How to Choose the Correct Bicycle Carrier

Blue Devil 3 + 2 Bike RackWith a good bicycle carrier, transporting bikes can be quick, easy, and safe. Most bicycle carriers can be classified by their method for securing the bike (by the frame, wheel mount, or fork mount) and also by the way in which the carrier itself attaches to your vehicle. There are multiple different styles and sizes of bike carriers, so it can be tough to figure out which will work best for you. Here are a few questions to get you thinking about what style and features best suit your needs.

What type of bike(s) are you hauling/What type of bicyclist are you?

If you invest a lot of time and money into your bikes you’ll want to invest in a top quality bike carrier like a Thule or Yakima. A high-end carbon-frame bike or mountain bike, for example, may be best transported using a rooftop fork-mounted carrier for the greatest stability. On the other hand, if your greater need is the ability to carry enough bikes for the entire family, there are economical, multi-bike cradle-style carriers like some of the models from Rage Powersports that have extensions to accommodate additional bicycles. Similarly, a wheel-mount model is ideal for mountain bikes or bicycles with a step-through frame. You also have the option of using a cradle-style rack if you pair it with a special bike frame adapter that creates a horizontal tie-down point across the frame.

Types of Bicycle Racks / Carriers

Truck Bed 4-Bike RackHatchback & Trunk Bike Racks - For those who don’t have a hitch on their vehicle, the hatchback and trunk bike racks attach to your hatchback window or trunk lid to safely transport one to three bikes on the rear of your vehicle. Hatchback and trunk bike racks are also great for casual riders since they’re easy to remove and install, but unfortunately they block access to the vehicle’s trunk when installed.

Hitch Mount Bike Racks - Hitch-mounted bicycle racks mount to the vehicle’s trailer hitch and stay out of the way of accessing the rest of your cargo. Hitch mount bike racks can carry between one and five bicycles.

3-Bike Trunk Mounted Bike RackRoof Bike Racks - Roof bike racks are a great option if the rear of your vehicle isn’t available to transport your bicycles or you just don’t want your bike rack to get in the way. Each rooftop bike rack can hold a single bike, but multiple racks can be used if necessary. If height is an issue, offers a portable wheel step to help you reach the roof.

Spare Tire Bike Racks - A great alternative to the hatchback and trunk bike racks, a spare tire bike rack mounts to your rear-mounted spare tire to securely hold between one and three bicycles.

Towing Bike Carriers - Towing bike carriers either slide into your hitch or clamp onto it. The benefit of towing bike carriers over hitch-mounted bike carriers is that they are capable of towing a trailer while transporting one to four bikes.

Truck Bed Bike Racks - Specifically designed for use with a pickup truck, the truck bed bike racks keep one to four bicycles stable and secure in your pickup truck’s bed.

Wheel-Mount Bike Carriers - Those looking for an added layer of safety when transporting their bicycles need look no further than wheel-mount bike carriers, which secure both the tire and bicycle frame to the vehicle.

Does your vehicle have a hitch? If so, what size is the receiver?

There are lots of options in terms of how the bikes are secured. Most hitch mount bicycle carriers will fit either a 1-1/4" or 2" receiver, but you should double check the specs of the model you are considering to ensure it will work with your vehicle’s hitch receiver. As a bonus, many of these hitch-mounted bike racks fold up when not in use or feature tilting designs that provide access to the trunk.

Does your vehicle have a roof rack or bars on it? Is there a sun roof or anything else mounted on top?

Roof Mount Single Bike RackFor those considering a roof-mounted bike carrier, you’ll need a roof rack or bars to secure it. Separate cargo bars are also available if your vehicle doesn’t already have some type of racking on it. Keep in mind that a sunroof may interfere with some rooftop bike carriers.

What other features are important to you?

There are tons of bike rack accessories available from for bike racks that don’t already come with the features you want. Concerned about bike theft? Use a self-coiling cable lock to secure your bicycle to the carrier. If a rooftop carrier suits your needs, but the reach is just a little too much, try using a portable wheel step to give you a boost. Our wide range of bike rack accessories makes it easy for you to customize your new bike carrier to perfectly suit your needs.

If you have any more questions, please contact us and we’ll be glad to help to find the perfect bicycle carrier for you!

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