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The Ultimate Guide to Cycle Carriers

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If you’re about to embark on a cycling adventure this summer, choosing the right bike rack for your car can be unnerving and problematic, especially if you’ve never used one before. Maybe you have used one before, but with a bit of wear and tear you’re not entirely convinced by its safety features and believe you deserve an upgrade. We agree.

Needless to say, cycle carriers (or bike racks, whichever you prefer to call them) have a lot riding on them – pardon the pun! This is particularly true if you have an expensive, high-end bike, whose price tag never fails to unsettle non-cyclists.

Regardless of whether you’re a newbie to the world of cycling, or a cycling veteran looking to extend your knowledge of bike racks, cycle carrier experts Bosal are on-hand with their Ultimate Guide to Cycle Carriers.

choosing a bike rack

Choosing a Bike Rack

It’s easy to become bemused by the range of cycle carriers available, the prices and capabilities. It is worth considering the following points prior to purchase:

  • How far and how often are you likely to be travelling?
  • How many bikes do you need to transport?
  • What is the weight of the bike(s)?
  • Does your car have a receiver hitch?
  • Do you mind having a visible towbar on your car?
  • How will you store the cycle carrier when not in use?
  • What’s your budget?

Types of Bike Racks

roof mounted cycle carriers

1. Roof-Mounted Cycle Carriers

Pros:

  • Although you don’t have to, it is much easier to keep roof racks on the car even when not in use. Their versatility means they might come into use much more than you’d expect them to. They’re also a preferable option if you’re going to need access to the car boot (not all towbar mounted cycle carriers do this).
  • Roof bars tend to be safe and secure, with anti-theft locks and when compared with other types of bike racks, roof-mounted cycle carriers tend to be relatively inexpensive.

Cons:

  • The applied downwards weight from a roof-mounted bike rack increases the levels of fuel consumption and car manufacturers often set a restricted speed limit.
  • There’s a lot of debate over whether roof-mounted or tow-bar mounted racks make your vehicle more streamlined, but your bike’s frame is definitely more susceptible to wear and tear on a roof rack.
  • It also means you’ll need to be extra wary of height limits for the sake of car parks and driving under bridges.

towbar mounted cycle carrier

2. Towbar-Mounted Cycle Carriers

Pros:

  • You needn’t worry about height limits and they’re much more fuel efficient.
  • Much like roof-mounted racks, they tend to be safe and secure with anti-theft security in place.
  • If you have a heavy bike, it’s much easier to load onto a towbar-mounted rack as opposed to a roof rack, particularly if you have a push on ramp.
  • Some towbar-mounted cycle carriers, such as the Bosal Cycle Carrier IV can secure up to four bikes at once – and for the space-conscious, you can also invest in a foldable compact cycle carrier.
  • Attached at the rear of the vehicle, the bicycles are also less exposed to extreme weather conditions, wind and insects and there is no speed restriction set by car manufacturers.

Cons:

  • They tend to be more expensive than roof-mounted racks and of course, you will need to invest in a towbar which, if immovable – may compromise the aesthetics of your car.
  • If your towbar-mounted cycle carrier isn’t compact, they can consume a lot of space and can make struggling at service stations a bit of a hindrance!

clip on cycle carrier

3. Clip-On Cycle Carriers

Pros:

  • They’re easy to fix to the car and much cheaper than alternatives.
  • They’re also easy to remove and easy to store as they simply fold away!

Cons:

  • They can hinder access to the boot of the car and they’ve been known to cause minor damage to vehicles where the clips aren’t tightened sufficiently.
  • If the bikes obscure your rear lights and registration plate, you’ll also need to purchase a light bar and a hanging registration plate to hang over the bikes.
  • Although technically ‘safe’ if used correctly, they are the least secure way to carry bikes out of the three methods and cycles can be easily stolen, due to the lack of security.
  • Unlike towbar-mounted cycle carriers, clip-ons don’t have a platform and can make loading the carrier problematic.

Still Unsure?

If you’re a little overwhelmed or still undecided – get in touch with a cycle carrier specialist for  expert advice.

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