Choosing a bike rack: the complete guide

Saturday 01 May 2021

As a cycling enthusiast, you might be interested in a particularly useful piece of equipment when you’re on vacation: the bike rack. However, if you’re a novice, the availability of different models on the market is bound to confuse you. What type of products should you choose? Whether it’s winter or summer seasons, the rest of this article will provide you with all the necessary answers.

The role of a bike rack

It will not surprise any internet user: installing a bike rack on a vehicle is an ideal solution to transport your equipment during many situations. Very often, these accessories accompany vacationers. However, a bike rack is also suitable for cycling enthusiasts who want to reach a starting point during a race, for example.

Is it possible to use an alternative solution to bike racks? Of course, some Swiss people will have already experimented with transporting their bike in the trunk of a spacious car (or van). However, this method has one major drawback: the risk of significantly damaging your equipment. Indeed, a car ride inevitably evokes shocks and more or less sharp turns… You can scratch your frame or dirty your seats with the grease of your chain.

As you can see, carrying your bike without a bike rack is not recommended. This statement will then lead us to another question: which model should you favor?

The 3 main models of bike carriers

This article will not introduce or recommend certain brands of bike racks. Nevertheless, these accessories can be classified from 3 main models each having their advantages and disadvantages.

The “backpack” type models

Many cyclists advocate the purchase of a “backpack” type bike rack. This name actually refers to a simplified installation on the outside of a vehicle’s trunk. The main advantages? These bike racks do not require any additional equipment and take up very little space. On the other hand, the trunk cannot be opened when this accessory is installed and used. Also note that the addition of protective foams will be essential if you want to attach multiple bikes.

Hitch mounted models

Also available on the market, hitch-mounted bike racks offer unquestionable safety during your transports, and this without imposing complex and expensive installations. What’s more, some models offer a tilting system to guarantee access to the trunk. In return, the presence of a ball hitch will obviously be necessary.

Models with roof mountings

Finally, let’s mention the models with roof mountings. These bike carriers win some non-negligible advantages. First of all, these accessories maximize drivers’ visibility by freeing up the rear space of the vehicle. Also, access to the trunk will be entirely preserved for optimal safety of your bike(s). On the downside, note that a roof-mounted accessory will inevitably require complex handling during installation. In addition, access to certain parking lots will be compromised by a height that is too high.

Be sure to check your installation

Make sure your license plate is visible

A bike rack on a hitch or a “backpack” model will have to respect an essential rule: nothing must disturb the visibility of your license plate. Otherwise, consequent penalties may be levied during a police check.

Protect your body

Depending on the model of your bike rack and your vehicle, it will sometimes be wise to protect one or more specific areas of your bodywork. Indeed, simple vibrations could partially defix your bike.

Check your usual strap adjustment

In most situations, your strap adjustment will be the same from ride to ride. We recommend that you visually check the adjustment of these straps (you can also mark them as you see fit). This will allow you to check, at a glance, if your settings correspond to a usual configuration and thus avoid complex situations.