Best Bike Racks For Going on Family Vacations

Cycling is one of the favorite activities for families in the summer. What to reconcile the aspirations of each other: the pleasure of pedaling like champions for the little ones, and the happiness of enjoying beautiful landscapes with the hair in the wind for the older ones.

To prepare for your vacation, you, therefore, have two solutions:

  • Rent bikes at your holiday resort, even if it means leaving a little bit of your arm
  • Invest in a bicycle rack

It is this second solution that we will discuss in detail in this article because buying a bike rack is not as easy as it seems.

You will find information on:

  • What type of bike rack to choose?
  • How to choose the right bike rack?
  • Can we transport a child’s bicycle on a bicycle rack?
  • How to use your bike rack properly
  • TOP 10 bike racks

What type of bike rack to choose?

First puzzle: the type of bike rack. There are several models, each offering its advantages and disadvantages.

Choose a roof bike rack: the roof bike rack can carry up to 4 bikes. It frees visibility through the rear window and does not prevent access to the boot. The bikes are firmly attached to it and there is no risk of dirt or damage during the journey. Their loading, on the other hand, turns out to be a little more perilous, but we get used to it with practice. Gearing up in the wind leads to overconsumption of fuel. 

Finally, pay attention to the height limit of certain equipment: access to a car park or passage under bridges less than 1.90 meters may turn out to be impossible.

Choose the trunk bike carrier: this model is also called a tailgate bike carrier. This is the cheapest solution, both in terms of price and fuel consumption, but this system only allows you to transport a maximum of 3 bikes. It is easily attached using straps and rigid legs. To prevent the bikes from colliding during the trip, it is advisable to install foam panels. Main disadvantage of this model: you can no longer open the boot as long as the bike rack is in place. 

Be careful with the straps which can otherwise get tangled. Finally, you may need to add an additional license plate with your car registration, if your headlights and your license plate are hidden by the trunk bike rack.

Choosing the hitch bike rack: the hitch bike rack is quick and easy to assemble. It is also the one that ensures the best stability. It can transport up to 4 bikes depending on the maximum vertical load accepted by your towing ball. On some models, a tilt function even allows access to the trunk. 

There are two types of towing bike carriers: on the platform for long journeys and suspended for intensive use. Hitch bike carriers are often expensive. Rear visibility is also slightly reduced.

How to choose the right bike rack?

To choose the right model of the bike rack, start by asking yourself the following questions:

How many bikes do you have to transport? 

If you need to transport 3 bikes, all solutions are possible. From 4 bicycles, on the other hand, you will have to fold either towards the roof bike carrier or towards the towing bike carrier. Beyond that, the bicycle carrier trailer is the safest solution.

What equipment do you have?

 If you already have a roof rack, you can install the roof bike rack at no extra cost. In the same vein, if your car is already equipped with a towing ball, then you can easily fit a towing bike carrier.

What will be your use? 

If you only use your equipment to go on vacation or weekends, opt for a trunk bike rack, more economical. For more intensive use, it is better to favor the towing bike carrier, certainly more expensive, but also much more practical.

Think about the durability of your bike rack.

 Choose a model whose metal parts (turnbuckles, arms) are made of anti-corrosive materials. Enough to extend the life of your equipment.

Can we transport a child’s bicycle on a bicycle rack?

Let’s be clear: bike racks are designed to accommodate large size bicycles. Often, the horizontal frames of children’s bikes are too short to adjust to the attachment points. 

You have two options: buy a frame adapter or show some ingenuity. On a roof bike rack, for example, you can lay the bike down and secure it with a rigid cable. 

On a trunk bike rack, it is possible to fix the bike to the straps and add more so that it does not move. In any case, be careful and remember to check your load regularly.

How to use your bike rack properly?

Before each departure, be sure to respect the following basic safety instructions:

Make sure that the bike carrier and the bikes are properly secured. Nothing should rub against the bodywork. Do not hesitate to check them regularly during the journey.

Listen carefully during the journey. In the event of a suspicious noise, stop as quickly as possible and check your installation.

Remember to secure your bikes with locks. Most bicycle rack models do not have an anti-theft device.

Observe the maximum load authorized by your bicycle rack. You will find the information in the instructions for your equipment.

Keep the rear lights and license plate visible. If this is not the case, install an additional plate associating the lighting and the registration number.

The best bike racks

Which bike rack to buy? Whether you are looking for a trunk, roof, or hitch bike rack, you will find a selection of models approved by parents below. The Thule and Mottez brands dominate this selection through the quality and completeness of their ranges. 

Do not hesitate to enrich it with your own favorites in the comments.

Mottez Bicycle Rack

Designed by Mottez, this tailgate bike carrier is raised, so as to leave the lights and the number plate always visible. It can carry up to 3 bikes. It is installed using 6 straps. The bikes are held by 1 tightening strap for more security. 4 high-density foam pads protect the body. 

The uprights of the bicycle rack are covered with protective foam for the bicycles. The equipment is delivered assembled, all you have to do is install it. It is coated with thermally hardened anti-rust epoxy paint to ensure longevity. 

Thule Raceway Pro Trunk Bike Rack

This Thule tailgate bike carrier fits most cars. It can carry 3 bikes, including children’s bikes. For non-standard bicycles, you can also use the Thule bicycle frame adapter. Thule-designed gear installs with Sure-Tight ratchet cables and adjusts to the car’s roof with the smart FitDial system. 

Thanks to the molded rubber pads, a firm hold is assured. The car is also protected from scratches. Fasteners prevent any contact between the bikes, to prevent them from getting damaged. 

Mottez A009P1 Bike Carrier Hang On Tow

This is undoubtedly one of the bike rack models with the best quality / price ratio. It allows you to transport 3 bikes thanks to 6 retaining straps and 1 tightening strap, colored in red. The 3 bikes are attached to the 6 frame locks. This equipment preferably accepts bikes with a horizontal crossbar. 

The tube is made of titanium for added strength. The bike rack is covered with thermo-hardened anti-rust epoxy paint. Its installation is easy because everything is factory assembled. No tool needed to install it. 

Thule Freeway Trunk Bike Rack

This tailgate bike rack designed by Thule offers excellent value for money. It can carry 3 bikes. All parts in contact with the car and the bikes are protected by a rubber coating. It is suitable for most bikes with non-standard frames like kids bikes, ladies bikes, BMXs, or downhill bikes. 

In case of difficulty, a Thule 982 bicycle adapter is offered. Robust, it is easily assembled even if the kit must be assembled beforehand. 

Thule EuroRide Bike Rack

This functional hitch bike rack will meet all the needs of a bike-loving family. It can carry up to 3 bicycles. To facilitate access to the trunk, a manual rocker is available, even when the bikes are secured. The equipment can be assembled quickly thanks to an intelligent clamping handle. 

The wheels are held in place with flexible straps. The bicycle carrier is locked to the towing ball using a lock provided. Bicycles are locked using a locking wheel. The real advantage of this product is its ease of assembly and use. This explains its price, slightly above average. 

Mottez folding hitch bike rack

This hitch bike rack can carry 3 bikes. Its strong point: it allows access to the trunk, even when the bikes are attached, except on minivans, station wagons and leisure vehicles. 

To attach the device to the hitch, an easy click quick click system is available. 6 frame locks and 1 total tightening strap are provided for bikes. The finishes are made from anti-rust epoxy paint. This Mottez bike rack can be assembled very quickly, without tools. 

Menabo Marius Bike Rack

Less well known than its competitors, Menabo nevertheless offers a model of inexpensive and practical hitched bicycle carriers. It can carry 3 bikes, whatever the model: children’s bike, women’s bike, mountain bike, including electric bikes.

A clamping lever allows the equipment to be placed on the ball which must be CE approved. A belt and strap locking system allow the bikes to be secured. The finish is in lacquered steel. This bike carrier supports a maximum weight of 45 kg.

Perruzo Pure Instinct Bicycle Rack

This bike rack can carry up to 4 bikes. It is equipped with a simple and intuitive hitching and unhitching system. A pedal allows it to be tilted to access the trunk. 

The bikes are secured by arms and straps. This model is also equipped with an anti-theft device to secure all the bikes on the bike rack. Once folded, this bicycle rack can for example be stored in the trunk of a car. It comes with a license plate fitted with headlights. Maximum load: 60 kg.

Thule ProRide Roof Bike Rack

This roof bike rack offers the right value for money to ensure the safety of your bikes while limiting your investment. Bikes position themselves automatically when you attach them to the mounting arms and wheel racks. 

Lower jaws prevent bikes from falling. The bike rack is pre-assembled, no tools are needed. An anti-theft device provided allows each bicycle to be locked to its bicycle carrier and the latter to the roof bar. This Thule designed model is suitable for round (22-80mm) and oval (80 × 100mm) frames. 

An adapter is required for carbon frames. It is suitable for roof racks with T-slots (20 x 20 mm). Adapters are available for larger grooves or square bars. Please note: it is sold individually. 

Thule Freeride Roof Rack

This entry-level bike carrier nevertheless benefits from Thule’s know-how in this area. As such, it ensures efficient fixation and optimal comfort of use. The wheel is held in place by quick-release straps. An anti-theft device provided allows the bicycle to be locked to the bicycle carrier and the latter to the roof bar. 

This model is suitable for round (22-70 mm) and oval (65 × 80 mm) frames, square roof racks or with T-slots (20 x 20 mm). A Thule T-track Adapter 889-3 is required for roof racks with T-slots (24 x 30 mm). Please note: it is sold individually. 

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