One of the best investments to pair with an electric bike is a car rack with which to carry it. There is no limit to the number of trails, parks, and sights you can see with the combination of a car and bike. By bringing your e-bike on a road trip, you’ll be able to see everything your travel destination has to offer because you will be able to explore by foot, by bike, and by car.
The list of activities you’ll be able to do are almost endless when you have a convenient option for transporting your e-bike with your car. Camping, trail riding, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, exercising, and everything in between is possible on your next road trip by using a bike roof rack or rear-mounted bike rack. Using a bike rack frees up more space inside your vehicle and lets the large equipment such as e-bikes and totes sit on the rack outside the car.
Electric bikes have a long-range these days thanks to advancements in battery and motor technology. But that doesn’t mean that you can easily ride cross-country on only an e-bike. For most vacations, you’ll want to drive to your destination first, and then unload your e-bike from the roof rack or hitch rack to see all the sights you can’t see from the road. That’s why today we are reviewing 5 of the most useful car racks for your electric bike to keep you exploring in whatever way you want!
One of the most standard and useful racks you will find is the basic hitch rack. Hitch racks are so named because they install directly into the hitch on the back of your car or SUV. These racks allow for easy loading because they are low to the ground. If you have a heavy e-bike, you can simply load one wheel at a time into the rack and secure it. If you will be frequently mounting and dismounting your bike to your rack, this is the rack for you. Many hitch racks fold up when not in use and can therefore stay mounted to your vehicle.
With a hitch rack, you will want to ensure you have a properly sized receiver. Receivers come in different “classes” and the two most common sizes are Class 1 and Class 2 (which have a 1.25-inch opening). Large trucks or large SUVs may have a Class 3 or Class 4 hitch (with a 2-inch opening). Either type will work; just make sure you buy the correctly sized e-bike rack or purchase an adapter. Tighten all bolts down and ensure your bikes are secure before driving. A small amount of shaking may be visible, but too much movement of the bikes once they are mounted could signify you need to re-tighten the rack.
The downsides to this type of rack may include the price and the location. First, the price is high because not all cars or SUVs come equipped with a hitch. You may need to have a hitch installed yourself or use an aftermarket auto center. Second, the location of the hitch rack does pose a risk to your bikes if a car or truck rear-ends you from behind. Accidents are rare, but they do happen, and your insurance may not cover a damaged bike in an auto accident.
Hitch racks usually accommodate 2 to 4 bikes. Read our recent Complete Guide to Installing a Hitch Bike Rack here.
Roof racks are another popular type of transportation for bikes. A rook bike rack must be installed on the rails of your car or SUV. It should not be drilled directly into your vehicle’s metal roof as this could cause rust or damage. Bike roof racks are a very versatile option because they do not take up any space around the car for parking and driving, and they allow you to access the back trunk or tailgate of your vehicle at any time.
However, roof racks will add a small amount of wind resistance to your drive (which may lower your miles per gallon) and will increase the height of your car so you will want to be aware of your surroundings. If your bikes are heavy or you are unable to lift them very high, a roof rack may not be the best rack for you. A hitch rack or trunk rack may be more appropriate in that case.
Bike roof racks often hold 2 bikes and can be multi-purpose if you use the rails for other objects such as cargo boxes or kayak systems.
Trunk bike racks are often used on cars or SUVs and are typically the cheapest option. As the name implies, they attach directly to the trunk of your car with foam guards and straps located in multiple areas around the trunk. Bicycles loaded onto a trunk rack should be positioned such that they do not swing into the back of the car when braking. The heaviest bike should be loaded closest to the trunk, and the straps should all be tightened to avoid the bicycles or the trunk rack falling off during driving.
One of the biggest disadvantages to this rack is the trunk not being accessible when the rack is mounted. Trunk racks usually accommodate 2 large bikes.
Spare-tire SUV racks can be used in the event your vehicle has a spare tire affixed to the back of the body of the SUV. These racks range in price but operate like a trunk rack. These racks are often lightweight and accommodate 2 bikes.
Just like with trunk racks and hitch racks, the bikes are located on the rear end of the vehicle and may be damaged in the event of a rear accident. The bicycles may shake if the rack does not come with stability features.
A final way to travel with your electric bikes is with a truck rack. Truck racks come in a variety of styles and installation options. Some may attach directly to the truck bed, and some may be equipped to a permanent toolbox that stretches the width of the bed. This option is usually lower in price than some others and makes it very easy to load and monitor the bikes.
One of the biggest disadvantages is the loss of cargo space in the bed of the pick-up truck.
Bike roof racks, hitch racks for your car, or truck bike racks will all serve the same purpose of getting your bikes to your destination safely when used properly. Driving the speed limit and taking corners slowly will help increase the safety of yourself, your bikes, and those around you while you have bikes mounted. If you are traveling by plane, check out our article on how to safely get your bike to your destination. Safe travels!