Transporting bicycles is so much easier with the right equipment. Bike racks attach to most types of cars, trucks and SUVs, and opens up the great outdoors to many two-wheeled explorers.
The type of rack you choose depends largely on the type of rider you are.
Roof Racks: The most versatile, many come with extra attachments to carry more than just bikes (e.g. skis, kayaks, canoes, luggage boxes, etc.) and with built-in locking systems. Fork-mount roof racks require you to remove the front wheel. Wheel-mount roof racks accommodate bikes with wheels on; good for full-suspension bikes, but more expensive.
Hitch Mounted Racks: Attaching to the vehicle’s trailer hitch, this is the common choice for SUVs. No part of the rack touches the car. Many come with a locking system.
Strap-On Trunk Racks: The least expensive type of rack, these aren’t as secure or stable as the first two options, and often allow the bike to scratch the car.
Most SUVs and mini vans come with the necessary cross bars and base to accommodate a bike rack. If your car doesn’t, make sure to budget extra for it.
Many racks will come with built in locking systems for security. But since nothing is guaranteed it’s a good idea to leave your car within view when you’re away from it.
Before shopping, find out how much weight the roof of your car will take. Take into account the rack and the bike(s).
To get a feel for four different roof racks, we recruited some downhill fanatics to help us put these racks to the test.
- Rocky Mount Lariat (fork-mount): $99
- Sport Rack Piranha (fork-mount): $114
- Thule Big Mouth (wheel-mount): $175
- Yakima King Cobra (wheel-mount): $271
Our tests and results include:
Bike Installation Test
The Yakima had a good sturdy fit and adjusted to bikes with different sized wheels. It was easy to mount and had a built-in lock.
The fork-mount racks were fairly easy to load, but didn’t feel as stable.
Aside from the fact that our gas consumption increased by about 20%, each of the racks felt really stable even on highway driving.
OUR TOP PICK
Choosing the best rack came down to how easy it was to use. The Yakima King Cobra won with all of us.
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