Many cyclists also own cars!
You heard it here first. Many cyclists enjoy using said cars for heading off to far flung places to ride their bikes.
Transporting them involves some kind of bike rack. Whether that’s a trailer or an attachable rack that fits on the top or rear of your car.
The biggest problem with shopping around for a bike rack is knowing which one is suitable for both your bike and your car.
As this is a big purchase, it’s a good idea to ask ahead and get advice from the company selling them. They’ll be able to answer questions about compatibility.
Fortunately, many of the best bike racks and trailers out there have a lot of build in flexibility, so they should be able to adjust most vehicle designs.
Aside from compatibility, when shopping around you should also look for:
- Scratch free surfaces: You don’t want your car or, heaven forbid, your bike getting scratched. Look for bike racks that feature this kind of protection.
- Security of the bikes: If you are going to be away from your bike for even a short period of time you want to be sure someone can’t just run away with it.
When shopping around for a suitable solution for transporting your bike ask yourself:
- How many bikes am I going to need to transport?
- Will I use it often enough to justify the cost?
- Is it a bike that doesn’t fit the typical dimensions – e.g. tandem?
- Check your car manual – do they recommend only a certain type of rack or a maximum load?
- Will you be using the bike rack on different cars or just one?
- Do you already have a rack on your roof that you can attach additional components to?
- Check how high you can lift your bike – you don’t want something that will go on the roof if you won’t be able to reach.
- Will the rack have multiple uses? Are you using it only to transport a bike or will it have other uses.
- How much space do you have to store the rack when it’s not in use? Do you need something that packs down to a small size?
Types of racks
Rear car door carriers
These fix on to the back of cars. Although they are often promoted as “universal”, that’s not always the case so it’s best to check whether it will fit your car.
- Can typically fit between 2 to 3 bikes
- Easy access to your bike – you don’t have to reach too far
- Doesn’t take up too much space when not in use
- Can be a little fiddly to install the first couple of times
Tow bar mounted
For cars with a tow bar this is an excellent option. A 4×4 is likely to be able to carry more bikes than a typical car. It’s useful to know the tow bar nose weight of your car when shopping around. This will tell you the maximum number of bikes you can carry.
- Can find models that fit up to 5 bikes
- Only for cars with a tow bar
Roof mounted carriers
These carriers fit on to your roof racks if your car has them. If not then you’ll need to fit roof racks first and then choose a bike carrier to attach.
- Can typically fit up to 4 bikes but can find models that fit up to 6
- Secure option if you use a lock
- It can be strenuous to reach up on the roof of the car
- Need to be careful to avoid low bridges and multi-storey car parks
Indespension sell the type of racks I’ve discussed in this post.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.