Here's a quick guide to where to put your bike when you hit the open road to head to new trails.
Put your bikes on the back
This is a handy option for a lot of reasons. You don't add to the height of your car, which is great for parking and any low bridges - or low anything. It also means less heavy lifting, especially if you're looking at an eMTB.
The constraints here are whether you have a hitch mount, a towball - or neither. Thankfully there are options.
This is a premium rack, but being able to slide the beds to suit bikes makes a huge difference, especially with the variety of wheel sizes, frame lengths and of course the sizes of bikes. The rack also folds up and is pretty compact to store when not in use.
Vertical bike racks are also common, and we have tested the Yakima HangOver 6 bike rack.
The Shingleback Vertical Bike Rack is another very popular vertical rack, and one that we tested previously. With options to take 5 or 6 bikes this rack is perfect for trips with lots of mates - or just lots of bikes! They start at $1299.
Shingleback have recently added the 2B90 rack to their range, it still runs vertically, but it's rated to carry to bikes up to 30kg each, and it lowers down for loading. Carrying the bikes horizontal to the rear bumper also takes up way less room. You can get the details here. It sells for $1090.
There are also towball mounted options, like the Thule Velo Compact. We used one for a visit to Tropical North Queensland, and as it mounts onto a towball it was easy to fit. It also had lights built in, and a place for a number plate. This keeps you legal, and it's an important point to remember for almost every state. Your number plate needs to be visible, as doe your lights and indicators. The Thule Euroway G2 is also well worth a look.
The Thule EasyFold XT 3 can take 3 bikes with a 60kg total load, so feel free to put a couple of eMTBs on there. At about $1599 it's not cheap, but it is sturdy and has a light board and plate holder all ready to go. This rack clamps the frames and wheels, so there is a little bit of tetris to get the frame clamps just right. They are torque limited so you're not about to crush a carbon frame. Get more details direct from Thule.
Thule have also let us test the T2 Pro XT bike rack. It is super solild, and you can add an adaptor so you can carry 4 bikes on the car as well. Our review is here, but the rack can carry two bikes at 27kg each, and it sells for $1099. If you prefer a rack that clamps wheels and not frames, you'll really like this option from Thule.
The EziGrip E-Bike rack is another bike rack that is just about ready to go right out of the box. We recently reviewd the rack, and at $770 with a 60kg load capacity, light board and plate holder we were throughly impressed with the value and performance of this rack.
If you don't have a tow ball or hitch mount option, there are countless racks that strap onto the car. Some strap on and have a tray to support the wheelbase, others have 2 or 3 cradles for top tubes. The real caution here is make sure the design works for your bike. We reviewed the Yakima King Joe Pro and loved it, but it does depend on your frame design as to how well it will work. The other question is - did you secure it properly? That's a hard one to get out of your mind.
Yakima also have the FullBack and HalfBack - we did a comparison in 2020. These racks come in 2 and 3 bike models, with or without a locking function (that's the main Full vs Half difference). With racks starting at $359 for the HalfBack 2, they are a well designed rack that fits your car really securely, and holds your bike safely as well. They can just be a little more fussy to set up.
- No risk of damagin bikes on low hanging trees, roofs, bridges or awnings.
- Aero and fuel efficient on long trips
- Easy to put on, and brands like Thule have options that support e-MTB weights
- Typically cheaper than most roof options
- No need to understand every axle standard
- "Sorry, did you want to get something out of the boot?"
- Reversing into things
- They can demand certain Tetris skills
- Not all racks work with all bikes
- You have to factor in a light/number plate board in most states
We have also tested the near bombproof KUAT NV - check out our review.