QUICK GUIDE TO CHOOSING A BIKE RACK
Once you have exhausted all the trails within cycling distance of your home, you will need to think about buying a bike rack. The right bike rack for you will depend on a number of factors, what kind of car you have, how many bikes you will need to transport, your budget. We have put together a useful guide to help you decipher all the information.
One of the most affordable options, and where I started, was with a strap mount. Strap mounts attach to your car boot, providing easy access to your bikes. These are a good first bike rack and handy if you only occasionally have to transport one or two bikes, but once you have an expensive mountain bike that you don’t want to risk, you will want something more secure. Because the bike is held on with straps, they are vulnerable to theft if you are not paying attention to what is going on behind you at a traffic light.
For a little bit more money, it is possible to get a roof rack. These have the added advantage of not interfering with boot access, and due to their position, they are much more difficult to steal. They use integrated locks to fix the bike to rack, and the rack is firmly secured to your vehicle. However, the drawback with these is the added height. I once accidentally drove into my garage, forgetting I had the bike on top of the car, causing extensive damage to both my car and bike. Needless to say, I didn’t do that again.
After my roof rack fiasco, I bought a rack that fitted to my vehicle’s tow bar. This has been my favourite and is the rack I still use. Tow mounted racks are a little more expensive again, but it has been worth the extra outlay. They are low to the ground, so there is no issue in dragging the bike onto the roof. They also lock the bike to the vehicle, so there is no vulnerability to theft. The only drawback I had was that the rack obscured my number plate. I bought a separate illuminated one to fix to the bike rack for around $50.
To carry your bikes on a pickup truck, you have the added choice of a tailgate pad. We used to make our own with some heavy blankets to protect the tailgate, but there are several models on the market now specifically for the purpose of fixing bikes. They have loop and ties to fix your bike in place while you are moving and prevent theft.
MATCHING THE RACK TO THE VEHICLE
If you already have factory crossbars, the roof rack will be the most logical option. But if your vehicle is already tall, and you have large downhill bikes to be transported, you may not be able to spare the extra height and still navigate under low bridges. To you, I recommend a tow bar mount. These will keep the heavy bikes securely in place, without the worry of theft or instability.
The only reason I would go for a boot mounted rack, is if I had a light, inexpensive bike or if I had a tall vehicle, without a tow bar for a tow bar rack.
Choose the rack that best suits your needs. There are options for every single vehicle, so the choice is yours.
Can you add anything to this Quick Guide? What else is important and what else should we be thinking about when it comes to buying bike racks?