Your Guide to Bike Racks for Your Car

Sam Varteniuk, a theatre manager in Kitchener, Ontario, had a bike rack installed on his Honda Civic so his wife could bike to work and he could pick her up in the evening. They never took their bikes out for cycling excursions or vacations, but you might be considering those possibilities. In this blog post, I take you through a short introductory on bike racks for cars.

Why Do You Want a Bike Rack?

Before you start shopping for a bike rack for your vehicle, really think about how you’re going to use it. Do you want a bike rack you can easily install and uninstall to help you with city commuting? Or will you need one that keeps your trunk available for long road trips?

What Type of Bikes Will You Put on Your Rack?

Check the shape and composition of the frames on your bikes and buy a rack that’s suited for them. Some bicycle models, especially higher-end ones, may not fit onto an everyday bike rack.

Heck, you may not even need a bike rack. Check out this Twitter user, who fit three folding bikes into the trunk of their VW Golf:

But assuming you do need one, bike racks generally fall into three categories. I’ll cover each one very briefly here, but speak to a bike shop or car accessory expert for full details.

Bike Rack Types

Hitch Racks

Hitch racks look like a rod that extends from the bottom of your vehicle because they connect via your hitch. Hitch racks are the most convenient type for two reasons.

  1. You install them once and that’s it.
  2. You can easily mount bicycles on to them, instead of lifting them overhead onto a roof rack.

Roof Bike Rack

Roof bike racks come in several types, depending on your roof. They also allow you to attach bikes with or without the front wheel on, giving you the option of lightening and lowering your load.

Roof rack with bikes
Roof rack with bikes

Be aware that having too high a load on a tall vehicle, like an SUV, can create a rollover in emergency driving situations.

Trunk Bike Rack

The trunk bike rack is the third style and the one Varteniuk and his wife used. You do need to remove it to access the trunk, but that may not cause you any problems if you’re searching for an easy option for occasionally transporting bikes. Trunk racks can’t be installed on every trunk, so do your homework to make sure the rack you’ve chosen is compatible with your vehicle.

Nervous about Bike Racks? You’re Not Alone

Varteniuk says he frequently tested his trunk rack after he installed it. “I was impressed by how securely it attached. I used to grab and shake it to ensure it was on there firmly, and it would shake the whole car rather than budge an inch independently.”

Although he used it mostly for in-city trips, he did take it on the highway once for an hour. “I was very nervous at first,” he admits, “and was looking out the back window all the time, but eventually I gained confidence and forgot about my concerns. Everything held together just fine.” Bike racks can open up opportunities for you and your family to use your bikes more often. But the bottom line is this: do your homework to ensure your rack meets your needs and securely fits your vehicle.

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