If you like traveling to the middle of nowhere to reach the best trail bike routes, then you would probably want to invest in a proper bike rack for your car. If you thought you only get one type of rack of all cars, this article will help you differentiate between the types of racks and help you choose which one you should buy.
If you are lucky enough to have a camper, trailer or van you might not need a rack, but for normal sized vehicle a bike rack would be best. The size and shape of your car will play a big role in the type of rack you will choose. As with anything your choice of rack with has advantages and disadvantages to consider. Apart from just the shape and size of the rack you also have to take the weight of your car as well as your bike into account.
Within these main groups and types you can also have more specified racks, but let us take a look at the basics
These bicycle racks are attached to the back of a vehicle by a strap and they have to be securely fastened in order to support your bikes and not damage your car. This is the type of rack you would invest in when you are usually traveling for short distances and rather not for long road trips. If you know you will be using this rack about every other weekend for trail rides relatively close to your home, this would be a good fit.
If you own or drive a vehicle with a fiber-glass hatchback you will not be able to make use of a strap-mounted rack, and if you have a normal glass rear you will have to have a specialized fitting. This might sound rather tricky, but there are two types of strap-mounted racks you can choose from. If you choose a low mount car rack you will have to budget for additional lighting sockets since the rack will be covering your number plate as well as parts of your car lights. Keep this in mind before choosing the cheapest low mount car rack. Opting for a high mount car rack might be better for your bikes, but this will mean more pressure on your boot or hatch and the extra drag will lead to more fuel usage in the long run. It all comes down to practicality and what works for your budget.
Towbar and towball mounted racks
If you are looking for another type of rack, you might consider a towbar or towball mounted rack. These would be ideal if your car already has a towbar, if this is not the case you will have to budget for adding this to your vehicle. Towbar mounted racks can carry more than one bike and this is ideal for a family of bikers. The towbar can carry two, three or four bikes and the common type features two arms that hold the bike. These racks can be either fitted to the towbar itself or fastened onto a plate behind the towball. Some models even allow you to attach the rack to the back of the towbar while towing another vehicle, trailer or whatever you might need to tow. This is highly functional, but you have to keep in mind that all extra weight puts more pressure on your car. Another type of rack for your towbar is designed to support the wheel of your vehicles, in effect putting less pressure and strain on the bicycles.
Towball racks enable the bicycles to be positioned lower down on the back of the car. This causes less wind resistance and if it is easier for your car to move forward, you will be using less fuel. If your bicycles are fastened on a roof rack this will create more resistance and in effect consume more fuel. Towball racks are easy to manage and you don’t have to struggle with lifting bicycles, by using a towball rack you will also put less strain on the bicycles themselves. You don’t need to be a skilled fitter in order to safely secure a towball rack, it is very user friendly. The one thing that might bother you is that they are typically priced higher than other racks, depending on what your vehicle already includes.
At the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference and supporting your hobby. Saving money to safely transport your bicycles will definitely be worth the ride.