Swagman Saved My Ass - G2 and Pro 1800 Roof Box Reviewed

Aug 23, 2011
by Julian Coffey  
Swagman, a BC based company, has been producing some very well thought out outdoor products for the past 24 years. The doors first opened in 1987, and among notable milestones, these guys introduced North America's first hitch style mounted bike rack back in 1991. They've quietly been killing it since. Swagman places an emphasis on simple yet utilitarian design, something that was quite evident as we put their flagship bike rack and roof box through their paces this summer.

The G2 is Swagman’s latest hitch mounted platform rack. Compact and super adjustable, the G2 assembles easily and fits both 1 1/4 inch and 2 inch hitch receivers. Suggested retail is $320 CDN.

Stand Out Features for the G2 Rack:

• Ratcheting arms for easy bike loading and unloading
• Will carry nearly every bike frame style and size
• Accepts a range from 20" to 29" wheels
• Centre arm folds flat to allow rear of vehicle access
• Locking hitch pin with beefy 7 foot security cable
• Ratcheting wheels straps and independently adjustable wheel trays
• Folds up when not in use

  Unpacking the pieces of what will eventually be my summer's saving grace. The Swagman G2 is a snap to assemble - a decent wrench could have this together in 10 minutes. I put a good 20 into it.

  All the tools you need to put your brand new Swagman two bike platform hitch mount super deluxe folding bike rack together. I used a 12mm wrench, a 4 mm allen key, a crescent wrench and some scissors. It took longer to get this stuff together than to actually build the rack. Note the adapter plates that allow fitting the rack to either a 1 1/4" (no plates), or a 2" hitch receiver.

  The center 'mast' folds even flatter than this - like I said, double the assembly time over here. Pull the rubberized hooks up past the wheel trays, lower the mast below the wheel trays, push the hooks back down the mast and you're done. Wheel trays and rubberized hooks adjust easily to accomodate a good range of bike types and frame sizes.

  The G2, once the mast has been lowered, folds again, up toward the bumper. This rack is designed to allow for easy trunk/hatch access for most vehicles. Just like your bike, the G2 needs a little lube here and there to keep things running smoothly.

  Pulling up to Rusty Muffler above Naramata, BC - trusty steeds safely in tow. The G2 delivered them from Vancouver safely so we might enjoy copious amounts of South Okanagan singletrack! Even though the assembly instructions for the G2 suggest paved or smooth gravel roads only, multiple shuttle runs on punched out BC fire roads didn't loosen a thing. The Pro 1800 roof box stayed fast as well.

  40+ lb Whistler Park bikes have generally occupied the G2 these last few months without issue. With some adjustment, I can lower the bottom hook enough to lock down a BMX. Swagman provides a pretty meaty cable that loops through the bikes and attaches to the locking hitch pin.

The Pro 1800 roof box has a massive 18 cubic feet of storage and mounts in minutes. Suggested retail is $599.

Stand Out Features for the Pro 1800 Roof Box:

• New 'Master Fit' system mounts in minutes
• Dual side opening for easy access from both sides of the vehicle
• Single key locks from both sides of the vehicle
• Carrying capacity of 480 litres (18 cubic feet)
• Matte charcoal grey and tasteful styling

  The Pro 1800 is nicely understated. Subtle branding, a low slung profile and a matte finish add up to a great looking roof box. Fuel economy* definitely suffered with the box on, as is the case with most things you strap to the roof of your vehicle.

  Nice touches like brass hinge fittings and well sealed closures make for peace of mind when you hit those Coquihalla highway straightaways. Dial in the Swagman retention system - literally.

  I cannot say enough good things about Swagman's roofbox retention system. New for 2011, this 'Master Fit' system is virtually idiot proof - lay the roof box on the vehicle, align the clamps to your rails, tighten and go.

  It's been 4 months of solid use and the G2/Pro 1800 combo remain as solid as the day they were installed. Locks on both sides of the roof box make for easy and fast access.

  It's been a packed summer for our family of four - long trips, camping and riding. Swagman helped make it all happen. All that and still time to catch some light off the lake.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesJust under $1000 bucks nets you an extra 18 cubic feet of removable storage for your vehicle, and a solid 2 bike platform rack. If you don't have a hitch receiver installed, you're looking at another $200. The G2 rack and roof box set up is the ticket if you're not willing to drive a massive vehicle, yet you enjoy a few road trips every year that involve toting a ton of crap - think camping and multi-day epics. Both the rack and the roof box install/remove in minutes - a huge plus in our books. The only downside is you need somewhere to store them when not in use. The Swagman stuff is built to last, and wears well requiring just a spray down to remove most debris. The release levers on the G2 rack can occasionally be tight and/or slow to engage if they're caked with mud or you haven't lubed them in a month - a maintenance issue more than a design flaw. Another small gripe would be how finicky the roof box locking system can be. If you pack the Pro 1800 chock full, make sure you pack it right. Anything that even remotely interferes with the interior rails of the lock mechanism makes it difficult to close. In all, a sweet set-up that looks good, comes from a local company with a great support and service network, and will pay for itself in the first year of use. - Julian Coffey

For more info check out the Swagman website. Hit them up on Facebook here.

Big thanks to Andrew Drouin from sweetsingletrack.ca, he has a very nice (read the dopest) GPS mapping setup for local trails. Look for a major new Okanagan trail announcement in September from that guy.

*Check out this article on roof racks/boxes vs fuel consumption.


  • + 7
 I deal with Swagman regularly and they have always been great, "what is the problem? we'll send you new parts today!" If you give sh!t you will likely get Sh!t, be nice and get nice. They have great products at very affordable prices.
  • + 10
 I thought it said swagman shaved my ass! woops
  • + 2
 My XTC4 has been great. I even managed to figure out a way to get my 4 yr old's trail a bike securely mounted. My neighbour came over to check out the rack and then a few days later I saw one on his truck also. Great products from Swagman for sure. I wish the XTC4 had wheel dishes like the G2 though. They look a little less fussy. I wouldn't trade mine for the world however (you don't even really need the straps on the wheels once it's ratcheted in place. Solid as a rock. If you don't already have the hitch and can go 2" on the receiver, it's much more solid IMO. Class 5 and 2" + XTC4 = Smile

  • + 2
 i've been using the XC2 for 5 years shuttling dh bikes all over the rockies in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado over gnarly terrain and have never had a problem with a defective part. This rack has outlasted every other rack that me and my friends have owned. If you only need to carry 2 bikes on the hitch, this thing is the best value by far. To carry 4 bikes i highly recommend the north shore rack.
  • + 2
 Swagman My Ass, the wheel holder on my rack became stripped and a bike fell off on highway, I called them and they said it was probably my fault but if i wanted to i could send my whole rack to B.C. (i had to pay shipping both ways) They said I could not sent just the broken piece!!!

I said screw it and will never buy a swagman again...STAY WITH SPORTRACK OR THULE OR EVEN BETTER TUFF-RACK!!!!!!
  • + 3
 Nothing against Tuff rack but I don't think that I'd pay almost $500 for a bike rack.
  • - 1
 tuf racks dont cost 500$ . each down hill tuf rack cost about 200$
  • + 1
 to build a tuf rack you are looking at close to 500... Then you are still limited to carrying one size of bike, it still has moving parts and you get to use a highly technical scratch the shit out of your $4000 bike...

Buy a North shore rack. NO moving parts or knobs or plastic shit to wear out. Cheaper than a tough rack and doesn't mar the shit out of your top tube.
  • + 5
 maybe you approached them wrong?, I'm on my second Swagman bike rack and have had minor issues with both racks, after a quick email to swagman customer support, they shipped me a new part free of charge both times, they didn't even ask me for the faulty part back! Swagman is good in my books, +1 for a good local company!
  • + 1
 I to have a swagman rack and I've had no problem at all with mine and I've had it for about a year and a half plus and to clear things up, its about $250 for a Tuff rack and then about $150-$200 for the different kind of rack that you need weather it be XC, DH, BMX, etc... But if you take a calculator here and add that up, its about $350- $450 with out taxes on top of that and that is one rack and one bike holder, but if I had that kind of money to spend I'd probably consider one.
  • + 1
 so you get a ONE bike tuf rack for more than my TWO bike North Shore Rack or almost twice as much as the swagman. You need to compare apples to apples. Not apples to half an apple.
  • + 1
 would anyone say that a 4 bike north shore rack would work well with a vw golf?
  • + 0
 Same exact thing happened with my friend
  • + 1
 Well u should go on the sight . tuf rack has new pricing all the numbers u listed were wrong also the new straps don't scratch your top tube they have a softer material which is much better. Nort shore racks are bad because they are made in china also your back tire two feet away from the ground so if you go over a bump your tire will hit the ground. And if your bike cost 4000$ you think you would buy a solid rack. Which isn't made in china:!
  • + 1
 The strap is not what scratches bikes. Its the dirt that gets trapped between the strap and the tube of the bike. You can't tell me that doesn't happen I've been to every Ocup save one and that whole team has a bunch of sketchy top tubes. My tire has NEVER hit the ground even when the bottom of the car has. I would rather have a reasonably priced item made overseas that works. Rather than a hunky piece of shit I could make in my garage made here. OH PS YOUR BIKE IS PROBABLY NOT MADE IN CANADA. YOU'RE TOO CHEAP TO BUY ONE THAT IS. Next time think of a reasonable argument and maybe have mommy and daddy write the comment so you don't seem like such a dimwit because you just made those racks look really bad to a lot of people with that absolutely terrible spelling and grammar.
  • + 0
 well your wrong about dirt getting on your top tube and having the strap scratching it . the older straps were made of a harder material which would cause it to scratche the frame. there for they have a new strap for the racks which is a much softer material and does no scratch your frame. also why the f*ck would we strap are bikes down with a dirty strap. f*cking dirt doesn't cause the straps to were threw the paint it was the older straps.OH PS MY BIKE IS TRANSITION TR450 SO IM NOT TO CHEAP TO BY A f*ckING BIKE. HAVE FUN WITH YOUR PEICE OF SHIT NORTH SHORE RACK. Smile Smile
  • + 1
 easy boys ,northshore racks are great if you want to carry your bikes that way,and for the record they have far more working parts than most racks,yes there was some concern that the straps may cause some wear on the top tube(it seems many racks cause some from of wear)so in true tuf rack fashion we listened to our customers,and had a much softer weave strap made and have a slip over pad in the works.we arent the cheapest racks out there,nor are we the most expensive,but sure as hell we are the toughest and simplest to use,with no assembly required,and no its not illegal to block your plate with a bike rack(if that was the case then everyone with a trailer would be in trouble)not to mention if you wander around to the front of your car you may find something similar(excluding alberta) .all that aside we always welcome constructive suggestions from our fellow mtb ers .
  • + 1
 Aside from a few pins my rack doesn't have the typical rachets and things of a yakima or thule. It doesn't matter how light and nice your strap is if you put stones under it it will scratch the top tube. so thats just the portion of wear with your rack. Also i sincerely hope that when i show up to the race at blue mountain in a few weeks that bad piece of publicity is not still on your team.
  • + 1
 wow your grown up. stones really!!!!
  • + 1
 Geeeezzzzzeeeee this sounds personal now!! ^^^
  • + 1
 as for anyone that thinks these racks are less than robust on rough roads... I had mine loaded with 4 bikes on a 4X4 road, swinging around turns, dragging the rear through gravel/muck/you name it. I was climbing steep offroad hills without dragging it. The bikes were dirty but whatever....
  • + 2
 Bought one of these last night. It looks solid in person, can't wait to use it over the weekend. Also, it was the least expensive / most robust option in the mid-range racks of this style.
  • + 1
 I've been looking to get a roof rack box, but although this looks neat, it doesn't do much to set it apart from the offerings from Yakima or Thule. Seeing as how I already have a Yakima rack to carry my bikes (and haven't been let down yet), I'll probably just stick with them.
  • + 1
 Why is tuff rack guy trying to promote racks on a swagman test article?

Swagman G2 $320.00 - carries 2 bikes (road, track, tt, cross, mountain race, trail, freeride, DH, 4cross, commuter, cruiser, fixed, bmx......), aluminum wheel trays with ratchet straps fitting both road and mountain wheels, soft rubber hooks for stabilizing bike in the wheel trays. Comes with a cable and locking hitch pin so both rack and bikes are locked to the car. Fits both 1x1/4 and 2 inch receivers. The rack is light weight and folds up tight into the car, and I can open the hatch with the bikes on. Also doesn't bottom out on the BC ferry's driving on. I'd say a pretty decent rack.
  • + 1
 The G2 is a big step up for Swagman and is perfect for moving bikes around on roads and highways, But when it comes to logging roads and goat paths I would go Thule T2 or Yakima Hold Up. The T2 and Hold up are almost double the price but with lifetime warranty and the option of adding two bikes it is a much better way to go for anyone who uses there rack daily.

As for the box, The Swagman is great for the price, But Yakima offers the Skybox 16 at about $625CAN and I can say from personal experience that you can literally skate and ride your bike on it without it even cracking.
  • + 3
 Parent's and family have a variation/ cheaper model of the G2 and it works amazingly Big Grin
  • + 1
 fyi check your online instructions/warnings on your bike racks ensure your warranty is covered if used off road or if the manufacturer even recommends it
  • + 1
 I like companies that try new things, and that box they make has some snazzy features. As for the rack I think I'll stick with the 'ol NS4 Smile
  • + 1
 the rack looks like it would snap into 60 pieces on the first shuttle run up a typical BC forest service road
  • + 3
 We have a few friends here in town that have them and they work. BUT they are not recommended for beat down roads. Something like Big Ed would be likely pushing it if you rode there weekly. You have to remember that most of the world does not live and ride here, (although they want too).
  • + 2
 yakima all the way
  • + 1
 Licence plates cannot be obstructed ANYWHERE to my knowlege (why would they distribute them if you can block them) most police officers though are too busy taking care of other things to pull you over and examine and measure your bike rack. If they were i would be writing a letter.
  • + 1
 I have a Thule T2 and it obstructs my plates about the same as above. 4 years and no problems with the cops (knock on wood)
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