Whether you ride a road bike, a fat bike, an e bike, or a mountain bike, chances are that you will need to transport your bike sometimes to get to races or trails. Using a bike rack makes transporting your bike easier. It keeps both your bike and your vehicle safe from scratches and accidental damage caused during transport.
Choosing a bike rack should take nearly as much consideration as choosing your bicycle. The bike rack you choose should be made from durable material and be strong enough to keep your bike safe and secure while you are transporting it. It should also be easy to use and accommodate the type of bike that you will be transporting. Different types of bike racks attach to different areas of your vehicle. The bike rack that is best for you depends on your needs, what kind of bike you have, how many bikes you will be transporting, and the type of vehicle you will be using to transport your bike.
The first thing you need to consider when looking for a bike rack is which style is compatible with your car. You can mount bike racks on the roof, the tow hitch, the trunk, and on the bed of a pickup truck. Once you know which bike rack style would work best with your vehicle, you can look at different models. The model you choose will depend on the number of bikes that you will be transporting. You also need to consider what kind of bikes you will be transporting as some racks are better suited for different bike styles. In addition to this, you need to consider whether you need additional cargo boxes to hold your riding gear.
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Bestselling Bike Racks for 2021
Roof Mount Bike Racks
Roof mount bike carriers allow you to secure your bicycle to the roof of your car. This gives you an unobstructed view through your rear window and keeps your tail lights visible. They can also carry a larger number of bikes and accommodate most wheel dimensions. Rooftop bike racks secure your bikes by either removing the front wheel and securing it through the fork or upright (without the need to remove your bike wheel).
Roof mount bicycle racks give you full access to the trunk of your car. On the downside, you will need to be able to get your bike onto the roof of your car safely. Because your bike gets mounted on the roof of your vehicle, it also means that you cannot use this space for cargo boxes to store additional gear. It also affects the aerodynamics of your vehicle, which means you will likely see a higher fuel consumption. Roof mount racks are best for vehicles with a lower loading height or that do not have a hitch receiver installed. Remember that the higher your car, the higher you will need to lift your bike to secure it on a roof-mounted bike rack.
With some roof mount bike carriers, you could mount up to six bikes on your vehicle's roof. The number of bicycles that you can mount will depend on how wide and heavy the bikes are, the bike rack's load capacity, and the vehicle you will use.
In order to attach a roof bike rack to the roof of your car, you will need to either have a base rack system or a factory-issued roof rack installed. Either way, you need something on your roof to which you can attach your roof mount bike rack.
This base rack is usually made of two cross-bars that are somehow attached to your car. They are designed to hold your bikes securely while spreading out their weight to keep your car safe too! There are various configurations of base racks to accommodate different car roof styles.
When your vehicle has a bare roof.
Most cars do not have a place to mount a roof rack. These cars are commonly referred to as having a bare roof. In this case, you can get specialized mounts that attach to your door jams. The bike rack system then attaches to these mounts to sit on top of your roof. The rack system is secure and removable.
Bare roof mounted racks have three components: towers, fit kits, and load bars. The towers are universal and can be used on most vehicles, while the fit kit and load bars are designed to fit specific cars.
When your vehicle has raised rails.
Some SUVs and Station wagons have bars that run from front to back on either side of the car's roof. You can use these bars to mount a roof rack and only need two components: towers and load bars. The towers are universal and fit most cars, while the load bars need to be made to fit a specific vehicle's width.
When your vehicle has tracks.
Some cars have tracks that run from front to back on either side of the roof. In other cases, you could decide to install these tracks on the roof of your car permanently. These can then be used to mount a roof rack directly on your car. This type of rack system requires three components: towers, fit kits, and load bars. The towers are universal, while the fit kit and load bars are made for specific cars.
When your vehicle has rain gutters.
Some vans and older cars have built-in rain gutters on the roof. In this case, you could use a roof rack that mounts onto these gutters. This style of roof rack system has two components: towers and load bars. Both of these components need to be made specifically for your car.
Trunk Bike Rack
Most trunk mounted racks allow you to carry up to two or three bikes, depending on the model. Trunk mount bike racks typically use straps that lock around the edges of your car's trunk. You then secure the frame of your bike to the rack. The drawbacks of trunk mounted bike racks are that your view through the rear window is obstructed and that you cannot open your trunk while the bike rack is in place. Trunk mount racks are generally less expensive than other bike mounting systems.
Hitch Mount Bike Racks
Hitch mounted bike racks attach to your car's trailer hitch. They are easy to install and usually don't require special tools. Most hitch mount rack models can carry between two and three bikes (attached to the rack by the bike frame), while some models can carry up to five bikes. Some models are able to swing to the side or tilt down to allow access to your car's trunk. They are usually attached to the hitch tube or drawbar receiving tube of your tow hitch. Hitch mount bike racks work well for all bike sizes, especially heavier bikes. Another great feature is you can secure bikes with a bike lock.
Hitch racks come in two styles: platform hitch racks and hanging hitch racks. Platform hitch racks can carry up to four bikes and can accommodate various styles of bike frames. They are easy to use and fold away quickly when not in use. Hanging racks can carry up to five bikes – secured by their top tubes. There are two variations of hanging hitch mounted racks; racks that tilt down and racks that swing away from your vehicle. Both of these options make it easier to access your trunk.
Spare Tire Mount Bike Racks
A spare tire mount bike rack attaches to the external spare tire mount of some SUVs and off-road vehicles. The rack attaches behind the spare tire, and a hinged mount system is often incorporated. This allows for easy access to the cargo area of your vehicle without needing to remove your bike. Most spare tire mount bike racks can hold between one or two bikes.
Truck Bed Mount Bike Racks
Truck bed bike mounts keep your bike secure on the bed of your truck. You can usually secure your bike upright in a truck bed bike mount by sliding the front wheel into a groove or holder.
Whether you participate in road races or are an avid mountain biker, getting your bike to where you will be riding is safer and easier with a car rack designed specifically to carry your bicycle. Many bike racks can accommodate multiple bikes while giving you unobstructed access to your trunk. Trunk, hitch, spare wheel, and truck bed mounted bike racks leave the roof of your car open. That means you can easily mount cargo boxes on your roof to store additional gear.
When looking for a bike rack, you will need to consider your specific needs, like the type and number of bikes you will be transporting. You also need to think about the type of vehicle you will be transporting your bikes with and whether you will need additional storage space for your gear.