Bike Racks For Cars

The ability to take your bike with you wherever your car can go opens up a whole world of cycling possibilities.  Owning a bike rack for your car makes carrying your bike with you easy, though picking the right rack for your needs can be difficult.  Here we will examine the different types of bike racks for cars to make the decision process easier.

Bike racks for cars fall into three main categories: trunk mounted racks, hitch mounted racks, and roof mounted racks. Each type rack has its own advantages and disadvantages. To help narrow down the possibilities, it is crucial to determine your needs. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How many bikes does the rack need to carry?
  • How frequently will you be using the bike rack?
  • What is your budget?
  • How safe is the location that the car and bike rack will be stored?  Will your car be garaged?
  • Are you able to lift your bike high in the air to put it in on the roof or can you only lift it a few feet off the ground?
  • Is your vehicle already equipped with a tow hitch or a roof rack?
  • Do you participate in other sports like skiing, snowboarding, or kayaking that may make it possible to purchase a dual sport rack?
  • Do you have a traditional bike or is it a tandem or another odd shape that may prevent it from fitting on a standard rack?

Once you have answered these questions, choosing the best type of bike rack becomes much easier.

Traditionally, the trunk mounted rack is the most cost-effective, but also the most likely to cause damage to your vehicle.  The hitch mount rack is expensive if it requires additional installation of a tow hitch, but is the most convenient to use. The roof mounted rack is versatile for multi sport athletes, but can be cumbersome to utilize.   Below, we’ll break down the features of each rack, in additional to their strengths and weaknesses to help you determine the best type of bike rack.

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

Trunk Bike Rack

Trunk mounted racks are the most inexpensive

The trunk mounted bike rack is perfect for the budget conscious individual searching for a basic, no frills rack. While prices do vary, the trunk mounted bike rack typically ranges in cost from $50-$150. The rack easily attaches to the vehicle’s trunk, bumper, or hatchback. However, because the rack and the bike rest on the vehicle, the excess weight can cause damage to the paint and/or body of the car. In order to safely secure the bike to the rack the straps must be tightly wrapped around the frame of the bike and attached to the rack. Unfortunately, the straps are usually made from an inexpensive material that easily deteriorates overtime and is susceptible to being cut by someone looking to steal the bicycle. Consequently, locking a bike to the rack or the car can be a challenge. Most trunk mounted bike racks can be purchased to carry one, two, or three bikes.  However, the additional weight extra bikes can cause damage to your vehicle.  The trunk mounted carrier is ideal for the consumer who does not want to spend a lot of money and is unconcerned with the potential of damage by the bike rack to his or her vehicle.

Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch Bike Rack

Hitch mounted racks are the easiest to use

Hitch mounted bike racks are the most convenient to use.  If a hitch isn’t already installed on your car, this hitch can be the most expensive of the types detailed here.   Typically, single bike hitch mounts start at $100 and multi bike hitch mounts can top out at $400.    They come in a variety of sizes that match the different classes of hitches. So, prior to purchasing a hitch mounted bike rack, you must determine if you have a tow hitch installed on your car, and if so, what size it is.    With hitch mounted bike racks, the bike is either secured to the rack with straps or in mounting trays that hold the bikes upright, and prevent multiple bikes from hitting each other. A nice feature on some hitch mounted bike rack is the ability of the entire rack to hinge forward for easy access anything in the trunk of the vehicle.

Roof Mounted Bike Racks

Roof Bike Rack

Roof mounted racks offer the most versatility

The roof mounted bike rack is a favorite among multi sport athletes, as different attachments can be purchased to accommodate a variety of sports equipment.   The cost of purchasing a roof mounted bike rack and any additional installation accessories can range from $50 to $400. Typically, this type of rack is attached to a vehicle’s roof rack and crossbars or with clips that clamp onto the top part of a vehicle’s door frame. If your vehicle includes a roof rack or crossbar then the cost of the bike rack will be substantially less than those who have to purchase the mounting accessories and tools necessary to attach the rack to the vehicle’s roof. When choosing a roof mounted bike rack, purchasers have two options: a fork-mount carrier that requires the removal of the front wheel, or an upright mount that attaches to the bike’s frame to keep it stationary. Opting for the fork mount makes it easier to lift the bike and attach it to the rack.  However, it requires the front wheel to be stored somewhere else. On the other hand, the upright mount does not need to have the front wheel removed, but it requires more physical strength to hoist the bike to the rack. The roof mounted carrier is ideal for other sports such as skiing, kayaking or snowboarding with the purchase of additional accessories. The larger the vehicle, the more bikes can be stored on the roof providing additional storage space inside of the car. On the downside, parking in buildings with a low overhead is impossible.  And if the bikes are not secured properly they can easily fall off the vehicle causing a safety hazard to yourself and other drivers.

Opening Up A New World Of Cycling Possibilities

Buying a bike rack can be an exciting process. A bike rack allows you to explore new found and hidden haunts with your bike that you otherwise miss. The first step in choosing the perfect bike rack begins with determining your needs. Ask yourself the above questions to better decide what type of rack you need. The most common types of bike rakes are: Trunk Mounted Racks, Hitch Mounted Racks, and Roof Mounted Racks. Each type of bike racks offers its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Pick the rack that best fits your needs and lifestyle and start enjoying the excitement of taking your bike anywhere!

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