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.
Here is me having solved that issue recently:
(We named the car Thunder on account of the roar when trying to get uphill but failing miserably)
As this is a big purchase, here’s what you need to search deep within your soul and ask yourself:
- Does my car have a tow bar?
- Does my car have a roof rack?
Yes, I have one of those tow bar thingies
Great! You are in the same position I was in. Two brands that came recommended are Thule and Saris.
I ended up with a Thule Xpress 2-Bike which I got shipped from Amazon next day with Prime as I’m forever leaving decisions until the last minute.
The Thule Xpress-2 Bike Rack is cheap (around £60), has next to zero assembly (I’m allergic to instruction manuals), can be secured with a padlock and folds down fairly small.
When it arrived, I fumbled a little with securing it on the tow bar. Initially, I assumed perhaps there are different size tow bars and mine wasn’t compatible, but that wasn’t the case, it just required a fair bit of pressure to clamp down securely. Most tow bars are a standard 50mm (around 2 inches).
A little padlock goes through a small hole which means a thief would have to break that to get the bikes (as long as they too are secured to the rack with a lock). It’s not perfect security, but it’s better than nothing.
The Thule Xpress also comes in a 3 bike rack option. Be conscious with the maximum weight recommended with your tow bar.
There are of course plenty more tow bar options, though do expect to spend in the region of £300 to £500. Thule have a handy list on their website.
Yes, I have one of those roof rack thingies
Great! Aside from holding your breath every time you drive under a low bridge and the strength required to reach up and place your bikes on the car, roof racks are a great option.
Similar to tow bar bike racks, both Thule and Saris are recommended options.
Roof racks can be a little fiddly to install and you want to make sure you get it right. Halfords sell the Thule ProBike which is a very popular option for around £90. The upside of buying from Halfords is that they’ll also install the rack for you, for free. This gives good peace of mind and is the reason a lot of people get these things from Halfords.
The Thule ProBike carrier is lockable, which means you’ll feel a little more at ease each time your bike is out of sight.
No, I don’t have a tow bar or a roof rack
It’s easy to despair if your bike doesn’t have a roof rack or tow bar. It’s easy to think – what’s the point any more? How can I go on?
But don’t fear – there are actually a ton of great boot bike rack options for the many of us in this situation.
Many of these boot racks are billed as “universal” but cars and bikes comes in many shapes and sizes, so it’s best to do your homework first and check if it will fit your car.
Both Thule and Saris are two options I’ve tried and recommend.
On the Thule website, you are able to pick your car model along with how many you want to carry and Thule will list the compatible options. Saris have the same tool on their website. I recommend starting there.
Failing that – it’s a trip to the nearest Halfords. As they help with installation, it’s a popular choice for those of us who are new to the bike car rack game.
Here’s a useful checklist of questions to have in mind as you shop around:
- 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. a ladies step over frame bike
- 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.
- 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?
This guide was updated in July 2017. Our original roof rack guide was published in 2013.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.