Find The Right Car Rack

Your vehicle offers three basic places to rack your bike - which one is right for you?


Posted: 29 October 2010

Around here, we do lots of preaching about riding more and driving less, but we know that sometimes you need a car to get to a race or for a weekend getaway. But before you hang your £3,000 bike on a £30 rack, read on to find out which method of carrying best suits you, your bike, your vehicle - and your peace of mind.

1. Rack Type: Roof

Your bike securely attaches to a mount - some of these require you to take off the front wheel, while others clamp to your bike's frame, no wheel removal required. The bike mount bolts to standard roof-rack crossbars, or load bars, which attach to your car. Or your car may already have integrated crossbars on it. Thule and Yakima dominate the crossbar market, while universal bike mounts are available from a variety of manufacturers.

Good if you want...
...a wiggle-free mount that won't let your bike scratch or ding your car, or clip a signpost or another vehicle's bumper; access to your boot or hatch; to carry as many as five bikes.

But consider this:

Lifting bikes overhead can be a struggle, especially on taller vehicles such as SUVs and minivans; not every style of bike fits into roof-rack mounts; you risk forgetting your bikes are up there until it's too late - you could pull into your garage and end up with a mangled mess.

Try this: Thule 591 ProRide Cycle Carrier, £89.99, www.madison.co.uk.

2. Rack Type: Hitch

This rack slides into a vehicle's hitch. Hitch mounts come in two types: less expensive models hang bikes from two arms, like a trunk rack, and pricier versions use rattle-free tray mounts similar to roof-rack models. Some hitch mounts allow the rack to swing and pivot clear of the rear bumper, even when loaded with bikes, for easy access to your vehicle's boot or luggage area.

Good if you want...
...to do minimal lifting; no bike contact with your vehicle's paint; easy, fast installation and removal; to be able to carry most bike types; to carry as many as four bikes.

But consider this:
You need a receiver-type trailer hitch for this; it puts your bikes in a vulnerable
spot for high curbs, tight parking spaces and menacing drivers; on some models, multiple bikes can rattle against each other; rear bumper access can be restricted.

Try this:
Tow Ball 4 Bike Rack, £110.50, www.pendle-bike.co.uk.

3. Rack Type: Boot Clips

Straps fasten around the edge of the vehicle's boot or rear bumper to provide
a highly versatile fit. After the initial setup, which requires some fiddling with strap length, most trunk racks install in mere minutes. Two arms hold your bike under the top tube; you secure your bike with straps or bungees. Pricier models have more secure retention systems.

 Good if you want...

...to do minimal lifting to affix your bike; to accommodate almost any bike; a universal fit so you can easily use it on different vehicles; the least expensive option.

But consider this:

Careful loading and padding are required to avoid chipped paint on your vehicle and bike; boot access is impaired; carry capacity is limited to three bikes, which are vulnerable to high curbs, tight parking spaces and drivers.

Try this: Halfords Rear High Mount 3 Cycle Carrier Strap Fitting, £89.99, www.halfords.com.


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