While it may seem futile, sometimes it is necessary to drive your car in order to ride your bike. If you enjoy riding your bike in different locations that are far away from your home and would take an eternity to reach by riding your bike, or if you participate in races or marathons, you are going to want to use your car to get your bike wherever it is that you want to use it. In order to transport your bike via your car, you are going to want to have a bike rack. Sure, you could try to fit it in your backseat or trunk, but it will take up a lot of space, and there is the risk of damaging your bike and your vehicle if you attempt this approach. A bike rack just makes it a whole lot easier to transport your bike via your vehicle.

If you are shopping for a bike rack, you are going to find that there are a lot of options to choose from, which can make finding the best bike rack for your needs a bit of a challenge. With so many options, how do you know which one will best fit your needs? To help you on your quest for finding the best bike rack, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide, which is highlights all of the information you will need to find the best bike rack for your needs.

Types of Bike Racks

In order to purchase the best bike rack for your specific needs, the first thing you need to do is understand that there are different types of bike racks. Each type offers different benefits, which is why it is important to understand the differences between them so that you can choose the best one for your needs.

There are three main types of bike racks, which include:

There are also specialty bike racks that are design for unique situations, such as transporting a bike in the bed of a truck. Here is a breakdown of each of these types of bike racks.

The Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

The hitch mounted bike rack connects to your vehicle via a 1 ¼ inch or 2 inch receiver hitch, which is mounted to the back of your vehicle. This type of bike rack usually has a higher price tag than other types of bike racks; however, the ease of loading and unloading bikes onto and off of them is well worth the extra cost, especially if you don’t want to worry about hoisting your bike onto the top of your car. Depending on the design, you can secure your bike on this type of bike rack with just one hand. There are also options that feature a hinged load section, which will provide you with access to the tailgate of your vehicle without having to remove the bikes. In order to use this type of bike rack, you will need to have a hitch on your vehicle, so if you don’t already have one, you will need to install one, which is an added expense. Hitch mounted bike racks usually hold bikes by their wheels with an arm that secures the front wheel, or by hanging them from their top tubes.

The Roof Mounted Bike Rack

Generally, roof mounted bike racks consist of feet that attach to the roof of your vehicle, and cross bars that accessories are attached to. Roof mounted bike racks either require you to remove the front wheel from the bike, or they are designed to allow you to keep both wheels on the bike. Roof mounted bike racks that require you to remove the front wheel from the bike keep the bike positioned lower, and make it easier and lighter to load. Designs that allow you to keep both wheels on the bike are taller, and they tend to cost more. Additionally, they can be less stable. Though they aren’t a permanent fixture, roof bike racks usually stay on your vehicle all the time. They also offer different accessories, which will allow you to carry different items, such as kayaks, skis, SUP boards, or even ladders; essentially, any big, bulky item can be attached to a roof mounted bike rack, even lumber, making these a very versatile tool. On the downside, if you drive under something low and you have forgotten that you have bikes or other items on your roof, you can do damage to the items and your vehicle. Additionally, this type of roof rack and the items it carries adds aero drag to your vehicle, which can impact your speed and increase fuel consumption.

The Trunk Mounted Roof Rack

The truck mounted roof rack is usually the least expensive option; however, it is also the least secure. A collection of straps are used to secure the bike to the vehicle. The straps hook around the lip of your vehicle’s trunk, hatchback or bumper. Trunk mounted roof racks are usually very adjustable, so you can fit them onto the rear of virtually any type of vehicle. Rubber or foam feet grip onto the vehicle, pulling the whole unit taught, and it is then secured by the straps. In order for it to be secure, it has to be properly fitted onto the hooks that hold the straps to the vehicle, which have the potential to do damage to your vehicle’s paintwork.

Specialty bike racks are also available. You can find options that are designed to secure bikes to the bed of a pickup truck, or onto the spare tire that is stored on to the back end of the vehicle. If you have a specific bike rack need, you can be sure that you will be able to find a bike rack that will safely and conveniently secure your bike to your vehicle.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bike Rack

When shopping for a bike rack, there are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration in order to ensure you choose the best option for your specific needs. These factors include how far you will be traveling with your bike on the rack, how many bikes you will be carrying, and the ease of use of the bike rack, among other things. To learn more about the factors that we consider to be the most important when choosing a bike rack, please keep on readin.

How far will you be traveling

The first thing you should consider is how far you will be traveling with your bikes attached to your bike rack. If you are going to be traveling long distances, you want to make sure that you choose a bike rack that will securely attach to your vehicle, and that your bikes can securely attach to. While a secure fit is important if you are traveling shorter distances, it is not as paramount if you will be traveling far.

How many bikes will you be transporting?

The next thing you want to consider is the number of bikes you will be transporting on your bike rack. Bike racks are designed to carry one to several bikes. If you are going to be transporting more than one bike, you want to make sure that you choose a bike rack that can accommodate the number of bikes you intend to carry.

Where do you want to carry your bikes?

Another important consideration to make is where you want to carry the bikes on your vehicle. Do you want to carry them on top of your vehicle, or off of its back? If the former is your preferred choice, you will want to determine whether you want one that attaches to a hitch, or one that attaches to your trunk or tailgate.

How versatile do you want the bike rack to be?

If you want to use your bike rack for more than transporting bikes, you are going to want to choose one that offers more versatility. Roof mounted bike racks offer attachments that will allow you to secure various types of large items to them, from ladders to lumber, so they are a wise choice if you are planning on carrying other items, besides your bikes.

How easy is it to use?

You should also consider the ease of use when selecting a bike rack. This not only includes how easy it is to install the bike rack onto your vehicle, but it also includes how easy it is to attach a bike onto the actual rack. While roof mounted bike racks are versatile, they can also be difficult to load, as you will need to hoist your bike onto them.

How secure is the bike rack?

You want your bikes (or other items) to be securely attached to the bike rack, which will not only ensure that you will be safe while driving, but will also ensure that your items will be safe when you are parked. The more secure the bike rack is to your vehicle, and the more secure the bikes are to the rack, the better.

The cost of the bike rack

You are also going to want to take the cost of the bike rack into consideration. Bike racks vary in price, with trunk mounted racks being the most economical option, and roof mounted bike racks being the most expensive. Also, the more features a bike rack offers, and the more bikes it can accommodate, the more expensive it will be.

Features Bike Racks Can Offer

Bike racks can offer a variety of features. These features are intended to improve the security of your bike, and the versatility of the rack. As mentioned above, the more features that a bike rack offers, the more expensive it is going to be. In order to determine whether you want or need certain features, and if the added expense will be worth your while, it is important to understand the different features and their intended use.

Here is a look at some of the top features bike racks can offer.

Anti-sway cradles

This feature will prevent the bikes from swaying while you are in transit, which will keep them separated while they are being transported. Anti-sway cradles will help to protect your bikes, as well as your vehicle.

Locking mechanisms

Bike racks that feature locking mechanisms that will lock the rack to the car itself, and that will lock the bikes to the rack, offer the most security. This feature will prevent bikes from rolling off of your car during transit, and will prevent them from being stolen when you are parked.

Folding assembly

If you want to make it easier to store your bike rack when you aren’t using it, look for one that offers a folding assembly. This will allow you to easily fold the bike rack down, which will make it easier to store away when it isn’t being used.

The Best Bike Rack Brands

Various manufacturers make bike racks, which can make it difficult to determine which brand to purchase. To help you find the best quality bike rack for your specific needs, we have tested out several options ourselves, and we have scoured through user reviews. Our assessment has allowed us to determine that the following bike racks are the best of the best.

Hollywood Racks

This company manufactures bike racks that are constructed of durable materials, are easy to use and offer a safe and secure way to store your bikes during transport. They also produce various type of bike racks, so you will be able to find one that will best meet your needs.

Allen Sports

Another top bike rack manufacturer is Allen Sports. They use the high quality materials and durable construction to provide you with secure bike racks that are built to last.

Yakima Products

This company produces some of the best bike racks on the market. They make all types of bike racks, and the offer a range of features that will keep your bikes securely fastened to your vehicle.