It is usually easier to carry around one or two bikes with a bike rack, but when you have 5 or 6 cycles, things can get tricky. If you are a bike enthusiast, then you may already have a fair amount of idea about bike racks. There are different types, such as roof racks, spare tire racks, and more. But, not all of them can handle a tall order.
If you try cramming six bikes into a two-bike carrier, then you may risk causing some superficial damage like scrapes or dents to them. Even in the case of hitch racks, you need to add extensions so that your bikes are properly secured and don’t bump into each other during transit.
So, how can I fit 6 bikes on a hitch rack? Well, to know the correct procedure of how to anchor the rack and safely strap your bikes to the mount, I would recommend you to continue reading this article.
What is a Hitch Rack?
In case you are wondering what a hitch rack is, here’s the gist. It is the type of mount that you can anchor onto the trailer hitch that is at the rear end of your car. You can easily install it. There are two types of bike racks: platform-style and hanging(mast-style). The advantage of this type of bike mount is that you can carry around multiple bikes at once.
The downside is that it adds more length to the car, so parking becomes tricky for the driver. Also, once you attach the mount, it blocks the rear access. And, you need to ensure before purchasing that the rack is compatible with your car.
Platform-Style Bike Mount
Here, the bikes are placed on trays and hooked onto them. This reduces the chances of the bikes bumping into each other. Normally, these trays can accommodate two bikes at a time, but you can add on extensions and carry more bikes.
The advantage of platform-style is that it can carry bikes of different shapes and sizes. But if the price of the product is a matter of concern for you, then I would suggest you think twice before getting it because platform hitch rack is a bit on the expensive end.
Hanging (Mast-Style) Bike Mount
This style has a mast with arms that are connected to the main frame. These arms grab onto the bikes and secure them. Unlike the platform style, these mounts cannot fit all types of bikes. But they are cheaper, so if you are sure that your bikes are a good fit for the frame, then you can get this type and save a few bucks.
How to Install a Hitch Bike Rack?
Figure out your car’s hitch class- if you recall earlier, I mentioned that not all bike racks are compatible with every car type. It is not a matter of getting the best bike rack but rather identifying the correct type. A vehicle’s hitch is divided into five categories, starting from Class I to Class V. Normally, Class II to IV are compatible with hitch racks. So, first, find out the category of your car’s hitch rack.
Find out the towing capacity and compatible rack type- you need to attach the mount to the car’s hitch. Once you have figured out the car’s hitch class, then find out the towing capacity and the type of rack that suits your car. At times, you can also use a Sleeve adapter to alter the receiver of your car to adjust it to the rack.
Attach the hitch tube- after you have figured out the kinks, now it’s time to attach the rack to your car. Fit the hitch tube to the car’s receiver. At times, you can also use a Sleeve adapter to alter the receiver of your car to adjust it to the rack. And, if you want to be extra cautious about any wobbling issues, you can attach an anti-tilt device.
Make necessary adjustments- you need to adjust the position of the support arms or trays, if it is a platform-style hitch rack, accordingly. Make sure that the security pins are properly secured in place. And adjust the tire trays, if needed, and also keep a few tie downs ready to ensure that the bikes stay in place. You can use any type of tie downs such as Velcro tie downs or rubber tie downs, whatever is convenient for you.
Load the bikes- strap the first bike to the supporting arms or the tire tray, and then use the tie downs to secure it properly. You can also use wheel ties as an added safety measure. Once the bike is strapped securely to the frame, you can go ahead, repeat the process and add more bikes.
Recheck attachments- whether you are going on long trips or short ones, it is always a good practice to double-check all the attachments every once in a while. This is because the vibrations from driving can loosen the straps or the ties downs and cause the bikes to wobble. So, check all the connection points every now and then.
Remove bikes- after you have reached your destination, it’s time to take the bikes off the frame as safely as possible. Do it one at a time. After taking down all the bikes, then it’s time to dismantle the rack from the car’s hitch. Some of the hitch racks can fold down at the rear of the vehicle when it’s not in use.
How to Attach 6 Bikes on a Hitch Rack?
Here, I will tell you the ways you can cram six bicycles on a hitch rack. Remember, it’s never very safe to load six bikes on a carrier, so make sure you’re willing to accept the risks.
Using a 6 Bike Hitch Rack
Well, the first solution is the easiest one but also the most expensive one. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of strapping and cramming your bicycles into a carrier that is not meant for holding six, then you can go for a six-bike hitch rack.
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Northshore, Yakima, and many other brands have such carriers, so with a little bit of searching, you should be able to find a rack that can hold six of your bicycles.
Nevertheless, there are some upsides and downsides to such carriers. One of the biggest advantages is your rack and bikes have better overall security, and you won’t worry about some of the bicycles coming off the rack.
The downside to such racks is they are quite expensive, so if you don’t have the budget, then it will become very difficult for you to get or consider getting them.
Using Extensions or Extenders
Some of the high-end hitch bicycle racks are able to use extenders. With an extension, you can make your carrier hold six or more bicycles. These extenders are moderately safe, but it mostly depends on the brand and quality of the product.
So, if you already have a hitch rack, check if it accepts extenders, and if it does, you can use it to carry a few more bicycles.
Strapping or Cramming 6 Bikes to a Normal Hitch Rack
The last thing you can try doing is, you can try using straps to attach your bikes to the carrier. The method is useful when you don’t have the money to buy a six-bicycle rack yet you need to travel with quite a few bikes.
A word of caution: the process is quite risky, and if you are unable or make a mistake while strapping the bicycles to the rack, some of the bikes may come off during your journey. Therefore, unless you’re sure you have attached them properly, don’t go for a ride.
Finally, if you’re using a four-bike hitch rack, make sure you don’t exceed the maximum weight capacity of the carrier. For instance, if your rack is able to carry 200lbs, you have to ensure that all the bicycles you’re loading are under 200lbs combined.
Tip: You can try removing the wheels to reduce the weight of your bikes; this should make things a little easier for the rack and hitch.
How do I Know the Receiver Size?
The car’s receivers are divided into five classes. Each class has a different size opening. Class I and II have an opening of 1.25 inches, Class III and IV have 2-inch openings, and Class V is for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
In the End
Fastening the bikes on the back of the car is the least fun part of the adventure. The process is easy, but at times, it may seem like a lot of work. So, I do understand the urge to slack off and just pile all the bikes on together and move on with it. But believe me, it’s not worth it.
You will end up causing more damage to your bikes. It’s important to know how to properly fit the bikes onto your bike racks so that the damages are kept to a minimum and you can enjoy biking for a long time. I hope this article was helpful to you.