Pairing the right bike rack to your car and bike can be challenging, but we’re here to help. Trek offers many different bike car racks from brands like Kuat, Thule, Saris, RockyMounts, and more. If you’re unsure where to start, stop into a Trek retailer or check out our car rack finder: it helps you find the rack that’s right for how you ride and your vehicle.
Use our car rack finder:
1. Determine your rack style
To find the perfect car rack you’ll need to start by determining what’s compatible with your vehicle and what style you prefer. There are four basic styles of car racks for bikes — hitch racks, roof racks, trunk racks, and tailgate pads. Begin by checking to see if your car has a hitch receiver or roof rails—or if you have a truck, measure the width of your tailgate.
The best choice for most bikes.
These sturdy racks secure directly to your car’s hitch receiver and are burly enough to carry just about any bike — including e-bikes. Consider if you have a hitch receiver, and measure its inner diameter to determine its size.
Hitch receivers can easily be added to many vehicles — if you don’t have one installed, but would like to add one, your local auto service shop can help or visit U-Haul to schedule a hitch receiver installation.
The best choice if your car has roof bars.
Riding high on your roof, these racks are perfect for cars that have roof rails and don’t have a hitch receiver. They keep your bike out of the way and secure while you make your way from point A to B. If a roof rack is right for you, be sure to look at the shape and size of your car’s roof rails and check compatibility with your dream rack before bringing it home.
The lightweight and budget-friendly option
If your car doesn’t have a hitch or roof rails, a trunk rack is great solution. Trunk racks use retention systems to secure to the trunk of your car and are available in options to carry different styles of, and numbers of bikes. Certain trunk shapes, spoilers, or accessories can interfere with trunk rack retention systems, so check with the rack manufacturer or your bike shop to be sure this solution works for you.
The easiest option for pickup trucks.
While not technically a rack, tailgate pads make transporting bikes in pickup trucks a breeze. They secure directly to the tailgate, providing a padded barrier between bikes and your truck to protect both from scratches and knocks, and feature straps that secure multiple bikes in place. Perfect for riding with friends.
2. Decide how many bikes you’ll carry
The perfect bike rack for your car will be determined by how many bikes you want to be able to carry. Make sure you have enough space to carry bikes for all of the riders in your household at the same time.
Trek tip: You may want to have the capacity to carry an extra bike or two for bringing friends along for the ride!
3. Determine what kinds of bikes you’ll haul
Certain bike styles require consideration when buying a bike rack. Consider if you’ll be loading up with lightweight carbon rides, heavy e-bikes, or bikes with accessories that can get in the way of mounts.
Give bikes with carbon fiber frames extra care when loading up. Carbon frames shouldn’t be clamped down on, as clamping too hard may damage or crack the frame and too loose may not be secure. Stick with racks that either secure the wheels or connect directly to the axles if you think you’ll transport a bike with a carbon frame.
We love the power that e-bikes give us, but their motors and batteries often mean they weigh far more than a traditional bike. Take the time to weigh your e-bike and check that it falls under the maximum bike weight limit for your rack. We do not recommend roof racks for most e-bikes, as lifting them overhead to the top of a vehicle can be both difficult and dangerous.
Bikes with fenders
Fenders are great for keeping you dry, but they can interfere with wheel clamp bike racks. If you carry bikes with full front or full rear fenders, look for a rack that secures to the frame, or explore racks that offer adapters for fenders.
Tossing your shoes and jacket into the trunk makes stashing muddy gear post-ride a much less messy endeavor. Check for tilt and sway functions on hitch racks, so you can maintain full access of the back of your vehicle for easy loading up and unloading.
Are you the set-it-and-forget-it type, or will you be uninstalling your car rack on the regular? Car racks can be heavy and cumbersome, so it’s important to consider their weight if you’ll need to remove yours often.
Whether stopping for gas, snacks, or to re-up your coffee stash, it’s critical to lock up before leaving your bikes unattended. Make sure your rack can be locked to your vehicle, and that each bike you’re hauling is also locked into place to help prevent some serious heartache.
Small bikes, big bikes, and bikes with unique frames
Most bike racks are designed with standard shapes and wheel sizes in mind. Typically, this means bikes with 20˝ to 29˝(700c) wheels, a traditional top-tube, and tires that are under 3˝ wide. Consider whether you’ll want to load up a kids’ bike with smaller wheels, a fat bike with bigger tires, or a bike with a step-thru frame design, and make sure it’s compatible with your rack. Some racks may have accessories available to broaden carrying capability.
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