Bike Rack Buying Guide
What is a Bike Rack?
There are many different kinds of bike racks on the market and many different styles as well. Regardless of the differences in style, all bike racks do the same thing; they enable the bike rider to transport their bike to wherever they want to ride.
Not all bike racks are built the same. Some have different designs, some hold more bikes than others and where they are attached to the vehicle can change as well. Some bike racks work better than others for various reasons. As a consumer, we know that it is your goal to find the best, most reliable and easiest bike rack you can for the money you want to spend.
Before you begin your search, there are a few things you need to know the answers to first.
Considerations Before You Start Searching
Be sure to ask yourself these questions before you purchase a bike rack and preferably before you even start searching.
- How many bikes do you need to transport? – It’s always better to plan ahead than to be caught without room. Knowing how many bikes you will be transporting or could be transporting is an important factor in choosing the right bike rack. If you NEVER ride with anyone else, you will be just fine with a 1 or 2 bike capacity rack but if you occasionally have company or you have family that rides with you, you can get a large rack that can hold up to five bikes at once.
- Do you want a rack you can leave on the vehicle full time? – For those that regularly travel every weekend to ride bikes, having a bike rack that stays on the vehicle rather than one that you attach each time you need it will be much more convenient. There are many models that enable you to move the bike rack out of the way of your tailgate without having to remove the rack entirely.
- Where do You Want to Put Your Bike Rack? – There are many different places that bike racks are made to go. Different styles and models can be put in different places such as the roof, trunk or other places. If you know ahead of time, where you want the bike rack to go, it will narrow down your search to those particular types that accommodate your choice.
Types of Bike Racks
There are many different kinds of bike racks that you can choose from. Several styles are designed for transport and several are for storage in a stationary location. You may find the need to get both a traveling bike rack and a stationary one. We’ve listed all the types of bikes racks that a bicycle rider can get.
Travel/Automotive Bike Racks
- Roof Bike Racks – Many people prefer this type of bike rack which puts the bicycles on the top of the vehicle. These types of racks are perfect for larger cars that have plenty of roof space or that already have built in base racks to you. One thing to keep in mind when using a roof bike rack is to ensure that it is attached properly with no wobble, that the bikes are securely attached to the rack, and that you stay mindful of your clearance when passing under carports, drive- thru restaurants, garages and even some overpasses depending on how tall your vehicle is without the rack.
- Trunk Bike Racks – This type of bike rack goes on the trunk of your vehicle. It’s perfect for smaller vehicles that don’t have a lot of roof space or a roof rack. You will need cables or tie downs to attach a trunk bike rack and it’s very important to ensure secure attachment before you drive off and leave your bikes in a pile on the driveway or roadway. They are relatively easy to attach and they don’t involve having to worry about clearance so they can be left on the vehicle even inside a garage.
- Hitch-Mount Bike Racks – This is a relatively new idea in the bike rack industry. Hitch-mount bike racks attach to the trailer hitch of your vehicle. They are the perfect choice for those who own minivans, SUVs and other vehicles that typically have a trailer hitch. These racks can hold several bikes and are easy to adjust or remove if you’re not going to need it for awhile. These types of bike racks stick out from the back of your vehicle pretty significantly so be aware of this as you are driving around and make the appropriate adjustments.
- Pick Up Racks – If you have a pickup truck, don’t worry, there is a bike rack just for truck owners called a pickup rack. These are designed to go in the back of the truck bed. They are easy to install, hold several bikes and is really easy to use as well.
Stationary Bike Racks
- Standing Bike Rack – If you want to store your bicycles indoors or outdoors, a stationary bike rack is a great choice. They can be purchased in any number of styles to accommodate multiple bikes. If you do choose to keep the bike rack outside, for added safety, chain the bikes to the rack, make sure the bike rack is secured to a large, immovable object and also be sure to toss a tarp over them to protect the bikes from the elements.
- Wall Mounted Bike Racks – Hoist – If you don’t have a lot of space, you will find the Hoist Wall Mounted Bike Racks a good choice. They are secured to a wall wherever you will be storing your bikes. Be sure to secure them to the studs and not just the drywall or they could risk getting pulled out of the wall. Hang each bike in a vertical position by one of the bike’s wheel rims. Since there is no way to really secure anything with this type of bike rack, it is best used indoors in a garage, basement or extra room.
- Wall Mounted Bike Racks – Horizontal – You won’t get the space saving properties with the horizontal wall mounts that you will the vertical but they still are a good means of storing your bikes. They will be positioned on the rack in the normal riding position and some styles offer individual locking stations for each bike you put on it.
- Floor to Ceiling Bike Racks – This type of bike rack is perfect if you need to move the rack from place to place. The floor to ceiling bike rack has a tension mounted pole that goes from floor to ceiling and requires no drills or tools to install. The bikes hang on hooks in a horizontal fashion.
Evaluating the Choices
There are several things to look at once you reach the point where you start researching what is out there. These considerations help you narrow down the field of choices you have to pick from, thus making the decision much easier to make.
- Capacity of the Bike Rack – This is one of the top considerations when it comes to choosing the right bike rack. It comes down to how many bikes you need to transport. If it’s one or two, that will be a different size bike rack than if you need 5 or more carried.
- Can it Carry Different Kinds of Bikes? – Not all bikes are the same, so you need to ensure that the bike rack you choose has the ability to carry different size and shapes of bikes. There are several models available that carry virtually any size and shape bicycle.
- Does it Assemble and Attach Easily? – Many bike racks will require assembly when you first take it out of the box and then it will need to be attached to the vehicle as well. You want to find a bike rack that is simple and easy to put together, to attach to the vehicle and to take off again if needed. How the bike rack is packaged, how clear the directions are and the design of the bike rack.
- Ease of Use – You ideally want to find a bike rack that makes it relatively easy to get the bikes loaded and unloaded. The lower to the ground racks are the easiest since it does not involve having to lift the bike into the air.
- Durability – Weight capacity and construction are two of the main factors involved in the durability of a bike rack. You want to choose one with a good weight rating and also one that is constructed with all steel for the maximum strength.
- Security – Security is definitely a consideration when it comes to choosing your bike rack. You want to look for bike racks that lock and have additional security measures that will protect not only the bikes ON the rack but the rack itself. Don’t leave the bikes on the rack overnight out where others can get to them. If they don’t try to steal the bikes, they could try to damage the whole rack.
Bike racks are a convenient and easy way to bring your bike with you wherever you decide you want to ride. Even if you’re traveling out of state, the use of a bike rack means your bikes don’t have to take up valuable seating. The information we have provided in this guide can help you decide what it is you want from a bike rack and how to decide if it is a good one that you will be pleased with.