If you have ever tried to fit a bicycle into a car, you will understand why bike racks are so popular.
Bike racks allow you to carry one or more bicycles on the outside of your car – keeping the inside clean and free for passengers and regular luggage.
Bike racks are relatively cheap and can be used to carry up to 4 bikes, depending on design. This makes them suitable for individuals, couples and families. There are, however, a few important choices you need to make if you are considering buying a bike rack for your car.
What Type of Fitting?
Bike racks come in three main types of fitting – roof rack, tow bar and rear mounted. Each has a number of pros and cons.
Roof Mounted Bike Racks
Roof racks have several advantages:
- They allow free access to the boot of your car when the bikes are in place
- They don’t increase the length of your car or require a rear numberplate/light board
- You can often use the roof rack for carrying other objects too, not just bikes
There are, however, some disadvantages, too:
- Overall vehicle height increases dramatically – you may have problems with some car park height barriers
- Can be awkward to lift bikes on and off the roof without damaging paintwork/straining yourself
Rear Mount Bike Racks
Rear-mounted cycle carriers generally fit over the back of the car.
- Increase in overall vehicle height is kept to a minimum
- Easier to lift bikes on and off than with a roof rack
- Keeps roof free for a roof box – handy for family holidays
There are some disadvantages, too:
- Many rear mount bike racks obscure the car’s rear lights and/or number plate. This is illegal so you may require a number plate or light board for the back of your car.
- Rear mount bike carriers place additional weight at the rear of your car, rather than balancing it in the centre
- Rear mount bike racks increase the overall length of your car, meaning that parking in tight spaces can become more difficult
Towbar Bike Racks
Towbar bike racks share many of the advantages and disadvantages of rear mount bike carriers. The main difference is that they mount on your tow bar, rather than on your car. This reduces the chance of damage to paintwork and may enable you to open your boot more easily when the rack is fitted.
Halfords offers a good range of bike racks, including all the major types I have described above. It’s a good place to start when looking for a cycle carrier – especially as you will be able to see most of the racks in the flesh and get an idea of how easily they might fit to your car.
As with most car accessories, Halfords also offers a fitting service for bike racks.