Riding bikes with your kids is a great way to bond while keeping both you and them fit, active, healthy, and happy.
Whilst it’s great to ride around your local areas, you may not have safe and appropriate places to ride near your home. Perhaps you’d like to head to a riding training track, or take the family out to the countryside for some off-road riding action.
Of course, transporting your family bikes is often easier said than done. Transporting bikes, regardless of their size and the size of your vehicle, comes with some challenges. Purchasing a bike rack can easily solve this problem – but how exactly do you use a bike rack?
What exactly is a bike rack, and how do they work? How do you put your bike on them?
We’ve got these answers here. Join us as we explore all of your most burning questions about using bike racks!
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What Is A Bike Rack?
Bike racks are an accessory for towing your bicycles from point A to point B without the need to disassemble them or awkwardly jamming them into your trunk or back seats.
However, as there are different shapes and sizes of cars, it’s not a case of “one size fits all.” There are a variety of different types of bike racks, and we’ve started this guide by clearing up these main types below.
Types Of Bike Racks
There are plenty of bike racks on the market, all of which are aimed at people that own different vehicles and, indeed, different bikes. Here are some of the most common types.
Roof Mount Bike Rack
Roof mount bike racks are perhaps the most common type of bike rack. They are certainly the type of bike rack that people will think of if you mentioned the words.
This bike rack allows bikes to be stored on your car’s rooftop. They are normally mounted vertically; some will require the front tires removed before you do this.
It’s possible that you may need an already installed bike rack (they look like two large rails) onto the roof of your car before attaching this. You’ll have to check before you buy this type of bike rack.
Of course, if you are going to use this type of bike rack, you need to be aware of the height of your bikes in case you travel under a low bridge, for example.
Additionally, you need to be aware of how much weight your car can take on its roof. Normally, your owner’s manual will advise you on this, so be sure to check that out first.
Hitch Mount Bike Rack
Hitch-mount bike racks are also quite common, especially near hiking spots or beaches. Contrary to what some people may think, you do not need a trailer or anything like that.
The hitch mount attaches to the back of your car by locking into the drawbar receiving tube or the “hitch tube.” You can then normally place two bikes, but you can have a maximum of six onto the bike rack.
Usually, the rack will hang, which gives you access to the trunk, prevents scratches to the car, and gives extra support to the bikes, so they do not fall.
It’s quite simple to fix up. The wheels will be down whilst the frame will be strapped into the tube top.
Trunk Mount Bike Rack
If your car does not have the capabilities for what is needed above, such as a trailer hitch or a roof rack, you could decide to opt for a trunk mount bike rack.
All you’ll need is a trunk! This folding rack can easily be placed on the lid or lip of your trunk. It’s a case of strap-in and lock.
You will then place your bike(s) onto the rack and secure them. They will be placed vertically, flat across the trunk’s window direction, but the design means you are not in danger of having your car damaged.
Truck Bed Bike Rack
Truck bed racks will require you to have an open-bed truck. Whilst it may be tempting to simply throw a bike or two into the back, this is not a secure method of transporting you and your family’s bikes.
Instead, opt for a truck bed bike rack. They look like small steel frames, similar to sidewalk bike racks, allowing you to vertically place your bike(s) into the groove. You then either lock the bike(s) in place securely or remove the front tire.
It depends on the type of bike rack and the size of your truck bed and bikes, but these are the two most common ways to secure a bike in this type of bike rack.
How To Put Your Bike On These Bike Racks
Each one of these bike rack examples may have different specific examples depending on the type of rack, size of the bike, and the car you are driving.
However, there are some general rules you can follow when you want to secure a bike to a bike rack. Follow this 10-step guide!
- Get the right bike rack for your car
- Fit the rack correctly following the advice from the manufacturer
- Open up the bike rack to make an arc shape
- Secure all of the clips onto the rack’s chosen position
- Tighten any straps that may be required
- Test the stability of the bike rack
- Pull on the arms of the bike rack
- Mount your bike following the guidance
- Lock and secure your bike on the rack
- Cover any areas for weather and damage – If you have a clamp, use it for added safety
Car Bike Rack Frequently Asked Questions
Does My Child’s Bike Need To Be Racked?
It depends on the size of the bike and personal choice, but we would recommend you secure their bike along with yours in the same way. Very small bikes may fit in your trunk, but it is best to have them secured in a rack.
Are Bike Racks Hard To Assemble?
Typically no! Just follow the guidelines in the guide by the manufacturer.
The Bottom Line
Bike racks can be a little different, but there are some general guidelines you can follow.
For more specific information, always refer to your owner’s manual for your car and the bike rack manufacturer.
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