Cyclists who wish to explore further afield than their pedals can take them may be looking for ways to transport bikes in their car. There are a number of solutions to fixing bikes to cars, be it on the roof, in the boot or on the back of the vehicle and in order to find the best solution for your needs there are a number of things to take into consideration.
The first thing to think about is how many bikes you will be looking to transport. Apart from large 4×4 vehicles it will not be possible to transport more than 4 bikes behind the car, so if you are part of a family of five you will need to transport one bike inside the car or on the roof. If you think a roof mounted carrier will suit your needs, make sure you don’t think you will need anything else carried on the roof such as a roof box.
The two main types of cycle carrier are roof mounted or tow bar mounted carriers. Tow bar mounted carriers can be more convenient and do not have the issue of increased wind resistance and the subsequent drop in miles per gallon that you get with roof mounted carriers. These carriers sit on any standard town bar and can hold up to 4 bikes. The cheaper types are ‘hang on’ racks, which support the bikes by their crossbar. Whilst the initial cost of these carriers is less they do obscure rear lights and number plate so you will need to factor in the cost of a light board as well.
For a slightly higher cost, wheel support racks support bikes on their wheels and have special built in separators which stop bikes rubbing against each other. They come with a light board and number plate unit built in and some of them allow the boot to be opened which is highly useful for families with dogs or who need access to the boot interior during the trip.
If you think you might need to tow a caravan or trailer you will need to check the space available for a rear mounted cycle carrier. Wheel support racks are usually out of the question as they stick out beyond the tow bar although some hang on racks will still allow towing although for simplicity it may be worth considering a roof mounted carrier instead.
Roof mounted cycle carriers either fork mount the bikes or have a frame holder which locks on to the bikes down tube. The security of these carriers is excellent as the bikes are locked into the carrying frame and the carrier itself can be locked to the cars roof bars. Steel carriers are much cheaper than aluminium ones but do check the size of your down tube as these will not hold bikes over 50mm.
As well as these two main types of carriers there are also cycle carriers which mount onto the spare wheel at the back of the car and also a number of solutions for in car bike mounting.