Bicycle carrier systems come in a broad range of styles to fit virtually every type of automobile. When selecting a system, consider these factors:
- The size of your vehicle.
- The number, size and weight of your bikes – Sure, you can fit more bikes on the roof of a Suburban, but do you really want to lift them all up there?
- Where your vehicle is stored – Will it fit in the garage with the rack attached and/or the bikes up top?
- Mobility – Do you need to frequently remove the rack or swap it between vehicles?
- Budget – Carrier systems vary in price, based upon features and style.
Once you confirm your requirements, check out the different types of carriers available below: Roof Racks
Good for all sizes of bicycles, and essential for tandems. Keeps bikes secured, without contacting each other or your vehicle. Truck Racks
Relatively easy to install and remove, and can be shared between vehicles. Very affordable. Hitch Racks
Good for heavier loads due to sturdiness and low mounting height. Most brands allow for ample separation of bikes. Easy to install and remove. Truck Bed Racks
Easy to install and remove. Easy to load bikes.
| || | 1 Any unprotected bike-to-bike or bike-to-vehicle contact can result in damage. Pad and secure anything your rack can’t keep separated. 2 Lock your bikes to the carrier, and the carrier to the vehicle. The peace of mind is worth the added expense. When carrying a bike inside your vehicle, cover it. What thieves can’t see, they are less likely to covet. 3 Strip the bike of any accessories before loading it onto the car. Seatpacks, cycle computers, water bottles and pumps are safer in the car than blowing in the wind. 4 Many racks allow the front wheel to swing. To avoid damage to other bikes and the car secure the wheel with a strap or bungee. 5 Alert the bus driver before beginning to secure your bike to a bus-front rack. Better to be over-cautious than flattened! 6 Be flexible when taking your bike onto a bus or train. Whether you like it or not, you ARE taking up valuable space, so be as courteous and accommodating as possible. 7 Consider a folding bike if you travel frequently. Many of today’s folding models weigh slightly more than the standard variety, and travel in carriers the size of a suitcase. 8 Carry a lock at all times when traveling with your bike, even if the only place you’ll lock the bike is in your hotel room. 9 When flying, expect to pay $50 - $150 per one way trip (and be grateful when they charge you less or not at all). 10 Remember the pump and tools. Pack tools in a nylon or canvas bag with a cinch closure, which makes them stuff-able, but less likely to slip through any holes in the case (and less likely to spill out when the TSA agent inspects your luggage).
The experience of taking your bike on a bus or train will vary greatly from area to area, or type of bus or train. Commuter trains typically accommodate bikes during non-peak hours within the train’s cars or loading areas. Be sure to check your train service for bike transport rules. Many buses provide racks at the front end, where you can secure your bike yourself. Destination trains (like Amtrak) and buses (like Greyhound) often offer bike transport in either boxed or unboxed condition, differing from carrier to carrier. Check ahead to find out which method will work best for your trip, and to reserve space for your bike.
Whether your bike travels in a specialty hard or soft case, or even a cardboard box, flying with a bike is all about secure packing and light weight. Keeping your bike secure protects it from friction- related damage. Keeping it light makes transport to and from the airport more manageable, and may cut down on airline charges.
Airline bike carriers differ in size, weight and price. Advantages of a larger carrier include reduced bike dismantling and increased storage space. This equates to less contact between bike parts and wheels within the case. Disadvantages of large cases include portability in your own vehicle or a taxi at your destination, and the potential for overall weight to exceed airline limits. Smaller cases may require more time and effort to pack, but can be worthwhile at the airline check-in counter, or when your cab driver shows up in a tiny sedan.
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