Bike Racks for Cars: Tips on Choosing the Best One for the Job

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Bike racks add convenience and variety to the lives of many bikers. Finding the right rack is a big decision and  there are many things to consider such as frequency of use, the make and model of the vehicle, and the number of bikes being carried.

To help simplify this process, information is included below about the four main types of bikes racks, along with the pros and cons to each.

Trunk Mount Bike Racks

Trunk racks tend to be less expensive, lightweight, and can fit most types of vehicles. With only a moderate amount of lifting involved, bikes are usually easy to load and unload. The rack is installed to the vehicle using paint-friendly straps. This is a good option for recreational users as the rack is not permanently attached to the vehicle.

Consumers should always considered the versatility and overall ease of use before purchasing a trunk rack for their vehicle.

Pros

●    Trunk racks are usually less expensive than most other racks.
●    It is easy to load and access the bikes.
●    The rack can easily be transferred to different vehicles.

Cons

●    The trunk access is blocked.
●    The bikes may knock into each other during transit.
●    Trunk racks can be less secure than other types of racks.

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Spare tire racks can be a great option if there is a spare tire attached to the outside of the vehicle. The rack locks directly to the tire and after the initial installation, it is usually simple to use.

These racks are generally less expensive than other models. The rack does not have to remain attached to the vehicle and is usually easy to uninstall for more recreational bikers.

Pros

●    It is easy to load and access the bikes.
●    This rack is generally pretty sturdy and fits most styles of bikes.
●    Comes with locking mechanisms to keep both the rack and the bikes safe.

Cons

●    Some styles may carry a max limit of only 2 bikes and the tire cover must be removed.
●    Bikes may block tail lights, rear license plate, or the driver’s view out of the back window.
●    Drivers must always be aware of the added length to the vehicle to avoid damaging the bikes or car.

Hitch Mount Bike Racks

Hitch racks attach to the back of the vehicle by a hitch receiver. They come in two different styles, hanging racks and platform racks. On hanging racks the bike is held in cradles attached to bars.

This style can increase the car’s ground clearance and is easier to use with mountain bikes and road bikes.

One a platform-style rack the bikes are held in place by arms that clamp either the frame or the front wheel. Platform-style racks tend to keep bikes more stable during transit and can be more accommodating to non-traditional bike frames.

Pros

●    Installation is usually easy and most hitch racks fold flat against the vehicle for periods of non-use.
●    Most styles can carry 2-5 bikes at a time.
●    Protects the bikes very well and there is less danger of bikes coming into contact with the vehicle.

Cons

●    Hitch racks tend to be more expensive.
●    Some styles may prevent trunk access.
●    Hitch racks tend to be heavier than other models.

Roof  Mount Bike Racks

Roof racks are platform-style racks located on the top of the vehicle. They are easy to install and most models fit directly onto round, square, and factory crossbars.

The bikes are held securely and since most racks do not come into contact with the bike frame there is less chance of the paint being scratched.

Pros

●    The bikes do not block the driver’s field of vision while driving and rear vehicle access is not blocked.
●    Roof rack hold the bikes very securely.
●    This rack works well with non-traditional bike frames.

Cons

●    This style requires the bikes to be lifted overhead so it may not be a good option for SUVs or vehicles with a high roof.
●    Some models could require the front wheel to be removed.
●    Drivers should always be aware of the added height and avoid low-clearance spaces.

Conclusion

When choosing a bike rack, bikers should always consider their own compatibility with any bike rack they are considering purchasing and how well that model will fit into their lifestyle.

The quality and usability of a bike rack are important as this will provide worry-free travels and many great bikes rides. Fortunately, there are enough options that most bikers should be able to find a model that fits their vehicle, lifestyle, and budget.