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Which Cycle Rack? The Best Bike Carriers For Every Car

Updated on March 4, 2012

The Best Bike Rack

Are you wondering which cycle rack to choose? The best bike carriers for your car depend on what type of car you have, how often you will use it, and how capable you are of moving the rack around. When you have to drive instead of bike just to get to the mountain bike trail or to a nice country road for a bicycle cruise, having a bike rack that works well with your automobile is important.

There are three primary bike holder styles to review when shopping for the perfect match for you car - the hitch-mount bicycle rack, the trunk-mount bicycle rack, and the roof-mount bicycle rack. Check out the different styles of cycle racks available below and consider which features are most important to you before you buy.

Hitch-Mount Bicycle Rack

A hitch-mount bicycle rack is a great option for those who want to make it easy to lift a bicycle up onto the rack. These hitch-mount bike carriers slide into your automobile's existing trailer hitch and then extend upwards to support anywhere from one to several bicycles.

The best part about a hitch-mount bicycle rack is that a car trunk will still open and it is easy to install and remove. The downside is that a minivan back door will not open with the rack installed and you won't be able to pull a trailer or boat at the same time.


  • easy to load bicycles without lifting
  • easy to install and remove
  • car trunk will open


  • van back door won't open
  • can't pull trailer or boat
  • takes storage space

Trunk-Mount Bicycle Rack

A trunk-mount bicycle rack is the lightest and most inexpensive type, and for those who just need a fast way to carry one or two bikes on a car, a trunk-mount rack is a great choice. In addition to the low cost, trunk-mount racks easily store in the trunk and can be quickly installed when needed.

If you are traveling, however, the trunk is certainly not easy to get into when bicycles are installed. Also, you need to be careful that your bikes won't swing around in the wind and damage your car's finish.


  • inexpensive
  • easy to store in the trunk
  • quick to install
  • doesn't require a trailer hitch


  • trunk difficult to access
  • only works on a car
  • limited number of bikes
  • be careful of bikes scraping the car

Roof-Mount Bicycle Racks

A roof-mount cycle rack is the expensive but deluxe model for carrying bicycles from place to place. The beauty of a roof-mount bicycle rack system is that you can leave it installed at all times, meaning there is no setup and tear down and you won't need to find a place to store parts. A roof mount system is also versatile and may be used for other components as well, like luggage.

The reason most people stay away from a roof-mount system is that they either can't accept the look or the fact that bicycles need to be lifted high to carry them is too difficult. If you are able to lift a bike onto your automobile, a roof-mount bicycle rack is a great option.


  • out of the way
  • always ready when you are
  • supports other components as well


  • must be able to lift bicycles
  • installation may be permanent
  • most expensive option

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Other Considersations

If you have a pickup truck you may also find that a truck bed-mount rack is a good options for you, though this means that your valuable cargo space will be consumed by your bicycle. Still, this is a great option for some.

Those pulling a trailer or camper may also find that installing a cycle rack on top of these items will work well. Just be careful how they are installed so that you don't create a leaky camper roof.

Ultimately, the best bike rack for you will depend on what type of car you drive, how often you use it, and how you want to load and unload your bicycle. Hopefully, these tips will help you decide which cycle rack is right for you. Matching your needs with the best bike carriers that fit them is the surest way to be happy with your investment.

Share Your Thoughts on Bicyle Racks!

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      bike guy 5 years ago

      saw a roof rack on a ferrari once.what a poser!