Transporting your bike by car

Choices: there are a range of bike rack options available. Photo: Eddie Barkla

Choices: there are a range of bike rack options available. Photo: Eddie Barkla

Bike carriers which ones work best and suit your needs what can be the advantages and potential risks and disadvantages? Basically there are three types of racks on the commercial market:

  • Roof racks
  • Rear of car – tow bar mounted
  • Rear of car – hanging from car body.

It is worth noting that any rack that is attached to the rear of the vehicle is required by law to have a bike carrier registration plate with a number plate light.

There is no right or wrong answer and all bike carriers require careful attention in the manner in which the bike is attached to ensure that neither damage to the bike frame and paint work to the vehicle or bike occurs.

In choosing a bike rack it can be simple as fitting the criteria of does the vehicle have a tow bar or is it big enough to have a set of roof racks attached and how many bikes are required to be transported?

The ultimate is to have the bike secured inside the vehicle wrapped up and supported in a manner where there will be no impact from other luggage or movement that could bring about chaffed paint work where the bike is not exposed to the elements.

The key element in ensuring the safety of the bikes from costly paint of component damage is to eliminate chaffing or impact from sudden movement in the transportation. The large majority of multiple bike carriers that are fitted to the rear of the vehicle are dependent on having a top bar of the bike frame to make the fixing to the carrier.

Tow-bar racks generally are very sturdy and can carry up to 3 bikes and are less likely scratch the car duco but can be restrictive in access to the boot of the vehicle depending on the style of the boot opening.

There is a bit of an art form in securing bikes on these racks if wanting to reduce the risk of damage and requires care in looking at where there can be contact between any parts of the bikes such as lining up pedals and handle bars to be reduced in movement.

For the care of a full carbon frame ensure that padding is wrapped around the bar and the bike is secured to stop swinging and swaying and the bike is well balanced.  There are rear carriers that don’t require the bike to be hung off the top bar and are similar to the roof rack styles and can either require the front wheel to be removed or the more expensive type this is not the case.

Roof racks some require the front wheel to be removed or the more expensive ones the whole bike is secured. It is possible to accommodate up to 6 bikes if you have a wide car, lots of money and can pack them in tightly. The other advantages of these types of racks they’re up out of the way and you can still open your boot/rear station wagon door and they reduce the fear of your bikes being smashed if you get rear-ended.

There is no need to mess around with moving your number plate or buying an extra one. There can be a costly disadvantage if you lose concentration when driving forgetting the overall height of the vehicle and driving under a carport or low trees or the like.

Rear of car hanging (portable) racks which are less sturdy in material and construction are recommended to be used on occasional trips than the norm. These are very portable, and can be used on your car or a friend’s and they don’t need a tow-ball they can be mounted on a wide variety of car styles, wagons, sedans, etc and come in specialised versions for mounting on rear-stored spare tyres on 4WDs.

These types of mounting as with all types requires detail to attachments be secure via a series of straps from the boot or rear window The rack is supported on the car via rubber mounts so as not to damage the car duco and usually carry up to 2 or 3 bikes.

See you on the road soon God willing


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