Bike Racks – How to Choose

One of the key decisions a bike rider needs to make sooner or later is how to transport the bicycles to and from the trails or any other biking location.  In some cases you may be fortunate enough to have good trails or bike path that allows you to hop on your bike and head on the trail directly out of your home, but the chances for that are usually very small.

Given that fact, you would need a safe and convenient way to transport your bike(s).  There are a number of questions you would need to answer and decide on in order to get the optimal for you solution.  Some of those questions are:

  • What are the options for a bike carrier given the vehicle I have?  
  • What to consider in evaluating the options?
  • What is the best option I can get?
  • What is the cost of the selected option?

I am currently in the process of deciding on the bike carrier myself, so here is my assessment:

I am going to provision a bike carrier for our recently purchased (within the last year) SUV.  Given the fact that the vehicle is a SUV, we need to consider the pros and cons of both safety and ease / convenience of mounting the bikes and taking them down from the carrier we select.  

Here is a table with the analysis I did:

Style Useful for Pros   Cons  
Roof rack                   Bikes, boats, surf boards, ski, canoe, kayak       

very versatile and flexible for multi-use purposes;     

Allows for relatively easy access to doors, trunk, rear hatch

potentially difficult to access due to height; impeding access to low clearance areas

Increased wind resistence

Hitch Rack

 

Bikes, skis, snowboards        Easy to load and access bikes          

Fewer usage cases – no option to load bikes and a kayak for example; Not as secure / stable – the bikes may sway when traveling at high speed; 

Requires the installation of a hitch subsystem which adds to the overall cost

Trunk Racks    Bikes are the only item to carry with those 

relatively low cost

can be used on multiple vehicles without complex disassembly and subsequent assembly 

Not permanently attached to your vehicle

interfere with the use of the trunck or vehicle hatch;

Bikes not as stable during transport; 

bikes could rub against each other during transport causing potential damage

Spare Tire Racks   Bikes primarily Relatively low cost; Provide for east access, mounting and dismounting of bikes; allows for access to hatch Not as stable as roof mounted – bikes may sway during travel; limited number of bikes that could be carried

Truck Racks

 

Bikes, canoe, kayak, ski Easy to use – load and access the bikes; allow for higher weight; allow for more secure transport  Impact the storage space in the truck bed

 

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