13 Tips for Traveling with a Bike Rack to Make Your Trip Better

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Traveling with a bike rack is not everyone’s piece of cake. Certain issues can make this tricky. In addition, there is the matter of cost and safety as well.

However, certain simple tips can help you get around these problematic situations and end up with the best experience with your tour. In this article, we will discuss tricks you can adapt to enhance your traveling experience with a bike rack.

Here, you will know about the slightest thing that can change the course of your entire trip.

Whether traveling alone or with friends, in the hills or the timberlands, you will find helpful tips that perfectly accompany your tour. Check out the following handy hacks and prepare properly for your next adventure.

What I Do when Traveling with a Bike Rack

Tips for Traveling with a Bike Rack

Tips should be easily executable and useful. The tricks below are arranged keeping these criteria in mind. Check them out.

Tip 1: Get the bike rack that is compatible with your vehicle

It goes without saying that your bike rack should be compatible with the car you drive.

Surprisingly, many people get this point wrong and purchase a bike rack that doesn’t even fit with the car. Bikers buy a bike rack without thinking about the car and regret it once they try to set everything up.

For example, if you have Hatchbacks or sedans, you need a roof-mounted bicycle carrier. But the same thing won’t be ideal for a truck or an SUV. For such huge vehicles, you need a hitch-mount rack.

Tip 2: Have a clear idea of where you are going for the trip

Choosing the perfect bike rack for the track, you plan to travel to is extremely important. The reason is simple. A smooth road and a rough path through the mountain won’t be the same. Therefore, it would be best if you had different types of racks for the different types of roads.

Let me clarify. If you go through the forest, you must put the bike rack on the back of your car. Why? Well, if you mount the bike on the roof, it can cause trouble while crossing low-hanging spots.

In contrast, bikes should be mounted on the car’s roof when going through bumpy roads. Imagine your bicycle hanging at the back of your vehicle. Chances are, the bike will fall off the rack if the car jolts on the rough road.

So, what am I suggesting? First, get a rack to hang on the back if you go into the woods. But roof-rack will be a better option if you opt for mountain tracks.

Tip 3: Make sure the size of the bike rack matches the car

Once you have identified the perfect spot to place the rack, it’s time to get into the details.

It’s irritating if you have to get out of your car now and then to adjust the rack. You can avoid this by getting the perfect model of the rack. And by perfect model, I mean the ideal rack size.

Check your car manual first. It should have the details of the car’s size. Then check the manual of the rack you intend to purchase. See which rack matches the size mentioned in your car’s manual. This is the simplest way of choosing the ideal rack.

Once you have installed the perfect option, there is no need to worry further about adjusting and readjusting the rack every 30 mins.

Tip 4: Use a bungee cord to keep the bikes secured on the rack

No one will tell you to use a bungee cord to keep the bike hooked to the racks. It’s a secret tip that many people don’t know about.

Your rack may come with straps, but these are usually not the strongest ones. In this case, the bungee cords are a lifesaver.

The cords’ elasticity and sturdiness help keep the bikes in their place. In addition, the smooth texture of such cords prevents scratching the bike’s body no matter how tightly you tie the rope.

However, no matter how you tie them, ensure the cords never get caught in the wheel of the car while driving. This can cause accidents and bring permanent damage to your bikes. Instead, tie the extra cord to the main knot or cut the excess bit. This should save you from severe issues.

Tip 5: Keep the essential equipment near your reach

An important part of your preparation is making sure you can handle unpleasant surprises. To do that, you must keep all the essential instruments in your hand.

What am I talking about? Let me explain. Imagine you are on the mountain top you have wanted to hike with a bike for a long time.

But after reaching there, you realize you can’t untie the rope knot and thus can’t get the bike off the car. In other words, you lost access to your bike. If you don’t have the right equipment, this can mean the end of your trip.

But if you keep an army knife in your car, you can use that to cut the rope and rescue your bicycle.

So, what should you keep in the back of your car apart from an army knife? Extra bungee ropes, tape, and a welding machine if possible. Trust me, and this will save you from tons of trouble.

Tips 6: Stay in good health condition

Traveling with a bike rack means moving with extra weight on the back. This situation is not an ordinary one. It requires you to drive differently than you usually would.

Wait, this is not anything to worry about. You won’t have trouble driving the car unless you are drowsing off due to lack of sleep. The car may get out of control if the driver is feeling ill.

This is why eating healthy before setting off for the tour is important. Not only that, the driver must stay properly hydrated and get enough sleep to survive the entire path.

Though this is true in the case of all kinds of trips, traveling with a bike rack is a special case because here, the usual nature of driving is bound to change a bit. So don’t worry too much about it. You will get used to it if you stay concentrated while driving.

Tips 7: Pick your resting spot

Unless your destination is only a mile away, you should never drive the entire way in one go. This will tire you soon and can cause health issues.

But these are not the only reasons. If you are traveling far, you should stop every 45 minutes, or at least every hour, to take a short 5 minutes break. At this time, you can take a sip of coffee or get a bathroom break.

Whatever you do, make sure to check the bike rack during this break time. Even if you drive on the smoothest road, you never know what will loosen up the bicycle from their place.

Just checking the knot and giving the bicycle a little jerk should tell you whether your bike is secured or not.

Tip 8: Check the tire pressure

A bike rack, on average, weighs around 17 to 20 KG. This weight puts extra pressure on your vehicle’s wheels.

It means the car wheels must be in their best condition to have this extra object hooked on the back. In other words, you must make sure the tire pressure is accurate.

What you can do is, right after attaching the rack to the car, check your tire pressure before setting off. Then, if you notice something is not right, get them fixed immediately.

Tip 9: Carry chains or padlocks with you at all times

Most likely, your bikes won’t always be within your sight. You may have to go to the bathroom or engage in deep conversation with your friend. Thieves will utilize the instances you aren’t paying attention to and paddle away with your bicycle.

I am trying to say that you should never compromise safety. Always ensure your bicycle is equipped with a padlock or a chain. Lock up your bike with the rack whenever you are not riding it.

Tip 10: Don’t leave the bike hanging on the rack

Many people who realize it is hassle-free to hang the bike on the rack do so without considering the consequences. This is in no way a good practice.

Keeping the bike hanging from the rack puts it at the risk of constantly hitting the back of your car while driving. This won’t only break the delicate components of your bike but will also damage the back side of your vehicle.

So, to save your bike and car, make sure to set the bike on the rack tightly.

Tip 11: Wrap the bike with a water-resistant cover

Whether the weather is sunny or gloomy, everything can damage your bike. Rain can damage almost all the components of your bicycle. At the same time, normal sunny weather can melt the rubbery part of the bike.

Apart from these, the dirt from the road can easily get clogged into different parts of the bike, damaging the essential components. All these can happen while you are driving.

The solution to this situation is to wrap up your bike in a water-resistant cover. You can get one from Amazon at less than $15. Covering your bike with these will not only save it from rain but from dirt and any other possible harmful elements.

Tip 12: Make sure the rack can put up with the weight

All the bike racks are robust. There’s no doubt about that. But not every rack was built by the makers in the same way. Some are ideal for a single bike, while some can handle multiple bicycles.

Which one do you need? Are you going to travel around with more than one bike on the back of your car? Get a rack that can handle the overall weight. And if you need to carry a single bike, any rack will do the job perfectly.

Don’t compromise at this point because bearing more weight than the limit can lead to devastating accidents.

Tip 13: Get a small trailer for more bikes

A single rack won’t do if you travel with a big group. A rack can probably handle up to 3 bikes but not more. So, what if there are 5 of you and only one car?

In that case, you can always get a small trailer with built-in bike racks and secure your bicycle. You have to set up the trailer as a rolling bike rack, hook it up with your car, and that’s it. Now you have a moving bike rack moving along with your vehicle.

This is a cheap, simple, and safe route to take for traveling with multiple bikes.

My Final Two Words on Travelling with A Bike Rack

Your trips and adventures should go smoothly without anything to worry about. But to ensure that, you must take essential precautions. Fortunately, you now know about most of them.

Taking adequate preparation, choosing the right instrument, and thorough planning can offer you the best experience of traveling with a bike rack, whether you are going into the woods or casually hiking around a mountainous zone.

Ensure you get certain things right and are good to go. The best thing about the tips discussed in this article is they are easy to follow but offer great value in the long run. So don’t hesitate to try them out.

Also read: How to Make a DIY Bike Rack for Truck Bed?

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of RackTutor.com. 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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