How to Load Bikes onto a Bike Rack
So, your bikes are ready to go, you've bought your bike rack, now you just need to load your bikes safely and make sure they are securely fastened. However, every bike rack is different so there are different ways of loading them. Depending on what bike rack you have, you should follow the fitting instructions you received with the rack and install it securely before loading your bikes.
In this guide, you will learn how to put bikes on a bike rack securely so you don't damage your bikes or your car. We will cover:
- How to put a bike rack on a car
- Loading bikes onto a towbar mounted bike carrier
- Loading bikes onto a roof bike rack
- Loading bikes onto a boot bike rack
- Loading bikes into a car boot
How to put a bike rack on a car
There are three main types of bike racks available that are each installed in different ways. This includes a towbar mounted bike rack, a roof-mounted bike rack and a boot-mounted bike rack. So, when it comes to installing the bike rack onto your car, it all depends on which bike rack you have.
Towbar mounted bike racks are clamped onto the towball and either have a platform for the bikes to sit on or arms for the bikes to be hung from. Roof bike racks require you to install roof bars, and the roof rack, and secure everything in place before loading the bikes. Boot bike racks are fitted by lining the bike rack up with the boot of the car and attaching it to the boot using a series of straps. It is always important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing your bike rack.
Loading bikes onto a towbar mounted bike carrier
Towbar bike racks can be the easiest to mount your bikes onto your bike rack so if you don't want to lift your bike too high up, they are perfect. Most towbar mounted platform bike racks have the option of tilting forwards so you can still access the boot while the bikes are loaded.
The important thing to remember is to load the heaviest bike first, ensuring your number plate is always visible and, if needed, use any accessories that might make loading easier. This might mean using a drive-up ramp to get your bikes onto the platform carrier.
- Secure your bike rack onto your towbar, connect the electrics and unfold the platform ready to load your bikes
- Extend the arm clamps and make sure the wheel straps are unfastened
- Starting with the heaviest bike, lift it into position or use a drive-up ramp and load this bike closest to the vehicle
- Secure the arm clamp onto the bike frame and fix the wheel in place by tightening the strap around the wheel once it is in the wheel mount
- Continue to load any additional bikes in alternating directions, leaving the lightest bike until last, and secure all bikes in place as detailed above
- Once you have loaded all of your bikes, most towbar platform carriers allow you to lock each bike individually for theft prevention. So, before you drive off, lock each of your bikes in place to ensure they can not be stolen from the back of your vehicle once you are on the road.
Once you have loaded all of your bikes, most towbar platform carriers allow you to lock each bike individually. So, before you drive off, lock each of your bikes in place to ensure they can not be stolen from the back of your vehicle once you are on the road.
Loading bikes onto a roof bike rack
If you know you need to access bulky items in the boot, even when your bikes are loaded, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a roof bike rack. Because the bikes are mounted on the roof, the boot is completely clear for access but they can be a bit trickier to load.
First of all, you will need roof bars to mount your bike rack onto and a safe, convenient way to access the roof. This might mean using a step ladder and also having someone to help you lift bikes up to the roof rack.
- Once the roof mounting bike carrier is installed, you are ready to put a bike on the rack
- Pull the wheel support frame into place until it clicks, so you know it is locked in and ready to carry bikes
- So you don't fall or damage your car, use a step ladder so you can reach the roof rack with ease
- Once you are standing on the step ladder next to your car, get someone to pass the first bike to you so you can lift it onto the roof. Fit the bike into the wheel holds on the rack and secure them in place with the straps
- If you have frame clamps, tighten these around the top tube of the bike and lock them in place with the key to prevent theft
- Repeat these steps for each bike you mount onto the car roof
Loading bikes onto a boot bike rack
Boot bike racks are often the cheapest and easiest way to carry a bike on a bike rack if you don't have a towbar or roof bars. Boot mounted carriers are easy to mount onto most cars, of any size, and your bikes will hang from the arms of the bike rack.
- First, you will need to attach the bike rack to the boot of your car and tighten the straps so the rack is secure on your car. This may take some practice as there are often a few straps that need attaching to your boot so you might want to try fitting your bike rack a few times before heading out with your bikes.
- Once the bike rack is secured in place, lift the bike so the arms of the rack slide beneath the crossbar, loading the heaviest bike first
- Secure the bike in place with arm clamps or straps so it doesn't move
- Load additional bikes in alternating directions so the handlebars don't crash into each other
- Ensure your number plate is visible and you can see out of your rearview mirror
Loading bikes into a car boot
If you do not have the funds to purchase a bike rack or it is impractical for you to use a bike rack, you may need to load your bikes into the car boot or onto the back seat. Unless you own a folding bike, this will likely involve taking the bike apart and, depending on the size of your boot, you may need to lower the back seats.
- If you have a relatively small car with a small boot, start by folding down your back seats to maximise the space and line the boot and back seat with an old sheet or newspaper
- Put your bike in the lowest gear possible and remove the back and front wheels so you're left with a compact bike frame
- If your bike has disc brakes, be sure to stick on disc brake plugs to avoid messing with the alignment of your brake calipers
- Load the bike in 'dry' side up. This means the side with the chain, derailleurs and brakes should be facing upwards so no unnecessary pressure is placed on them
- Load the wheels into the boot and position them so they cushion parts the bike frame that are more likely to move or rock
- Cover the pedals with a rag or old newspaper so the studs don't cause any damage to your car
Things to remember
- Load the heaviest bike first so it is closest to the boot or to the centre of the roof
- Lock your bikes into the rack when you have loaded them so you know they are secure
- Use additional tension straps to secure bikes in place if this makes them feel more sturdy and ensure you have the correct tension on the straps to keep the bikes in place
- Alternate the direction you load the bikes in if you are loading more than one so the handlebars don't knock into each other. You may want to use some padding between each bike
- Do not load your bike onto the rack with valuable accessories attached to it. Store these inside your vehicle
- Load your bike once you are ready to leave, not the night before your journey. You should not leave your bikes unattended when they are loaded onto your car
Once you know how to load your bikes safely and securely, you are ready for endless adventures. But, before you hit the road, it is also worth knowing how to pump and change a bike tire as well as the best family bike rides in the UK. That way, you can be well prepared for heading out on your bike armed with a fun cycling route and the knowledge of how to maintain your bike if you do hit a bump in the road.