Every bike rack is different, so they all need to be fitted in different ways. You could purchase a rear bike rack, a towbar mounted bike rack or a roof-mounted bike rack and they all need to be fitted differently. The best bike rack for you may depend on the type of car you have, how many bikes you will be carrying and how much money you want to spend. So, luckily, there are lots of options available. Take a look at our bike rack range here.
In this guide we will look at:
- How to fit a towbar mounted bike rack
- How to fit a boot mounted bike rack
- How to fit a roof mounted bike rack
It doesn't matter what bike rack you choose, you always need to make sure that your bikes are securely mounted, the number plate is visible and you use a lighting board if your tail lights are obstructed. So, take a look at each different bike rack below and how to fit them.
How to Fit a Towbar Bike Rack
Towbar mounted bike racks are fitted to the towbar of your car so, of course, you will need a towbar in order to use this type of bike rack. Platform carriers are some of the most popular, and they can also be the most expensive. They mount onto your towbar and have a platform, level with the bumper, for your bikes to be mounted onto.
- Make sure the towball is clean and not greasy
- Open the towball clamp on the bike rack and slot into place on the towball. Ensure it is level before you close the lever around the towball and secure it
- Some bike racks have a key so you can lock the rack into place to prevent theft
- Connect the electrics plug from your bike rack to your towbar electrics, keeping the cable away from the exhaust and the road. You may need an electrical adapter if you have a 7 pin plug and 13 pin plug
- Open up the bike rack by pulling up the back frame, opening out the light board and pulling out the wheel supports so the carrier is completely open and everything clicks into place
- Load your bikes and bring the wheel supports to meet your bike wheels and strap them in
- You should load your heaviest bike first and alternate the way your bikes are facing as you load each one
Every platform bike carrier is different and will come with a specific set of instructions, so you should always follow these.
Check out the fitting instructions and watch installation guides for some of our platform bike racks below.
How to Fit a Roof Bike Rack
To carry your bikes on the roof, first, you will need to have crossbars installed on your roof. Loading your bikes up onto a roof-mounted rack can be tricky, so this method of carrying bikes isn't for everyone, but it is often pretty affordable.
- First, you need to install your roof bars and give them a clean before you put your bike rack in place
- Install the spacer, bolts and metal base onto the wheel tray and tighten it
- Attach the metal stands but make sure they can be lifted vertically
- Pull the straps through the wheel stoppers and tighten them around the front and back of the crossbars
- Attach the caps to each end of the bar and slide the carriage bolts through the rack
- Now it's time to mount the bike rack onto the crossbars of your car
- Put the metal base plate under the crossbars and carriage bolts and screw the mounting bolts in using a spacer
- Put the U bolt in place on either side of the bar and secure the spacers and tri-wing nuts
- Now you can mount your bike onto the rack and pull the straps through the wheels to secure it
Of course, all roof-mounted cycle carriers may be slightly different but you will need to follow similar steps no matter what cycle carrier you choose.
How to Fit a Boot Bike Rack
Boot mounted bike racks are suitable for most cars. The best thing about a boot-mounted bike rack is that you don't need to have a towbar or roof rack installed on your car. These may also be the only bike racks suitable for smaller cars too. The good news is, they're pretty cheap, easy to install and leave space on the roof if you need more room for carrying luggage.
- Line your bike rack up in the centre of your boot so it follows the curvature of the rear of your car
- Release the straps on the bike rack and use the hooked end on each corner to attach the straps to the top, bottom and sides of your boot
- Tighten the straps one by one to secure your bike rack in place
- Give each strap a further pull when the rack is in place to make sure it is fully secured
- Pull the arms on the bike rack out straight. These will hold your bikes so tighten them into place
- You may need to attach a strap to each bike mount which will secure your bikes onto the rack
- Once you have loaded your bikes, you may want to tie the top of and bottom of the wheels to the bike carrier. This can provide extra security and prevent them from moving whilst you are driving
No matter how you decide to transport your bike, each bike rack comes with its own set of instructions, specific to the make and model of your bike rack. These instructions should serve as general guidance for each type of bike rack and you should always follow the installation guide from your manufacturer. If you don't know which bike rack is best for you, take a look at our guide.
A bike rack can open up many doors to bike rides further afield. Whether you are travelling an hour away, to the other side of the country or even exploring the continent, purchasing a bike rack for your car opens up endless bike trails to explore with the family.