Different types of stationary exercise bikes. Which one is right for you?
Something you may not think of when you are a cyclist is a bike rack. Whether you want to take your bike to another location to start your ride or transporting your bike to a cycling event, you need a bike rack.
There are different types of bike racks that work better depending on what kind of vehicle you have. There are specific racks for a car, SUV, and truck with a trunk or hatchback. The same is true if you have an SUV with or without a hitch. Racks for trucks are also specified. There are also options for roof racks.
It is vital to make sure you research which type of rack is best for your vehicle.
Compatibility for your vehicle:
Amazon has a section where you can search for parts for your specific vehicle.
Under the Automotive Parts & Accessories category, you can enter the make and model of your vehicle to search for items that are compatible with your vehicle.
Once you enter your make and model, all your searches will find compatible products for your car, truck, or SUV.
Now, when you search for bike racks, all the compatible bike racks will show up in your search.
When my family started riding together a few years ago, we bought a trunk bike rack. We connected it to my sister’s SUV to transport our three bikes. We purchased a rack similar to the Allen Sports Premier 4 bike trunk rack.
We have been using it for years and have found some pros and cons:
The Bike rack attaches to the back of your car or SUV trunk. Two padded legs stabilize the rack to the car. There are long straps on each side used to attach the rack. This bike rack was not very expensive. It is lightweight, portable, and folds up for storage.
You need to make sure everything is tight and sturdy and that the rack is on correctly before you put your bikes on. Then you need to make sure the weight of the bikes is balanced. We found that putting the heaviest bike on first worked the best.
Then, you need to make sure the bikes are in the proper position, so they all fit. You may need to stager the directions of the bikes (front to the left of bike one, front to the right of bike two, and so on) so they line up securely. Sometimes you may need to remove the seats of the bikes to get them to fit.
Once the bikes are all on, double-check to make sure the rack is sturdy. Tighten all the straps again, so you are sure the bikes won’t fall off.
We found it very frustrating. The process of putting the rack on and making sure the bikes were stable took some time. You cannot access the trunk once you put the rack on. We have noticed some scratches due to the position of the bike rack, even though there is padding. We are all always worried that the bikes will fall off. We double and triple-check the security, but there is always that fear.
There was one instance when I took the bikes in to be serviced; they fell off the rack on my way home. I asked the bike shop expert to help me make sure the bikes were on securely. While I was driving home, I took a turn, and the bikes fell off. This was frustrating and upsetting. I needed to bring the bikes back to get reexamined to make sure there was no severe damage.
This bike rack is great for those just starting out transporting your bikes and for short trips. For longer distances, the rack worked, but there was always the fear that the bikes would fall off. You need some patients using this type of rack. Be prepared for some damage to your trunk.
There are scratch protectors available to avoid this problem. I would recommend buying this set of 6 scratch protectors and two-strap bike wheel stabilizers. The scratch protectors are anti-slip, which will help secure the rack. The wheel stabilizer wraps will keep your wheels steady while driving.
We are ready to move on to another type of bike rack.
Hitch-Mount Bike Racks:
My sister has an SUV, so we decided to go with a hitch-mounted bike rack. When we go to cycling events, it seems like the most popular type of rack.
Here’s the problem, her SUV does not have a built-in hitch. If your SUV has a hitch, you only have to research the rack.
In our case, we needed to research a hitch, instalation of the hitch to the SUV, and installing the bike rack to the hitch. This has become a complicated endeavor.
We found out that the local Pep Boys, U-Haul, and Midas perform hitch installations.
There are a few things you need to know. The make and model of your vehicle. The amount of weight you’re planning to tow. Whether your vehicle is compatible with the selected hitch and if the undercarriage is acceptable to install the hitch easily.
Keep in mind that the rates for installation are based on if it is easy for them to install. (Is the undercarriage prepared for hitch installation?) Hitch installation can range between $100-$800 depending on where you go and if your vehicle is compatible with the hitch.
We found-out the hard way that not all SUVs are set up for a hitch.
First, we went to Pep Boys. They looked at what labor it would take to install. They claimed that the muffler was not installed securely and recommended we go to Midas to see if they could install the hitch. Then, Midas also refused to do the installation. We took our vehicle to our mechanic to ask them for an honest opinion on why we couldn’t get the hitch installed. They told us that the undercarriage was not prepared to a hitch which would require more labor. With more labor comes higher prices.
Unfortunately, the local Pep Boys, U-Haul, and Midas were full of excuses on why they couldn’t install the hitch. I have not found a resolution to the hitch insulation as of yet.
Choosing the Hitch Class:
There are different classes of hitches based on the weight you will be towing. Class 1 and 2 are the types of hitch that are good for 1-2 bike carrying racks. Class 1 holds up to 200 lbs and class 2 holds up to 350 lbs. The hitch size opening is 1.25”.
Class 3 hitches can carry more than 2 bikes. It holds up to 800 lbs and the hitch size opening is 2”.
We selected at Class 3 hitch because we need the option to transport 3 bikes at a time.
Choosing The Hitch:
The specific hitch model we purchased is the Reese Towpower Class 3 Custom-Fit Hitch.
It has up to 600 pounds of tongue weight and 6000 pounds of towing weight. (Consult your owner’s manual for maximum towing capacity.) It is well made and sturdy. All of the mounting hardware is included, and it says it is a no-drill installation.
Customers have stated that the hitch is easy to install. My sister and I don’t even want to attempt installation and I don’t know why we are having so much trouble with finding someone to install it for us. Customers also said you can use a YouTube video like this one to help.
Unfortunately, I cannot give you a review because we did not get the hitch installed.
Keep in mind that, not only do you have to pay for the hitch installation, but you also have to buy the hitch.
Bike Rack for the Hitch:
The hitch Bike Rack we bought was the Thule Camber Hitch Bike Rack for 4 bikes. It fits a 1.25” to 2” hitch receiver. It holds 150 lbs and has 7” spacing between each bike.
The Thule Camber Hitch Bike Rack is designed with superior stability and the anti-sway cradles keep the bikes from contacting each other. The best feature is that the rack tilts for rear access to the trunk.
After all of the issues we faced, we decided to purchase a better trunk bike rack.
Trunk Bike Rack:
The model we bought is the Saris Bones EX Trunk Bike rack. It fits 3 bikes, and we are extremely happy with this purchase.
This is a solid, stable rack. The plastic bike hold downs are easy to use and eliminate long cloth straps flapping around. There are also caps that hide long straps with a spring-loaded buckle. The composite dog leg shape of the rack is the best part. This design is what makes it fit 90% of the vehicles out, there even if they have a spoiler. It has rubber feet on the legs that protect your car from dings and scrapes. It is also light weight at 11 pounds.
In this image you can see the rubber feet that protect your car. Make sure the straps loop into the section provided on the legs. We did not realize this at first.
We were concerned when we read you should not drive over 60 mph with this rack attached to your vehicle. We decided to go for it anyway. We transported our 3 bikes while we were on vacation. We went on vacation 124 miles away. We traveled on the highway which required higher speeds. This rack felt more stable than the one we had previously. There was little movement of the bikes and the tires did not catch the wind. I had no fear that the bikes would fly off the rack. On our way home, we easy switched the Saris Bones bike rack from an SUV to a sedan for transportation.
We purchased the Saris Bones EX Trunk Bike rack from a local store. The salesperson helped set up and put the rack on my sister’s SUV. Here is an instillation video to help you do it yourself.
You may want to purchase a Bike Beam. A Bike Beam is a pole that has two clips on the end to help mount a non-standard fame. Basically, it bridges the gap between the bike’s stem and seat to create a strait bar to help with hanging. The standard frame is normally what you see on a male bike. Some older female bike designs had a curved stem. Having bikes with all strait stems makes it easier to hang on the rack. The bike Beam creates the strait stem.
I recommend sticking with Saris brand name. The Saris Bike Beam extends from 14.5” – 27.5”, which adjusts to fit most bikes. There is a sliding collar that twists to extend and twist to lock. There is a button on the clips to keep the beam secure.
Here is a video on how to use a Saris Bike Beam:
Our family would have loved to have a hitch mount and a hitch bike rack. Unfortunately, we had so much difficulty we decided on the next best thing. We are very happy with our new Trunk Mount Bike rack. We may try again for the hitch installation but for now we have a well-made, sturdy rack that we feel comfortable traveling with. Good Luck in your search and I hope this article helps you.
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