Author Topic: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?  (Read 5995 times)

fruplicity

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Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« on: June 30, 2013, 02:47:39 PM »
I searched and was surprised not to find this topic already covered (probably because the majority of you don't have much reason to transport your bike with your car since you use it AS your car). But I'm only at the recreational biking stage and we want to take our bikes on vaca next week. On our old beater we used an old trunk rack that tended to chip the paint a bit. We recently got a brand new car (if I was flying solo it would have been used) so the co-owner of said car - a medium-sized hatch back - doesn't want to use the old rack anymore and expressed interest in a roof rack. Well we have the manufactured roof rack but  it'll obviously need to be outfitted with bike specific racks if we were to haul our bikes up there. Which I personally don't think would happen very often since we bike lightly recreationally and mostly in the area we live. If we were to bike elsewhere on a day trip we could just put down the backseat and throw the bikes in the car itself. Also the bikes are older, heavy hybrid models that I for one wouldn't feel comfortable lifting and installing on the roof myself, and I tend to be the more frequent biker.

So basically car co-owner wants a roof rack, I think a trunk rack would be just fine. But is a roof rack really better? Or is an upgrade in our trunk rack a smarter option? Any models/brands recommended? Will all trunk racks potentially damage a car anyway? I'd love any input. Some years down the road we'll have biking kidlets so I assume we may end up having both racks at that stage anyway, and car co-owner would also be less worried about car damage assuming we have the same car. Oh and we don't have a hitch, I've read that those are the highest recommended option for bike-hauling.

Thanks!!!

sol

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2013, 02:56:31 PM »
Roof racks are a PITA.  Trunk racks should not chip your paint if installed correctly and not missing any pieces.

I've used three or four different trunk racks over the years and never had any damage to any of the cars.

Russ

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2013, 03:28:15 PM »
Any reason you can't just take less stuff and still keep the bikes in the car? If you take off both wheels you might be able to fit both bikes in the trunk or back seat without putting the seats down.

prodarwin

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2013, 05:41:11 PM »
Depends on your usage.  I have roof racks on my car.  Up until about 3 weeks ago, I was biking very frequently.

Roof good:
-Keeps mess outside of car
-No setup required (if you just leave it on the roof)
-Lockable
-You can tie other stuff to rack.  This only applies to cars without any roof rack.  Its been very handy for me.

Roof bad:
-Noisy
-Larger gas mileage impact

Trunk mt good:
-less gas mileage impact
-less noise

Trunk mt bad:
-Pain to install/uninstall
-Prevents you from getting into the trunk while your bikes are on the car
-Increased departure angle - potential to damage bikes on sharp incline/decline
-Not secure
-decrease rear visibility


Soon I'll be building a custom hitch mount for my car (to tow utility trailer), and will consider switching to a good hitch mt. rack.

kendallf

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2013, 08:12:24 PM »
Put a small receiver hitch on your car, then buy a hitch rack (preferably one with a tray system like this one, which I have owned for several years):

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_540912_-1___202593

The rack mounts to the car in less than one minute (one bolt), and bikes go on and off the rack in a few seconds, no wheel removal required.  No swaying and damage risk like a trunk rack.

I think roof racks are a PITA, and I'm an absent minded SOB and would likely drive into the garage or some other low overhang and tear up my bike and/or car.


Hamster

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2013, 12:07:02 AM »
Rear racks can hold up to 4 5 bikes depending on the model and situation.

Hitch mounted racks are generally the most convenient. You could price out a self-installed hitch at etrailer.com which come with great instructions. I did this on 2 cars. The hardest part was reaching a bolt that required loosening the muffler mount on one car, which is not typical. You can attach your bike to them with a cable/ u-bolt if needed for security. The cost of a hitch and a rack will add up quickly unless you buy used. REI has either there Thule or Yakima racks on sale every 3-6 months, but Craigslist is cheaper. You can check either of those manufacturer sites to at least get a sense of the variety of racks, but your eyes may bulge at the prices...

Strap-on trunk mounts are the least expensive by far, but least secure. I used one for years and never hurt my paint. Just make sure the padding and the car are clean and grit-free when you attach it.
I think roof mounted bike racks are a bit of a hassle, but if you have other uses for a roof rack, e.g. Kayaks, gear box, etc it may be more convenient to mount them side by side along with bikes on top. Just don't forget to take the bikes off before you drive into your garage! And each rack holds one bike, so if you have 3 or 4 bikes you have to buy more racks.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2013, 02:04:47 AM by Hamster »

ether

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 11:00:47 AM »
Roof racks are a PITA.  Trunk racks should not chip your paint if installed correctly and not missing any pieces.

I've used three or four different trunk racks over the years and never had any damage to any of the cars.

This.  I have a saris 3 rack I got on craigslist for $25.  I use it all the time on my car and have never had any damage.  Second option would be to add a hitch (not hard to install yourself and you can buy them for cheap online).  I'm too nervous to put my bikes on the top after hearing too many stories of people driving into their garage with the bike still up there...

infogoon

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 12:06:24 PM »
Personally, I prefer roof racks. That said, I'm very tall and getting my bike on and off is easy for me. That may be a factor for some people finding them inconvenient.

PantsOnFire

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 09:41:30 AM »
I'd go with the hitch rack.  I even got one for my [admittedly antimustachian] SUV since my bikes are enormous and if I'm taking them along on vacation or a camping trip, I don't have to spend an afternoon fitting a luggage jigsaw puzzle together inside the vehicle.  Once we are parked somewhere and the luggage is out, I can lock the bikes inside the car overnight. 

A hitch is extremely useful on a small car, not just for a bike rack, but for the occasional project or vacation where you want to haul stuff.  Rent or borrow a little trailer or cargo tray and you have transformed your car into a little pickup truck. 

Regarding roof racks, there are an astonishing number of stories about intelligent people doing thousands of dollars of damage to their bikes and garages in one moment of forgetfulness. 

On the other hand, if you don't have a roof rack, you can't do this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3nu5PkoyLc

Matt K

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 03:11:37 PM »
For what it's worth, I routinely carry very expensive, very heavy, DH race bikes on my car.

I very much like my roof mounted carriers. I've never had an issue with them and they support my bikes very well while still giving me easy access to my hatch. But they are noisy (even without a bike) and they seriously hamper fuel economy (without bikes about 1L/100km lost, with three bikes up there, about 4L/100km lost).

If I was doing it again, I would get a hitch mounted carrier (with a $20 locking hitch pin from the auto-parts store of your choice).

Get a wheel-tray type that supports the bike from below, not one you hang the bike from. There are lots of different bike shapes out there, and they don't all fit on the hanging style. Don't skimp on the carrier, a bad carrier can damage the car (by letting the bikes swing into the trunk) or drop the bikes (happened to a friend of mine at 40mph). Thankfully a good hitch carrier costs $250. Yes that is $150 more than the cheapest, but if the bike carrier ever fails, it'll cause more than $150 worth of damage, so you might as well spend the money on a well made one that will last forever.

vern

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 08:48:17 PM »
I've got a Bell hitch rack that seems pretty solid.  It fits on the car or the truck and I can open the trunk with it on as well.


m8547

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 08:50:08 PM »
I also agree that a hitch mounted bike rack is the way to go. I had one that straps onto the trunk for a while, then one day I put three or four bikes on it and when I got home I noticed that the trunk had been pulled out of alignment and wouldn't shut all the way. I was afraid I had broken the trunk latch by putting too much weight on it (it's not meant to carry 100lbs), but luckily it was just the metal loop that hooks into the latch that was pulled loose, so it was quick fix.  I ruled out a roof rack because the only thing that makes my car efficient is the aerodynamics, and if I had a roof rack (even just the cross bars) on all the time my gas mileage would approach that of a small SUV. My hitch rack is expensive, but it's really quick to load, it holds the bikes by the wheels only, and it folds up against the back of the car when not in use. I use it at least once a week so for me it's worth the expense.

jnik

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2013, 09:09:16 AM »
I fit three people, their bikes, and luggage for a weekend inside a 1995 Camry. So one vote for "why do you need a bike rack?"

fruplicity

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Re: Bike rack on car - rear, roof?
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2013, 10:31:45 AM »
Thanks everyone, very helpful stuff. jnik, do you have a picture of the Camry for that trip?!!??? That's incredible. Our excuse for not being able to fit them in the car is that it's a week-long trip, we also have a dog and we're going to a rental home where we're partially responsible for the "home supplies" like personal towels, sheets, and extra food to share, plus a crate for doggie when we're not in the house. We haven't packed yet so I'm not ruling it out completely, but I have a feeling car co-owner wouldn't be enthusiastic about it regardless of how much else we can squeeze in. Any day or overnight trips I absolutely plan on stuffing the bike/s in the car itself.

We tried to buy a trunk rack but realized that because our new car has a spoiler on the back and the straps would have to fit over it, it's too much of a risk for damage. This is yet another reason why used is better, because who cares if it gets a little dent or scratch here or there?!

I'll definitely be looking into the DIY hitch rack in the future.