Bike Rack 101
So you’ve spent a lot of money and time getting the right bike. You love it. It’s beautiful and you want to take care of it. Most of all you want to ride it. Now there are a lot of really great trails being built and maintained throughout Atlantic Canada and even more that are just a day or two drive away but the question remains;
“How do you get a bike from point A to point Awesome?”
The first thing you should think about is what you’re going to carry. Sure, you want to carry a bike but do you also ski during the winter or spend your summer on a stand up paddle-board? When you’re setting yourself up with a rack, make sure you consider everything that you’re going to use it for. A great rack system might be nice, but it might make a poor start for that kayak carrier you also need. The second thing you should think about is what you’re attaching your rack to. Does the vehicle already have roof bars or a trailer hitch? Some people think that if you’re not living or dying riding a bike then you don’t need a bike rack. But bike racks aren’t just for pros. Whether you’re taking regular road trips with your cycling crew, a weekend warrior making the most of your Saturday and Sunday, or just starting to ride there are a lot of great reasons to have a bike rack.
First, would you like to take ANYTHING ELSE with you when you go for a bike ride? Some bikes can fit inside of a car. How do you feel about bike grease on your lap and your seats? Some bikes can fit in a trunk, which is great if you have no intention of taking anything else with you or staying anywhere or doing anything else. Planning a trip, especially with a family or with camping gear, means knowing exactly how much you can fit into your vehicle for your adventure. Knowing that you’ve got every corner of your trunk and every inch of the cabin for storage allows you to plan ahead and it means you don’t have to sacrifice storage capacity just to take a set of wheels with you. There are lots of good reasons to have a bike rack and no good reasons not to. So what’s the difference between all the different options for bringing your bike with you? Let’s start with a hitch.
“But, I don’t have a trailer hitch…?”
That’s ok. Bike Monkey sells (and our friends at Sexton Auto install) trailer hitches so even if you’re not driving a great big pick up truck that you’re used to hauling loads with, you can still get one installed. One important thing to note is that the hitch rack you choose has to fit the size of hitch receiver you have. There are two standard sizes in North America: 1 1/4 and 2 inch receivers. Hitch racks offer some really great functionality. There’s limited lifting compared to a roof rack and they let you quickly and easily get to your bikes. Generally, if you’ve chosen wisely, they allow full access to your trunk or rear storage with a simple swing or tilt. You can hold a number of bikes so if you’ve got a crew they’re great. Platform racks can hold between 2-4 bikes in a safe and stable position, which keeps bikes from banging against each other. So if you’re really particular about your paint job, this is a great option. Hanging racks hold more and different bikes, but they’re a little less discerning about bikes clanging together a bit.
Not every hitch rack will give you access to the rear of your vehicle. And while racks mean more space for junk in your trunk, they also add a little bit on your back end. If you’re backing up in a small space, you’re going to want to remember that you’ve got more behind you than you’re used to. Trust us. While there are lots of options available for you for carrying various things with your hitch, your bike hitch rack will carry, you guessed it, bikes. You also want to make sure your car can handle the tongue weight that will be placed upon it. This is different than the actual load because it is sticking out the rear of your car on somewhat of a cantilever. If you notice your car is sagging down and touching your wheels then you probably have too much on your car. In a situation like this, if you are adamant to carry the same load and the same rack you might want to speak to your car dealer and have some suspension upgrades performed on your car. It's not as big of a deal as it sounds and can really change your life for the better when traveling with bikes etc. Safety first!
Enter roof racks.
Roof racks are often used by adventurers that are looking for a more versatile system. If you want to paddle, surf, ski and bike then roof racks might be the solution for you. From a bike perspective, they’ll keep your bike very stable (assuming you don’t go under a VERY low bridge) and secure. You also do not have to worry about getting into your trunk although you do want to be sure you have ample clearance to open your trunk hatch with a bike loaded on the roof before you swing it open and find out the hard way and break a window. Some people love to use a roof rack/hitch rack combo so that they can carry bikes and surfboards or bikes and a cargo box. They are incredibly versatile and functional assuming that you’re of a relatively tall stature and don’t mind spending at least some of your time reaching pretty high.
Now we didn’t mention trunk racks…and here’s why.
The really good things about all of those other options don’t exist in a trunk rack. They don't allow access to your trunk, which means a lot of load and unload time. They don’t usually keep bikes particularly stable, they’re not going to hold a kayak, and they’re not going to make you feel super safe about your stuff. People buy them because they’re a lot less expensive and portable and those are good reasons sometimes. If you’re looking to move your bikes from one place to another, we have a lot of options for you. We love to work with people to help them discover the best options for them. We carry a wide array of options for bike racks. We stock Yakima and Swagman and are dealers for Kuat and Evoc. These are some of the best bike racks on the market and we carry them because we love bikes and so we love the things that take care of bikes. Basically, if you want a bike rack we’ve got every option that you’ll need and even better, we know which option is best for you.