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Bike Hitch Rack and Roof Rack

4 Times You'll Regret Buying the Wrong Bike Rack

(How to Choose the Best Bike Rack and Avoid Buyer's Remorse)

Whether you're a casual weekend rider or a dedicated cyclist, a bike rack is something you want to get right. Bikes are expensive, and if you're investing in a rack to transport them, the last thing you want is a regrettable choice.If you've looked into bike racks, you'll realize there are endless ways to transport bikes. You can hang them from a hitch, haul them on your roof, load them into your truck bed, or support them with your spare tire. There are also various modern rack features like for tilt-away trunk access and built-in bottle openers.The best bike rack for you depends on many factors, but there are several considerations people often overlook until after their purchase, leading to disappointment. Buying the wrong rack can result in added expenses or even damage to your beloved bikes.Avoid these headaches and choose the right rack from the start.

#1: When Adapter Costs Add Up

You finally find the perfect bike rack for your family's gear. It arrives on your front porch, and you're excited to open it up, install it, and test it out. That is until you actually try to load the bikes and realize they aren't going on this rack: the women's step-through frame bike, the fat bike, and the 24" kids' bikes. It's not happening.That's when you go look at the description of the rack you ordered and realized you overlooked the fine print: "adapter required."The fact is, most bike racks are designed to fit standard, adult-male bikes. Bikes with alternative frames, such as women's step-through bikes, smaller kids' bikes, fat bikes, etc. typically require adapters.For many of us, dropping extra cash on an adapter (or several) after spending a pretty penny on the bikes and rack isn't that appealing. If you don't want to have to worry about adapters, make sure your bike rack is compatible with all bike frames you plan to carry.If you don't mind picking up a few adapters and the extra cost doesn't make much difference to you, check the rack's description to see if adapters are required so you can order them upfront and avoid unpleasant surprises later like exceeding the adapter's weight capacity...(I am looking at you e-bikes).For help choosing a bike rack for an alternative frame with no adapters required, check out the following:
 Adapter Bar

#2: When Out-of-Sight Becomes Out-of-Mind

If you were in a room full of cyclists and asked if they have ever misjudged the amount of clearance for their roof rack, or forgotten about the rack altogether, several hands would be in the air. That's not to say that this happens to everyone, or that clearance behind your vehicle (such as for hitch-mounted or trunk-mounted racks) doesn't matter. You do run the chance of being rear-ended or backing into something. However, it's particularly easy to forget about your loaded roof rack since it's always out of sight. If you don't believe you'd ever forget something like this, just Google "crash bike rack on garage roof" and see how many people this happens to (sometimes more than once).There are some simple reminders you can use to prevent a disasterous bike vs garage door scuffle. Use a visual reminder like a traffic cone or sticker on your garage, garage door opener, or other easily visible location to remind you to remove your bikes before parking. Move your garage door opener out of sight (such as in a glove box or under the seat) to force yourself to think about the bike racks when digging up the door opener.Many cyclists prefer not to worry about roof clearance at all, especially if they have had one of the above-mentioned scuffles between garage and bike rack. But it is noteworthy that for hitch-mounted versions, another consideration is the ground clearance. Many minivans have little to no ground clearance, making it easier to load up all the children and family, but this can be an issue when using certain bike racks that don't provide enough ground clearance. Lastly, for vehicles with a very recessed hitch or rear-mounted spare tires (e.g., Jeeps and Toyota RAV4s), the shank of the bike rack may need to be longer to accommodate the spare tire and provide adequate clearance.Overall, it's essential to be mindful of clearance concerns not only for garage issues but also for public spaces, such as drive-thrus, or parking garages, when choosing and using bike racks. Proper awareness and precautions can prevent potential mishaps and ensure a safer cycling experience.
Roof Bike Rack

#3: When Your Bike Rack Leaves Scars

Yes, your bike is meant to be hardy and tough, but that doesn't mean its beautiful finish can't be scratched by an uncushioned bike rack. There's no worse feeling than bringing home your new customized carbon fiber 29er with full suspension, hauling it to the trails, and realizing the finish is already scratched. Your bike might not stay unscathed forever, but it should at least be earning its scars on the trails rather than strapped to the back of your vehicle.This is why it's important to research bike racks and make sure you're getting one that provides proper cushioning and support. Make sure your bike has enough clearance from both the vehicle and other bikes (hanging hitch racks are notorious for allowing bikes to sway into each other).If you're concerned about keeping your bike in the best possible shape, the best types of racks are those that don't make frame contact at all. Many hitch platform racks are available that meet this condition, as are roof racks with fork or wheel mounts (though beware the dangers of garage collisions with roof racks, as mentioned above).
Hanging Bike Rack

#4: When You Buy Too Much (Or Too Little) Bike Rack

SPENDING TOO MUCHPerhaps biking is a casual pastime, so you only need a rack to get your beloved (if slighly worn) bike to the trail. Or maybe biking is a favorite family activity, but you aren't ready to drop a fortune on a rack for the kids' bikes, which have been banged up plenty of times during knee-skinning tumbles.When you're skimming product descriptions and top bike rack recommendations on forums, it can seem like the only way to get a functional bike rack is to go for the shiniest, sturdiest, priciest bike rack on the market.Fortunately, this isn't the case. There are a plethora of budget bike racks that are more than capable of getting the job done without breaking the bank. Are they all going to come with handy features like tilt-away trunk access and included locks? Probably not. But are they going to get your bikes to the trail and keep your cash in the bank? Certainly.Check out these budget bike racks (all under $400) if you don't believe us.
Kuat NV 2.0 Bike Rack for 4 Bikes
SPENDING TOO LITTLEOn the other hand, for the dedicated cyclist who just spent a month's salary on a custom bike, the last thing you want is a bike rack that won't properly protect your investment. We get it, bike racks are expensive, especially after you've spent a hefty chunk of change on the bike itself. But you want to make sure your rack doesn't make frame contact (or at least has cushions), doesn't allow the bikes to sway while you drive, and in general gets your bike to the trail in the same condition in which it left.Finding the right bike rack involves considering factors like the frequency of use, the type of bikes you're transporting, and your budget constraints. Strike a balance between functionality and cost, ensuring that your bike rack meets your specific requirements while providing sufficient protection for your beloved bikes. Researching and reading user reviews can be beneficial in making an informed decision that fits both your needs and budget.
Swagman E-Spec Bike Rack
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated by: Rachel S.Updated on: 7/31/2023


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