A question we get asked often at The Bicycle Store is: “What bike carrier will suit my car?” I’ll be honest with you, it’s a great question. At first glance, trying to decide what bike carrier will be the most suitable for you and your intended purpose seems more than a fraction difficult. The true answer depends on a great number of variables, however I have narrowed it down to asking yourself just 3 simple questions. The comprehensive guide below should make the decision easier for you when it comes time to purchase a bike carrier.
Question 1: How many bikes will I be carrying?
This is the first question you need to answer and generally it has two answers; either a fixed number, or a varying number. If you are always carrying a fixed quantity of bikes this makes the process easier. For example, if you are carrying one bike, you have the option of nearly any bike carrier on the market, roof mount, hitch mount, trunk mount, the list goes on. Likewise, if you are carrying all of your family’s bikes, say 4 for example, you can likely narrow it down to a hitch mounted bike carrier.
This question is only difficult when you are always carrying a differing number of bikes. As a general rule, it is advised that you purchase the carrier that suits the maximum number of bikes you will be carrying, that way you will never be caught short. In the case that the number of bikes you will be carrying varies, I would look at question two first and determine which carrier will fit your vehicle, as this will make your decision easier.
Question 2: What racks are compatible with my vehicle?
After acknowledging how many bikes you will be carrying, you need to determine what rack will be suitable for the vehicle. If you have a ute or a 4X4, it will most likely come with a tow bar, making a hitch mounted rack the best choice. In a similar vein, if you have a hatchback with a rear spoiler, you cannot use a trunk mounted rack as the rear spoiler is not made to carry a heavy load. So the best choice for you will most likely be a roof mounted rack, depending on the number of bikes you want to carry.
Once you know how many bikes you will be carrying and how many the racks that are compatible with your vehicle, you will have narrowed the choice down to only a few racks, making your final decision even closer. In some cases you will already know which rack is best for you, some people will be required to consider question 3.
Question 3: What mount does my vehicle take?
For some people, their car will only have one mounting option much like the hatchback I described in point 2. For others, numerous rack types will suit their vehicle, leaving them with more choices and making the process a bit more difficult to resolve. If this happens to be you, don’t sweat it, you have the benefit of choice!
If you have a vehicle that can take a hitch mount and a rear tyre mount, or a hitch mount and a trunk mount, you can consider other factors such as ease of installation and removal, goes on. All of these factors should be considered, and if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to email us here.
Included in this comprehensive guide is a brief description of the different types of car carriers available on the market and the most suitable carriers for different types of cars.
A Guide to Bike Carriers for Different Vehicle Types
Below I have assembled a guide to the bike carriers that are available for the different vehicle body types. Carriers for these vehicles can be viewed at The Bicycle Store here.
Sedan / Wagon
If you own a regular sedan or wagon type vehicle with a tow bar, you will have the option of 3 different mounting carriers. If you do not have a tow bar, you will only have two options. The options are as follows:
With a Tow Bar
Tow Ball / Hitch Mount – The carrier mounts to vehicle via either a tow ball coupling or by the carrier sliding into your vehicle’s rear frame (hitch mount) and being secured with a locking pin. These carriers are extremely sturdy, allowing the user to carrier up to 4 bikes in a safe and secure manner. At The Bicycle Store, we offer a great range of hitch mounted carriers, in brands such as Allen, Buzzrack, Pacific and Thule.
Without a Tow Bar
Trunk Mount – The carrier mounts to the trunk of the vehicle by securing angled mounts and retention straps. Trunk Mounted bike carriers are becoming increasingly more popular due to their cost effectiveness and ease of installation. The most popular trunk mounted carriers that we sell are the Allen sports racks, which can be viewed here. Thule also offer a premium range of trunk mounted bike racks.
Roof Mount – The other option if you do not have a tow bar is to go for a roof mounted bike carrier. This will require you to purchase a set of roof racks, but it is a viable and secure option if you do not have a tow bar and would prefer a roof mounted option so that access to your rear boot is not restricted.
Similar to a sedan in terms of mounting points, the following options are available to hatchback owners. Given that most Hatchback’s do not have a tow bar, they have either the roof mount or trunk mounted options.
The only point of distinction for hatchback owners is whether or not their vehicle has a rear spoiler. If they have a rear spoiler, the trunk mounted rack will not be suitable as rear spoilers are not made to bear a heavy load. If this is the case, a roof mounted rack will be the best, and the full range can be viewed here. If no rear spoiler exists, the Allen 102D Bike Rack is by far the best bang for your buck alternative.
Most 4X4 vehicles will have a tow bar, hence making them suitable to either a tow bar mounted rack, or a hitch mounted rack. These types of racks have been covered in the above content, and the full range can be viewed at the links in the previous sentence.
The only other option for 4X4 owners is the rear tyre mounted rack. These are a great option for the case where a 4X4 doesn’t have a tow bar or hitch mount, or if the tow bar is used for another purpose, such as towing a caravan, trailer or boat. As far as rear tyre mounted racks go, we have two fantastic options, in both the Buzzrack and the Allen Sports Rack.
The other remaining option for 4X4 owners is of course a roof mounted rack, however the above options are more economical and easier to install.
The remaining vehicle type, the ute, has generally speaking the same options as above. The obvious way to carrier bikes in these vehicles is in the back of the ute. If this is not an option, the most suitable way to carrier them is via a tow bar / hitch mount rack, which can be seen here.
I hope this guide helps you in the selection of a new bike carrier for your vehicle. Please leave any comments or questions below and feel free to email us with any other questions or enquiries!