Bicycle and Ski RacksPage Overview
Bike and ski racks are like margarita glasses―when full, fun usually follows. But before the fun hours can begin, you must first find a rack that conforms to your needs and your vehicle.
There are four types of racks: roof, trunk, hitch, and spare tire. Generally, your vehicle type will determine which you choose.
This rack rates as the most popular model. Often resembling nothing more than a twin mattress bed frame with an added bike adapter, this rack's greatest asset is its versatility. Unlike other racks, it can transport skis, bikes, kayaks, canoes, camping equipment, and more.
Trunk or Deck Rack
These racks mount to trunks or hatchbacks via straps and hooks, allowing you to quickly install and remove them. Most models can accommodate three bikes, although a four-bike model does exist. These racks are popular for convertibles.
Often spotted on convertible jeeps, this rack attaches to rear spare-tire mounts. Some models employ hooks and straps so you can get them on and off easily, while some of the newer models have permanent wheel fixtures with foldable arms. Because of strength constraints with the spare-tire mounts, these racks are limited to two bikes.
Often seen protruding from SUVs and vans, this rack, when empty, resembles something better suited for hanging dry cleaning. But function trumps form, lending this rack the capacity (depending on the model) to safely haul up to five bicycles.
First, consider height restrictions. For instance, if you drive a tall vehicle such as an SUV, you'll need a ladder and a helping hand to load a roof rack with bikes. And you can forget about driving into garages and parking structures with low clearances. Many bikes have been ruined by this oversight.
This same type of thinking also applies to hitch racks, but from a length standpoint. The added protrusion on the back of your vehicle adds a new challenge to parking, especially in cities.
Second, research your vehicle's weight restrictions if you opt for a roof rack. Because these racks are capable of carrying bigger loads (some can haul up to 14 bikes), owners erroneously presume that the vehicle's roof can also handle the weight. You can cause cosmetic and structural damage to your vehicle this way.
Third, pinpoint your activities. You'll have a wider range of options if all you plan to carry are bikes, skis, or snowboards. But if you are an adrenaline junkie who skis, bikes, kayaks, canoes, windsurfs, and pole vaults, you'll need either a roof or a hitch rack.
These two rack types are modular, which means versatile, so you can customize them according to what you want to carry that day. You can easily make adjustments to carry a variety of gear, including hard-shell rooftop boxes and luggage trays.
Today's glut of car-rack manufacturers creates a crowded market. Something that seems as simple as a car rack now involves research and comparative shopping. When making a decision, always consider quality over price. Cheaper models lack longevity, often employing plastic tubing that is susceptible to breakage and locking devices that are better suited for preschool lunch boxes. A pricier model will provide peace of mind from ever having to worry whether the crumpled bike or splintered skis in your rearview mirror belong to you.
Don't fret over installation. If you're so lousy with tools that even Habit for Humanity would reject your volunteer application, ask for help. Most shops that sell car racks have technicians that can assist with installation.Other Topics in This Section
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- Bicycle and Ski Racks