Traveling With Your Bike

Bike Racks: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy

Bike mounted to a trunk rackBiking is becoming a favorite among people who are looking to get in better shape. Bike racks open you up to a world of adventure, groups, charity rides and other experiences you just can’t get riding around your neighborhood. With so many styles of vehicles as well as a few types of racks, it’s hard to figure out which is best for your needs. Here’s a quick look at the types of racks available to help you pick the right one.

Raise the Roof

You see them all the time, people driving around with those black frames attached to their roofs. A roof-mounted rack offers a great place to transport your bike that won’t obstruct your view when driving and offers options for your bike, kayak, skis and snowboards; they can even come in handy when moving or moving oversized items.

Once you install the rack, it’s somewhat permanent; at least in the sense that it would be more difficult to remove when not in use than it’s worth. Also, keep in mind that not all cars are equipped to install a rack and that on taller vehicles it can be hard to get items up and down.

On the Trunk

Trunk racks are great because they’re less expensive, adjustable to any shape vehicle and can be easily installed and removed when not in use. They’re generally designed to fold up so you can keep it in your trunk or stow it away in the shed when you aren’t using it. Mounting your bike on the back of your vehicle makes it easy to get on and off and also allows you to gain quick access to it when you want to pump up the tires at a gas station or need to get something out of the saddle pouch.

However, trunk racks aren’t as secure against theft, and because they’re not as solidly attached to the vehicle, they can move around a little while you drive. Also, because they mount to the trunk or rear hatch of your car or SUV, they can obstruct your view out of your rear windshield.

Hitching Up

If your vehicle is equipped for towing, hitch racks are another viable option. They install into your vehicle’s hitch mount and provide a more structurally sound place to mount your bike while still granting easy on/off access to your bikes. They’re designed with an arm that slides into the hitch and is held in place with a bolt and pin so they can be removed fairly easy but because they don’t fold up, they are not as easily stored when not in use. Like trunk racks, they will also mount your bike up high on the rear of the vehicle which can obstruct your view, especially when backing up.

Just like your vehicle, bike racks come in many shapes and styles to suit what’s important to you. If you have a car that can handle a roof rack and you don’t mind it being more permanent, you can go that way. If you prefer something more temporary, a trunk or hitch rack might be better for you.

Check out all the Body & Accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on bike racks, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

about author

Erich Reichert

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He’s covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He’s also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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2 Comments

  • John

    February 8, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    Reply

    It’s good to know there are multiple places on your car to put a bike rack. Are there certain advantages to having one type versus another? My wife and I have recently taken up mountain biking but sold our truck that carried our bikes in the bed so we’re looking to get a rack for a car. The article mentions how roof racks are somewhat permanent. Does that affect the resale value of a car at all?

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