Unfortunately, great places to ride your bicycle are not always within easy riding distance to where you live.
You are going to want to join social rides, organized rides, go to trailheads and rail-trails or for the most fun of all, bring your bike with you on vacation.
Bicycle racks for cars have become a great choice for today’s active bikers on the go. These racks can make it extremely easy for you to travel with your bike to any destination.
For example, going to the lake or mountain biking can become more convenient simply by placing your bike on the top of your car. These racks are definitely a must have for those who really enjoy the outdoors. Most bicycle racks for cars do come equipped to fit SUVs, compact cars, and trucks.
The actual rack that will fit your car, and how much it will cost, does depend on the type of vehicle you have, and how many bicycles you want to carry with you. However, simply by checking with each individual manufacturer before purchasing your rack can assist you to determine which rack is right for your car.
The key function of bicycle car racks is to provide you a safe method to transport your bike from one location to another. A well made bike rack can keep your bike securely in place while you travel, thus preventing any movement or possible scratching of your car.
Which bike rack to buy?
This will depend on many factors such as how many bikes you plan to transport, which vehicle (or vehicles) you plan to use to transport your bikes, how frequently you plan to use the rack and what distances you plan to travel.
Other factors are ease of use, strength, versatility and overall value for price.
There are three main types of racks to consider
Roof Mounted Rack
If a trunk-mount or trailer hitch rack does not accommodate your vehicle, then a roof top rack is another alternative for carrying your bicycle.
Though this type of rack is more expensive, roof top racks are the most versatile. They can carry kayaks, skis, lumber, and even surfboards quite easily. They also keep your cargo space available to you.
There are many a-la-carte systems available to choose from; where you can quickly select the set you want.
Additionally with this type of rack, you do have the option of transporting your bike with or without the front wheel attached. Transporting your bicycle with the front wheel attached is the most convenient way.
However, transporting it without the front wheel attached, while the bike is fastened to the rack is more secure and can provide better overhead clearance.
- Safest location for your bike and your car. Avoids damage if you get rear-ended. Very versatile for carrying other multi-sport toys like skis and kayaks.
- Protects bikes from scratching each other with wheel trays and clamps that keep them seperated.
- Provides a very strong platform and stable attachment for your bicycles.
- Can be somewhat difficult to load the bicycles, especially if you have a tall car/SUV and you are short!
Trailer Hitch Rack
If a trunk-mount rack does not suit your car, then a trailer hitch rack can be a great solution, however you must have a hitch on your car. Trailer hitch racks are very easy to place bikes on, and they’re also very quick to install, usually with one bolt.
These racks are available in two specific sizes: an inch and a quarter or two-inch. The inch and a quarter version of this rack do carry less weight, thus fewer bicycles.
However, the two-inch version is more common and can carry heavier loads, from two to five bicycles. Most trailer hitch racks can retract or pivot to allow you to access cargo space.
- A very popular choice for SUV and mini-vans.
- Easy to install and can usually carry between 2 and 5 bikes. The bikes also do not come in contact with the car.
- Look for a rack that swings out of the way so you can access the rear hatch without having to open the door.
Trunk Mount Bike Racks
This type of bicycle rack is the most common. High quality trunk-mount racks are very easy to install and can fit the largest variety of cars. However, access to the trunk can be difficult with this type of rack. It is usually the least expensive rack that you can purchase. To determine if your car is suited for a trunk-mount rack, you should consider these things:
1 – Does your current vehicle have a spoiler? Though many racks on the market are designed to accommodate spoilers, they can interfere with the installation of a trunk-mount rack. Often times, the rack’s feet will not fit around the spoiler. In other cases, a spoiler can obstruct the use of mounting straps.
2 – Can your trunk or hatch carry the load? Does the weather-stripping on your vehicle make it easy for mounting hooks to be inserted? Forcing the mounting hooks to be inserted will damage the weather-stripping and can cause severe water leaks.
3 – Can the rear panel or bumper support the load? For example, the rear panels on vans are often thin and can cave in if too much weight is placed on them. It is recommended to have the rack sit on the bumper in this particular case. However, the bumper should be checked to make sure it can carry the load, because most of them are now made of plastic.
- The most compact, inexpensive way to carry your bikes. Probably the most common racks out there.
- The rack hangs from your trunk lid or your rear hatch, and is fastened with a variety of straps, hooks and pads. Make sure you select one that will work with your vehicle.
- You must be careful to make sure all the straps are tight and that the bike is fastened to the rack (usually with a bungee cord). Bikes tend to bounce around, can scratch the car or scratch each other if not careful.