Should You Buy a Used Bike Rack? Know The Risks Before You Do!

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A used bike rack has its fair share of risks, no matter how you put it. But that’s not why you should stay out of it or the reasons you should get into it.

Quite similarly, a used tool doesn’t necessarily mean a bad one. Following the cases I have seen, considering my own experiences, refurbished or second-hand deals turn out to be extremely good deals – The same quality at a lesser price.

These cases are rare. If you’re not careful enough, you might get scammed. Also, you need to research as not every bike rack fits every type of car. You’ll need separate bike racks for your SUVs and different bike racks if other than that.

I’ve had great deals to save some bucks, and I have encountered deals that almost robbed peoples’ wallets in exchange for poor-quality products. But, profit or not, it did teach me valuable lessons to finally get up and document those experiences for future endeavors.

Before anything, let’s learn more about bike racks.

Choose the Perfect Bike Racks for Your Car

Not every bike rack will fit every type of car, or worse – it will damage your car and the bike if you successfully choose the wrong one. Before you jump on the bandwagon to buy the bike rack, filter out the bike rack you should be looking for. Our approach to the system will be –

  • Read about the available bike types
  • Check out their pros and cons
  • Filter out the ones that match our cars
  • Filter the ‘great quality, great price’ one
  • Learn about the do’s and don’ts of buying secondhand tools
  • Learn about the risk
  • Follow my guidance!

I get it. Biking is your thing. The sad reality is that you cannot go everywhere by bike (unless you are enthusiastic). You can drive your car and take your bike in it. Bikes are usually larger, so they won’t fit in your seat, and here is where the bike racks come to the rescue. 

I have got a ton of bike racks to educate you on. But we will start with our favorite, the hitch bike racks!

Hitch Bike Racks

As you can already guess by the name of this bike rack, they mount on the trailer hitch at the rear of your car. Since you don’t have to get them on the roof, they are easily lifted at the back and fitted according to convenience.

If you ask me, this one’s the one to get. But please ensure it is compatible with your receiver’s hitch’s size. They are easy to carry, install, and travel.

They almost fit every car, but you need a bit of personal research. Other than that, they modify the length of the car, so you might face problems backing up your car.

No, we are not done with hitch bike racks – they are actually of two types which I’m going to explain to you now.

Platform-Style Bike Racks

Before reading this, skip this part if you plan to carry only one bike. However, if you are planning to carry more than one, your journey to your best bike rack ends here – after you read this part of my article.

Platform-style bikes are the most convenient ones in the market for carrying more than one bike in a car. They are called ‘platform’ specifically because they made platformed-trays side by side to avoid bike contraction and make the bike stay in its place.

Platform-style bike racks are usually designed to carry two bikes at a time, but you can add extensions to carry up to 4 bikes at once. In addition, you can customize sizes, lengths, and everything according to the bikes you’re carrying.

Well, you might have probably guessed by now that they come with a greater price (literally). So they can be pretty expensive. But if you go deeper into the calculations, this is a steal as you are paying for more than one bike. They also offer different varieties of sizes and shapes for electric bikes.

Hanging (Mast-Style) Bike Racks

These bike racks support carrying bikes in a hanging style. In addition, they have arms to support the carried bikes by frame.

As you can already guess, they are not as safe as platform-style racks, so they are cheaper than the platform-style ones. They can carry more than one bike at a time, but you must see if your car supports this style.

Roof Bike Racks

This is for those who don’t want to hang their bikes at the rear. You can easily opt for the roof if you don’t think your bike is unsafe enough at the back.

Roof bike racks ensure the security of your bike as they let you keep both wheels on. The only con might be that you need to carry your bike to the roof. Considering bikes are usually heavy, it’s not always convenient for people. There’s that.

Truck Bed Bike Racks

Don’t own a pickup truck? This one is not for you. But if you do, this is the one you should look for.

I know that pickup trucks already have a big space, so clearly, there is this misconception that you don’t need bike racks for pickup vans. That’s not true because carrying a bike without a rack may lead to a series of unfortunate events.

You can carry your bikes on a pad above the tailgate, with bike forks, or just over the truck’s side rail and many more we are yet to discover. They can carry the most number of bikes which is up to 7 bikes.

Other than that, trunk bike racks are usually attached to the trunk of your hatchback as per the name. They use a system of straps to keep the bikes safe. So, you don’t need a hitch or rack system. But they can only carry up to 3 bikes, that’s the only drawback.

Related: How to Make a DIY Bike Rack for Truck Bed? Advantages and Disadvantages

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Most cars nowadays usually do not have spare tires. But I’ve seen people still carry in some models, so this is for those still in spare tire bike racks.

They’re affordable for their quality, but the only drawback is they can carry the least number of bikes — only two in number. But these are the typical cases; some of the spare tire bike racks may be able to carry more than two basses, but that’s unusual in general cases.

Things You Need to Do and Avoid with Used Bike Racks

Should You Buy a Used Bike Rack

A used bike rack will have pros and cons that vary from person to person. 

I’ll share a personal story of mine – I got a great deal for Thule Apex XTR. But unfortunately, I was offered half the actual value, the seller only used it for a few months, and they were still in great condition. 

They let me check everything, and we finally closed the deal at a reasonable price. Now, that was worth the buy. But unfortunately, this deal was too lucrative to be real. Still, fortunately, I didn’t get scammed because of my previous experiences that go on the don’ts part of the article. 

Before I go on to the do part of the article, let’s just go to the ‘why you should buy a used bike rack’ part of the article—

I’m gonna make this simple, here’s why —

  • You get the exact product in lesser price
  • Sometimes you get higher quality of product in lesser price
  • You find good deals within your budget
  • You get to check the product in every way before actually buying it

But all these advantages will have no value if you do not follow the ‘do’s’ part of this article. Here’s what you need to do to not get scammed and to get the best out of the system.

Things You Need to Do with Used Bike Racks

Be very careful with this one!

  • If you read my previous tips on how to utilize this article, you would see that I have charted a list where I said, “you will filter out the bike racks that you want for your car”.  This is very important as not every bike rack fits every type of car.
  • Choose carefully the type of bike rack you’re going to buy. The hitch rack might want you to measure your car’s hitch whereas the roof rack would require you to carry the bike all the way to the roof.
  • Only after you’re sure of your choice, go find someone who is offering a good deal on the same model and is open to negotiation.
  • Before buying a bike rack check imported and parts like— if there are any scratches, if the product works perfectly, how long has it been used and if there are any warranty services left. Make your motives clear to the seller that you’re not going to deal if you find a problem within the product. Ask for the receipt from where he bought the product.
  • Always ask for a trial in front of the seller.
  • Remember to negotiate but do not settle for something that the product does not deserve.
  • Take someone who understands the bike rack better than you and is already experienced in this field, if you can.

Things You Need to Avoid with Used Bike Racks

  • Don’t shy out of the situation! Try to investigate every part of the product.
  • Pay more than it deserves. Always compare it with current market prices.
  • Buy a product without warranty or words of replacement.
  • Buy a very old one, unless it’s in very good condition or a great deal.
  • Buy a rack that you didn’t try on your car. Chances are the rack might not even fit your car and this will be a loss. Always try and research deeper into the product.
  • Pay advance money to an unknown person. This is the most common scam scenario in the marketplace.
  • Settle for less? Don’t. Bag what you paid for and keep looking for the one.

You should look out for the above symptoms and the rule of thumb is: Always go with your guts. If you think something is wrong, something might be wrong and inquire about every bit of the product unless you’re completely sure about it.

The Risks that come with it

Secondhand bike racks or used ones have risks – but they are controllable. But before you jump on buying an used rack, you should know the risks that come along with it, or just learn from my experience:

Risks can always be controlled and minimized. Mark that not everyone experiences the same situation, and I am generalizing a situation here. If you are buying a used product, be ready to–

Get scammed unless you follow this article’s do’s and don’ts. People put on fake products, take advance payment and then disappear after the payment. 

That’s the usual scenario, so be careful of that. You might bag a faulty product that you might realize days after, so always be sure of the seller and the product in front of the seller. 

Other than that, if you bag a good deal, you can save a lot of bucks with the same product quality. That’s enough to convince me to go for it.

Now, Should You Buy a Used Bike Rack?

After all the analysis in this article, this one is completely a personal choice. If you are confident that you can bag a good deal at a lesser price and higher quality and have knowledge of bike racks, then don’t look back and go for one.

For newbies, it might be a bit of a hassle to search and experience your first deal, but it should be worth the experience. All you need to do is to be careful about the do’s and don’ts and follow it and your guts.

A used bike rack is worth it if it’s a good deal. If you’re short on budget, you need to fill that up by researching more and, finally, getting a good deal. I think it’s easier now with this article, so good luck with the journey!

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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