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BIKE RACK:Best roof-mounted bike racks

bike rack for car

If you own a bike or two and don’t have a car with a large enough boot, or simply want to free up some crucial luggage space for your next family holiday, fitting a bike rack is the logical solution.

There are so many ways to mount a bike on a car that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by choice. Rear-mounted universal racks are strapped to the tailgate, while tow-bar mounted items are more secure. The best option, however – both in terms of practicality and security – is a dedicated bike rack for the roof, an option that is becoming ever more popular in today’s market.

It’s not as simple as choosing the first rack you come across, however. Typically there are three main methods of attaching a bike to your car roof, each utilising a different part of the bike – the frame, tyres or fork.

Frame-gripping models are the traditional solution, featuring a bar that attaches to the downtube of your bicycle to hold it securely in the rack, though these can damage bikes if used incorrectly and tend to be quite noisy, both in terms of wind noise and vibrations over bumps.

Racks that attach directly to the fork of the bike are very secure, but the front wheel of your bike must be removed beforehand and stored in the car itself. Noise levels are much lower than the frame-grabbing options. It’s important to note that most manufacturers don’t recommend these racks for use with carbon-framed bikes, and bear in mind that not all disc brake set-ups are catered for.

The final option is a rack that grips a bike’s tyres – these can be more secure than frame models and tend to minimise vibration thanks to their plastic-to-rubber securing method.

How we tested them

Our test focused on ease of installation and use, from assembly and fitting to actually loading the bike itself. We also checked to see how secure the bike was once installed in the rack. All racks tested were fitted to a set of Thule Wingbars aero bars on our rest car; it is important to note that if your car has standard roofbars, the racks featured here may require adaptors.