You have trained all summer (or maybe since October 1st) with your friends, and now you need to get a carload to the big ride. But what do you do when there is no room in the car? Time to think car rack for hauling 2 to 4 bikes (and sometimes more). You have 3 basic choices: strap-on trunk racks, hitch racks or roof racks.
Strap-on racks are economical, easy to mount and good for the traveler with just 2-3 bikes. The Saris Bones 3 Rack is one of the very popular Saris trunk and hatchback racks that fit will fit most cars, minivans and SUVs. Even if you just haul 2 bikes most of the time, choosing a 3-bike rack offers more room for loading your bikes..
Hitch racks are solid and secure, and a good value if your vehicle already has a trailer hitch receiver. The advantages of a hitch rack are that it does not contact your car's finish, and is it easily locked directly to your car. The downside is that your bicycles are between the guy tailgating you and your rear bumper. Vertical racks (which hang the bikes) and tray-style racks (which support the bikes by the wheels) are available.
Our family hitch rack of choice has been a vertical hitch rack from Yakima. Ours is a tilt-away rack that allows you to swing the unloaded rack down for access to the trunk or hatchback. (A Swing-Away rack allows you access the back of the vehicle with the bikes on.) Our 4-bike carrier is easily moved between two different vehicles, and it has been used for dropping-off and picking-up bikes around town as well as for long distance cross country trips.
Roof racks systems are very secure, protect your bike, and may be the only solution for a recumbent or tandem bicycle. They offer flexibility with a myriad of options for mounting your bikes and other sport equipment. They also can be very high capacity, carrying up to 6 bikes on some vehicles, or bikes mixed with a cargo box. You start with a basic cross bar and tower set, and then add the bike mounts and multi-sport mounts that meet your needs.
The downside of a roof rack can be the difficultly in loading on taller vehicles, and having to be aware of height clearance while driving and parking.
Whichever rack type you use, follow the manufacturers installation and bike mounting instructions.(Bicycle Garage Indy offers assembly and installation services on any rack we sell.) Be sure to have a locking system for your rack and bikes, and it is best to remove accessories and bags when driving and parking overnight. All of the rack systems available at Bicycle Garage Indy have been used for thousands of trouble-free miles.
Bicycle Garage Indy offers numerous rack options using Saris and Yakima brands at both our Indianapolis location (Dean Road at 82nd St.) and Bicycle Garage Indy Greenwood (just west of I-65 on County Line Rd.) Not all car racks are available at Bicycle Garage Indy Downtown in the Indy Bike Hub YMCA.)
For more tips and links, visit the Bicycle Garage Indy Hilly Hundred Resource Page.