Vehicle-mounted racks for transporting bicycles are more popular than ever. In our mobile society, having a way to safely and conveniently carry your bikes with you is important. There are a number of different types of carrying systems; strap-on trunk, roof mount, and hitch mount. Although they tend to be a bit more expensive than the first two, the hitch mount bike rack is the most convenient for transporting your bicycles.
Hitch mount racks are also easier to install as they simply slip over the trailer hitch on your vehicle. If your car or SUV does not have a trailer hitch, one must be installed. There are two basic types of hitch mount racks, the tube top and tray mount. Tube top racks hold bikes by the frame, while the tray mount has a shelf upon which the bicycle tires rest. Some off-road or mountain bikes will not fit on a tube top rack, so for this type bike, a shelf mount is required. Hitch mount racks can carry from one to five bikes, depending upon size.
Mounts come in metal or plastic, and while the metal racks are durable, plastic is also strong and not prone to rust.
Before purchasing a hitch mount rack, it is important to know what type of trailer hitch is on your car. Most trailer hitches are either 1.25 inch or 2 inch, although some SUVs have custom size hitches. Hitch mount bike racks are Class I (1.25 inch opening) for cars and small car-style SUVs, and Class III (2 inch opening) for pickups and truck-style SUVs. Racks can also be customized for non-standard hitch receivers. The Class I hitch mount can handle up to three bikes, while the Class III mount can handle up to five.
There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on a bike rack for your car or truck:
– How often do you plan to use the rack?
– Will it be used on more than one vehicle?
– How many bikes do you plan to transport?
– Will you be using it on rented vehicles?
Because bike racks hitch mount are on the rear of the vehicle they can block the driver’s view of traffic directly behind the car. Care also has to be taken that the rack does not obscure the license plate as this can result in a traffic ticket. The rear mounted racks can also complicate parking, particularly parallel parking, and the extra length has to be taken into account. The tube top racks also add to the height of the vehicle, and you must be aware of this when parking inside.
If you plan on frequent transport of your bike or bikes, though, the hitch mount rack is a wise investment. It is easy to install and remove, and requires less effort putting bikes on and taking them off. Most don’t require any disassembly of the bike before transport, and because the mount is on the trailer hitch, minimizes the chance of your bike or car being scratched during transport.