What is the best type of bike rack?

Oct 2, 2010
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Hi guys. I'm a newbie here and I would like to ask for your opinion for which type of bike rack is better for car? I just recently got my first car. I always take my bike (before I got my car) wherever I go and even enjoyed cycling as a hobby. I'm kinda new to these bike racks choices so I would like to ask for someone who's an expert on that stuffs.. Thank you! Oh by the way, my car is a Ford Focus. :)
 
Jul 10, 2010
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For normal use these days, I at most have two bikes to carry. I can do one in my Camry, and three in the SUV, still with room for 3 ppl.

If you have to do a car rack - I would prefer roof top. There are at least two very fine brands, and now there are more than that, I think. Yakima and Thule are the two I know, and I don't think you could call either "better".

Trunk racks are cheaper and easier to mount/dismount, but are less sturdy for that convenience, and I find that things happened to my bikes more often. Like not secured well enough, and banging into another bike - or even coming off. Tires burnt by hot exhaust was another. I don't like them as much.

My preference today is for one of the mini-sport trailers, designed to carry canoes/kayaks/bicycles. This is out of the wind, easier to get stuff on and off than a rooftop, and flexible in use.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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thanks hiero2! i have researched about Thule and Yakima too and also found Saris as a great brand for bike racks. I don't know which brand is really better than another. I would like a bike rack that won't scratch the paintings off my car (or damage other parts of the car) whether it's mounted on the roof or trunks. How many bikes can be mounted in a roof top bike rack? thanks again!
 
Jul 10, 2010
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kurtees said:
How many bikes can be mounted in a roof top bike rack? thanks again!
Three is easy, four is getting into "packing tactics" (a somewhat tight fit), six would be a real squeeze, but you might be able to make it work. It depends somewhat on the bikes, the car (roof width), and your ability and patience to "pack" things successfully.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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krebs303 said:
I have had a Saris roof top rack for ten years with no problems
Hey thanks krebs303! What Saris bike rack models have you tried using? Saris is quite expensive right but I've also read that they have good quality.
 
Jul 11, 2010
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See if you can put on a trailer hitch, then use a hitch-mounted rack:

http://www.thule.com/en/US/Products/BikeCarriers/Hitch/916XT T2.aspx

Upsides: Easy bike on/off. Easy to remove/install. Won't knock it off going into the garage. Won't scratch the paint on bike or car. Folds up so you can close your garage door without dismounting it.

Downers: Not cheap. Not bike geek approved. Bike will get some road spray. May not be able to close the garage door with bikes on it.

I have a Thule, but would probably buy a Yakima next time.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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hiero2 said:
Three is easy, four is getting into "packing tactics" (a somewhat tight fit), six would be a real squeeze, but you might be able to make it work. It depends somewhat on the bikes, the car (roof width), and your ability and patience to "pack" things successfully.
You can buy separate additional locks in case you want to mount at least four bikes, right? I don't know which brand will offer more locks as I'm worried that the bikes will slip off the roof or something. And which type of locks are more durable. I'm eying the Yakima Raptor Aero and the Thule 517 Peloton. Which one do you think is better? but im not sure if those two can carry more than one bike.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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i also can't find any Saris roof rack especially from their website.. I thought Saris has roof racks as well..
 
Oct 2, 2010
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AnythingButKestrel said:
See if you can put on a trailer hitch, then use a hitch-mounted rack:

http://www.thule.com/en/US/Products/BikeCarriers/Hitch/916XT T2.aspx

Upsides: Easy bike on/off. Easy to remove/install. Won't knock it off going into the garage. Won't scratch the paint on bike or car. Folds up so you can close your garage door without dismounting it.

Downers: Not cheap. Not bike geek approved. Bike will get some road spray. May not be able to close the garage door with bikes on it.

I have a Thule, but would probably buy a Yakima next time.
Hi AnythingButKestrel! thanks! so basically, i can't use a roof rack for my Focus if i want to carry at least 3 bikes right?
 
Mar 18, 2009
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kurtees said:
Hi AnythingButKestrel! thanks! so basically, i can't use a roof rack for my Focus if i want to carry at least 3 bikes right?
I don't see why you could not carry at least four bikes unless their is something weird about a Focus.

Some of the online rack sellers make it easy to spec a rack. You put in the make and model of car, and they will tell you the towers and clips that you need. They will tell you the length of crossbars to use. From there you add whatever bike mounts you want, a fairing, and a bunch of lock cores.

For a roof Yak Rack and two bike mounts you are looking at five bills or so. Sort of expensive, but they are nuke proof. They last forever.

Trunk racks are cheaper. They are easy to take off. A roof rack will affect your gas mileage, even without bikes on it; with bikes it's a killer. Nice thing about a roof rack is that it makes it easy to carry skis, kayaks, extra luggage, whatever.

Buy a pack of lock cores with more cores than you need just in case you want to add other stuff later.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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BroDeal said:
I don't see why you could not carry at least four bikes unless their is something weird about a Focus.

Some of the online rack sellers make it easy to spec a rack. You put in the make and model of car, and they will tell you the towers and clips that you need. They will tell you the length of crossbars to use. From there you add whatever bike mounts you want, a fairing, and a bunch of lock cores.

For a roof Yak Rack and two bike mounts you are looking at five bills or so. Sort of expensive, but they are nuke proof. They last forever.

Trunk racks are cheaper. They are easy to take off. A roof rack will affect your gas mileage, even without bikes on it; with bikes it's a killer. Nice thing about a roof rack is that it makes it easy to carry skis, kayaks, extra luggage, whatever.

Buy a pack of lock cores with more cores than you need just in case you want to add other stuff later.
So i guess i will just have to go for the trunk rack.. i didn't know roof bike rack can affect gas mileage so much.. i'd rather ride my bike than pay off extra cash for gas..

anyway, thanks brodeal.. do you use trunk racks?
 
Mar 18, 2009
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kurtees said:
anyway, thanks brodeal.. do you use trunk racks?
I have a roof mount Yak Rack, but when travelling longer distances I sometimes put my bike in the back of my Scooby, which defeats the purpose of having a bike rack in the first place. :) It does not help that AWD gets crap gas mileage to start out with.

Get rear ended with a trunk rack and your bikes are toast...
 
Jul 11, 2010
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A hitch rack can go to 4 bikes, but I think you have to have a 2" receiver, which may not be compatible with your hitch options.

Trunk racks suck IMO. If you find one heap cheap on Craigslist....maybe. But don't spend new money on one.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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Okay now i'm confused. Should i just get the hitch rack instead? i've tried some fit guides and hitch racks are usually what i get from the results. is it okay to carry 3 bikes in a hitch rack even if it specifies that it can carry 3 bikes? im worried that it's a little bit bulky for my car. or it won't hold off my bikes well..

which type of bike racks uses straps for the lock system? i don't want to use straps for the lock system.

and i definitely don't want to buy second handed racks for now. i wanna try buying a new one and see how it works myself.

thank you so much for the help guys.
 
Jun 10, 2009
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kurtees said:
Okay now i'm confused. Should i just get the hitch rack instead? i've tried some fit guides and hitch racks are usually what i get from the results. is it okay to carry 3 bikes in a hitch rack even if it specifies that it can carry 3 bikes? im worried that it's a little bit bulky for my car. or it won't hold off my bikes well..

which type of bike racks uses straps for the lock system? i don't want to use straps for the lock system.

and i definitely don't want to buy second handed racks for now. i wanna try buying a new one and see how it works myself.

thank you so much for the help guys.
What kind of bikes are you carrying and how much do you care if they get a few scratches and scuffs?

Trunk racks will be your cheapest option, but when carrying multiple bikes damaging the paintwork of the bikes is almost inevitable (but never caused any damage to my car). I have used my trunk rack with up to three full-suspension all-mountain bikes, driving hundreds of km including some fairly rough dirt roads and it copes fine with the weight. Configuring the frames which have different geometries and shock/pivot placements is a bit tricky though. It is also a real pain if you actually need to get at something in the trunk! I wouldn't use it to carry our carbon road bikes, they get to ride inside the car wrapped in a cosy blanket;)

If you already have trailer hitch, and you're not too worried about the paint on your bikes, hitch mount racks which attach to the bike top-tube will be just as cheap as a the trunk mount, easier to load and unload, and let you access the trunk while bikes are mounted.

If you care about the paint, you might consider a hitch rack like the Thule Ride On 9503 or similar that supports the bike from the wheels and keeps thinks like frames, cranks, bars from interfering with each other. However with the larger ones you do need to keep ground clearance (departure angle) in mind as they significantly increase your rear overhang. For this reason it wouldn't be great on a ford focus if you drive at all off the beaten track, or even have a steep driveway. They would be next to pointless for me on my corolla 4wd to go on MTB trips. They also don't come cheap.

As well as the trunk rack, I do also have two fork-mount roof racks for use when car-pooling with a bunch of friends (lets me and my small car carry 5 people, 5 bikes including the trunk mount rack), or for the road bikes if my wife and I were to travel with a full car and couldn't get them inside. To be honest I haven't used them yet as it either hasn't been my turn to drive or we have been coming from different directions hence taken more than one car. However from experience in other people's cars with roof-mount racks, they do affect your fuel efficiency by about 10%, particularly if driving at freeway speeds. The higher the car, and the heavier the bike, the more effort and care required loading them. If you slip up with a fork-mount type in particular the likelihood of your dropout and/or pedal hitting the roof of your car is significant. The advantage though is that you don't need to attach anything to the frame so no paint damage. The other type which has a bar that attaches to the frame is quicker to use since the wheels stay attached, but can damage the paint on your frame. Also a friends (cheap) roof mount rack failed recently, luckily soon after we had pulled off the highway and were slowly queueing for a car ferry. My bike swung from the velcro tape fastened around the wheels, spiky flat pedal took a gouge out of roof of his shiny new subaru and handlebar nearly cracked the drivers' window. Would have made a real mess (and quite likely gone flying into oncoming traffic) had it fallen and started flapping around at 110km/h. If you already own roof bars, for one or two bikes the price an be OK (there are some decent no-name racks out there), but it adds up the more bikes you're carrying. If you're buying roof bars as well and want name-brand everything, you'll be paying a lot of $$.
 
Oct 2, 2010
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thanks dsut4392. I checked the Thule Ride On you suggested and will go to the shop to try it... hitch racks will most probably be convenient for my focus.
 
Oct 11, 2010
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Addressing the Gas Mileage Issue:

kurtees said:
.. i didn't know roof bike rack can affect gas mileage so much..
If you are still considering the roof rack approach, realize that you're able to extend your use of the rack system to skis, storage boxes, and even kayaks in the future.

As for the mileage issue, once you've decided on Thule or Yakima feet and towers for your Focus, consider upgrading the crossbars to SmartCrossbars™, http://Smartcrossbars.com, an evolutionary upgrade that allows you to:
- Eliminate the wind noise
- Reduce drag and the money you throw away to gas companies - the aerodynamic bars are 25X more efficient then Thule's square crossbars and 10X more efficient then Yakima's round crossbars
- And you'll be able to take attachments, like the Yakima Raptor Aero or Thule 517 Peloton off real easily when not in use.

Best part, 4 bikes is easy and with the right configuration 6 will fit.
 
Jul 23, 2009
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I would consider this rack the best

1upUSA has IMO the best rack out there in design and function. I spent several weeks researching and ended up with the rack because it holds the tires instead of the frame (my old Yakima rack scratched my newest bike because it held onto the frame), it relatively lightweight, extremely quick for setting up and removing the bikes and is expandible from one bike to three for a 1-1/4 inch hitch and up to five bikes with the 2 inch hitch. The rack comes set up for either 1-1/4 or 2 inch hitches and I have used it with a Honda Civic and now an Accord.

That is my two cents and here is the link:

http://www.1upusa.com/1upusarackhome.htm
 

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