A cyclist can spend anywhere between $50 and $500 on a bike rack. More expensive bike racks for cars offer improved stability, long-lasting materials, and ease-of-use features. You can still find workable bike racks in the low-cost range, though there are tradeoffs.
Even the best bike racks for cars will be useless if it is incompatible with your vehicle and your bike. Trunk bike racks are the most versatile and fit most vehicles. These are good for sedans without hitches or roof racks, though they are also compatible with hatchbacks and SUVs. Roof racks will typically fit any vehicle that has crossbars. There are two standard sizes for trailer hitches: 1.25 and 2.0 in. Hitch mount racks must be designed to fit a specific hitch size.
In addition to vehicle compatibility, you will also need to pay attention to bicycle compatibility. The relevant details to consider are wheel size, tire width, bike length, and frame style.
- Wheel size and tire width: This is important for tray hitch racks and roof racks. These types of racks will have a maximum wheel size and tire width that they can accommodate. Many (though not all) of these types of racks are incompatible with large mountain bikes and fat bikes.
- Bike length: Especially long bikes may be incompatible with certain tray hitch and roof mount bike racks.
- Frame style: Hanging hitch racks and trunk-mounted racks have poles that must fit between your bike’s top tube and down tube. If your bike is especially small or has a narrow gap between its top and bottom tubes, it may not fit on these types of bike racks.
Additionally, consider your bike rack’s capacity: tray hitch racks and roof racks typically hold no more than two or three bicycles, while hanging hitch racks can accommodate up to five. Some racks have add-on options to add additional capacity if you decide you need it later.
It can be nerve-wracking to have your bikes shaking and wobbling while you drive, especially at highway speeds. Among the most important features of a bike rack is that it is stable, not only for the safety of your bike but for the welfare of others out on the road.
Roof-mounted racks typically offer the most stability, followed by tray hitch racks. Trunk-mounted racks vary the most when it comes to stability, and this stability is often dependent on user competence. You’ll need to secure many straps and can get a very stable fit, but there is much more room for user error with this type of bike rack.
Ease Of Use
Trailer hitch bike racks are the easiest to use. They are the easiest to attach to your car, and often the easiest to mount bikes. Roof racks can be difficult to use, especially for shorter people as you must access the roof of your car.
Trunk racks are often the most difficult type of bike rack to use. This is because they require the user to secure several straps to the trunk every time the bike rack is used. This leaves more room for user error and potential catastrophe. Trunk racks also impede access to the trunk.
High-quality bike racks are made from metal that won’t corrode and can stand up to the elements. If any straps or cords are used to secure the rack or bicycles, it is important that these be made of durable nylon or rubber to ensure your bikes don’t fall off.