Now that Spring is here and you look forward to your summer holidays and days away, you might want to give some thought to the best way of taking your, or your family's, bikes with you. Bike racks for cars can be divided into three main categories - roof mounted, boot/hatch-back mounted, or tow-ball mounted. The type of vehicle you own and how many bikes you want to take with you may determine which particular rack you choose.
Each style of rack has its own advantages and, to some degree, disadvantages. For example, if your vehicle is quite high, you may find that reaching up to the roof to put the bikes in place tricky. However, many roof fitted racks will take multiple bikes and will ensure your rear lights and number plate are not obstructed. Some racks require the removal of the front wheel while others enable you to fit your bikes complete and roof fitted racks are less restricted by the bike’s weight (although you might want to think about the difficulties of lifting heavier bikes on to the roof). Particular attention must be given when driving under low obstructions, such as car parks, gates, and garages - you don’t want to leave your beloved bikes laying in the dirt.
Racks that fit your rear boot or hatch-back usually take up to three bikes (although) you may find one or two that take four. Your bike or bikes hang from the rack with the rack being held in place by straps. As a rule, they tend to have a maximum bike weight limit of 15kg per bike but getting the bikes on and off is a little easier. Consideration must be given to your vehicles rear lights as obstructing them is unsafe and illegal. A number plate can be easily attached to the rear-most bike but without a rear electric socket, you may have difficulties fitting a light-board.
If your vehicle has a tow-bar fitted you will have a choice of two styles of rack. Some are designed to hang bikes on (as you would with the boot mounted rack) and others will allow you to stand your bike or bikes. Caution must be taken with the tow-ball mounted racks as some fit behind the tow-ball and some fit directly onto the tow-ball itself. My car has a swan-neck towbar and will only take the style that fits directly onto the tow-ball. As with the boot mounted racks, you may find one that takes up to four bikes. The style of rack that bikes hang from, usually has a maximum bike weight limit (approx. 12kg - 15kg per bike). Again, care must be taken to avoid obstructing your rear lights and number plate but if they are obstructed, you can attach a number plate and a light-board. I personally have a four bike, tow ball fitted rack. I fix a light board with number plate to the rear-most bike and plug the lights into the towbar electrics. The rack has a tilt mechanism allowing you to access the boot without removing the rack. Unlike roof fitted racks you don’t need to watch out for low obstructions but be careful when reversing!
So, if you’re journeying out this summer with your car, consider a bike rack to take your bikes with you. Exploring your holiday destination by bike gives you and your family something extra to look forward to.
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