Some cars more suitable for bike racks?
I’m currently faced with having to buy a car, and among the few criteria for choosing is the ability to attach a bicycle rack. This is probably a stupid question, but I’ve never used a car-mounted bike rack, and I’m wondering if some cars are more suitable than others. Are there particular things to look for or avoid? Thanks for any pointers.
What kind of rack? Roof mounted? Trunk mounted?
What style of car? Sedan? Coupe? Truck? Convertible?
You can buy fit kits for just about every sort of vehicle for roof racks, but obviously some styles (sedan) make more sense than others (roadster).
I use a SuperJoe2 trunk rack on a Honda Civic coupe & have been happy with the stability & ease of use on the highway & around town. It comes right off and goes in my trunk. The downside is that you can’t lock the bikes to it.
Not sure what kind of car your looking at, but my husband and I have a ford focus with a standard trunk rack. It’s ok. My parents on the other hand have a van with a rack that attaches to the hitch. It’s MUCH better, IMHO. Bikes can be locked way more securely on it and it’s all around a more heavy duty rack. My 70lb cargo bike will ride fine on their rack while I’d never even think about putting on my car rack, both because of the weight and the bouncing.
I saw a minivan with a tandem loaded (vertically!) on a hitch rack. Now I want to try that with a Smartcar.
Most roof-mount racks have fit-kits that adapt to different car models. I liked the roof rack because it doesn’t impede trunk use.
I liked the roof rack because it doesn’t impede trunk use.
the other night i saw a guy drive into the giant eagle parking garage with his roof rack still up. oooooooooooops.
I love my hitch rack. Secure, easy to load, it’s the best for after-ride dirty crusted mtn bikes (I don’t want those on my roof), and I don’t have to worry about driving under stuff. You can run a cable lock through things if you have to stop somewhere, and it leaves the top open for other junk.
I went with a trunk rack because I needed to be able to quickly load and unload my bike by myself – not happening on the roof of a sedan. I can still get to my trunk with it on (though some clip adjustment may be necessary). I bought it at DH’s, it didn’t break my bank at somewhere near $80, holds 2 bikes, adjustable for both my VW jetta sedan and hubby’s cavalier (not as good a fit for his).
I chose my car for the mileage, and the manual transmission, and the used-ness of it. Good luck.
Thanks everyone for the replies… you’ve covered a range of things to consider.
I anticipate getting a pretty standard sedan or coupe (toyota; honda?), and I guess a roof or trunk rack can be made to fit any of those.
It sounds like a hitch rack is ideal, but most cars would not have one, and I don’t know if that’s something that can even be added to a car.
In some ways I’d prefer the roof rack, but, without even knowing how it’s done, the loading and unloading by myself seems a stretch.
Then there’s the issue of locking the bike…
I’ll check out the SuperJoe2 (and perhaps find pictures of how a trunk rack attaches), and…
@ejwme, what/where is DH’s?
You can have a hitch mount attached to just about any vehicle – especially by the dealer when buying a new car. I’ll probably not buy another vehicle without one. They work for bike racks, all sorts of trailers, etc.
With a hitch mount (rather than a ball mount) you can then buy a hitch mount FOLDING bike rack, that enables you to leave rack in position, but lower it in order to get access to the interior of the car. You can run a cable lock around the bike and the rack/car to secure the bike. Best of all worlds, in my mind.
Of course, for me, the ability to have my bike INSIDE the vehicle would be my preference. Hard to get that AND the ability to carry more than one passenger, in a sedan or coupe.
Edit: DH=Dirty Harry’s, a local bike shop. Similar equipment/racks are available at just about any local bike shop.
Yeah, I wish I had a hitch rack. The one I have (Saris Bones) is nice but it mounts with straps and I have to take it off to open the hatch. But, a hitch rack is definitely more expensive and I don’t use it enough to justify the cost.
The risk of absent-mindedly destroying your bikes by pulling into a garage, etc with a roof rack is enough to deter me from that option.
Mind you, it’s also possible to destroy your bike on a trunk or hitch rack. Don’t ask how I know
If you’re going with a coupe/sedan, I’d go with a roof rack first, assuming you are physically able to load your bike(s). The roof rack can double as a regular rack, too (lumber, etc), and if you need to carry more bikes, you can easily mount a trunk rack and double your capacity.
I have a hitch rack on the hippy van, and it is very nice, but I basically lucked into it–the van had a hitch when we bought it, and a very generous organization gifted me the rack, which was used.
I’ll throw in my own experience. First, I have had two Taurus/Sable wagons with strap-on bike racks. They work for one bike, but not two, and I don’t care for the fact that a large amount of pressure gets placed right on the back window.
Second, I used a friend’s Suzuki Tracker with a hitch rack several times. Very easy to deploy (he stored it in the back when not in use) and very easy to attach the bike to. However, he also managed to lose a bike off the rack on the PA Turnpike once by being careless with the attachment.
Third, I used ejwme’s rack when we went on the Dubois ride back in September. Works pretty well for two bikes, though getting the thing attached that morning took some fiddling around in order to get right.
I’m not sure which side of the city you live on, but if you head out to Pro Trucks and Cars on Rt 22 in Murrysville, they can put a nice hitch on anything. I had hitches installed on my Honda Civic and Volvo S60 for biking. They really did a nice job. I think the hitches (installed) were about $200 each.
hell dr j (who the trail in north park is named for) has a hitch rack on his audi s4 that he can carry two dh bikes on. i LOVE my hitch rack and will never ever ever go back to anything else.
they also make a version of this that fits 1 1/4″ hitches.
Now I want to try that with a Smartcar
I have a rack on the back on my bike that I carry SmartCars on.
Curmudgeon note: “Smart” my ass. It’s still a car.
the euro smart cars are much smarter – to combat accidents in the US with semis and SUVs, they had to be beefed up and the efficiency went down. in other words, they had to dumb them down for the US market. Price tag is a little high for me, too.
That being said, my cousins have one, and I gotta admit, it’s snazzy, zippy, and pretty darn awesome for a car.
I prefer roof racks because they are modular and flexible. You buy cross bars, feet, and a fit kit, and you can carry bikes, boats, skis, lumber, ladders, etc…(with carriers). Then, if you get a new car, you just get a different fit kit and you are good to go.
Also, I have seen trunk racks (most likely over loaded ones) ruin trunks.
What Nick said. I used to have a trunk rack (a cheap one, I admit) and the rubber feet scratched the h.e.double hockey sticks out of my trunk. Also the trunk racks that strap onto the back won’t work really well on a hatchback. On my ancient VW Fox wagon, the upper feet were on the back window glass which made me nervous, the back ones on the license plate, and the arms that hold the bike were at a really crazy angle.
A roof rack saves a ton of space, you can parallel park without worries, won’t scratch up your car, and you can still get in the trunk. A lot of roof trays even have built in locking mechanisms.
If cost is a huge huge huge issue for you, you can just get crossbars for your roof and make a bike tray out of a fork block ($20) a 2×4 ($3) and a pedal strap ($super cheap). I made one for my tandem since tandem trays cost a friggin ton of money. (let the speculation on the safety of this setup roll, but it works.)
Keep your eye on Craigslist too. I bought a Yakima rack (bars, feet, fit kit) with 2 bike trays for $40, and I got a Thule for $100.
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