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Understanding Your Car Rack Choices

Or how I learned to stop worrying and take my bike

Transporting your bicycle by car is a great way to expand your cycling adventures. It makes it easy to find traffic-free roads, memorable trails, to take your bikes on vacation or just head over to a friend's house across town for a fun group ride.

While on most vehicles, you can simply haul your two-wheeler in the trunk or back seat, this usually requires removing wheels. And, even if you have a roomy SUV that allows toting the bike without disassembly, there's still the risk of chain grease staining that rich Corinthian Leather interior. Plus, with bikes in the back, there's a lot less room for your other gear.

For these reasons, if you drive to bike regularly, you'll appreciate how recent innovations in rack technology have made it much easier
to bring your bike(s). Here we go over the major types to help you select the right one.

Basic Considerations
When looking for a rack for your car know the type of vehicle you'll mount the rack to. Consider how many bikes and what types you'll carry. Figure what else you'll take along. And, determine how far and over what type of terrain you'll drive (dirt roads, etc.). All of these things help determine the best rack for you.

Obviously, not all vehicles are compatible with all types of car racks. For example, you wouldn't want a roof rack on your convertible. However, in almost all cases, we can find a rack to fit your vehicle and satisfy your mobile cycling needs.

Types of Car Racks
A trunk rack is an inexpensive transportation solution.The first and most basic type is called the Trunk-mount because it fits on trunks or hatchbacks. Consisting of movable locking arms and hooking straps, trunk racks can be adjusted to fit most vehicles, accept 2 to 4 bicycles, and fold for flat storage when not in use. 

These racks are portable, low cost, easy to mount to the car and remove, and easy to put bikes on. Drawbacks include having something resting on your vehicle (contact points are protected by pads, however, you might prefer nothing touching your paint job) and having to remember to fine-tune the straps during installation and before every trip to ensure that the rack is securely attached and can't budge.

Hitch racks protect both bikes and car!The next is the Hitch-mount. These mid-priced racks fit into the hitches (also called "receivers") welded onto the frame on the rear of many SUVs, trucks and some cars (if you don't have one, one can be installed). This is a secure connection that ensures that the rack cannot shift or move when you're cruising down the road. And, because these racks hold the bikes away from the vehicle, you don’t have to worry about paint scratches.

Available in 2-, 3- or 4-bike models, many of these racks also fold away from the vehicle allowing use of a tailgate or rear door without removing the bikes. Hitch racks can be locked to the hitch for theft prevention and may be easily removed for storage when not in use. The easy-access height makes them the best option for taller vehicles where a roof rack would be challenging to use.

Roof racks are an investment in peace of mind.The most visibly striking, versatile and expensive type of rack is the Roof-mount. Add one of these to your vehicle and you proclaim to the world, “I am an outdoor enthusiast!”

Consisting of two crossbars attached to the roof via specially designed towers, these racks can be outfitted to carry bikes, skis, snowboards, canoes, even cargo boxes, securely and safely. There are models that tote just about every bike however you want to carry it (with or without wheels, for example).

Roof racks are usually best for carrying tandems and long-wheelbase recumbents, too. And, they can be accessorized with locking towers and bike mounts, and wind fairings (photo).

By stowing your bikes and sports gear on the roof, the full functionality of your vehicle is retained. And, while many users choose to leave them mounted, roof racks can also be removed and with a few small parts, used on different vehicles, too.

The only concern with roof racks is forgetting that the bikes are up there when driving into your garage and passing beneath low overhangs. Here you must exercise caution because you can seriously damage the bikes and vehicle if you forget. One tip is to put your garage-door opener in a bicycle glove because that might remind you that precious cargo is on top of the car.

Ready To Roll
Besides these standard racks, there are also models that fit inside the beds of pick-ups and even some that fit onto rear-mounted spare tires, which goes to show that pretty much whatever type of vehicle you drive, we can help you find a great way to carry your bikes.

Just stop by and ask us to help you find the rack that’s best for your needs and vehicle. And don’t worry. Our experienced technicians are available to expertly install your new rack, too. Just ask. See you at the trailhead!

 

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