What is the best car bike rack for me?

If you’re new to the world of bike racks then choosing the right rack for your vehicle can be a bit of a daunting experience.

Do you go for a 2, 3 or 4 bike mount? What’s the difference between a towbar bike rack and a towball bike rack? And are bike racks really that safe? All questions that will no doubt overwhelm a bike rack beginner.

That's why we’ve decided to put together this simple, step by step guide to understanding the different types of bike racks on offer.


Whether you’re exploring country-cycle paths with the kids or throwing yourself down a mountain trail, a bike rack is a key tool in getting you to the adventure.

Towball mounted bike rack

Towball Mounted

One of the easiest and safest ways to transport your bikes, a towball mounted rack is one of the most popular bike rack variations on the market.

Attached directly to your towball, there are two variations of a towball mounted bike rack available. These are:

  • Towball Bolt-on Bike Rack
  • Towball Clamp-on Bike Rack

The significant differences between these two bike racks are how they are attached to your towball.

The bolt-on bike rack is physically bolted on to your vehicle’s towball using an adjuster screw.

The clamp-on bike rack uses a clamp feature that secures itself around your vehicle’s towball.

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Towbar mounted bike rack

Towbar Mounted

Not to be confused with a towball mounted bike rack, the towbar mounted bike rack version is fitted to the mounting plate of a flange type towbar.
Fitted and removed in seconds, the towbar bike rack can carry up to 4 bikes and tow a caravan or trailer at the same time.

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Rear mounted bike rack

Rear Mounted

Often one of the cheapest bike rack options available, rear mounted bike racks are attached to the rear of your vehicle using a variety of straps.
If you’re looking to purchase a rear mounted bike rack, make sure you carefully read the manufacturer's installation instructions - as some bike racks are only designed to fit specific vehicles.

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Roof mounted bike rack

Roof Mounted

As the name suggests, a roof-mounted bike rack is attached to the roof of your vehicle.
One thing to be aware of when purchasing this type of rack is that you will need a set of roof bars installed on your vehicle.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of using each rack?

When purchasing a bike rack, there’s quite a lot that you need to consider:

  • How many bikes are you looking to carry?
  • Do you have a towbar?
  • Are you planning to carry bikes and tow a caravan or trailer?
  • Do you need easy access to the boot of your car?
  • How big or small is your vehicle?

If you have the answers to these questions in mind, you can then find the perfect towbar for your vehicle by looking at the advantages and disadvantages below.

Towball Mounted Bike Rack


  • Carry 2, 3 or 4 bikes
  • Mounted directly to your towball making it easy to lift bikes onto the rack
  • Tilts outwards allowing easy access to the boot
  • Allows you to lock the bikes to the rack securely
  • Comes with a lighting board
  • Fits securely to most vehicles with a towbar
  • Very secure and bike friendly option


  • Needs an extra number plate
  • Can’t be removed easily
  • Tend to be a more expensive bike rack option

Towbar Bike Rack


  • Carry 2, 3 or 4 bikes
  • Mounted directly to your towball making it easy to lift bikes onto the rack
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Allows you to carry bikes and tow a caravan or trailer
  • Cheaper bike rack option
  • Fits securely to most vehicles with a towbar


  • Carry 2, 3 or 4 bikes
  • Bikes cannot be securely locked to your car
  • Doesn’t allow easy access to the boot of your car
  • Needs an extra number plate

Rear Mounted Bike Rack


  • Carry up to 3 bikes
  • Cheapest bike rack option
  • Don’t need to purchase a towbar or roof bars


  • This bike rack is usually vehicle specific
  • Bikes can not be securely locked to your car
  • Needs an extra number plate
  • Needs an extra lighting board

Roof Mounted Bike Rack


  • Carry up to 4 bikes depending on the model
  • Bikes are mounted to the roof allowing easy access to the rear of the vehicle
  • Bikes can be securely locked to the vehicle
  • No need to purchase extra number plates or lighting boards


  • Mounted to the roof making it difficult to lift bikes onto the rack
  • Roof carrying limit may limit how much you can carry
  • Need to purchase and install roof bars

The best rack for your car will depend on how often you intend to carry bikes.

If you’re only planning to use the bike rack on the odd occasion, then a rear mounted bike rack will be the best option.

If you’re planning to use the bike rack quite frequently, over a summer holiday for example, then a towball mounted bike rack with secure locking and easy access to the car boot is the option for you

If you want a bike rack that can easily be attached and removed at a moment’s notice, then a towbar mounted bike rack will be the option for you.

If you don’t want a bike rack blocking visibility at the rear of your vehicle, then a roof-mounted bike rack will be the option for you.

Ease of use Access to the boot Secure locking Carry and Tow Affordable
Towball Bike Rack Tick Tick Tick
Towbar Bike Rack Tick Tick Tick
Rear Mounted Bike Rack Tick Tick Tick
Roof Mounted Bike Rack Tick Tick Tick

All bike racks purchased from respectable manufacturers and fitted by a professional will be perfectly safe for British roads.

Bike racks are regularly tested to the extreme on a test track, so you don’t need to worry about dawdling along at 70mph on the motorway.

The only obvious danger from a bike rack is lack of visibility from the rear window. Options like the rear mounted bike rack can make it particularly difficult to see out of the back window and can decrease your awareness of the road.

Options like the towball mounted bike rack and the roof bike rack allow full visibility out of the rear window.

For the towball, towbar and roof mounted bike racks, you do not have to worry about purchasing vehicle specific models. Each bike rack is designed and developed to fit securely to every towbar or set of roof bars.

The rear-mounted roof racks are a little different. Due to the varying shape and sizes of vehicles, you will need to purchase a vehicle specific model for your car. This is due to the general design and strap sizes that will be developed exclusively for your car.

Yes, it could not be easier!

All bike racks developed and sold by Witter are designed to be simple and easy to install and remove from your vehicle.

Following four simple steps, each of our bike racks takes no longer than 10 minutes to fit to your vehicle.

Don’t believe us? Watch our 6-minute installation video below. Here we show you how to install a towball mounted bike carrier with tilting functionality.

Now that you understand the types of roof racks available and the advantages and disadvantages of each, you’re almost ready to buy a bike rack.

Before you do, make sure you consider the following:

Carrying Capacity

Our three and four bike carriers are designed to carry a maximum load of 65 kg, which corresponds to 3 to 4 adult bikes.

However, it is essential that the combined trailer nose weight and weight of the cycles does not exceed the maximum towball nose load, as specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

Exceeding this load invalidates the warranty of the bike carrier, vehicle and the towbar. Any "clip" on accessories, e.g. pumps, bottles, bags etc. should be removed to reduce weight.

Find your vehicle’s towball nose load here.

Warranty Against Theft

The locks on Witter Cycle Carriers are designed to deter vandalism and theft. Bike carriers and property should be removed from the vehicle when it is unattended for any extended period.


Towball bike racks and roof bike racks can be securely locked to the towball with a bike carrier locking key.

These bike racks have lockable arms that attach to the frame of the bike. In some cases you will also have the option to upgrade their support arms to lockable handles, to secure bikes to the carrier.

Lighting Board and Number Plates

When the bikes or bike carrier obscure the vehicle’s rear lights or registration number, it is a legal requirement to duplicate these functions at the rear of the load.

All of our towball style bike racks will block/obscure the number plate, that's why each carrier comes with a lighting board that allows for a number plate to be attached, so you are always adhering to the legal requirements.

Some models will have a unique 'Park Mode' that allows it to be legally driven in the folded up position. In 'Park Mode', the lighting board will flip down to show the number plate and lights.

All of our towball bike racks come complete with a 7-pin and 13-pin electrical plug to accommodate both 7-pin and 13-pin sockets with no adapter needed.

Bike Storage

All of our towball bike racks should not be stored outside in damp conditions for extended periods of time. Their ability to compactly fold up allows them to be easily stored indoors.

It mostly depends on the insurance provider but, yes, fitting a bike rack can potentially be classified as a car modification. Therefore, it is essential that you notify your insurance provider about this change to your vehicle.

Car modifications can affect how your insurance premium is calculated and, if you don’t tell your insurance provider, they may use the modification to invalidate your policy in the event of an insurance claim.

Always notify your insurance provider when making modifications to your car.