There are various ways to transport your bike using your vehicle and finding the option that best suits your car, budget and needs is extremely important.
Whether you are venturing to trail centres, parks with family, staycations or heading on longer journeys for holidays, having a reliable and secure bike carrier gives you one less thing to worry about on your way out the door. Safely attaching bikes to the outer part of the vehicle, to give you more room inside.
There are three main types of bike carriers out there:
- Roof mounted carriers
- Rear mounted carriers
- Towbar mounted carriers
All three types have pros and cons, but not all are available for every vehicle, meaning the ideal rack for you is one that will safely carry the amount of bikes you need, securely fit on your vehicle, be easy to use and fit your budget.
How do you determine which is the best bike carrier for you?
There are several things you should consider when deciding the best way to transport your bike:
- Practicality – Determining which rack will suit your needs now and in the future, a rack that is easy to fit and load to your vehicle.
- Frequency – Take into consideration how often you will be using the rack- daily or for more planned trips/ holidays. This will help you to decide which rack is easiest to store for short term use or most functional on your vehicle if being used on a daily basis.
- Features – some carriers require you to already have certain elements on your car. Towbar carriers require a towbar on the vehicle, as well as risk of obscuring your lights and number plate, in these instances a lighting board may be required. Majority of roof carriers require a dedicated base bar set up.
- Stability – Taking into consideration the amount of bikes you will be carrying is vital in ensuring you choose the correct style. Towbar and roof carriers tend to be more stable than rear carriers.
- Security – whether the carrier holds the bikes safely and locks them to the rack and the vehicle. Checking the weight they hold against the bikes you have or intend to use it with.
Roof mounted bike carriers
Most roof carriers consist of a set of bars that attach to your vehicle’s roof and cross bars which can attach up to four bikes on to them. These mounts can vary between ones that require front wheel removal, which keep the bikes lower and are usually easier and lighter to load and ones that allow both wheels to remain on the bike, which are often taller and more expensive but avoid frequent wheel removal/ installation. Most roof mounted carriers require your vehicle to have a dedicated base bar set up.
Roof carriers are heavily versatile and can be used for transporting other equipment such as; skis, kayaks and even ladders or other non-sport items. The bikes are locked to the carrier by either a fork mount or with a frame holder and the carrier is locked to the vehicles bars offering great security for the bikes.
- can be used for multi-purpose hauling
- very secure rack
- can gain access to boot without any obstruction
- Need to be cautious when driving under any low bridges/ carparks
- Fuel will likely increase due to the carriers effecting the aerodynamics of your vehicle
- Must be able to physically be able to lift the bikes on to the top of the car
Towbar mounted bike carriers
Towbar Mounted Cycle Carriers are a safe and secure way of carrying up to 5 bikes on the back of your car. They are much stronger and more secure than rear carriers making them a more expensive option. They are easy to load and feature locks to secure the bike to the rack and the rack to your vehicle, making any risk of damage to your car virtually non-existent.
This style of rack means your vehicle will already need to have a towbar, if you don’t already have one, getting a tow bar added is expensive. Certain racks are suited for certain cars so checking compatibility is extremely important if this is the style of rack you want to go for. Typically, Towbar mounted carriers hold bikes by their wheels with an arm securing the front wheel or by hanging the bikes from the top tube.
This style of carrier is easy to fit and load your bikes on and off.
- Loading and unloading the bikes is very simple
- A very secure option
- You don’t need to be able to lift the bikes on to the roof of your vehicle
- Your vehicle must have a tow bar
- Extreme caution needed when reversing your vehicle
- Need for a light plate with obstruction to your number plate
- You can’t tow anything else while using the rack eg, trailers or caravans
Rear mounted bike carriers
The rear-mounted carriers tend to be the least expensive and least secure option. They follow a relatively basic design – a metal frame which sits against the back of the car, with a series of straps hooking it to the edges of the vehicles boot and two arms on which the bikes hang and do not require an additional mount. They typically can carry up to three bikes and don’t require any additional mounts making them one of the most efficient styles of bike carriers available.
These carriers are usually highly adjustable and fit almost any vehicle, however, they do require to be fitted properly to the vehicle to ensure the safety and security of the bikes on your journey. With no featured security element, it is recommended to pass a cable lock around all of the bikes, the carrier and the vehicles rear towing loop.
- Easy to fit and remove
- Typically can fit on to any vehicle
- Most cost efficient style
- Small and fold for easy storage
- Trailer/ caravans can still be attached to the vehicle
- Least secure way to transport bikes
- Need to be fitted properly to ensure the bikes are well held on for the journey
- No locking system included
- If the mount covers your lights or number plate a lighting board will need to be attached