How to Lock Bike on Car Bike Rack While Travelling [Proven Tips]

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You certainly don’t want to be travelling with your bike and worry about its safety all through the journey.

When going on a short trip, you might be able to get away with tying your bike to your car. But you cannot do this when travelling a long distance.

This is where car bike racks come into play. It’s one thing to put your bike on your car bike rack, but how do you secure it?

In this article, we shall be giving you tips on how to lock your bike on your car bike rack.

Tips on How to Secure Your Bike on a Car Bike Rack

How to Lock Bike on Car Bike Rack

We have gone through the basics of what you need to know about the popular bike racks. Now, we shall look at some tips you can use to ensure that your bike is secured on your bike rack.

The strap

The first way you can secure your bike on a car bike rack is to use a strap. All you need to do is loop the strap around your bike and then throw in the end of the strap into your car or trunk. It means that before you can free the bike, you will need to open your car door or the trunk.

Straps are a good way to secure your bike to your car rack, but they do not offer the best security. They are only good as additional security measure. Also straps shouldn’t be your major means of securing your bike to your racks because they can be easily cut.

U-Locks, Cables and Chain Locks

If you are serious about locking your bike on your car rack, then you need one of these. Cable and chain locks offer better security for your bikes than straps. You can run them through your bike frames and wheels and then the bike rack. But the most secured way is using a U-lock. U-locks are very hard to cut and therefore serve as a good deterrent to bike thieves.

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Combination of locks

When we say combination of locks, it means using a strap, chains, cable and U-locks to secure your bike on your car rack. It might look like you are being too careful, but it’s a great way to discourage a determined bike thief. Besides, you don’t necessarily have to use all the locks. You can always combine two to three locks just for that added security measure.

What Part Of The Bike Do I Lock?

When locking your bike on a car rack, you should concentrate on the wheels and frame. If you can secure these parts, it will be very hard for a thief to gain access to your bike. A chain can wrap around most parts of your bike. But if you are using a U-lock, you may not be able to get all these parts at once.

In such situation, you may need two U-locks; one will run through the front wheel and the bike rack while the second will run through the back wheel and the frame. However, buying two U-locks may not be within your budget. You can use one U-lock for the front wheel and frame, and then a strap, cable or chain for other parts of the bike.

Which Types of Lock is Perfect for Different Types of Rack

Roof Rack

When you see a bike standing on top of a car, know that it is standing with the help of a roof bike rack. Roof racks are among the safest way to transport your bike. They use up the space on top of your vehicle so that you have free space inside the car for other things. Some roof racks can take the whole bike while others may require that you remove the front wheel.

Most roof bike racks come with locks that you can use to secure your bike to it. But the major issue with roof racks is lifting and bringing down your bike on it. Also, some people have damaged their bikes, car and racks by going under short bridges and garages with their bikes on the roof.

Trunk Rack

Trunk-mounted racks are those racks that hold a bike to the back of the car. They are usually held in place by straps which are connected to the bumper or trunk. Trunk racks are great if you only need a bike rack that you use occasionally. Also, if your bike is a standard bike, or you want the most economical way to transport your bike, then hitchless trunk rack will work for you.

But bear in mind that this type of rack is not the safest way to transport your bike. That means that you will need to secure your bike to it. And we shall get to that in a moment.

Hitch Rack

The best way to safely transport your bike on your car without issues is with a hitch rack. They are easy to use because they attach to the receiver hitch of your car without getting in the way of your trunk. You can still make use of your trunk unlike trunk-mounted racks that make it difficult to do so. With hitch racks, you get to haul your bike along without it scratching your car.

The downside of hitch racks is that they don’t come cheap. And they tend to extend the length of your car. But many of them can take more than one bike at a time.

Which Bike Rack is The Best?

To determine the best rack, you have to put your type of car into consideration. Also, you have to look at their pros and cons. And of course, your budget is another thing that comes into play. Many car racks now come with locks that you can use to secure your rack to your car. Even if yours doesn’t have one, you can always get a lock for your rack separately. However, any of the three bike racks listed in this article can serve.


You should never leave your bike on your car rack without securing it. You probably spent a fortune getting your bike and therefore shouldn’t make it easy for thieves to gain access to it.

The best way to ensure that your bike is safe on your car rack is to lock it. With the tips above, you can safely transport your bike without having to worry about theft or the bike falling off your car.

Also read: 5 Ways to Protect Bikes on Bike Rack While Travelling

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

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