How To Find The Best Bike Racks: Reviews, Advice & Buyer’s Guides
We understand how difficult it can be for you to make sure you are choosing the best bike racks before you buy. In fact if you end up making a wrong decision the consequences can be disastrous as I know to my cost when a few years ago my fully laden bicycle carrier became detached from my car and bounced along the highway behind me! So we published this website to help solve that problem. We don’t sell products, we research and write about them so that we can give unbiased and informed opinions on what we think is the best choice for your particular needs.
To help you to understand what a top bike rack must deliver and how to compare the best possible options we have created an in-depth Buyer’s Guide, which clearly identifies the choice for you, so follow the link and learn how it works.
Cheers, Steve & James
Our Top Picks:
Bike Racks By Brand:
What Criteria and Research Do We Use to Recommend Products on Our Website?
Our positive recommendations are subject to a number of factors including existing customer reviews, real people who are actual users of the products, plus retailers’ opinions, blog comments, forums and other unbiased online reviews. Of course our own personal opinion is included if we have personal experience of the product and experience of it ourselves.
We research individual manufacturers, including Allen, Saris, Thule, Hollywood, Yakima, Swagman to name just a few to find out the quality of materials and construction plus the technology used in their products. We look at their attention to detail in manufacture, their quality, user friendliness, value for money, reliability and customer service for their products and customers.
We look for products that are quick and uncomplicated to install, that include necessary user features, and always provide safe and secure bicycle transportation. They must be durable and have a good warranty. In the end, we only ever recommend products that we would buy ourselves with real confidence.
“How to Buy Best Bicycle Carrier That’s Right for Your Vehicle and Suits Your Needs”
Know the type of cyclist you are so that you can choose a great option.
We are about to cover the most important questions you will want to think about when buying your rack.
Essentially there are 4 things to consider before choosing the best option for you:
- How easy is the rack to load and unload your bikes?
- The number of bikes you may need to carry?
- The kind of trips you will normally be making with your bicycles?
- Your budget?
How Easy is the Carrier to Load and Unload Your Cycles Onto?
Trunk and hitch mounted carriers are always easier to install on your vehicle and easier to load and unload than is a roof mounted.
If you can’t fit a roof rack to your vehicle, or you find it very difficult to do, then you will obviously eliminate that spec.
The easiest to load your cycles onto are hitch mounts because they have a platform that the bicycles sit on rather than an arm to fix to. The platform means that lifting and securing effort is kept to a minimum plus the platform provides good stability. The platform also helps the bikes to avoid damaging one another or your vehicle.
How Many Bikes Do You Need To Carry?
A common error buyers make is only buying to suit your current needs now and not considering changes to your circumstances and therefore your needs. A new cycling partner, kids growing up, friends wanting to join you etc.
At the very least consider a carrier for 2 bicycles.
Some carriers are flexible and are able to be expanded to carry more than one cycle. If it’s a family carrier you need consider a 4-bike or 5-bike rack that is hitch mounted. They are normally strong and sturdy, plus they offer the most flexibility to expand for family and friends and carry extra for long journeys.
Consider How You Will Be Using Your Carrier
Will you use your rack regularly and remove it every time for security reasons? If so a hitch mount will be far more convenient.
Some hitch mounts can be folded tightly and therefore take up less room when they are unloaded which means easy storage and better security when you are parked up and cycling.
Roof mounted cycles are ideal for longer highway journeys. They don’t get in the way of access into the cargo space and they don’t block any sight lines. They are more difficult to secure, but if you are able to master the skill of securing, loading and unloading they do have advantages.
Trunk-mounted racks are also good for longer journeys, that’s as long as you don’t need to get into the trunk.
Give some thought to what your needs are and avoid disappointment.
Is Budget Of Primary Importance?
If it is your budget is likely to be limited, if that’s the case a trunk mounted carrier is probably best. But be warned, don’t go for the cheapest it will cost you in the long run, it’s likely to rub against your vehicle and your bikes will likely rub a bit against each other.
Look for a good quality trunk mounted rack which will be okay for carrying 1 to 3 bicycles on longer journeys and 4 on short trips.
We recommend always going for the best quality you can afford it will pay dividends in the long run.
As your budget increases, so do your choices better suited for your needs.
Learn About The Different Types of Bicycle Carriers
There are 3 basic types. Spend a little bit of time learning about each one before you decide which will serve your needs best.
Trunk Mounted Bicycle Racks:
The trunk mount carrier uses adjustable straps to secure to a car’s trunk, hatch or rear bumper. It has arms with straps or cradles to secure the bike to the rack. Larger racks can carry up to 4 bikes.
These start at a lower price and are the most affordable of the three types.
They are relatively easy to install once the straps lengths are adjusted to fit your vehicle and they are flexible enough to be secured to nearly all vehicles.
Loading and unloading to a trunk mounted carrier is quick and easy. The biggest worry is the increased possibility of damage to the bodywork of your vehicle. The entire weight of all the bikes is resting on your vehicle’s panels. More chance for denting and scraping.
Access to the cargo area is restricted and the bicycles obscure the drivers view through the rear window.
Hitch Mount Bike Racks:
Hitch mounted racks fit neatly into the vehicle’s hitch receiver.
Some have an upright support and horizontal arm to which the bikes are secured. Other styles have a platform or tray that the cycles sit on.
Installation is easy and quick, plus loading and unloading bikes is very straightforward.
Because the weight of the cycles is placed on the hitch, there is little chance of your vehicle being damaged.
Most hitch racks don’t need the front wheel of the cycle removing compared with some roof mounts.
However you need a hitch receiver fitted to your vehicle if you don’t already have one, which adds to the expense.
Also because there is only one securing point, poor quality racks will be prone to instability over rough roads and rough terrain, which could lead to damage to bikes or your vehicle.
Some hitch mount racks need removing before the trunk or hatch can be opened.
Roof Mount Bike Racks:
The roof mount carrier has a tray that’s normally fixed to your vehicle’s crossbars. Straps then secure the bicycle which is then secured to the carrier with straps fixed to the wheels and/or front font.
Roof mounts can be used in combination with cargo carriers. Most vehicles have enough room to carry up to 7 bicycles.
The driver has no site obstructions.
However it is true that roof mounted bike carriers are the hardest to load, because the bike has to be manhandled onto the roof, and held in position while it is being secured.
Cycles on the roof of your vehicle will cause overhead clearance problems for accessing some car parks and drivethroughs.
Please visit our buyers guide to help you choose the best bike racks for your needs.