Best Bike Racks for Cars and Trucks in Salt Lake City
- Hitch-Mounted Racks
- Trunk Mounted Racks
- Roof Racks
- Truck Bed Racks
Car Bike Racks- Which One Do You Need?
As much as we wish all of our favorite bike rides started from our front door, the reality for most of us is that our most epic bike rides usually begin with a car ride. Whether your car ride is down the street or across the country, keeping your bike safe and secure demands a high-quality bike rack. With so many options out there, how do you choose?
Before choosing a bike rack for your car, you will want to think through some details of your personal setup. How many bikes are you planning to move at once? How big are the bikes? What features does your car offer for attaching a rack to? Are you planning to transport any other adventure gear at the same time?
If you are fortunate enough that you only need to transport your bike for maintenance, maybe a pick-up/drop-off bike tune service would eliminate your need for a car rack together. If you do need a bike rack, there are four main options. Check out these 4 best bike racks for cars and trucks in Salt Lake City.
Hitch-mounted bike racks have increased in popularity over the past three decades and have earned themselves a reputation for being the safest option on the market. As implied by their name, these racks are secured to the hitch system of the vehicle; therefore, they are only an option if your vehicle has a hitch system.
Some examples of hitch-mounted rack styles/brands sold at REI
These racks range in size from sleek, single bike wheel mounts to six bike hangover racks. Bikes are secured either on wheel platforms that hold them parallel to the ground, cradle rails that also hold the bikes parallel to the ground, or on hangover racks that hold the bikes perpendicular to the ground.
These racks are designed to tilt or spin away from your vehicle so that you can access the trunk or tailgate without removing the bikes. Most versions fold up when unloaded so they take up less space if left on the vehicle. Hitch-mounted racks leave your roof racks and pick-up bed free for other gear. For mountain biking, these are best bike racks for cars and trucks in Salt Lake City for easy access to Park City and the Wasatch.
Hitch-mounted rack positions to access trunk (source: The Rack Spot)
Hitch-mounted racks are designed to lock onto your car and allow you to lock the bikes to the rack.
Regardless of how many bikes you are transporting, hitch-mounted racks are a great option if your vehicle has a trailer hitch system. They are secure in place reliably and are designed to hold the bikes so they don’t rub against each other or the paint on your car. Your vehicle clearance is not affected and loading and unloading your bikes are convenient.
Trunk Mounted Racks
As their name suggests, trunk-mounted bike racks are secured to the trunk of the car and hold the bikes behind the vehicle with the use of cradle bars. These racks consist of a frame held in place with tension straps. The frames can generally be adjusted to fit different vehicle models and the tension straps secure to the edges of the trunk.
Trunk Mounted Bike Rack Options from Thule
These racks are lightweight with no assembly required. They can simply be positioned on the trunk and tightened into place. Trunk-mounted bike racks fold up for easy storage when not in use. They can hold 1 to 3 bikes.
Because these racks rely on tension straps secured around the trunk, they have to be removed in order to access the trunk. These racks are the best bike racks for cars and trucks in Salt Lake City for a road cycling ride due to the ease of taking both the bicycle and rack off and on the trunk.
Trunk-mounted bike racks are the least secure of the bike rack options although many models secure very well and are safe. Because they rely on strap adjustment and positioning of the frame, there is more room for error with installation. Bikes are more likely to rub against each other or your vehicle during transport. Some trunk-mounted racks have locking features, but they are limited to extra straps that “lock” by closing the trunk over an obstacle that prevents the strap from being pulled free.
These bike racks are a great option if you are looking for something light and simple to install. Trunk-mounted racks take up minimal space when not in use and provide a safe and secure way to move your bike. They might not be the right choice for you if you regularly move more than 3 bikes. Like the hitch-mounted bike racks, they offer easy loading and unloading with the cradle arms falling around shoulder height or below.
Roof-mounted bike racks are secured to crossbars or mounted to the vehicle roof with strong suction cups. Roof bike racks hold either the wheel, fork, or frame of the bike. These racks are generally safe and reliable, but if you forget your bike is on your roof and try to drive under something with low clearance you risk damaging your bike.
Roof-mounted racks are light and simple to secure to existing crossbars. The suction cup systems can even eliminate the need for crossbars. While each bike needs its own rack, the number of racks/bikes you can secure is limited only by the size of your vehicle and the amount of weight the roof and racks are able to support. Smaller cars often will fit one or two bikes on top, but larger SUV’s and vans can fit four or more in some cases.
Roof-mounted racks do require you to lift your bike onto the roof of your vehicle. Once the bikes are up though, you have full 360-degree access to your vehicle.
Both the bike rack and bike can be locked once secured on the roof.
Roof-mounted racks can be great options for moving multiple bikes and leaving your trunk accessible.
Truck Bed Racks
If you are a pickup truck owner with a bike to move you may find yourself thinking you can just put your bike right in the bed and be on your way. While this may work, it’s certainly not the best and safest option and puts both your bike and a pickup truck at risk for damage. If you want to utilize the bed of the truck to move your bikes, there are two options.
These bike racks are installed in the bed or over the bed and secure the bike much like a roof-mounted rack would. The bike is contained within the dimensions of the bed and generally increases the height clearance of your vehicle only slightly if at all.
Like roof-mounted racks, these racks hold bikes in a variety of positions utilizing a variety of different securing mechanisms. Also, similarly to roof racks, you can carry as many bikes as you can fit. While with roof racks you have to worry about the weight capacity of the roof, pickup beds are designed to hold heavy loads and it’s very unlikely you would be able to exceed this even with a full bed of bikes and racks. If you are going on a journey to southern Utah to find some long desert trails, these may be the best bike racks for trucks going a long distance with bikes.
An example of truck bed racks available on Amazon
Another option for securing bikes in your pickup bed is to utilize a pad that secures over the tailgate. These are designed to protect both the vehicle and bike during transport with minimal additional equipment.
To use these racks, the rear tire of the bike is placed in the bed of the truck and the front tire is left outside the tailgate. A securing strap is placed around the down tube of the bike frame.
The pads are sold with different amounts of securing loops depending on the width of the truck bed or how many bikes you want to secure. If you have a full-size bed but only ever secure two bikes, you can select a smaller pad that only covers a narrow portion of the tailgate and provides two securing loops. If you want to line up as many bikes as you can fit across the bed, there are pads with securing loops all the way across.
Both of these pickup bed options are fairly easy when it comes to access and loading, especially since you can stand on the rear bumper to maneuver bikes as you load. The tailgate pads do require you to lift the bikes over the tailgate at some point in the loading process which can get trickier the more bikes you have to load.
Generally, pickup truck beds offer multiple points for securing loads, and, used creatively, these can provide great options for locking up bikes.
The best car bike rack for you depends on what type of vehicle you drive, how many bikes you need to transport, and what sort of convenience and security you are looking for.
If you are transporting your bike every day or long distances, a hitch-mounted rack will likely be a worthwhile investment. If you are only transporting your bike once a year for maintenance, a trunk-mounted rack that can be easily stored could be a better option.
If you fall into the latter category or if you just don’t want to load and unload your bikes one more time, when it comes time for bike maintenance, you might have another option. If you live on the Wasatch Front, White Cloud Concierge offers pickup and drop-off bike maintenance.
Send us a quick message and we will get you scheduled for pick-up and drop-off along with whatever maintenance your bike needs!