How To Carry Bikes On Your Vehicle | Thule Bike Rack Guide
This article and video answers a commonly asked question: how to carry bikes on your vehicle? We’ll also provide some top choices for each kind of bike rack from Thule. Your bike rack choice varies depending on the bikes you're carrying and the vehicle you have.
We’ll break down the base options here and then you can seek more information from the specific product pages.
There are a number of different ways to carry bikes on your vehicle. You can carry them on a hitch-mounted rack, on the roof, on the trunk of a vehicle, or you can carry them in the bed of a truck.
Hitch Mount Bike Rack
With a hitch-mounted bike rack, there's a couple of different options: a hanging style rack, or a tray style rack.
Hanging Style Hitch Mount Bike Rack
A hanging style rack is where the bikes hang from the frame. You can usually carry one to six bikes on these bike rack models.
Tray Style Hitch Mount Bike Rack
A tray rack is a little bit different where it's actually a tray that the bike sits in and often features frame-free contact. So people with e-bikes, which are heavier, or have more expensive bikes, often decide to go with a tray style bike rack. If you have a carbon bike, frame-free contact is highly recommended no matter the style of bike rack you choose.
Bike Roof Rack
If you're looking at a bike rack for the roof of your vehicle, you will need to have a roof rack system. This means crossbars, not just the factory installed front to back rails. From there, you can mount a number of different varieties of racks. There are 3 styles of bike roof racks:
Fork Mount Bike Roof Rack
The fork mount bike rack is often popular with people who ride road bikes. You take the front wheel off and thread a pin through the axle, and that's what attaches the front of the bike to the rack. Then, there's a ratchet strap on the back wheel to hold it in the rack.
Wheel Mount Bike Roof Rack
The second one is basically a frame-free contact style. The bike sits in a tray with a clamp for the front wheel and there’s a little ratchet strap that goes through the back wheel.
Frame Mount Bike Roof Rack
Then the third bike roof rack style is where you actually clamp the frame down. They tend to be a little bit less money.
Truck Bed Bike Rack
For the back of a truck, the simplest option is to just lay bikes flat. However, this does expose the bike to damage if it isn’t secured and padded around sensitive components. Also, with shorter truck beds, it may be difficult to lay multiple bikes safely down, especially if you have anything else in the truck bed.
Tailgate Bike Pad
The next simple alternative is a tailgate bike pad. These hook over the tailgate of the truck and have mini harnesses that keep the bikes in place and stop them from moving around. You can usually manage four to six bikes on those. If you’re looking to carry multiple bikes, this is your cheapest option.
Truck Bed Mount Bike Rack
This is where you mount your bike directly in your truck bed. This option is much more secure than a tailgate pad and better for longer trips. The wheel is removed and the fork is mounted on the rack and a special axle is threaded through.
Trunk Bike Rack
Many vehicles can use a trunk mounted bike rack system if you don’t have a hitch receiver or roof rack. Trunk bike racks use a series of latches and straps to attach into the trunk or the hatchback of a vehicle. Then you tighten it up using a tightening mechanism.
Trunk bike racks typically enable you to carry 2-4 bikes on the back of a vehicle without any other rack systems in place.
How to Carry Bikes on Your Vehicle Summary
So that's a quick rundown on the four main options for carrying your bike on your vehicle.
Now you have to answer these 3 questions:
1. What sort of vehicle you have
2. What sort of bikes you're gonna carry
3. How many bikes you're gonna carry
After you know these, you can start making a decision as to which option is right for you. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us below, and we hope to see you soon!
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