The first part isn't really a 'Miata' specific aftermarket product. Just call up your local UHAUL and inquire as to the availability and cost of installation for your miata. Be sure to call a UHAUL *Center* only, and not your mom & pop franchise of UHAUL. Hitch installations are performed only at official UHAUL Centers. Be sure to specify a receiver type hitch when contacting them (the same hitch can also have a tongue type hitch with only a slightly different part number). There may be some confusion on the part of the UHAUL employees, as they will undoubtedly ask just what you are planning to tow with a miata. You can tell them bicycles until you are blue in the face, but this still doesn't stop 'em from asking every five minutes. When you speak to them on the phone, first know this: *There is only one hitch that will fit the miata that is a receiver type, and it is indeed 1-1/4".* In my experience, they thought it was 1-1/2", but my research told me otherwise. The cost of the hitch, including installation should be no more than $150.00. They can usually do it while you wait, provided that you shedule an appointment with them in advance.
The second part of the Miata Bike Rack Solution, is a really great product by Rhode Gear. The Rhode Gear Receiver Hitch Shuttle system rocks. Once you have the hitch installed, the Rhode Gear slides right in. You then screw the pin in (it is threaded) and viola. The "Control Blocks" that actually fasten your bike to the rack are really a great design. I don't even use a bungi cord, and the bike has no possible way of touching the paint of my Miata. The cost of the Rhode Gear Shuttle System was $105.00 at my local REI. Pricing may vary, of course.
The hardest part of this equation is getting UHAUL to actually answer thier phones! Once you go there, you will understand. The chaos that is present each and every weekend is amazing. That the employees don't "go postal" is amazing. Aside from the stress of having an endless line, and people whining, complaining, and even yelling constantly in thier faces, the phones ring pretty much constantly. If they answered everyone's odd questions about hitch sizes and availability for Miata hitches, they would never get anything done. Call them during the week only, and as early as possible. Like just as you get into work. From there on, the whole process is painless.
Now for part two: The Rhode Gear Hitch is painted with rather thick black paint. Anticipating enough room, and not such a tight fit, I greased it up with Vaseline, and attempted to attach the Shuttle System to the hitch. Bad Idea! It went in about halfway, and got stuck. I probably looked pretty funny to my neighbors, and passers by, pulling, huffing, cursing, and yanking on the back of my car like some sort of strongman competition as I tried to get the thing loose. Once I did, I then realized what I had to do. I went into the garage, and broke out the electric sander, and with some fine grain sand paper attached, proceded to sand off the paint on the part that actually gets inserted into the receiver hitch. Now it is effortless, and takes no more than a minute to install, or take off the car.
Whole solution cost: approx. $250.
What you get: A Rock Solid bike rack, even at high speeds. You *will* get a lot of looks and inquiries on this one. My roommate thought that this was a great idea and just did this on his Honda Civic as a result. No more paint scapes and dings, and no worry of any straps coming loose, and having your expensive mountain bike go for a high speed ride down the highway solo.
Looks you ask? Well, the only part that sticks out is the small, 1-1/4" receiver, and if you didn't already own a Miata, you'd never notice ;-)
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