As bike riders we of course spend as much time as we can on our bikes. And on occasion, we have the need to transport our bikes. When we’re going on holiday, heading to a race, or simply transporting our bike for repairs or upgrades, we need to be able to safely and securely attach our bikes to our vehicles to get them to our destination.
Choosing a bike rack can be a head-scratching affair. Not only are there different types of bike carriers, but you have to consider your type of vehicle and type of bike. To help you sort through the different products, here’s a list of the different types of bike racks for cars along with their advantages and disadvantages.
As the name suggests, these racks go on the top of your vehicle. They allow you easy access through your doors, boot, or hatch. Compared to the other types of bike racks for cars, the rooftop carrier is best if you want to maintain an unobstructed view from your windows. Many affordable versions exist, so there’s a rooftop rack for every budget.
Check out our review of the Rhino Rack MountainTrail Bike Carrier here.
On the downside, installation is a little more complicated than with the other car racks, so it’s less convenient to remove and install frequently. With the bike rack installed on the top of your car, your overall car height is greatly increased, so you need to take extra caution with overhead clearance. It can take additional effort to install bikes on the roof of a vehicle — especially taller SUVs and minivans. Also, strong winds can adversely affect the handling of your car.
For ease of bike mounting, a rear boot or hatch-mount carrier is a great option. They are light, low-cost, and easy to install. These racks are great for occasional use, and they remove and fold easily for storage in your boot when not in use. They also help protect your bikes that are mounted on the roof of your car, which could be damaged by gravel.
Your view out the rear window and access to the boot will be restricted if you install a boot mount bike rack. You also have to take into account the extra length when reversing. Two and three-bike models exist, but you’re limited to how much weight you can hang off the back of your car. These carriers are secure when installed correctly, but the straps need to be verified and tightened often.
Tow ball carriers are great if you’re carrying up to five bikes. They’re easy to install on any vehicle with an appropriate tow hitch (be sure to verify the ratings for your tow hitch). They’re generally easy to load, and many models swing away to allow you access to the boot of your car, van, or SUV. This type of carrier can usually be folded flat or easily removed when you’re not using it.
The downside of a tow ball carrier is that they can block your rearward view and possibly your taillights and licence plate. They also greatly increase the length of your car, which can make manoeuvering in car parks difficult. Certain bikes — such as women’s, children’s, or specialty bikes — may require an adapter to mount properly.
Learn more about the Thule Velo Compact Tow Ball Carrier now.
No matter which bike carrier you choose, it’s important to consider several factors:
Ease of installation of the carrier and frequency of use
Ease of installation of the bicycles
Number of bikes it can hold
Safety features such as locks, padding, and guards
When you compare your needs to the bike rack options available, you’ll find the type that works best for you.
Check out the car rack options available on BikeExchange.
Now that you’re all set to transport your bike, discover your next biking destination.