What type of bike rack do I need ?
Some important factors to consider when wondering What type of bike rack do I need ? and the first set of questions you should ask yourself are:
- How far and how often do you need to carry your bikes ?
- Then what type of bikes, and how many bikes you need to carry ?
- Which vehicle — or vehicles — do you have, and will you be taking a mixture of bikes?
- Are they heavy, will they be getting dirty?
The next set of questions are:
- How do you want to carry the bikes ?
- On top of the vehicle ?
- Off the back ?
- Does your vehicle have a receiver hitch ?
- Bike’s front wheel on or off ?
Other factors to consider are if you want or require to carry other sporting equipment.
Bikes really do vary in style, size, cost and weight too, all of which should be considered when looking for a means of transportation for them.
Furthermore you probably will not want to risk transporting your expensive bike on a rack that costs less than one of its tires.
Also consider practicality: whether the bike rack will suit your requirements now and in the future; ease of use — how easy it is to fit to the vehicle and load; how much storage space it will take up when not in use.
The main types of car bike rack are roof mounted, boot or trunk mounted and tow-bar or hitch mounted.
What type of bike rack do I need ?
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What are the different types of bike racks ?
So we are pretty sure you are aware by now there are three versions of car bike racks!, these are as follows:-
- rear mounted, boot or trunk bike racks
- roof mounted bike racks
- tow-bar or hitch mounted bike racks
Rear Mounted, boot or trunk bike racks
These are usually metal framed structures that attach to the rear of vehicles. These bike racks come in various shapes and sizes in order to suit most vehicles and bikes. Also weight and capacity are big factors as to how many bikes a particular model can carry. These types of bike rack are usually more affordable than the others. But can be quite restricted in your view from the rear window.
Roof Mounted Bike Racks
Usually there are three main methods of attaching a bike to your car roof, each utilizing a different part of the bike – the frame, tires or forks.
Frame-gripping models are the traditional method, featuring a bar that attaches to the down-tube of your bike to hold it tightly to the rack, although if used incorrectly can damage bikes and tend to be a bit noisy, in terms of wind noise and vibrations over bumps.
Bike Racks that attach directly to the forks of the bike are very secure, the front wheel of your bike must be removed beforehand and stored in the car itself. Levels of noise are considerably lower than the frame-grabbing option. It’s important to note that most manufacturers do not recommend this type of rack for use with carbon fiber framed bikes. Also something to bear in mind is that not all disc brake set-ups are catered for.
The final option is a rack that holds a bike’s tires – these can be more secure than frame models and tend to minimize vibration thanks to their rubber-to-plastic securing method.
Tow-Bar or Hitch Mounted Bike Racks
Tow-bar or hitch bike racks are easy to install and use with the option to carry up to 4 bikes.
They mount to the receiver hitch or tow-bar so no base rack is required.
Tow-bar or hitch bike racks are an ideal way to transport your bikes because they are solid, stable, and easy to load. They are, of course, heavier than hanging style or roof mounted racks, so if you plan to remove and remount the rack often, you’ll want to pay attention to weight.
You should also know the weight of the bikes you are planning to carry, and make sure the rack you choose is rated to handle the required weight.
What is the best type of bike rack ?
Should I travel with my bike on the roof, boot or tow-bar ?
Each type of bike rack has clear pros and cons. Actually, each method has more cons than pros, so the choice is really a matter of deciding which cons least concern you. So let’s start with the cheapest option.
Rear mounted, boot or trunk bike racks
Bike Racks that fasten onto your hatch, trunk or boot are easy and more affordable, really because you don’t need any other equipment (such as roof racks or tow-bars) to fit them onto. They also give you a clear view of your bike or bikes as you drive.
The clear view of your bike or bikes can come at a cost a rear window obscured by bikes will interfere with your driving. The bikes may also hide your number plate and even your back lights. Then there’s the risk of damage to your car from the bike rack and the bikes being carried. Any good bike rack will hold your bikes away from your car, however the risk of scratching is the highest with rear mounted racks.
Roof mounted bike racks
The next most affordable option, roof mounted bike racks, are the safest because they do not obstruct your view. You’ll also have full access to your trunk / boot, and won’t need to worry about obscured plates or back lights. Despite initial appearances, roof bike racks are very secure and with carefully designed mounts, straps and ratchets to keep your bike from moving.
The bike or bikes will take a bit of a battering up there by the wind. Fuel consumption will be higher. Then theirs the height problems. You have to get the bike up and down again, and look out for car park entrances. In most cases you’ll also need to buy a roof rack or bars, although you can then leave them on permanently to take all kinds of bike racks.
Tow-bar or hitch mounted bike racks
So if your car, suv, 4×4 or van already has a tow-bar fitted, then a tow-bar or hitch mounted rack is very easy to fit. There are two types of tow-bar rack: platform racks that support up to four bikes by their wheels and are the strongest type of bike rack; and then theirs the more affordable hang-on tow-bar bike racks, where you hang bikes from their top bar. Many tow-bar bike racks come with integrated number plates and lighting boards.
These are more expensive than roof and rear bike racks. If your car does not already have a tow-bar, you’ll need to purchase and have it fitted. However it’s money well spent on years of freedom to travel securely with your bike / bikes.
What is the easiest bike rack to use ?
When you need to transport your bike by a car bike rack, you want to do it as easily and securely as possible.
A bike rack that offers the best combination of solid construction, ease of use, a light weight, and off course a reasonable price.
So in conclusion to What type of bike rack do I need ? and taking all these factors in to consideration we believe the easiest type of bike rack is a Rear mounted, boot or trunk bike racks, purely down to the pro’s listed above, Bike Racks that fasten onto your hatch, trunk or boot are easy and more affordable, really because you don’t need any other equipment.
Want to know the Best Rear Mounted Bike Rack, then see our article. Which covers the following bike racks:
- Thule Gateway Pro Trunk Bike Rack
- Saris Bones EX Trunk Bike Rack Carrier
- Thule 927002 Velocompact 3 bikes
- SeaSucker Talon Single Bike Rack
- Venzo 3 Bike Rack for Car SUV Universal Carrier
- Allen Sports Premier Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
- Hollywood Racks Express Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
- Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B Deluxe
So we hope you found this guide What type of bike rack do I need ? useful and are now better prepared for the matter in hand. If you found this article useful, please consider sharing it is greatly appreciated.
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Finally please do not forget to pay a visit to our Gallery page containing lots of different Bike Racks for Cars, Vans, SUV’s, 4×4’s and Campervans too.
What type of bike rack do I need ?