How to pick the best bike rack

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There are various bike carrying systems available to fit your needs and vehicle type. (Photo: Thule)
There are various bike carrying systems available to fit your needs and vehicle type. (Photo: Thule)
  • Whether travelling to events or your favourite trail park, having a bike carrying solution for your vehicle is a necessity.
  • There are various bike carrying systems available to fit your needs and vehicle type.
  • Swedish company Thule offers high quality solutions in a number of styles. 


We would all love to roll out of his or her garage and straight onto loamy singletrack, this is unfortunately not always possible. The reality is that most riders need to travel by car to reach their favourite trail or bike park, and to do so, you need a way of carrying your bike. 

There are various ways to transport your bike on your vehicle, however, the features and benefits of specific rack models, as well as their placement on the vehicle, need to be taken into consideration when deciding on a bike rack. 

Most cyclists are looking for the rack that will be the easiest and most convenient to use, while also keeping their bike safe, secure and ready to ride when arriving at your destination.  

Bike rack styles and your vehicle 

The first question you should ask when selecting a bike rack is what type of vehicle you have and how many bikes you would like to carry. 

Bike racks come in a variety of styles and can be mounted on a vehicle’s roof, the towbar, boot, or in the loadbox of your bakkie. Once you have determined what options fit your vehicle, you can select a style depending on how many bikes you want to carry. 

There are three basic options for carrying bikes: rooftop bike racks, towbar bike racks and boot mounted bike racks. 

ALSO READ: Get organised with the Thule Bike Duffel

The rooftop bike rack option 

Rooftop mounted bike racks give you full access to the boot of your vehicle and allow you to load up to four bikes. They can accommodate most wheel dimensions and come in either fork-mounted bike racks like the Thule ThruRide, or something like Thule’s UpRide, where you aren’t required to remove the front wheel. 

Although these styles require either factory installed or aftermarket crossbars, fork-mounted or upright roof bike racks are great for sedans and smaller SUVs with a lower loading height - or models that do not have a towbar installed. This style of rack is also great for fitment above the loadbox of your bakkie, ensuring that the carrying capacity of your double-cab remains unchanged when your bikes are securely attached. 

If you opt for a rooftop mounted option you do need to be aware that this will influence the fuel consumption of your vehicle. When travelling with bikes on the roof you will also need to remain aware of your extended total height when entering spaces with overhanging structures such as car parks, carports or garages. 

Cycling
Swedish company Thule offers high quality solutions in a number of styles. (Photo: Thule)

Towbar-mounted bike racks 

The most common style of bike carrier is the towbar type and these are a great option if you already have a towbar on your vehicle, or plan on installing one. These bike racks can carry up to four bikes, are easy to mount, and limit heavy and high lifting, which is especially important to e-bike owners or smaller riders. 

Towbar mounted bike racks also come in two styles: platform towbar racks can carry up to three bikes, are designed to make loading and unloading quick and easy, fold up when not in use, and easily accommodate a variety of frame styles. One of the best options for this style is Thule’s EasyFold XT 3. 

Hanging towbar racks can carry up to four bikes, such as Thule HangOn, a tiltable, easy-to-use bike rack. 

Towbar mounted racks will have the smallest effect on the fuel consumption of your vehicle, with the bikes travelling in the slipstream of the vehicle and it is easy to keep an eye on that precious cargo via your rearview mirrors. 

Cycling
Whether travelling to events or your favourite trail park, having a bike carrying solution for your vehicle is a necessity. (Photo: Thule)

Boot mounted bike racks 

For vehicles without a roof rack or towbar, the boot-mounted bike rack is an ideal option. It should be noted that this style will take a couple of minutes longer to fit onto your vehicle each time. 

Thule’s Raceway Pro can transport three bikes, is foldable, and stores easily when not in use. This makes them a great option for cyclists who ride infrequently or have limited storage space in their garage or home. 

Whatever your vehicle, or however many bikes you plan on taking with you on your next ride, there are a host of bike rack styles available. Before you select the bike rack for you, it’s important to research the options out there to ensure you have the best model for your needs and vehicle. 

Evaluate your riding behavior over the past year: how often you transported multiple bikes and how much additional passenger and luggage space you needed on those journeys. 

Bike racks are a substantial investment. It is sensible to buy something that will be compatible with future vehicles, should you be inclined to change cars often. 

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