Bicycle Racks: What type bike rack should you get?

Bicycle Racks. This has been something that I’ve been dealing with since I started riding and really struggling with which one to get. Most people need to travel to their biking destination so unless you have a pick-up truck where you can just throw it in the back, you’re going to need a bike rack. The variation of your bike rack choices depends on the type of vehicle you have. Here’s an explanation:

  1. Trunk Mount – This type can be used on pretty much any type of car, mini-van or SUV, is the least expensive and easy to put on and take off your vehicle.  I picked one up from my local Walmart for about $45 and it will hold up to 3 bikes.  This type of bike rack will have 4-6 straps, which should be marked as to where to put them on your vehicle.  Once you get them in place, tighten them as much as you can if you are carrying more than one bike as the weight will pull it down some.  These straps may need adjusting after you have the bikes loaded.  If that’s the case I’ve found that if you have one person lift up slightly on the rack while you tighten it’s much easier.  You may also find it necessary to swap the direction of each bike and/or remove the seats so that they fit on the rack.  If you remove the seats make sure you tighten the seat fastener on the bike so that it doesn’t fall off.  Another thing I’ve noticed and for you to keep in mind is that if you use this a lot the straps on the side will rub / scratch the paint so I put a thin sock over each one and then put it in place.
  2. Roof Mount – I’ve seen this type on cars mostly but you can put it on a mini-van or SUV as well.  The lowest price I’ve seen online is $40 for a 1-bike rack and the most racks I’ve seen on a vehicle is two.  Some of these racks allow you to keep the front tire on and some you have to remove the front tire.  I’ve never even considered this type of rack because of the number of bikes I have to carry and I don’t want to have to lift my bikes up onto the roof of my vehicle.
  3. Pick-Up Truck Mount – This is usually a single bar that goes across your truck bed near the cab.  The front wheel of your bike will need to be removed so that you can secure the bike to the bike bar.  This bike bar goes for about $150 online and the most it will hold is 3 bikes.
  4. Spare Tire Mount – If you have a Jeep or other SUV with a spare tire mounted on the back you may want to look at this option for a bike rack.  With this type of rack you can get the kind that mounts over and around your spare tire or one that uses the center tire mount for the bike rack.  Both types have the ability to hold up to 3 bikes and prices range from $100 – $300 depending on the type and number of bikes you want it to hold.
  5. Cargo – Hitch Mount – This is a tray style rack that slides into your hitch and will hold up to 4 bikes depending on the sizes and styles.  I’ve seen this type on the back of RVs and the bigger SUVs as well.  Loading and unloading is an easy process but remember to strap them to your vehicle as well.  There is an add-on to this type called a “hitchin-post” that will allow you to add 3 more bikes to the rack so this would be ideal for large families.  Pricing for the basic set-up ranges from $150 – $350 depending on the style you get.
  6. Hitch Mount – This type is probably the most popular that I’ve seen and there is a good variety to choose from.  They can hold up to 5 bikes and the prices range from $150 – $300 online.  This rack type slides into your hitch and you hang your bikes on it and secure them with the straps.  There is a pin at the bottom you can take out to fold it down, which will allow you to open the back door on your vehicle.  There is another variety of hitch mount bike rack that goes out horizontally from your hitch and you just pull the bikes onto it and secure the tires to it with the straps.  I’m thinking this is the type I’m going to buy very soon.


Ride, live, have fun!  See you on the trails – Cindy 🙂

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