Carrying Bikes on Cars

Posted on Friday, 30 October 2015   |  Viewed: 2315

Bike riding is increasing in popularity all the time. Below is a summary on the different methods of carrying your bikes on your car and the pros and cons of each.

Roof Top Bike Carriers

Obviously you’ll need a set of roof racks first to attach the carriers to. Click on the Roof Rack Guide to see all roof rack options for your car

Roof mounted carriers have the advantage of being quick and easy to load and unload bikes. There’s the advantage of having roof racks there to carry other things as well (think roof box, ikea, hardware pick-ups etc) and there’s no worries about covering your rear number plate as with other rear mounted carriers.

One disadvantage of this style is as cars are getting taller, it becomes more difficult to reach up to get the bikes on the roof. The other downside is the day you forget the bikes are up there and drive into the garage. For our article on carrying roof loads safely click here

To see all roof mounted bike carrier options click here

To seewhich roof mounted bike carrier should I buy click here


Tow Ball Mounted Bike Carriers

These break down into two categories, the cheaper ‘hanging’ style and the more expensive style platform carriers. The cheaper ‘hanging’ style carriers where the bike hangs from protruding arms are generally not designed to be used with higher end and especially not for carbon framed bikes. The platform carriers are considered the best way to carry a bike including E-Bikes with the bikes unable to move together during acceleration or braking, provision to mount a number plate, built in taillights and the ability to tilt away from car to allow access to the boot. 4 bike maximum.


The disadvantage is that you don’t usually leave these carriers on the car all the time. It means an extra thing to do every time you ride but they are super simple and quick to load.

To see all ball mounted carriers click here


Hitch Mounted Bike Carriers

To mount one of these style of carriers you will need a ‘receiver hitch’ or ‘Hayman Reece’ style tow bar. This style of carrier ‘plugs in’ to the square receiver on your tow bar when the tow ball and shaft are removed (note you will need a 40 or 50mm receiver).

This style has the advantage of carrying up to five bikes and is very robust. The disadvantage is that there is the real chance of bikes rubbing together and scratching when on the back of your car and hence are not recommended for high end or expensive bikes.  The shortcoming on this style is that they don’t have provision for mounting a number plate and bikes will often cover not only your number plate but rear lights as well.

To see all hitch mounted carriers click here

We always recommend the use of the Thule LightBoard with the above products


For more information on laws surrounding carrying bikes on the rear of your car click here