If you’re a keen cyclist who loves to ride their bike in new places, a bike rack is most likely going to be a solid investment. Their purpose is to make your life easier when transporting your bike from A to B, so that you can enjoy new surroundings.
Whilst picking any bike rack is all well and good, actually knowing which kind to get is another thing.
In this article, we’ll go in to detail about our 3 different types of bike racks, which include roof-mounted, rear and tow bar mounted solutions. These all have their benefits and drawbacks, and our guide aims to help you make a decision based on which is most suitable for your needs.
You might think that this isn’t an important decision, but the placement on your car can actually have quite an impact on the way you travel with your bike.
Roof-mounted bike racks
Most roof-mounted bike racks attach directly to the roof bars of your car, which is an ideal solution providing your car already has roof bars fitted. It can be costly to get roof bars retro-fitted, so rear-mounted or towbar bike racks may be a more suitable option. Some brands, such as Seasucker, offer suction based racks which are suitable for two bikes, but require you to remove the front bike wheel.
- Great for avid cyclists: Roof racks are definitely more of a permanent fitting on your car. These can be good for those who are really passionate about cycling here, there, and everywhere as installing this kind of fitting is often more long term.
- Get a clear view from behind: With bikes on top, a clear rear view mirror is guaranteed. Other racks could obstruct your rear view and be an annoyance for the driver. Roof racks thankfully don’t come with this problem, and also do not require a lighting board as the bikes do not obstruct your back number plate.
- You might have to be on the taller side: It’s true to say that roof racks are better suited to taller people. If you are vertically challenged, then this might not be the right rack for you. Keep in mind the height of your car and also the weight of the bike(s) that you plan to transport and ensure that you can lift them up properly before choosing a roof rack system for your bikes.
- Your car might be too high: A large, high car really stands out amongst the crowd, but one fatal flaw in your car’s height could be the restrictions often found on entry to car parks in natural beauty spots around the country. Designed to keep caravans and vans out, they also can be a problem when using a roof carrier for your bikes. Imagine, it’s a busy bank holiday weekend and you finally find the perfect parking space, only for the car park to have a height restriction. Whilst this might not always be the case, it’s important you understand this when making your bike rack decision.
Rear / Boot-Mounted Bike Racks
If you don’t fancy investing in a roof carrier, then maybe a rack that fits nicely on the back of your car would be better for you.
There are generally 2 types of racks that can fit the bill:
This kind of rack is a great choice for a casual cyclist, or someone who is looking for a shot-term or less permanent solution…
Rear mounted racks attach on to the boot door, meaning that whilst you can carry all your bikes, your actual boot storage might be obstructed by it. We find that these kinds of racks make good buys for those looking to adventure out now and again, for their lower price point and ease of installation. Beware, a common downfall of rear-mounted racks is that bikes may rub together when tightly packed which potentially could cause some aesthetic damage. This might not be as big a deal if you are carrying your family bikes for a summer holiday, but can be more of a concern if you are carrying high value or performance bikes. You must also ensure that when bikes are mounted, your rear number plate and lights are not obstructed, making it illegal to drive.
Towbar / hitch mounted
Similar to the way a boot mounted rack works, a towbar/hitch mounted bike rack requires your vehicle to have a towbar or towball.
If you already have one installed, then this might be a good choice for you in your cycling needs as it’s quick to fit, removable, and can carry multiple bikes.
However, if you’re not up for installing a towbar (which can cost you £100’s), this might not be the option for you.
These back mounted racks come with some notable highlights:
- Easy to fold away: You’ll find that when you’re not out on your cycling odysseys, these kinds of racks can be easily compacted down, meaning you won’t have to compromise on it taking up space in your home You don’t have to be a giant to use these racks
- Ease of use, no matter your height: Since your bikes won’t be on the roof, you will be able to take your bike on and off of the rack with ease.
There are also some drawbacks:
- Your vision will likely be obstructed: Probably the greatest flaw in this kind of rack. What is attached to the back of the car will make it harder to see what is behind you whilst driving. This is more of an inconvenience on the odd occasion, but for avid enthusiasts, it’s a bigger issue which might warrant an investment in roof racks.
- You’ll likely need a lighting board: Finally, all those bikes that you’ll carry will of course obscure your number plate, meaning that you’ll most likely need another license plate, and maybe a lighting board (some racks do come with them, however).
Bike Rack compatibility
You’ll need to do your research into the product to see if the rack you are considering will actually fit your car. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call in at one of our 23 stores where one our team can help you choose the right product. Although this might seem like an obvious point, don’t forget to come to the store in the car you want to use the rack on, as this will help our team to make recommendations.
Best Bike racks for E-bikes
If you’ve got an electric bike, then you’ll need to make sure that the rack you buy can be used to hold it.
Products like the Peruzzo Zephyr 3 Towbar E-Bike Car Rack are specially designed to carry e-bikes, with a total loading weight of 60kg, up to 3 electric bikes (or 4 standard bikes) can be safely placed onto this rack.
In addition, some E-bike racks also come with accessories to make loading easier. This rack comes equipped with a ramp, so that loading up your heavier bike is far easier, and doesn’t put a strain on your back when trying to lift.
Make sure your bike rack is road legal
When gearing up for a bike ride in a totally new place, you must set the excitement aside for a moment and think of the legalities. To stay road friendly, you must fulfil certain requirements:
If you bike/bikes obstruct your back number plate, then you absolutely must place a lighting board with your license plate on your rack. As mentioned previously, some models do come with one, but this will also be another cost if one is not already included.
Best Bike Racks for Cars 2022
As a well-established cycling retailor, we only stock bike racks that we know will work for you and your needs. In order to inspire your decision, we’ve collated some of our top picks for rear and roof mounted bike racks below.
This rear bike rack is really easy to fit on to most vehicles, coming fully assembled.
Straps to secure your bikes into the rack are included, and the lower straps have anti bounce technology, giving you an extra fail-safe system.
Designed with saloon cars in mind, this kind of rack is prefect for weekend adventures and fits over most vehicles (except hatchbacks or flatbacks, of course).
You’ll be able to take up to 3 standard bikes anywhere, and like our other models, folds flat for easy storage.
If you’re not looking to take loads of bikes with you, then this product might be perfect for you.
This is a great rack solution, not only for standard bikes, but also e-bikes and fat bikes. The max capacity of 60kg is sure to be more than enough for your bikes and also packs away really nicely into a well compacted unit
This towbar rack features a solid construction, as well as anti-sway cradles to keep your bikes as secure as possible whilst on the move. In addition, the rack easily tilts back so that you won’t lose access to your boot.
These bars have wheel holders and locking levers between the actual bike and carrier which attach to your roof rack. This kind of rack is really well suited to racing bikes, but can also fit oval down tubes between 70mm to 90mm.
At the end of the day, a bike rack is only useful if it caters to your needs. Whilst we’ve given you some very strong and reliable suggestions, it will be up to you to do some extra research to determine which is most suitable for you.
If after digesting this guide you’re still in the dark, then do feel free to come down to one of our 23 stores across the midlands and south England. Our friendly expert colleagues are sure to help you determine which back rack would be the best fit for your car.