Summer’s fast approaching and at last you have invested in the bicycle of your dreams. But now there’s another hurdle to ride over. If your bike fits inside your car, great! But most of us will need to invest in a bicycle rack to get to our cycling destinations.
Bicycle racks come in a dizzying array of options and picking the one that best meets your needs can be a daunting task considering not only the various fitment options to your car, but also compatibility with the type of bike(s) you wish to carry.
Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options, provides a short guide on how to pick the best bike rack for your vehicle.
Boot racks: These are designed to be fitted to your car using a system of straps and hooks. They often have rubberised contact points that minimise movement under the weight of the bikes once strapped to the car.
- Usually the cheapest and simplest option
- Quick to attach and remove from car
- Easy to load and unload bikes
- Doesn’t require additional accessories to be fitted to most cars
- Least secure in terms of bike retention and risk of theft
- May restrict rear-view mirror visibility
- Bikes with odd frame shapes may be difficult to carry
- The rubber “feet” may scratch the car paint surface finish
Roof racks: To use roof racks you will need crossbars, and the type of crossbars that fit your car will depend on whether you already have vertical roof rails. Most rack accessory manufacturers will have a handy fitment guide.
- Frees up access to the boot
- Unrestricted rear visibility
- Compatible with most bicycles
- May increase car fuel consumption due to increased aerodynamic drag
- Difficult to load and unload bikes especially if you are not very tall
- May need additional accessories, like crossbars, if your car isn’t already equipped with them
Hitch racks: As the name implies, hitch racks attach to your car’s hitch receiver. If your car doesn’t already have one, you will need to have one fitted. They come in various sizes.
- Easy to fit and remove from car
- Easy to load and unload bikes due to low position
- Wide compatibility with various kinds of bikes
- No-contact mounting with car body means no scratching your paint.
- The good ones are expensive!
- You will need to get a hitch receiver for your car if you don’t already have one
- Risk of damage to bikes in case of rear end collision
- Can obstruct view of vehicle license plate
“Many cyclists will spare no expense when it comes to their bikes and cycling gear but hesitate to invest in a high-quality bike rack,” observes Smit. “Cheap racks may put your bike at risk of damage and even pose a safety hazard to you and your car. Doing your research on the best rack option for your car and bicycle and buying a well-built rack from a reputable brand will ensure you have trouble-free trips to your cycling destinations.”