If biking adventures dominate your daydreams of summer travels, a well-designed bike rack can help you make those dreams come true. With a well-designed bike rack installed on your vehicle, you can safely and securely haul a bike for you and each of your friends. There are several different designs available for your consideration, so feel free to use this guide to browse through your options—and find the best bike rack to use on all your summer road trips.
A roof rack firmly attaches to the top of your vehicle to allow you to carry several bikes at once. As an added value, you can also use the roof rack to carry boats, surfboards, and snowboards for year-round fun. A roof rack installs easily and can be removed if you decide to switch to one of the many different bike racks.
While hauling your toys, roof racks increase your vehicle height, so you may not fit in places with low ceiling heights, like drive-thrus and parking garages. Unless you always have a fellow traveler on hand, you will need to be able to hoist your bikes and other gear on top of your vehicle and secure it in place without assistance with this type of rack. These bike racks can also increase wind resistance, and decrease gas mileage as a result, so be extra careful driving with a full load of bikes or other gear—and bring some extra cash for gas.
Wishbone-Style Bike Rack
The wishbone-style bike rack features a minimalist style and all the function of full-size bike carriers without the extra bulk. This rack arcs over the back of your vehicle to securely hug the trunk or hatch. The straps hold bikes only at several different levels to reduce the impact of the load on rearward clearance. The sway-proof construction and heavy-duty materials help keep your vehicle stable despite the extra load on the back.
In theory, the wishbone-style bike rack fits most vehicles, even those with spoilers. In practice, however, you may find that this bike rack just does not sit very firmly on your vehicle. If you overload the rack, you could end up with scratches or even bent metal on your trunk lid.
A hitch carrier is a great rack for tall vehicles without a trunk mounting point for other types of bike racks. There are many different types of hitch carriers, ranging from simple folding frames to full platforms. Depending on which brand you choose, the hitch carrier can hold up to five bikes, but no other types of gear. The placement of this bike rack allows you to place a roof box on top for your other gear, however.
This type of bike rack can reduce your rearward visibility considerably, especially if the bikes and hitch carrier block your windows or backup cameras. Unless you acquire a hitch carrier model with tilt functions, your rear hatch access could be compromised. If your vehicle does not have a hitch, you will need to have one installed to utilize this style of rack.
The bike gripper system easily installs in a pickup truck bed to keep bikes upright and safely secured during your drive. The system may either latch onto the side rails or onto the bottom of the bed. You then just have to clip the D-ring around the fork of the bike to attach it securely to your vehicle.
For some bike gripper systems, you have to drill holes in your truck for the mounting points. The holes are not easy to fix or conceal after you remove the bike rack from your truck, so make sure you are ready for a permanent commitment.
Equip Your Vehicle to Prepare for Your Safe Summer Travels
Whichever bike rack you choose, Consumer Reports urges that you make sure to research to confirm that your preferred bike rack will attach firmly to your vehicle. With the proper installation of the correct rack, you can prevent safety hazards and keep your summer biking adventures trouble-free. If you would like to further increase your safety, take our One More Second®: Defensive Driving Course before you travel. This course will help you learn how to safely pilot your vehicle in many different driving situations to best prepare you for the long road ahead.