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A car bike rack isn’t often thought of when buying a bike and gear, but if you plan on traveling with or transporting your bike you’ll need to find out what the best bike racks for cars are. Safely carrying the bike is the number one priority here. Convenience and minimizing damage to the car and bike are also important factors to consider.
Carrying your bike in your car or truck
Bicycles take up a lot of room in a car. Though not ideal for carrying a bike, sometimes you have no other choice. There are viable options to consider besides laying your bike on its side in the trunk or in the back of an SUV.
You can purchase a fork mount bike block to carry the bike upright so it takes up less space. With a fork mount bike block you remove the front wheel. The front fork straddles the block and most blocks have a quick release to hold the fork in place.
Mount the block to a 2×4 or 1×6 board cut to the width of your vehicle’s inside to keep the bike stable. I have a fork mount bike block mounted to a sheet of plywood in the back of my pickup. My truck has a cap on it that locks, so the bike is secure and out of the weather.
Receiver Hitch Bicycle Rack
One of the best bike racks for cars is the receiver hitch bike rack. If you have a receiver hitch on your vehicle, these racks are ideal. They won’t scratch the paint on your car since nothing mounts to the body of the car itself. Most receiver hitch bike racks can carry two or more bikes easily. The most common type has bars that the bike hangs from and straps to. I always run a bungee cord between the wheels so the front wheel doesn’t move side to side. The bungee also keeps the wheels from spinning in the wind, which they tend to do while you drive.
There’s another receiver hitch bike rack to consider (shown above). It holds the bike by the bottom of the wheels and has an adjustable stabilizing bar that holds the top tube in place. It secures the bike and does the least amount of damage to the painted finish. Once the bike is clamped down it doesn’t move. You see this type of rack on the back of RV’s frequently.
Things to Consider With Receiver Hitch Bike Racks
- The better receiver hitch bike racks can tilt down so you can still gain access to the back of your vehicle. Otherwise access to the trunk or tailgate of your vehicle is impeded.
- A rack filled with three bikes or more is fairly heavy, making it difficult to tilt the rack up and down.
- The spacing between bikes tends to be pretty close. To prevent damage to the bikes it’s better to leave an empty rack space (when possible) between each bike.
- For step-through frames (girls bikes) you’ll need to buy an accessory bar since these bikes don’t have a top tube.
Best Bike Rack For Cars: The Roof Bike Rack
The roof bike rack is among the best bike racks for cars – if not the best. The bike that is mounted on the roof is out of the way of the trunk or tailgate. The bike is less likely to get damaged on the roof, provided you don’t try to drive into your garage or take it to drive through restaurants. The better roof-mounted racks like the Yakima FrontLoader hold the bike by the tires, so there’s no worries about scratching the paint. Also, the bike is away from the car’s exhaust, spray from the tires in wet weather, and collision damage.
With roof bike racks there are a couple downfalls
- As mentioned, you have to be careful driving places with low overhead clearance, such as garages and drive-through windows.
- On taller vehicles it can be harder to get the bicycle on the rack. On my truck I have to use a small stool.
Trunk Mount Car Bike Racks
Trunk mount bike racks are the least convenient racks to use. It takes more time to mount to the car. I’ve used these before when I had my Saturn sedan. I didn’t like having to remove the bikes every time I needed to open the trunk. With this type of rack you run the risk of scratching or denting your trunk lid. They are okay for occasional use, but if you’ll be carrying your bike frequently a receiver rack or roof rack are much better choices.
We’ve listed and described the best bike racks for cars in this article. Armed with this information you’ll be able to find a bike rack that meets your needs.
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