How to Choose the Best Bicycle Rack

October 7, 2015 by

Bicycle on top of car

A road trip for many of us includes carrying a bicycle or two on our vehicle. So how do you decide which bike rack is best for your needs?

To start, of course, you need to identify how many bikes you plan to transport. Then comes the challenge of finding a rack that fits your vehicle as well as your price range.

Determining Factors

Aside from these obvious points of what to consider when buying a bicycle rack for your vehicle, here are a few other questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your vehicle have a rear-mounted spare tire that could interfere with some bike rack models?
  • Does your vehicle have a tow hitch or utility rack? If yes, what is the load capacity?
  • How high can you lift the bike you’ll be transporting and hold it in position with one hand?
  • How often will it be used?
  • Will it be used on more than one vehicle?

Answering these questions will help narrow your options.

Bicycle carrier at rear tow hitchThree Main Types of Racks

Bike racks come in three basic styles: a hitch-mount rack, strap-on trunk rack, and a roof rack. Each one has its pros and cons.

  • Hitch Mount: Easy to operate but the most expensive.
  • Roof Rack: Most versatile but most difficult to use. After all, you have to get the bikes on to the roof of your vehicle.
  • Strap On: The strap on is the most affordable but the least secure.

Aside from these basic racks, there are also specialty racks designed specifically for pickups or for inside SUVs or vans, but they will cost you more.

Finding the rack that is easiest for you to use will pay off in the long run, because if the job it too difficult it can add stress and frustration to your trip.

Also, it’s good to note that Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend carrying heavy loads on the roof of an SUV, because the higher center of gravity “can compromise emergency handling leading to a rollover accident.”

For more regarding safety ratings regarding bike racks, it is a  good idea to check Consumer Reports for more information.

Photo credits: Wikipedia, wikipedia

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