Bicycling is a ton of fun, however transporting your bicycle on your car long distances can prove to be a problem! Let’s take a look at some great ways to transport your bicycle on a car that just doesn’t have quite enough room on the interior to make that happen.
So how do you carry a bike on a car? There are three great ways to carry a bike on a car! That would be with a roof rack, hitch rack or a trunk rack. Let’s dig into the upsides and downsides of each, so that you can decide for yourself which is the best for your situation.
1. Roof Rack
Roof racks are my top recommendation for transporting your bike on your car! These roof racks offer awesome stability, flexibility in the amount of bikes you can take with you, and are not too crazy expensive.
While they do have some great upsides, their two biggest downsides are that it will make your vehicle considerably higher than normal, and it is a bit more difficult to hoist your bicycles on to the top of your car than other methods.
For long distances, I really can’t think of a better way to take my bike on a car than a roof rack.
- Bicycles are mounted and do not wobble like other methods
- Does not damage paint on your car
- You can fit quite a few bicycles on top of your car
- Relatively good pricing
- Makes your vehicle taller
- Can be difficult to get a heavy bike onto the root top rack
2. Hitch rack
My next favorite way to transport your bicycle on your car is with a hitch rack. These hitch racks will mount directly to an existing hitch on your car. They do a great job at holding the bicycle away from your vehicle to keep them from scratching the paint.
I also appreciate the ease of putting the bicycles onto the rack as well, as it is just a simple lift and push onto the rack.
That said, the major downsides are that hitch racks can generally only fit 1-3 bicycles, they can hold the bicycle a little bit too close to the ground (which is why I recommend one like this, rather than a hanging rack), and that they wobble back and forth a bit if you aren’t careful (this can actually be helped with this accessory).
Finally, if you car doesn’t have an existing hitch, you are out of luck with this method, unless you plan on installing one yourself.
- Easy to mount your bicycle onto
- Won’t damage your vehicle
- Doesn’t make your vehicle any taller
- You can commonly find these at stores
- Won’t work if you don’t have a hitch installed
- Can wobble your bicycle back and forth
- Bike can hang lower than you would like
3. Trunk bike rack
This is the final option, if none of the other ones work for you! If you choose to go this route, I highly recommend only utilizing this method for short periods of time, and to remove the bike rack when it is not in use.
Due to how it is installed, it can scratch and even wear through your paint if you are not careful. It also won’t keep the bikes farther away from the vehicle, meaning both your bike and your car may get damaged, and you can’t utilize your trunk while installed.
That said, these types of bike racks work awesome for people that either don’t have a roof rack, or a hitch on their vehicle, as it is much better than trying to shove a full-size bicycle into the rear of your vehicle.
These bicycle racks are also very inexpensive, and something that anyone can use on their car.
- Can be used on any car easily
- Last resort bike rack
- Can damage paint on your car
- Shouldn’t be used for long distances
- Need to remove after usage
- Can you open your trunk with a bike rack on it?
- How much does it cost to install a hitch receiver for a bike rack?
- Do bike racks damaged cars?
So which bike rack should you buy?
If you are someone that has a car, with a roof rack, you should most definitely buy a roof bicycle rack! The benefits very much outweigh any downsides it may have.
If you don’t have a roof rack, but have a hitch, I would get a hitch mounted bike rack where the bike sits on the mount rather than hangs from it.
Finally, if you don’t have a hitch or a roof rack, a trunk mount is going to be your best bet! Just make sure you don’t leave it on your car permanently.
Why do hitch bike racks wobble?
We actually have a whole article dedicated to answering this question! However, the main reason is that hitches were built more for towing, than for connecting a bike rack. This results in a hitch mounted bike rack having to be ever so slightly smaller than the hitch to be able to be inserted into it. This leaves a bit of space for the hitch rack to wobble back and forth.
When your hitch bike rack wobbles, it does not mean that it is damaged, or having any issues, it just is the way it is. That said, you can always purchase something like this to help out a bit if it bothers you.
Frequently Asked Questions
My personal favorite way to carry a bicycle on a car is by utilizing your roof rack! This method is best for both keeping your bicycle in good condition, and easily accessible, but it also keeps your car from getting scratched.
If you don’t own a bicycle rack, the best way to transport a bicycle would be to move the seat and your front wheel. This makes the bike considerably smaller, and more likely to fit in a trunk or your backseat.
If you are someone that is an avid cyclist, I would highly recommend getting yourself a bicycle. Of course if you don’t ever plan on taking your bicycle anywhere (or you don’t have a car), then a bike rack is by no means necessary.
I hope that this article helped you decide what is best for your situation! A good bicycle rack can make owning your bike a considerably better experience and a lot more fun. However if you don’t buy the right one for you, it may actually cause a bigger headache than its worth.
If you are on the hunt for a good way to transport your bicycles, I would recommend any different one that you find on this list! Although, I personally prefer the hitch mounted bike racks for their ease of usage, and ease of removing it from the vehicle when you need.