If you’re in the market for car bike carriers, you have a bewildering array of options to choose from.
However, if you’re a keen cyclist (or, indeed, a family of keen cyclists), investing in one of the car bike carriers suggested below could save you a fortune in the long run, and provide you with the opportunity to enjoy journeys on two wheels wherever you like, and not just in your local area.
While there are places to hire bikes all over the country (and beyond), prices are often steep – in some cases more expensive than decent car cycle carriers. Furthermore, there’s really no substitute for using the bike you’re familiar with. If you’re a true cyclist, a cheap hire bike just won’t cut it.
Below, you’ll find a range of cycle carriers for various situations and budgets. Read on to the end of the article for some general tips on using these carriers.
1. One for the Entire Family
If you’re going on a family bike ride, or even for a break at a holiday park, you’ll want to take all the family bikes with you. With space for four cycles, this Thule model should fit the bill.
Thule is a well-known and reliable name in this industry, and all of the company’s products come with a five-year warranty.
It’s important to note that like many car bike carriers, this model requires your vehicle to have a tow-bar. There are alternatives (see below), but if you’re going to transport your bikes regularly, it’s advisable to use this kind of carrier. This is somewhat akin to comparing a proper ISOFIX child seat with one that straps in with a seatbelt.
As well as carrying four bikes, this carrier tilts without removing the bikes to provide easy access to your boot.
- Reliable brand.
- Accommodates up to four bikes.
- Good compatibility with car models.
- The cost of accessories can add up.
- Requires a tow-bar.
2. A Feature-Packed Car Cycle Carrier
If you’re really serious about cycling and prepared to “splash the cash” on something really special to help you transport your trusty steed(s), it’s worth taking a look at the Atera STRADA DL (and indeed the rest of the Atera range).
While these European-made car bike carriers are not at all cheap, they justify their price with build quality and functionality.
The STRADA DL operates using a drawer-style mechanism, making it really easy to open the boot without removing the bikes. The fact the drawer moves the bikes completely out of the way also vastly reduces the chance of scratching your car’s paintwork. It even includes rear foglights for when the carrier is in place.
- Strong yet portable – easy to put in the boot when not in use.
- Easy boot access.
- Sliding mechanism.
- Toe-ball needed.
- Quite pricey.
3. An Option that Doesn’t Require a Tow-Bar
If your need to transport cycles around is less frequent, you may not feel able to justify the expense of a pricey tow-ball mounted option.
This Perruzo rack is considerably cheaper, but still allows you to transport three bikes. It’s easy to fit and users report that it’s “kind to paintwork.”
It does work best with adult mountain bikes, so you’ll definitely wish to look into compatibility if you want to transport childs’ bikes or “step-through” ladies’ cycles.
- Excellent value.
- Still allows you to carry three bikes.
- Fits the majority of cars.
- Not great for kids’ or ladies’ bikes – but there is an alternative model available.
4. Roof-Mounted Car Bike Carrier
If you don’t want to mount your bike(s) to the rear of your car (perhaps you have a car with a rear mounted spare wheeel, or worry about visibility), then the only option is to mount on the roof instead.
Roof-mounted bike carriers are easy to find, but examples without really poor reviews are not! If you’re going to have one or more bikes mounted on your car roof you really don’t want to be taking any risks, which brings us to these Thule ProRide carriers.
While they may be more expensive than many of the roof-mounted models on offer, reviews are widely positive. These carriers fit to almost all roof-bars, and bikes are kept secure thanks to connections to both the wheels and the frame.
- Well-regarded by users.
- There are cheaper options out there.
- It’s necessary to constantly remember you have bikes on your roof!
5. Car Bike Carriers at a Lower Cost
Thule doesn’t only make high-end car bike carriers – this “XPress” model is very competitively priced, and doesn’t skimp on quality.
It only provides room for two cycles, so is a good option for singles or couples but not for the whole family. Moreover, it’s compatible with a wide range of cars – so long as you have a tow-bar. The only thing that will stop it easily attaching is if you have an SUV with a rear-mounted spare wheel.
The total weight limit is quite low at 30kg, so this is worth noting if you have a particularly heavy bike or an eBike. That said, most modern mountain or hybrid bikes should be plenty light enough.
Like all Thule products, the 970 XPress model comes with a five-year warranty.
- A renowned brand at a low price.
- Easy to stow.
- Wide compatibility.
- Lowish weight limit.
- Accessories can add to the cost.
Tips for Using Car Bike Carriers
If you’ve not transported cycles attached to your car before, here are some handy tips to keep you and your property safe, and avoid any unnecessary damage.
- THINK SECURITY: Expensive cycles attached to the back of a car will provide a tempting target for thieves – so don’t make their job easy. Make sure your cycles are always secure, ideally with recommended lock accessories. Also activate any other security devices you may have, such as disc locks.
- REMEMBER YOUR ACCESSORIES: Some cycle carriers will be good to go from purchase, in other cases you may need some add-ons before you’re ready to go. You may wish / need to buy things like bungee cords and lock kits.
- CAREFUL WITH INSTALLATION: If you’re not 100% confident installing your car bike carriers, leave the job to a professional. Nobody wants bikes falling off your car while in motion.
- WATCH THE PAINTWORK: Be very careful while mounting and dismounting cycles on their carrier. A small slip can make a big scratch.
- OWN AN eBIKE? If so, please follow manufacturer’s recommendations regarding using cycle carriers. You may, for example, be required to remove the batteries before transporting them.
- CHECK YOUR WEIGHT: Car bike carriers always come with a maximum load limit. Make sure you don’t exceed this. If you have an electric bike or “vintage” style cycle, these often weigh considerably more than modern mountain bikes.
- TRAVELLING ABROAD? If so, make sure you find out if you need to pay extra on the ferry to account for your cycle carrier.