How to choose the right bike rack?

In this article, we continue to talk about the subject of bike racks, which we started by making a video titled Roof Mounted Bike Racks - Things to Consider.  A roof mounted bike rack is not the only option for bike transportation - on the contrary. There are different types of bike racks, which, depending on the car model you’re driving, require different installation methods which we will discuss in this eHow, so as to help you recognize the right bike rack for your car.

Roof Mounted Bike Racks

Roof mounted bike racks are a topic we’ve already covered in the aforementioned video, but it won’t hurt to go over it again. A roof mounted bike rack represents the safest, but also, potentially, the most expensive bike transportation option. However, regardless of the budget, your final decision, when it comes to purchasing a roof mounted bike rack, will also depend on the car model you’re driving or, to be more precise, its height.

If it’s a standard car or small crossover you’re driving, then a roof mounted bike rack is more than a good choice. In the case of vehicles, such as SUVs or jeeps, a roof mounted bike rack is not a practical choice, seeing it as the height of the aforementioned vehicles makes it difficult for you to lift a bike onto the rack.

What you should also have in mind is that most roof mounted bike racks allow the transportation of 2 bikes maximum. It means that, if you decide to buy one, you can forget about experiencing the magic of bike riding together with your family.

how to choose the right bike rack

 

The Pros of Having a Roof Mounted Bike Rack

A roof mounted bike rack

  • represents the safest bike transportation option, seeing it as it protects bikes from being hit or grazed by another vehicle on the road;
  • does not block the trunk of your car or its tow hitch;
  • prevents the paint on your car from being damaged due to the fact that, when your bike is on a roof mounted bike rack, it does not touch the car’s roof;
  • is also convenient for transporting other objects, such as suitcases, skis, kayaks or surfboards;
  • does not require frequent installing - convenient for those who transport bikes often;
  • is suitable for transporting bikes with non-standard frames, seeing it as their front wheel or fork are attached to the rack.

The Cons of Having a Roof Mounted Bike Rack

A roof mounted bike rack

  • requires sometimes additional parts for tightening;
  • requires sometimes, depending on one’s physical strength, assistance from another person;
  • increases the air resistance force, as well as the fuel consumption rate;
  • requires, in most cases, removing the front bike wheel;
  • exposes bikes to precipitation, bird droppings and insects;
  • can require an additional investment, providing your car does not have a rack integrated into it.

 

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

A trunk mounted bike rack represents one of the most popular options for bike transportation, thanks to its simplicity, adjustability and affordability. When we say “adjustability”, we mean that the aforementioned type of bike rack fits on almost every car’s trunk. Owing to their simple design, which consists of a metal construction and straps with metal hooks at their ends, which are placed into the gaps surrounding the trunk, trunk mounted bike racks are easy to install and are not a burden to your wallet.

Regardless of the aforementioned adjustability, this type of bike rack is most suitable for sedans, coupes and convertibles, whereas when it comes to wagons, hatchbacks, crossovers and SUVs, it is not an ideal option. This is due to the fact that trunk mounted bike racks are more stable on a sloped surface than on a flat one.

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

 

The Pros of Having a Trunk Mounted Bike Rack

A trunk mounted bike rack

  • is affordable and can be found at the price of 40 to 150 euros;
  • is adjustable and can be installed on most car models;
  • does not increase the air resistance force, thus not increasing the fuel consumption rate;
  • reduces bikes’ exposure to insects.

The Cons of Having a Trunk Mounted Bike Rack

A trunk mounted bike rack

  • exposes bikes to potential damages, seeing it as, when on it, bikes are racked very close to one another;
  • exposes car paint to potential damages, seeing it as, when on it, bikes are racked very close to the trunk;
  • makes it difficult to rack bikes with non-standard frames, such as full suspension bikes, traditional bikes for women or bikes for children;
  • can make it difficult, depending on the car model, to open the trunk;
  • does not make it possible to open the trunk of some car models;
  • exposes bikes to precipitation and bird droppings;
  • is the least safe option due to its flexibility when installing it.

Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

There are 2 types of hitch mounted bike racks - 1 comes in the shape of the letter “S”, while the other is “T”-shaped. The latter has become a popular option in recent years and it works as a platform on which bikes are racked, with 1 vertical bar used to stabilize the top of the bikes. A lot of these types of bike racks make it possible to tilt bikes away from the trunk, so that you can open it.

This type of bike rack is convenient for all car models with a tow hitch on them, as well as for those car models whose design allows a simple and therefore affordable tow hitch installation.

Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

 

The Pros of Having a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

A hitch mounted bike rack

  • makes it possible to rack bikes at a height which does not require too much strength and effort;
  • is simple to install, thus simple to remove;
  • does not increase the air resistance force, thus not increasing the fuel consumption rate;
  • reduces bikes’ exposure to insects;
  • protects bikes and cars from potential damages;
  • is suitable for most bike models.

The Pros of Having a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

A hitch mounted bike rack

  • requires, as its name reveals, your car having a tow hitch;
  • does not allow, in some cases, bike tilting, which prevents the trunk of your car from being opened;
  • the smaller it is, the more unstable are the bikes on it;
  • exposes bikes to precipitation and bird droppings;
  • covers, in some cases, depending on the model, the licence plates and the light signals, thus requiring the installation of additional parts.

Advice on How to Drive with a Bike Rack

Always bear in mind that transporting bikes on a bike rack means that there is a load on your car, which is why you need to adjust your speed in accordance with the situation and not go “crazy” on the road. 

When it comes to roof mounted bike racks, they also add height to your car, so before you park the car in the garage, make sure you remove the bikes from the rack first. Not only that, but avoid driving through passages or drive-thrus when transporting bikes on a roof mounted bike rack, so as to not damage the bikes, the rack and the car.

Note

Always check if your bike is compatible with the type of rack you are interested in, seeing it as certain types of bike racks have, as the primary attachment point, a frame handle, whereas the rest have a front wheel handle or a fork handle for the primary attachment point.

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