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What kind of bike rack should I get?

What kind of bike rack should I get?

The popularity of cycling has grown hugely in the UK in recent years. This year, as travel bans rule out many cycling destinations abroad, many pedal-mad Brits will be taking their bikes on staycation instead.

Safely transporting a bike by car can seem a little daunting, especially if haven’t done it before. However, it’s easier than you might think and, as long as your bike rack is fitted securely and checked before leaving, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Roof-mounted racks

Roof-mounted racks cost an average of between £50 and £150 per rack and are fitted to the bars and rails on your car’s roof. If your car doesn’t include these as standard, they can be bought and installed separately.

The two most common roof-mounted options involve fixing the bike to the rack via its down tube or the front forks (once you’ve removed the front wheel).

You should ‘top and tail’ the way the bikes are stored. Alternating the direction the bikes face is the best way to utilise the space on your roof.

Pros:

  • You can usually fit up to four bikes – depending on car size
  • Access to your boot remains clear
  • Your bikes won’t obscure rear lights and plates
  • The rack is easy to install and remove (after a bit of practice)
  • The racks often come with built-in locks, which is great for additional security
  • It’s a sturdy and secure type of rack

Cons:

  • Lifting the bikes onto the roof can be tricky – ideally you will have another person on hand to help
  • Requires roof bars on your vehicle
  • Not great for your vehicles aerodynamics and therefore petrol consumption
  • The additional height of your bike might make height-restricted areas, such as car park entry points, difficult to access

Rear-mounted racks

Rear-mounted racks cost between £50 and £300. Bike racks fitted to the rear of the vehicle tend to be a little more basic but are a very cost-effective, quick-to-fit option.

They are usually metal-framed and fit to the edges of the boot or a tow bar. The bikes then hang on one or two extended arms, and straps and clips tie the bikes to the frames of the rack.

Carefully check the rear-mounted rack you buy is suitable for your car. The type of rack you require will vary depending on whether your car is a hatchback, estate, four-by-four etc.

Always double-check that all straps and clips are tight and secure before setting off. You may also want to consider adding some padding between your bikes to help reduce the amount of movement that occurs while you drive.

Pros:

  • Generally cheaper than roof-mounted racks
  • Quick and easy to get bikes on and off
  • You don’t have to be as tall and strong to use them as you do with roof-mounted bike racks as you will not be lifting bikes overhead
  • Rear-mounted racks are safe and secure

Cons:

  • Rear-mounted racks hold fewer bikes than roof-mounted racks– usually a maximum of three
  • These racks limit access to the boot of your car
  • They can make it more difficult to reverse your vehicle
  • Your bikes may extend past the width of your car when fitted to the rack, which is a potential hazard for both you and other motorists
  • Some mounting pads can rub off the paint on your car’s bodywork

Happy Cycling!

Now the difficultly of choosing and fitting a bike rack is sorted, you can enjoy getting out on the open road, wherever your bike takes you.