Bike racks allow you to transport your cycling equipment by car wherever you go. There are 3 main types of bike rack: on the tailgate, on the roof, and on a hitch. These differences are directly linked to the ways in which the bicycle carrier is attached to the vehicle.
Depending on the vehicle, the bike rack solutions will be more or less easy to set up and more or less expensive (for example a bike rack on roof bars will require roof bars, if your vehicle features in this solution are economic, if not much less).
Best Car Bike Racks
Depending on the configuration of your car, you will have to make certain choices to determine which type of bike rack to choose. If you have several choices (a hitch and/or roof bars), I advise you to choose a hitch type bike carrier, which will allow you to maintain very good aerodynamics and which will facilitate installation and removal. daily bikes.
Find below each of the 3 types of a bike rack with their advantages and disadvantages.
Hatchback Bike Carriers: The Cheap and Universal Choice
The tailgate bike carrier is the most economical and practical choice. For a first bike carrier, I advise you to bring a tailgate bike carrier, ideal for going on weekends or for the day. This type of bike rack can be installed on every possible type of car imaginable and can support up to 3 bikes at the same time, but no electric bike, the maximum load being 45 kg.
The most recent models make it possible to fix the bikes at the level of the frame thanks to the fasteners directly present on the bike carrier, then to reinforce the installation using flexible straps to surround and fix directly on the bike carrier.
If this solution is practical because it is inexpensive and because the trunk bike rack can be stored and installed simply, it is however only suitable as a point solution.
In fact, a tailgate bike carrier does not protect your bikes against theft and is not the most stable type of bike carrier, its installation being above all for the purpose of universality, depending on your car the tailgate bike carrier will hold more or less well.
Advantages of a tailgate bike carrier:
- Not expensive
- Does not require roof bars or hitch
- Installation possible on all types of vehicles
- Stores easily and sets up quickly
Roof Mounter Bike Racks: cheap and space-saving
Ideal when you have roof racks installed on your vehicle, the roof bike racks allow you to fix a bike in two different ways. Either the bike carrier is on a fork , you will then have to remove the front wheel to be able to install it, the fixing being located both at the level of the rear wheel of the bike thanks to a rigid strap, but also directly at the level of the fork.
The other more practical method of attachment is the one that does not require removing a wheel or other accessory from the bike, it is said to be on the frame . The binding is then located at the rear and front wheel thanks to straps + the presence of a removable arm which will allow the bike to be fixed at the frame level.
There is no better or worse solution, it all depends on what you are looking for. For occasional rides the fork-mounted roof rack bike carrier will be problematic, while for long journeys the frame- type roof rack carrier will make you lose aerodynamics. It’s up to you to prioritize the type of use you prefer.
Note that your vehicle must have a roof bar to be able to use this type of accessory on your car.
The advantages of bike carriers on roof bars:
- Not expensive
- Universal installation on all roof racks
- Ergonomic and easy to fold up or install
- Compatible with all types of bikes + types of tires (except for most electric bikes because of the weight, to be checked on a case by case basis)
Hitch-mounted bike racks: resistant, aerodynamic and practical
The hitched bike carrier attaches to your vehicle’s hitch ball if you have one. If your vehicle does not have a hitch or gooseneck, you can install them or have them installed on your vehicle, in which case you can then take advantage of a hitch to carry your bikes.
The doors bike hitch on type are either type suspended either type of platform. Only platform bike racks can support loads exceeding 60 kg and therefore up to 2 electric bikes at the same time + a classic bike.
A bicycle rack on a suspended hitch will have the advantage of being cheaper, more practical to install and uninstall and can easily be stored in the trunk of your car.
As for platform hitches, only the more expensive models allow them to fold up so that they can be stowed away in the trunk of the car (see Thule EasyFold below), making them less practical to use occasionally. , even if most of the time the platform itself folds up so that it does not take up space in the back of the car when there are no bicycles loaded on the bike rack .
Advantages of hitch-mounted bike carriers:
- Resistant and secure
- Boot opening possible thanks to models with tilting
- Does not deteriorate the aerodynamics of the vehicle
- The only type of bike rack that can support electric bikes
- Easy installation of bikes at torso height
Choosing the right bike rack
If you are fond of ballads or bike rides, in a group or alone, having a bike rack attached to your car is very practical. Indeed, for events far from home, such as holidays or to join the start of a cycling race in another city, the bike rack can prove to be an ally you can count on so that you are not separated from your two-wheeler.
The different types of bike carriers (tailgate – roof – hitch)
In order to be able to enjoy your bike anywhere , and that your car trunk is packed, bike racks are the essential accessories. In addition, be aware that transporting bicycles by car requires the use of an adapted system. However, depending on your usage habits, there are different kinds of inexpensive bike carriers .
On the market, manufacturers have given themselves to their heart’s content by offering various and varied models which can be roof bike carriers, tailgate bike carriers or towing bike carriers or even 4×4 bike carriers on suitable spare wheels. expressly for SUVs, but also special bike racks for electric bikes to support a load of 60 kg.
As for the roof bike rack , it is the most famous type of model. It would be perfect for you if your vehicle is equipped with roof racks. This way, with the bikes above your head, your rear vision is not disturbed. Good visibility, excellent bike protection and accessibility to your trunk await you by securing your bikes to the roof of your car.
In addition, having a secure and quick attachment, this type of bike rack is also one of the cheapest on the market. However, if during your travels you must pass under bridges, tunnels, car tolls or the like, do not forget to take the measurements of the height of your car and of the bikes mounted on your roof before leaving. This can save you a lot of inconvenience.
Regarding the bike carrier to be fixed on a towing ball , for long journeys or even very frequent use of your bikes, it is the model for you. In addition, if you already have a towing ball on your car, this bike carrier is the most suitable. Also note that in terms of bike stability, this type of bike rack is the most reliable and the most secure on the market.
Depending on your use, two different towing ball carriers are available. The suspended bike carrier, recommended for frequent use, and the platform bike carrier, which is ideal for long journeys. This bike rack is the easiest way to transport your bikes because thanks to its platform, there is no need to load and unload them at height. Bicycles are also more accessible.
The model of the bike carrier type on the tailgate or on the trunk is with straps and does not require roof bars or towing balls. It is simply attached with straps and grips. Moreover, as its name suggests, the tailgate bike carrier is positioned on the trunk of your car using arms and turnbuckles. Like the roof one, it is economical.
And since it is enough just to secure the bike, as it should be, from all sides using straps, be sure to check the tightness of the straps regularly. However, with this type of cheap bike rack, your signal lights or even your license plate can be completely hidden behind the bikes, buy an additional light and license plate.
For you who own an all-terrain vehicle, the bike carrier on spare wheel is just a variant of the trunk bike carrier. Made of steel and compact, this bike carrier is mounted on the rear spare wheel. Able to carry 2 bikes as well as up to 30 kilos of load, this is what your 4X4 needs. Equipped with removable arms for fixing the frame of the bikes from the top, easy to assemble and install, this model of bike rack is capable of carrying up to three bikes .
It can even accommodate board sports equipment, even if other types of bike racks are specific for skiing, in some cases we can even use for small skis or small snowboards the boxes on ball. coupling. To do this, the tensioners of this accessory will be fixed by resting on the location of the rear spare tire without a fairing. Thus, the bikes are easy to mount on the rails and simple to install at the level of the spare wheel.
How to choose your bike car rack?
With the multitude of bike carriers on the market, choose your bike carrier according to the use of your bike , which may or may not be frequent, the installation, the bikes you want to transport on the go. , the quality of these or the equipment you already have on your car. Remember to make a choice that fits your budget too. The safety, comfort and ease of use of the bike rack are also criteria that should not be neglected.
In terms of frequency of use, if you have opted for regular, almost intensive use, the towing bike carrier is the most practical and the fastest to install . For occasional use, that is to say, infrequent, on the contrary, a trunk bike rack is what you need.
Regarding the number of bikes that you will be able to transport, know that between one to three bikes, you can choose any model of bike rack. Beyond four bicycles, on the other hand, the hitch-mounted bicycle carrier is the most suitable model and which is the most secure.In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.
In addition, if you only want to transport one bike, choose a model with a capacity limited to one bike (for example a bike rack on roof bars) instead of encumbering your car with a bike rack intended to carry 3 bikes or 4 bikes . It’s the same if you have a small car, like a sedan, don’t go carrying multiple bikes in it. Make sure that the bike carrier always fits your car model. If you want to transport up to 6 bikes , you can use a bike trailer .In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.
On the subject of bicycles, there are also various kinds of bicycles. Also, you can practice with an electric bike, which is a bit heavier than a traditional bike, or with FatBikes. It is depending on the model you use during your activities on two wheels. And if you share this passion with your children, then children’s bikes will also be transported with your cycling equipment.
The weight and size criteria of the bikes are also to be taken into account when buying your bike rack . If the practicality of these accessories interests you, know that there is on the market of bicycle racks , the possibility of transporting luggage. And for more resistant and manoeuvrable bike carriers , choose those that are made of stainless steel or aluminum , and preferably on a tailgate or suspended hitch bike carrier type, these models can easily be folded into the trunk of your car.
For cars with trunk, at the time of purchase, be sure to check if the model you are interested in fits your car. In addition, remember to regularly check the strength of the hanging. Regarding the price of bike carriers , it also depends on the number of transportable bikes, the device they contain as well as the quality of the material used. So many selection criteria to take into account when choosing your bike rack .
How to install a bike rack on your car?
Measure the height of your car well and always compare it with this of the access routes, such as tolls, which will appear on your road. An aerodynamic handicap is also to be deplored with this method of bicycle transport. With a transport device attached to your car, always be vigilant, on the lookout and exercise your senses.
In the event that you have opted for a roof- mounted bike rack , always make sure to remember that the height of your vehicle is no longer the same and that it will increase . You may therefore be prohibited from entering underground parking lots, bridges or other paths.
If you opt for a bike carrier that attaches to the back of your car , that is to say at the hitch ball or on the spare wheel, it is important to know that the device risks hide your rear license plate or your lights.
In this case, you are obliged to install a special device with a number plate on your bike carrier . With the same regulatory dimensions as a car number plate, the one for the bike carrier is ready to use and is sold with universal size fixing straps which allow it to be compatible with all existing bike carrier models. on the market.
What are the regulations for bicycle carriers?
To be clearly visible, the plate is fixed on a support dedicated to it. With a connection socket with 13 or 7 pins, or even a multi-pin adapter, the taillights of your bike carrier can work directly on the license plate holder. As for the supply of these lights , it is done via the socket of the towing ball of your car.
Turn signals, pilot lights, fog lights and brake lights are all taken into consideration.
In addition, when you stop, always remember to check the mountings of the bike rack and two-wheelers and make sure to strictly follow the instructions for use indicated. So adopt safe driving.
Note that it is formally inadvisable to transport anything other than bicycles on your car bike rack. For example, transporting a foldable bicycle trailer or an upgradeable tricycle is not provided for this purpose. It is better for this to have a trunk on a hitch or choose to store your belongings in the trunk of the car.
What should you pay attention to when driving with a bicycle rack?
As the installation of a bicycle carrier can present both drawbacks and advantages , the way of driving a vehicle equipped with this device is therefore not the same as that of a car which does not. However, before setting off, carefully strap the transported bikes. At each stop, also remember to check them.
Moreover, to reassure you and to avoid possible accidents, stop as often as possible to check the strength of the lashing. Also always make sure to respect the principle of load distribution and do not exceed the permissible total laden weight. A state of overload is therefore to be avoided as with the best roof boxes for cars .
With some models of bike carriers , your rear view may be obstructed . Especially if you are using a device that attaches to the back of your vehicle. In this case, backing up should be done more carefully.
Especially if you don’t have a device that can help you make them like a rear view camera that doesn’t get in the way of your bike carrier. Also, if you have trouble with the rear steps, it is advisable to bring these devices.