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The essential guide to bike racks

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For any keen cyclist or family rider, escaping home to ride different terrain is the norm. Whether it be driving 25 minutes to your favourite trail spot or taking your bike with you to ride new roads or compete in a competition, many people get to a point whereby stripping the wheels off the bike to travel inside of the car is simply a pain in the backside.

Although travelling with the bike inside of the car means the bike is dry and your fuel economy is not affected, there are many cons which mean it’s simply not an option. If you need to carry passengers, have a small car, want to carry more than one bike or don’t want to put a filthy bike into a clean car then it’s probably time to get a bike rack!

With so many different types of rack on the market, we decided to make a list of the main types that are going to appeal to our audience and include their pros and cons. This article isn’t intended for comparing different brands of rack, more so to demonstrate what type of racks are available

Roof racks

By far the most common and universally adopted rack your’re likely to come across is the humble roof rail mounted bike rack. Tried and tested over many years, rail mounted racks are lightweight, easily transferable to other vehicle with roof bars and are designed to accommodate all different types of bikes. Perhaps on of the biggest advantages of the rail mounted rack is that you can always buy more of them if you get a new bike. Additionally, if you’re a multi sport kind of person, you can get a nice wide set of bars allowing room for bikes to be mounted on one side of the bars and surfboard, kayaks or skis/snowboard on the other side


Thule Rack

Image courtesy of Thule


  • Huge availability
  • Prices to suit all budgets
  • Big second hand market
  • Can fit most vehicles


  • Not all systems are compatible
  • There are many different types of rail style which means if you change cars, you’re likely going to need to chare your roof rack
  • Can be noisy
  • Cannot make use of multi-storey car parks


Sea sucker suction mount

Image courtesy of Sea Sucker


  • Can be used across all of your vehicles
  • No roof rails needed
  • Easy to pack away when not in use
  • Can be mounted in various ways
  • Brilliant for classic cars
  • Proven technology = rock solid fitment


  • Can be costly if you have multiple bikes


Roof mounted Wheel grab

Image courtesy of Thule


  • Ideal for minimising frame scratching
  • Wheel mounting means that a wide frame bikes can be mounted, this includes some lightweight e bikes


  • Costly when compared with a traditional style roof rack

Roof mounted axle grab

Image courtesy of Yakima


  • Rock solid fitment
  • Minimal air noise when left on the rack


  • Axel fittings are not cross compatible.
  • You still have to transport a dirty wheel in your car


Tow Hitch mounted rack


Image courtesy of Thule


  • Best for ebikes
  • Multi story car park friendly
  • No foor rails required
  • Minimal lifting required to fit bike


  • Expensive!
  • You need a tow hitch
  • Bikes can pick up road grime over longer journeys
  • Not all taile mounted racks can be tipped away from the boot door


Classic boot rack

Image courtesy of Halfords


  • Best value for money
  • Universal fit


  • Not classed as an immovable object so theft not covered
  • Care to be taken when mounting bikes to avoid scratching


Internal van racks

Travelling with your bike sliding around on the floor in the back of a van is not a pleasant experience for you or your bike. An easy solution donned by many is to strap the bike up against a mounting point somewhere in the van, however this gets difficult when you are carrying multiple bikes. Enter the van specific internal bike rack!

Mtb vans slide rack

Image courtesy of mtbvans.com



  • Easy to fit
  • Takes up minimal room in the van


  • Only useful if you have a van?!

Bikestow original

Image courtesy of Bikestow


  • Easy to install
  • Foldable
  • Can be used for vans, home, motor-home, garage, bedroom…


  • cost

External pickup truck racks

Pickup bed rack

Image courtesy of Thule



  • easy to use
  • rock solid fitment


  • not a universal fit for different van brands

Pickup tail pad

Image courtesy of Evoc sports



  • No moving parts
  • Looks awesome!
  • Ideal for uplifting your with your friends


  • Bikes cannot be locked to the rack
  • Frame abrasion is likely


Campervan rack


  • Bikes can be locked to the rack as it’s deemed an immovable object
  • E bike friendly


  • Fitting often requires drilling through vehicle

Pro team special

If you were wondering, these racks can be bought here 


  • Perfect if you need to transport a pro cycling teams bikes across the continent
  • Looks very cool


  • Expensive….
  • Do we really need one?
  • Avoid multi story car parks at all costs!
  • Team car not included

Which rack is best?

As you have probably guessed from reading this, there are many different options suitable for different applications. In short, the best type of rack is the one that suits the type of bike you have, the type of vehicle you have and ultimately, the one you can afford. Modern bike racks are built to last, so when buying one, give a though to the likelihood of you changing vehicle in the future as it may well be that you need also upgrade your bike rack arrangements too!

Insurance and locking bikes FAQ’s

Is my bike insured if stolen from my bike rack?

This is a question we get all of the time. Quite simply, we will insure your bicycle for theft and damage when on the race but, ad this is a big but…it MUST be locked to the rack using an approved lock.

“How long can I leave my bike on the roof rack?”

Pedal Cover home and bike combined insurance policies allow up to 18 hours on the rack provided an approved lock is used.

“Can I leave my bike on the roofrack overnight?”

If you’re away from home on a trip, then the answer is yes but we really do no advise this at all. Bikes left on racks are significantly more likely to get stolen than bikes that are taken off the rack and into your accommodation. I have found that Provided your bike is clean, most hotels will allow you to take your bike into the room.

“Is my bike covered if it falls off the rack or is damaged whilst driving along?”

We know that accidents can happen! No one wants their bike to be damaged when travelling to a new destination. Pedal Cover do however cover this type of damage.


Top tips when buying a rack

Make sure you buy the right foot kit for your vehicle

Buy the adequate bar length-are you going to be transporting other items other than bikes?

Bike rack with surfboard

Make sure the bars you buy are compatible with the rack attachment

Lubricate the threads in the foot pack so they they don’t rust away

Play the long game! if you frequently swap vehicles, something like the sea sucker is fully universal across all hard to vehicles. although more costs at the outset, A sea sucker may prove to be the most versatile rack in the long term

From experience, all bicycle locks have their own pros and cons. When it comes to locking the bike onto a roof rack, your best bet would be to keep a sold secure gold rated chain in the car at all times. As brilliant as ‘D locks’ are, there are not many out there that are long enough to make it

Don’t forget, Pedal Cover’s Electric bike insurance is designed to cover your E bike within your van or tail mounted rack so you can travel with your bike with full peace of mind.If you have any questions, just give out friendly support team a call on 0800 121 4424



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0800 121 4424
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