How to Put a Bike on a Bike Rack

Do you have a big trip coming up? Do you need to pack light but still want to bring along your bike? Well, you can use a bike rack to keep your bike conveniently close by as you travel.

When the trip is over, you can simply unhook your bike from the bike rack and carry it with you wherever you go.

Issues are common when you want to install the bike on the car. So, here’s how you can put a bike on a car rack safely and securely so you can keep your bike locked up while traveling.

Placing Bike on a Bike Rack: A Step-by-Step Guide 

1. Open the Bike Rack

The first step that you need to do is to open the bike rack.  In general, it has the shape of an arc, but it also depends on the rack model.  

If you have an SUV, it is recommended that you get a truck bike rack.  Attach one side to the rear window, while placing the other side alongside the trunk.  But if you have a coupe or a sedan, the bike rack is usually mounted over the car trunk and at the rear end of the trunk.  

You might encounter issues when attaching a bike rack, and one issue is figuring out the right position.  Well, the clamps must be facing upwards.  Another way to know if you’ve mounted the bike rack the right way is that you must be able to fasten your bike in place without any problem.

2. Hook the Clips

After figuring out the right position of the bike rack, you now need to hook the clips to the trunk of your car.  Make sure not to force the clips so as not to damage your trunk.  The best thing to do is to find a good spot where you can easily attach the clips.  

Be guided by the labels on the clips when installing your bike rack.  The words you’ll likely see are “side”, “bottom” and “top”.  How you install the clips or hooks will determine the stability of your bike rack.  So, make sure you install them properly.  

3. Tighten the Straps

Once you’ve successfully positioned the hooks or clips, start tightening each strap to stabilize the bike rack.  This step must be done with precision because the straps are the best support that your bike will have when you’re already driving your car.  I bet you’d rather have a flat tire than lose your precious bike.  

In case the straps can’t be tightened and you’re doubting its fixedness, better not use it.  Having an unsteady frame may place you and road users in imminent jeopardy.  

4. Place Additional Straps

For a more secure bike rack, you might want to use a supplementary strap.  You simply need to affix a tube on top of the bike rack, where you can utilize the extra strap.  However, if you don’t have an extra strap, try to improvise and make use of a used tow band.  

5. Place Your Bike into the Bike Rack

When positioning the bike, make sure the lower bike parts are anchored into the bike rack.  This shall prevent your bike from constantly springing and swinging while you’re driving.  

To keep your leather saddle protected, wrap it with a saddle cover or a taped bag.  You must also restrain your bike wheels from moving so you won’t get distracted when looking at your rear-view mirror. 

4. Perform a Stability Test

Once you’ve tightened the straps, you need to do a stability test on the bike rack by rocking or lurching it in different directions.  You may also try driving your vehicle with your bicycle loaded into the bike rack to ensure it’s 100% stable.  Step on the accelerator, drift it, or hit the brake.  If you observe any hint of instability, make the necessary adjustments.

5. Position Your Bike

Now, get your bike and position it with the crossbar resting on the cradle.  Then secure it with the straps to keep it from moving. 

Make sure the bike’s weight is evenly distributed.  You also want to make sure again that all bike rack straps are well-fastened after placing your bike.  

6. Clamp Your Bike

If you’re still not satisfied with the straps that secure your bike, you may use a clamp to secure it even more.  Better be safe than sorry.

Types of Bike Racks

You have 4 options of car bike racks, and what you need depends on your vehicle. Read on to know which bike rack would suit your need.

1. Roof Mount Bike Rack

A roof rack can either be attached to your aftermarket or factory crossbars, and can hold up to 2 bicycles.  There’s a roof rack that will require you to remove your bike wheels, while there are those that don’t, just like the Rhino-Rack Roof Mount Hybrid Bike Rack.  

This brand of car bike rack will allow you to carry 1 to 2 complete sets of bicycles.  And, if you are looking for a bike rack that won’t hinder the view of your rear window, then a roof rack must be your number 1 option.  

2. Hitch Mount Bike Rack

The hitch mount bike rack is one of the hitch racks that is so easy to use.  It’s more like a plug and play, or shall I say, plug, load and go! All you need to do is to just attach the hitch rack to your hitch receiver and then load up.  

Though this rear rack is very easy to use, many people find it risky and distracting.  However, current designs are already equipped with anti-sway technology as well as soft cradles for the safety of the users. 

Other hitch racks, like the Softride Dura Hydraulic Assist Hitch Rack, have a swing away technology that would still allow you to access the rear hatch.  

A hitch rack is compatible with all hitch receivers, and it can accommodate up to 5 fully-assembled bikes.  You might want to check the Thule Apex Hitch Bike Rack if you always ride in groups.

3. Trunk Mount Bike Rack

If you are looking for an affordable bicycle car rack that exhibits versatility, then you should look for a trunk rack bike carrier.  What’s nice about the trunk rack is that it is compatible with almost all types of cars and that you won’t need other tools or parts to install it.

Some truck bike racks, particularly the Thule Getaway Trunk Mount Bike Rack, can hold 3 bikes at a time.  This means that you can invite your family or friends to go biking with you.  Not only is it inexpensive, but also very convenient.  

Also, this type of trunk bike rack only needs a little effort when setting it up.  Other models have integrated a smart foldable design for easier storage. 

4. Truck Bed Bike Rack

If you’re driving a truck, you can secure your bike using a truck bed rack.  One sturdy brand of truck rack that you might want to check out is the Advantage SportsRack Truck Bed Rack.  This is a good alternative for the over-the-tailgate mat.  The truck bed bike carrier is big enough to hold 4 bicycles. 

Tips from a Bike Pro  

  • Always choose a high quality bike rack.
  • When loading more than 1 bike on the bike rack, do it alternately, which means that the handlebars must be facing opposite directions.  This is to prevent the handlebars from rubbing each other.  
  • Regularly check the straps when you’re on a trip.

Bike Rack Frequently Asked Questions

What are the features that make a good bike rack?

Choose a bike rack that boasts stability and security. The bike rack must be able to hold your bike firmly. Both the front wheel and the bike frame must be completely rested on the rack.

Can bike racks scratch the trunk?

Yes, trunk mount bike racks have a great possibility of damaging or scratching your car. Damages are inevitable as this type of bike rack rests against the trunk, with also the clips hooked onto the sides of the trunk.

What are bike racks made of?

Bike racks are made from different materials, which include thermoplastic, recycled plastic, steel, and stainless steel.  

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By Paul P.

Paul Panha is an avid cyclist and sports performance enthusiast. Regularly on the road testing (and buying) new bikes. Paul is a co-owner of GetBike.fit and is the head resident author here.