Bike Racks - What type do I need?

One of the first challenges in biking is transporting your bicycle. This often requires some sort of bike rack. Bike racks come in many varieties and many prices. You can spend well over $200 or pick up one inexpensively at a garage sale. Before you head out shopping, think about the following questions to help you select a rack to fit your needs.

     1. What vehicle will be used?
     2. How many bikes will you need to transport?
     3. Do the bikes all have quick-release front wheels?
     4. Are any of the bikes an unusual size or shape (for example a small child’s bike)?
     5. Who will load the bicycles on the rack?
     6. Are they strong enough to lift the bicycles to the roof?
     7. Will you need the extra security of a lockable bike rack?
     8. Will the rack be for bikes or do you also need to carry skis or other sports equipment?
     9. How often are you likely to use the rack?
     10. How much do you want to spend?

No rack is ideal for all vehicles and users. The tradeoffs you make will depend on your situation. For instance, if you plan to use the rack infrequently, you may be willing to tradeoff some ease-of-use for a lower price. Here’s some of the variety you’ll find as you shop:

• Roof racks attach to the top of a vehicle. It’s important to know if your vehicle has gutters or not. Roof racks can be noisy from wind resistance. They require someone with strength to hoist the bicycles to the roof. You have to be careful not to forget that the bicycles are up there and drive into a garage.  With some roof racks, you can’t open your vehicle’s sun roof, however, they do allow full access to your trunk.

• Rear racks mount on the back of a vehicle with brackets and straps. They can scratch paint and can be hard to attach. Most limit your access to the trunk, but they are generally inexpensive, and you can load bikes quite easily.

• Hitch racks mount on the rear of a vehicle but use a trailer hitch as their main point of attachment. They’re less likely to scratch your vehicle but are more expensive.

• Sport trailers are good for carrying many bicycles, but remember that you’ll pay extra if you drive on a toll road. These trailers obviously require more storage space.

Now that you have an idea of which type of rack fits your use, why not find a great trail to ride?
Visit Footprint Press to find great biking guidebooks to the trails of the Finger Lakes Region and Upstate New York.

The guidebooks are designed for people who delight in exploring unique or little known places. The paths and backcountry roads allow you to safely enjoy the natural world and learn about the community and its history.

To Footprint Press