations.”

TriMet hopes the rubber coating will make bike rims more secure and less susceptible to damage. Maher adds that they are wary of making the hooks any larger in diameter because they realize some large, knobby bike tires and wheels with narrow spoke spacing (like the 20-inch wheels on folding bikes and minis for instance) don’t fit.

Have you used these rubberized hooks yet? If so, what did you think?

[Editor’s note: I realize many readers are concerned that there are not enough hooks on the MAX. I am working on a story about that and will publish it soon.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Paolo May 28, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Good idea, I have seen people putting a glove there to protect their aero rims.
    Now who do we have to elect to get a second hook installed so we can get more bikes out of the way?
    With summer and high gas coming TriMet better think of something before we get bumped out of MAX trains because we have bikes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • brewcaster May 28, 2008 at 11:39 am

    My wife loves the coating. She had her bike recently fall off a hook that was not coated while the train was moving. She states the coating keeps it from moving around and \”walking\” off the hook. Thank God nobody was near the bike when it fell.

    I look forward to your piece on bike capacity and the Max.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Schrauf May 28, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Yes, I have only used the bike hooks once, and thought they seemed quite unsecure. Granted the ride is not usually bumpy enough to dislodge a bike, but the hooks could at least be angled or something. This rubber hook condom thing should help.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brad May 28, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Big improvement! The new coating is much nicer on rims and I no longer have to shove the glove between hook and rim.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR May 28, 2008 at 11:52 am

    not much difference as far as I can tell except more bikes are excluded by the smaller clearance with the rubber coating. I always stay with my bike on the MAX whether I hook it up or not, bikes generally only fall off the hooks (or get stolen from the train) when they are unattended.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • J May 28, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Yea I have yet to own a mountain bike with tires that would fit on these hooks. Granted, I rarely use the max with my MTB (usually the roadie) but still.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mattj May 28, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Used it this morning…was nice to have something soft on my rim instead of metal-on-metal, but no difference otherwise.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • foote May 28, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    You guys must have some pretty serious tires on your bikes. The front tire on my mountain bike is 26 x 2.25, and i don\’t have any trouble, though i do have to turn my front wheel slightly to get the bike on and off the hook.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Elliot May 28, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Colin, is TriMet considering any other updates or small accessories to the MAX hooks that would prevent bikes from swinging excessively? I have a taller bicycle, so my handlebars stick out and block the doors from closing if the bike is still swinging from previous turns when the train makes a stop. The conductors aren\’t fond of this…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • maxadders May 28, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    my girlfriend\’s tires barely fit on the hooks– they\’re 2.1\” balloon type.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spencer May 28, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    This is an example government waist. how much an hour is this guy being paid to do a study?

    How about just applying a few wraps of black duct tape. If that wears through in a few months try somthing harder wearing.

    This woudl free up the resources to focus on more pressing issues such as:
    1. More space for bikes
    2. Converting to tripple bike racks on busses
    3. Adding rear bike racks to busses
    4. Rail crossings
    5. Freeing up bike boxes at the Maxx stations

    etc. etc.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tom May 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I\’ve used them on occasion and don\’t see too much of a difference from the regular hooks. But I agree with the above poster who is wishing for something to stop the swing. I keep my pannier hooked on while in transit turning my bike into a large pendulum and am still trying to figure out a better way other than standing next to it to keep it from swinging into the doors.

    I too am curious though about Trimet\’s plans to increase capacity. Didn\’t have much of an issue with this until the sun came out…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matthew Denton May 28, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    #11 Spencer

    I imagine that the \”study\” consisted of a guy at the maintenance yard putting some heat shrink tubbing on the hooks, and then 2 months later he wrote to Jonathan and asked him to run a story and get some feedback… Total time: no more than the black duct tape, given that the guy was probably going to read the comments on BikePortland anyways…

    And black duct tape tends to come off and gunk up your rims. The heat shrink tubing that they are using seems like the way to go.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Elliot May 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Spencer, the writing in your post makes a stronger case for the failure of the public education system than of \”government waist\”.

    The cost of employees to manage priorities for bike infrastructure pales in comparison to the cost of the infrastructure itself. Better to invest in people like Colin to make sure that funds get spent with maximum effect and efficiency than to build anything without planning first.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Allison May 28, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    It does seem a challenge to do a bicycle rack that covers most bicycles…

    My hybrid upswept handles get in the way of the doors as well – I tend to hold on to them when the door is about to close just in case. If the hook were about an inch towards the middle, it\’d work better – if the hook itself was just about an inch longer, that would work better, too.

    And a \’bent? Forget it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • itripn May 28, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Geez, the pessimism in this group sometimes.

    When I saw the coating, I immediately appreciated it. I have seen bikes (especially wet ones) slide off the hooks.

    I have also seen damage (okay, just cosmetic, but still) to my rims when placed on the hooks.

    I think the coating is a good compromise between durability and practicality, and I appreciate the efforts.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SyntaxPolice May 28, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I have tried these and they seem nice.

    A trick I use is to attach my helmet to tether the bike to the nearby handle. That stops the bike from swinging and won\’t fall off the hook.

    Or sometimes on a road bike you can hook the handlebar around that nearby handle.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Moo May 28, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Didn\’t think rugged and outdoorsy Northwesterners (specifically Portlanders)- really cared much about getting a little scratch on their rims…pretty rough crowd those bike riders.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • el timito May 28, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    My solution for \”MAX hook wiggle\” is to loop my helmet straps around the handlebars and the handrail next to the door. Probably wouldn\’t work for every bike, but my commuter and tourer both like it. Also slows down unauthorized removal of bike.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bDave May 28, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I have a dream, of a max hook that will no longer discriminate wheelsize. For now it looks like none of my bikes fit on them, but maybe it\’s because I have ride a tallbike, xtracycle, and a knobby mountain bike and yet somehow I manage.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Russell May 28, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I know it would obviously take more effort to implement with reengineering and whatnot, but why not find some type of hook that isn\’t so much a hook, but more of an adjustable strap that could be wrapped through the tire and cinched up in a way that would keep the bike from falling?

    It would basically be something along the lines of a ratcheting belt of sorts suspended from the bar. Heck, I could even just make my own and carry it around with me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jessica Roberts May 28, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Responding to John Russell #21: I need a hook — I\’m not that strong, and my bike is really heavy, so it\’s awkward enough to swing it up and hook it. I don\’t think I could succeed at somehow holding it into place while I adjusted a strap.

    That said, I\’ve never had a problem with MAX racks before. As others note, I often strap my bike down with my helmet strap or a leg strap just to keep it from swinging, but I\’ve never had it come close to falling off.

    I\’m probably going to sound like a feeble old-timer here, but I remember the days when there were no hooks on MAX…it sucked so much! I\’m just so glad they\’re there at all!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chaney May 28, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I noticed this today on my way home from work. It seems like a good idea to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • nice May 28, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I use the train daily, and have used the new hooks a couple of times now. They seem to help with slipping or walking, and the rubber doesn\’t make that harsh metal-on-metal noise.

    As for the swinging of the bicycle, I am sometimes able to hook the drops of my road bikes onto the yellow handle next to the door. This prevents any movement at all, and would slow a dumb thief. But, you can only hooks your bars on the handle depending on how the train was setup…sometimes it works, sometimes not.

    They should invent some sort of strap for the black-plastic-wheel-holder. Perhaps our local bike-rack company could collaborate with trimet. The strap could be optional of course, but would prevent swaying and deter theft.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby May 28, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I must say that no amount of rubber coating will fix the real problem with bikes on the max.

    The combination of the curves in some places along routes and herky jerky driving of the Max is the major cause of bikes coming off the hooks. Also the bike hook placement is way too close to the doors, which does not work well with any bike over a medium size.

    I would advise them to look at bike hooks on other Mass transit systems, notably the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis.

    I have great pics of the bike hooks there if anyone is interested.

    It is nice that they may be putting rubber coating to protect rims, but I am not as worried about a scratch on my rim as a dent in my bike.

    I have a bike with a serious dent from a max ride. it flew off the hook due to driver actions…

    Is Tri Met going to fix the dent, or just cover my frame with rubber?

    They of course immediately denied any responsibility for frame damage, and any responsibility for bad bike hook design.

    I really feel rubberizing the hooks is nothing more than a Hello Kitty band aid on a gaping head wound.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Don't ruin it for other riders May 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    this issue seems trivial. the real issue is that there is to many people trying to get their bikes on the train when there is not space. i can foresee trimet banning bikes because of this issue. please don\’t ruin it for bikers that do the right thing and wait for the next train…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • chuck May 29, 2008 at 11:08 am

    #26: There\’s no way that TriMet will ban bikes on the MAX. I can see them enforcing the rule more often, but an outright ban would cause a riot.

    that being said, TriMet does need to address the issue that there is not enough hooks on the MAX. personally, if the MAX isn\’t packed, I\’m walking my bike on. I\’m not going to be late to work because I have to take the next train, just because there\’s already 4 bikes on the train. that\’s like telling people to take the next train because all of the seats are taken.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby May 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm


    Bikes were originally banned from the Max.

    This of course did not last…

    Also, what do you think Max riders without bikes would say if they were told to \”just wait for the next train\”.

    I have been told that same thing myself, along with others at the stop, and I must assure you, adopting \”Wait for the next train\” as a bike overflow policy is as ludicrous as the policy being, oh I don\’t know, \”Why don\’t you just buy a folding bike?\”
    (I am delving into the new article up about this issue here)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sam Livingston-Gray May 31, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    @Spencer (#11): In the time it took you to type the phrase \”government waist,\” we spent thousands of dollars on the military. According to costofwar.com, the war in Iraq is costing us $341.4 million per day — or nearly $4,000 *PER SECOND*.

    I appreciate your concern, but perhaps it\’s a bit misdirected? As a country, we\’re being penny-wise and megaton-foolish…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steven J September 25, 2008 at 2:44 am

    I’ve done this for the last 5 years.

    Carry a split piece of 7/8″ black automotive heater hose.

    when not in use, it stays on the exposed portion of my seatpost.
    I’ve also tried clear polyvinyl tubing.
    All have worked well for me.
    My WTB’s remain pristine with near daily use.
    Glad to see the train upgrade.
    I agree with previous posts.
    Need more hooks.

    Special rates for those using only the tunnel portion from Sunset to Goose Hollow (taking bikes) might up the ridership as well.
    Funny how Tri-Met justifys higher rates on the electric powered MAX.. with Diesel costs.
    such trouble to adjust the whole transfer thing..must be taking time from golf.

    Recommended Thumb up 0