Beginner Guide for Choosing the Right Bike Rack for a Car

Reading this article means that you like pedaling a lot more than driving a car, which you might be happy to do. Sometimes, a car is indispensable. For example, when you want to travel a certain cycling route that is not easily connected to a train station, or too far to be reached directly by bike.

In these cases, the problem of carrying the bike on the car arises. Those who travel alone can also let the bike enter the trunk, perhaps by removing the wheels.

However, if you are in two or more people, you have to rely on a bicycle carrier for cars. There are different types. In this article, we focus on a beginner guide for choosing the right bike rack for a car.

Car bike racks can be grouped into three categories. Let’s see the types, the advantages, and disadvantages of each, and some general advice for the purchase and safety.

1. Car roof bike carrier

They consist of a “rail” in which to fit the wheels of the bike. They also have a movable arm with a vice that tightens the down tube of the bike.

Car-roof-bike-carrier

Some models provide for attachment directly to the fork. In this case, the bike is lower, but the front wheel must be transported separately. If you choose such a bike carrier, you also need to buy quality roof bars.

Advantages

  • The rear door of the car remains accessible, allowing you to load and unload other luggage easily.
  • The bikes do not obstruct the driver's view.
  • It is easy to park even in narrow places (but beware of low entrances to parking lots!).
  • It can be left mounted.

Disadvantages

  • Less aerodynamics of the car = higher fuel consumption, especially on the motorway.
  • Loading a bike onto the car roof can be complicated and tiring.
  • The height of the car increases greatly. This makes it impossible to go through low underpasses or enter many guarded parking lots.

2. Bike carrier for the car tow bar/hinge-mounted bike rack

They are mounted precisely on the tow bar of the car. Your car must be equipped with them to use them. The simpler models consist of a vertical tube from which two horizontal tubes start to hang the bike.

The more advanced and expensive models offer a real support base for the bike. This base allows the bike to be fixed with clamps that tighten the frame. Some models can be adapted not only for transporting bikes but also for transporting other bulky items in general.

Advantages

  • It is the most stable and secure attachment point.
  • With the most performing models, you can also load four bikes and even heavy bikes.
  • Improved aerodynamics of the car.
  • Easier to load and unload bikes.

Disadvantages

  • Higher cost than other models.
  • Obstruct the rearview and lengthen the vehicle.
  • It is necessary to replicate the license plate and the rear lights to avoid fines.
  • With bikes loaded, it is not possible to open the tailgate.

3. Bike carrier for the tailgate of the car

This is a system that attaches to the car’s slots at the tailgate using hooks and straps. Especially suitable for those who do not have a car with a tow bar.

Advantages

  • They are cheap
  • Once mounted, it is easy to load the bike onto it.
  • Once the bike is unloaded, they can be folded up and take up a small footprint.

Disadvantages

  • It is necessary to be very careful to carry out a correct and safe assembly; the bike, which is hung by the top tube of the frame, must be well balanced.
  • They obstruct the rear-view and lengthen the vehicle.
  • Remember to use the protruding loads' sign to avoid fines.
  • Once the bike carrier is mounted, the tailgate can no longer be opened.

Beginner Guide for Choosing the Right Bike Rack for a Car: Factors to Consider

There are different factors to take into account to choose the bike rack you need correctly. Like for example: what is your budget? How often will you use it? Do you prefer one that is easy to use?

The most important:

How many bikes are you going to take?

If you are going to carry a maximum of 3 bikes, any type of bike rack for cars mentioned above will suit you.

For four bicycles, the ideal is to choose a ball or hitch, since you will be more comfortable, and also, you will save fuel on your journeys.

If you intend to carry more than 4 bikes, it is best to opt for a bicycle trailer.

Do you currently have an extra accessory installed in your car?

To avoid unnecessary expense, it is best to:

  • Get a hinge-mounted bike rack if you already have the hitch installed.
  • Choose a roof rack if you already have the roof rack pre-installed.

Whether or not you have these accessories installed in your vehicle, the final decision is yours. You can opt for comfort and safety and spend a little more for something worthwhile.

On the contrary, spend as little as possible and opt for a hatchback bike. More complicated to use, but cheap and affordable in your pocket.

Are you going to use it often?

Eventual or occasional use:

A roof or gate one works well since they are more practical and cheaper.

Daily use:

The ball is perfect since the placement is easier. At the same time, you will not even notice that you carry the bikes with you.

General Advice

  • Remember to remove all accessories from the bike (water bottle, cycle computer, etc.) before charging it. It will prevent them from detaching and falling off after a few blows.
  • Secure the bikes well and insert some material to absorb shocks in the most delicate areas. Pay particular attention to the front wheel, which in some types of bike carriers is left free to move. Fix it.
  • After the first few kilometres, double-check that the bikes are well secured even after the initial settling.
  • If you have a bike with a carbon frame, be very careful not to subject the frame to excessive stress!
  • Check carefully which bike racks are compatible with your car. Not all cars can fit all the types of bike racks listed above.

Bottom Line

This is our beginner guide for choosing the right bike rack for a car. We hope we have helped you with this small contribution. If you want to know more or have any queries, ask!

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