As fun as bringing your bikes on your outdoor journey can be, you can’t simply pack all of them in the boot, as you’d have little to no space to bring your other important items. This gets even more complicated if you travel with family and friends, and have multiple bikes to bring along. For this reason, you’ll want a bike rack. Bike racks come in a wide range of designs and are suitable for carrying varying amounts of bikes. Choosing the right rack will be the difference between a smooth and disappointing experience.
How to Choose the Best Bike Rack?
Consider the Type
Choosing the right bike rack starts with figuring out the type you need. There are multiple types of bike racks, the most popular of which are towball carriers, roof racks and trunk racks.
These bike racks are available in a range of designs and can accommodate up to 5 bikes. In fact, if you want to transport more than two bikes, a 5 or 4 bike towball carrier is arguably your best and sometimes the only choice. These racks make it easy to load and unload your bikes. Premium models come with lightweight builds, repair stands, and built-in locks, making them some of the most versatile on the market. The built-in locking mechanisms make securing your bikes onto them a breeze, and you can have peace of mind knowing that your bikes and vehicle make it safe and sound to their destination. As reliable as a 5 or 4 bike towball carrier can be, you might have to pay a higher price for them. They’re more advanced in terms of design, and they require you have a tow ball to your vehicle, which can add to the cost.
Roof racks can be either upright or fork-mounted on the top of your vehicle, providing the most flexibility to load your bike. This leaves your boot free to store other items. Some roof bike mounts come with locks for both wheels, while others will require you to remove the front wheel. Whichever design you go for, it will come with locks that secure your bikes. More often than not, roof carriers that require you to remove the front wheel make it easy to load bikes, while those that don’t can take some work to pick up and place on the roof. These racks can be more expensive and less stable, but they’re versatile, and you can carry multiple bikes on them. However, pay attention to your roof’s weight capacity and make sure you don’t go over it.
Boot carriers are your only choice if you want to mount your bikes on a pickup truck. They’re budget-friendly, lightweight and easy to use. Generally, you’ll have to use hooks and straps to fasten the rack to the hatches. Typically, these carriers can carry up to three bikes, depending on their build, but they aren’t suitable for all-terrain use, as the bikes are likely to sway as you drive.
Number of Bikes You’ll Transport
This is an important consideration, as you can see, different bike racks are capable of handling a different number of bikes. That being said, every rack has a different number of cradles, and they’re only capable of carrying one bike at a time. The weight the rack can handle is also an important feature to consider, and you shouldn’t go over that weight under any circumstances, otherwise you risk losing your bikes, damaging your vehicle, or hurting people you share the road with.
You’ve paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars for your bike, so it only makes sense you want them to be well-protected at all times. Some racks come with locking systems that prevent thieves from stealing, while others don’t. How effective the security features are depends on how you install the racks in the first place. If you have to go through the whole manual to get it right, do it. If you don’t have the time and nerves, get help.
If you’re someone who’s mindful about how much you spend on fuel, then know that different racks will give you different results. Typically, roof racks increase fuel costs, for instance, as they reduce the aerodynamic capabilities of your vehicle. Racks mounted on the rear, on the other hand, don’t impact your fuel economy at all, as they’re out of the way.
Last but not least, the type of vehicle you drive will impact what type of rack is best suited for you. Most manufacturers come with vehicle fit guides that you can use to see whether a rack suits your vehicle or not. Additionally, you’ll have to check the outfitting of your vehicle. If it has a receiver trailer hitch or crossbar, what size are they? The most common sizes are 1.25-inches or 2-inches.