If you’re a cyclist and bike owner, then chances are that at some point in the past year or so you’ve considered adding a bike rack to your vehicle. You want to make it as easy as possible for yourself to take your bike with you on those weekend adventures but don’t know where to start looking. One of the most important things when buying a bike carrier is knowing which type of rack will work best for what kind of car and how many bikes you plan on transporting.

There are three basic types of car-bike racks:

  1. A hitch-mounted rack
  2. A trunk-mounted rack
  3. A roof-mounted rack

So there are a few things to consider when thinking about buying a bike rack.

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

hitch mounted bike rack

With a hitch-mounted rack, the requirement is that you have to have a hitch installed on your car. You do have the option to carry multiple bikes with most hitch racks. The rack is detachable, so it does not have to stay in your car all the time, but you also have to consider that this type of rack will make your car much longer than it is without a rack.

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

Driving with Hitch Bike Rack

With trunk-mounted bike carriers, there are also some things to consider. The rack installs on your trunk, and certain parts of the rack will contact your car’s paint when the rack is installed. Plus, you’re not going to be able to open your trunk.

Some of the advantages of this type of rack are:

  • you can use it on more than one car
  • they’re pretty easy to install and take off
  • and most of them have the option to carry more than one bicycle

Roof-mounted Bike Racks

roof mounted bike rack

Roof-mounted bike racks are the most permanent type of rack that you can install on your car. Once the bicycle is up there, it’s not going to inhibit your use of your trunk or any of the doors. The bike and rack will not change how you see out of your car either, but you should consider that you have to be tall enough to lift the bicycle onto the rack. So if you have a taller car or a smaller person, that might be something you want to consider additional consideration on the hitch mount and trunk-mounted racks where the top tube of the frame sits on the pads of the rack.

I can tell you from personal experience that you want to make sure your bicycle is not on the roof of your car before you enter your garage!

Depending on the shape of your bicycle and your top tubes slant, you may not be able to fit the bike onto the rack; in that case, you should buy an adapter that installs on the c2 and stem of the bicycle. This creates a more flat space for you to install your bike. Any rack you install on the outside of the car will change the length, width, or height of your vehicle; you’re going to want to consider that your car is now more prominent.

If installing a rack on your car is causing you concern about gas mileage or the security of the bicycle, your final option is to take the front wheel off the bike and put the bike in the car.

A quick tip to keep the bike wheel from getting dirt or scratching your paint is to leave it so that the rubber of the bicycle wheel touches the rubber of your car wheel. Another consideration is that you want the drive side of your bicycle to be facing up when you put it in the car so that you don’t get grease on your car.

Final Thoughts

The primary focus is that there are three different bike racks, and you can decide which one best fits your needs. The other thing to consider is what kind of bike you have. If you’re riding something challenging to transport, you might want to take the front wheel off and put it in your vehicle.