So you love your mountain bike, but not enough to buy a new vehicle just to transport it.
We don’t blame you! Here are some of your best options for getting your bike to the trail and back again without having to take on a new car payment
Put it Inside
You may think that your tiny car is too small to fit a bike inside. However, technically, fit bikes even in the smallest cars.
Pros: It’s easy, once you figure out how to do it, and it keeps your bike safe.
Cons: You won’t have room for much else. If you’re a smaller person, it can be hard to wedge everything in correctly every time.
Here’s how you can see if this will work for you.
- Lay down the seats. You’ll want to get as much room as possible, so lay down any seats that won’t be sat in. In fact, you may want to keep your back seat empty of people because you need that space!
- Line your car with newspapers or a tarp. This helps keep it clean, so you don’t have to scrub and vacuum every time you take your bike out.
- Remove your tires. Hopefully, you have quick release levers that make this a cinch. If you don’t, it’s probably time to get some.
- Check your brakes. If you have disc breaks, protect them against squeezing while traveling with some brake plugs. These keep your calipers aligned.
- Put the bike in sideways, with the chain on top. This helps prevent drips.
- Protect the bike with the tires, or use them to space out multiple bikes placed on top of one another.
- Use bungees to keep the bike from sliding. After all, you don’t want to scratch either the bike or the car.
Get a Roof Rack
Roof racks utilize the space on top of your car to transport your bike. Most cars are roof-rack eligible, though the rack may block or prevent you from using your sunroof or moon roof. Some versions allow you to keep your front wheel on your bike, while others require you to remove it to use the rack.
Pros: You can still use the inside of your car to transport people or gear. It’s stable and secure up there, and your roof rails will probably be useful for other purposes, too. You can carry up to four bikes, even on a small car.
Cons: You’ll have to buy an extra lock to keep your bikes safe, and your gas mileage will be lower because of the wind resistance that the bikes cause. You’ll also have to be extra careful when entering garages or parking garages.
Use a Trunk Rack
These racks mount on your trunk or your bumper and carry the bikes on the back of your car. There is padding to protect both bikes and car. It may cradle the bikes or have tubes you can hang them from.Pros: These racks are usually less expensive and easy to install. They also fold for storage and are easy to use. You can watch your bikes while you drive and you won’t lose as much in fuel efficiency. Move the rack from car to car with relative ease.
Cons: These racks are easier to steal and may require extra locks to keep your bikes safe. They also make it a lot harder to access your trunk or the back of your car, they can make it harder to see your lights and your license plate, and you may damage your car if you load them incorrectly.
Find the Right Towball Rack
If you have a towing hitch on your car, you can find a bike rack that will mount that way, too. Make sure you get the right kind of rack for your hitch and that you install it correctly for utmost security. The bike may hang or load into a tray that will cradle it. Advanced models have connections for your lights, etc., so you don’t lose any functionality.
Pros: These are very secure and solid. They are made to be used frequently and to protect your bike. They are easy to load and many allow some sort of trunk access even when installed.
Cons: Top-of-the-line models can get very expensive. They can also be heavy, which will lower your fuel efficiency. You’ll need some extra security for your bikes because they will be easy to steal.
Try a Vacuum-Mounted Rack
These racks mount to your car via suction cup. They are usually roof racks, though not always. While the idea may not inspire confidence, they have been tested on a NASCAR track and the bikes stayed on. If you maintain them well and use them properly, you shouldn’t have problems with this rack.
Pros: Same as for the roof rack. Vacuum racks can also be transferred from car to car and they are easy to use and install.
Cons: These are considered fairly experimental, so are more expensive than other options. They do require some maintenance and care to keep the suction cups in good working order. You will need to find a way to secure your bike from theft.
No matter which type of rack you choose, get out there soon! Don’t waste your time worrying about your rack. Pick one that will work so you can get back to your trails fast!