Updated on March 14, 2023
Are you finding the right bike rack for transporting your bikes? You have come to the right place. Here I am going to tell you about “ how to choose the right bike rack and types of bike racks”. Bike racks are extremely helpful if you want to transport your bikes from one to another place.
But if you choose the wrong bike rack you will find it troublesome. It will not hold your bikes properly as well as give scratches on the car’s surface. To troubleshoot this problem here I am going to briefly explain the types of bike racks and their models to help you choose the right bike rack. It will not only save your money but also prevent misadventures.
How to Choose the Right Bike Rack
When it comes to the right bike rack, it all depends on the vehicle and the type of bike you are transporting. Although different kinds of bike racks are available in the market but it is not as simple as it seems to install a random bike rack in the car. There are different bike racks for cars and jeeps or trucks. However, you can also use the tailgate pad for the truck. Let’s suppose you have an electric car and you cannot load weight on the roof, so in such situations, you should go for tow bar bike racks.
Before we dig into racks you should know that bike racks impact fuel mileage. The same goes with electric cars per mileage average. The major reason behind it, when you load bikes on the rack, it increases the weight of the car. Consequently, the engine works harder than before and consumes more fuel or charge.
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Considerations While Choosing A Bike Rack
- The hitch hanging or platform bike racks are inexpensive but they are risky. Because when you drive a vehicle, the bikes move back and forth in the rack. This can damage the bikes as well as the back of your car. Therefore, these two types of bike racks cost you more than their price.
- Use reflectors or LED lights while driving with hanging bikes in the back of the vehicle. Because anyone can hit the back side of your car. It will ruin your expensive bikes and destroy the backside. As well as, it can endanger your life. So, use the reflectors or reflective tape on the bikes.
- If you have a pickup truck, I have a better option for you as compared to bike racks. Instead of using roof racks or tow bar bike racks, you can use a tailgate pad. They save the surface of your truck and prevent rashes caused by bikes.
Types of Bike Racks
As we have discussed earlier, there are various types of bike racks. Each one of them is unique and performs the same job in a different way. Well, now we are going to provide details about all of them. You can choose the right bike rack according to your vehicle after reading the instructions.
Roof Bike Racks
My first pick-up for you is roof bike racks. As the name describes the function of these racks, they are placed on the roof of your vehicle. In addition, you can use these racks for multiple purposes such as transporting a box or kayaks. These racks hold your bike on the roof of the vehicle. Well, there are two different types of roof bike racks: fork-mounted and upright-mounted roof bike racks.
Fork-Mounted Roof Bike Racks
To fasten the bike with this rack, you are required to remove the front wheel of the bike. Basically, there is a fork on the rack which holds the bike. You can attach 2 to 4 bikes with this rack. Some people do not prefer fork-mounted roof bike racks because they are required to front wheel off. But it is not a bad feature. Actually, it diminishes the bike weight which provides good fuel mileage.
Upright Roof Bike Racks
This rack holds your bike in an upright position. It is not required to remove the front wheel of your bike. You can simply attach 3 to 4 bikes with this rack. It provides high stability and is easy to use. Furthermore, there are two types of upright roof bike racks: frame-mounted and wheel-mounted.
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Frame-Mounted Upright Roof Bike Racks
This rack holds the frame of your bike instead of the wheel. The purpose behind this design is to minimize the risks of bike wheel damage. Some bikes possess simple low quality wheels. Such wheels cannot bear any shock and can tear apart. So, if your bike’s wheels are not upgraded yet, use this rack to transport your bike.
Wheel-Mounted Upright Roof Bike Racks
This rack holds the wheels of your bike instead of grabbing its frame. The rack is used for weak frame bikes such as carbon frames. This rack clamps down the front and back wheels and then you can transport the bike. Both these frame and wheel-mounted bike racks are useful. There is no rack better than another. Instead of it, they are used for different purposes.
You Should Choose a Roof Bike Rack if
- You have a gasoline or petrol-powered vehicle which can afford the heavyweight.
- You have a low-height vehicle.
- You want to prevent the back of the vehicle.
Hitch Bike Racks
This rack is most popular among all other racks. There are many reasons behind its popularity, first, this rack mounts on the two-bar hitch which is also known as the trailer hitch, instead of setting the rack on the roof. The second reason is that they provide high stability and compatibility. And the third one is these racks can carry 5 bikes. Well, the last reason is based on the size of the rack but a hitch bike rack can carry 5 bikes.
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These racks are easy to use. As well as, they are not required to remove any part of the bike. Anyhow, there are two types of hitch bike racks: platform and hanging bike racks. Both of these racks perform the same job but in different manners. Let’s take a glance.
Platform-Style Bike Racks
This rack is made to hold each bike separately to avoid all bikes’ contact with each other in case of a jump or shock. It can carry two bikes but you can extend the length of it. In addition, this rack can carry all kinds of bikes, heavy electric bikes, or lightweight normal cycles. But, these racks are extremely beneficial for e-vehicles. Because electric vehicles cannot lift heavy weight on the roof. So, you can use the platform-style bike rack for transporting your bikes without worrying about weight.
Hanging Bike Racks
Both the platform and hanging bike racks seem similar but there is a little difference. This rack possesses a mast that supports your bike on the rack. In simple words, you can hang your bike on the rack. These racks are inexpensive as compared to the platform bike racks and provide high ground clearance. But, they can ruin the bikes and your vehicle because they are unable to hold the bikes properly. Bikes move back and forth as a result, the journey ends up in trouble.
You Should Choose A Towbar Bike Rack If
- The vehicle has a high height.
- You have an e vehicle or your vehicle cannot stand against high roof weight.
- You are transporting heavy bikes.
- You want easy to load and unload.
Pickup Truck Tailgate Pad
Bike racks are helpful for jeeps and cars but what about pickup trucks? When it comes to pickup trucks, the tailgate pad can provide you with some assistance. Tailgate pads are a sheet of ¾ thick padding which protects the upper surface of the truck. You can transport 3 to 5 bikes easily with the tailgate pad. It is inexpensive and easy to use. You can cover the tailgate within minutes, unlike the bike racks which take time to install.
Which Bike Rack Is The Best
Comparing all the racks and finding the best is a tricky task. Well, each one of the racks mentioned above has pros and cons. As well as, each is used for a different purpose. So, comparing is pretty challenging. But when you observe the features of the racks closely, you find out that platform bike racks are better than others. Because the roof bike racks are designed for low-height vehicles. They are expensive and the fork-mounted roof bike racks required the front wheel off.
On the other hand, the frame and wheel mounted are good but not perfect. Frame-mounted racks are made to hold the frame of the bike but not the wheels. And the wheel-mounted racks only work when the frame is weak. Roof bike racks are pretty good for gasoline or petrol-powered vehicles but not for electric vehicles.
Because they increase the weight of the vehicle and electric vehicles cannot lift this much weight. Therefore, roof bike racks are not right for electric vehicles and heavy vehicles such as jeeps. The hanging bike racks are inexpensive and provide high-ground clearance. But they are not as durable as platform bike racks. Plus, when you use a hanging bike rack, the bikes come into contact with each other, and as a result, frames and the bikes are ruined.
The tailgate pad performs a magnificent job but it is not compatible with other vehicles such as cars and jeeps. You can use the pad to cover the tailgate of the truck. The tailgate pad efficiently protects the surface of the truck. But this tool cannot match the features and looks of the platform-style bike rack.
Above all, the platform-style bike rack provides you with proper ground clearance. This rack holds all bikes separately to avoid contact with each other. You can use a platform-style bike rack with electric vehicles or other vehicles. This rack is also compatible with trucks and jeeps. As well as, you do not need to remove any part of the bike while loading on the platform-style bike rack. The platform-style bike rack can hold 4 bikes and you can extend the length of it.
Yes, this rack is a little expensive but it saves your bikes better than others. Other racks are cheap but they increase the risks of damage. This rack eliminates all chances of misadventure. If you think wisely, you can understand that the platform-style bike rack saves you money by protecting your bikes better than the other cheap racks.
Bike Loading Tips
- The only thing required when you are using a bike rack is ensuring safety, which is by checking the fitting of the bikes. Always tight fit and separate each bike and have some space between more than one bike. If you are using the roof bike racks, tighten the clamp properly.
- Keep in mind that the backup camera is completely blocked when you load 4 bikes at once. As well as, the rack can activate your vehicle’s parking sensor warning. Before you install a hitch bike rank, consult with the owner of the vehicle manual to deactivate the parking sensor.
- Remove the pedals because when you load the bike on the rack, the pedals of the bike can damage the frame of another bike. Furthermore, the bikes are easy to load and unload if the pedals are removed. You can easily remove the pedals with the help of a screwdriver.
- Use bungee cords when you have a hanging bike rack. These cords are extremely helpful and do not allow the bike to move back and forth. Fasten each bike separately and tightly.
What kind of bike rack is easiest to use?
The easiest to use bike rack is the hitch bike rack. This bike rack takes 10 to 15 minutes for installation. Moreover, the loading and unloading are also effortless.
What are the different types of bike racks?
There are plenty of bike racks such as fork-mounted, upright, wheel-mounted, frame-mounted platform-style, and hanging bike racks
Do all rear bike racks fit all bikes?
No, all rear bike racks cannot fit all the bikes because each rack is made for a different kind of bike. However, the platform-style bike racks can carry different bikes.
Choosing a bike rack is a challenging task. If you install the wrong bike rack, it can ruin your other bikes as well as the vehicle. The bike racks are made for a particular purpose for example the roof bike racks are made for low-height vehicles. On the other hand, hitch bike racks can work for electric vehicles. Because electric vehicles cannot bear heavy weight. Anyhow, here I tried to provide all the crucial details about how to choose the right bike racks and types of bike racks.
Austin Jacobs is a passionate cycling enthusiast who has over five years of experience in bike repair and maintenance. He is an avid mountain biker and loves tinkering with bikes for hours on end to make sure they are running at their optimum performance level. Leland’s blog, which focuses on bike repairs and tips to keep them in good running order, was created out of a desire to share his knowledge and help fellow cyclists stay safe while enjoying the outdoors. He covers topics such as preventive maintenance, troubleshooting common issues, basic tools and supplies needed for repairs, and more.