There are three types of bicycle racks for cars, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. So which should you get for your vehicle to make your life as easy as possible while making sure your bikes securely reach their destination?
You can decide for yourself based on the information presented here, but I think the choice is obvious. Let’s take a look.
The Trunk Rack
Designed to hold two to four bikes, trunk racks might be okay for occasional use, but they’re far from the best choice. While they fold up easily and can be stored inside the car when not in use without taking up a lot of room, they have their problems.
First, they’re usually held on with straps. Those can shift, scuffing the car, allowing the bikes to move around and perhaps releasing your bicycles. Worse yet, thieves can easily cut the straps, make off with the whole unit in seconds and then worry about cutting your locks when they’re in the privacy of their own home.
Trunk bicycle racks are inexpensive, easy to install and don’t take up much room when stored, but don’t expect your bikes to stay secure.
The Bicycle Roof Rack
A decade or two ago, people carried all sorts of things on the roof of the car — including luggage, skis and more. But you don’t see that happening much anymore, do you? The reason mostly relates to aerodynamics and gas mileage. While it may be convenient and even relatively safe to store items on top of the car, you’ll lose a lot of gas mileage because of the extra wind resistance.
Even worse is having to hoist bikes on top of the car every time you want to take them out. While that’s no problem when you’re home, it can be a chore after a long day cycling. And some racks require removing the front wheel, an unneeded hassle.
The Hitch-Mounted Bicycle Rack
A hitch-mounted bicycle rack is specially designed to fit into a trailer hitch you have installed under your car’s bumper. You might already have one installed or you can have one fitted inexpensively at a place that sells or rents trailers and other equipment.
These racks carry bikes at the rear of the vehicle, well away from the car’s paint work. And since they’re at the back, aerodynamics and reduced gas mileage isn’t as much of a problem.
And as long as you lock the bikes into the sturdy steel frame, theft is very difficult. In my view, these reasons make hitch-mounted models the best bicycle racks for cars.
Of course, if you’re already pulling a trailer, hitch-mounted car bicycle racks won’t work for you. In that case, you can perhaps haul the bikes in the trailer. I still can’t recommend bicycle roof racks or trunk-mounted models.
If your bikes are important to you, think carefully when deciding on the best bicycle rack for cars for like yours.