How Does a Bike Rack Work

How Does a Bike Rack Work? – Let’s Take a Peek in the Process 

A Bike rack comes in handy when you need to tow one or multiple bikes at the back of your car without stressing too much. It gives you the luxury of transporting your bikes from one place to another without breaking into pieces.

All you need to do is to set a rack at the rear end of your vehicle and hop the bikes on it. There’s no need to dismantle these into pieces and travel. Some also give you a tilting feature by which you can access the backseat of your vehicle without removing the cycles.

In short, bike racks are great. But what about the functionality? Do all bike racks work in the same way?

These questions are important because the answers will take you to the correct purchase. Moreover, knowing the working principle of any product clears out all the confusion bubbles.

In this article, I’ll try to describe the working mechanism of a bike rack in as much detail as possible. Since there are different types of bike racks, the functionality also varies from one another. Let’s discuss the topic at hand, shall we?

Different Bike Racks and How They Work?

We can classify bike racks in several ways. For now, I’ve selected the four common types that go great with all kinds of cars, SUVs, trucks, etc. So, without further ado, let’s see the types and how each rack works.

How Does a Bike Rack Work

Roof-Mounted Racks: Explaining Their Mechanism

Roof-Mounted types are one of the most widely used bike racks. The rack is commonly attached to the vehicle’s roof using a roof-mounted crossbar. Most people with heavier bikes choose this one for better support and stability.

One of the most significant advantages of using this one is the clear rear view. Since the bikes stay on top of the car, you can frequently use your vehicle’s backside without a hassle. It’s a good option when you’re transporting more than one cycle. Installing and ensuring it’ll work fine for you is easier than ever. 

First, you need to attach the rack to your car (obviously). To do that, you can use the rack manual, or YouTube videos can be an option.

The tricky part of the whole installation process is to set the crossbars. It has clamps or brackets that attach the rack to the vehicle’s roof. So, you have to be extra careful here.

After that, you need to load your bikes. It can be a problem because roof types require you to lift the bike to load. And lifting a heavy bike is not a joke. So, be careful in this part. Attach the bikes with the rack perfectly, and you’re ready to leave for your destination.

Since the roof is occupied, parking the vehicle in a closed space can be challenging. Staying away from low clearances could be an option here. Open-space parking is also okay if you can manage.

Lastly, remove the wheel straps to unload your bike after reaching your destination. You can also remove the bike rack by removing the clamps. 

Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks – How They Work?

Truck-Mounted bike racks are one of the most affordable options. It fits all kinds of budgets and is very much easy to hands-on on. Also, these are highly adjustable with a lot of features. Despite all the good things, it’s one of the least preferred types by consumers.

In my opinion, there’re two reasons behind it. The first one would be its security lacking.

Trunk-mounted ones are attached to the vehicle’s trunk, making the structure more volatile than others. Unlike the roof type, there’s no solid base to support the rack this time. As a result, it clings onto the vehicle with only the help of the rack’s clamps. Hence, I found the whole thing less secure.

Another reason would be its inconvenience. See, this product is attached to the vehicle’s trunk. So, you can’t use the trunk in the middle of the journey. It’s a big letdown for me.

Apart from these two, another “Non-Likable” side of the item is that it leaves the vehicle with many scratches. Because of all this, trunk-mounted bike racks are the least favorite. Now, let’s understand how it works.

The working principle of it is relatively simple. Just like the roof-mounted type, you need to attach this one with the help of its clamps or straps. The straps are made to fit most of the vehicle’s trunk out there. So, you won’t have a size issue.

After that, load the bikes into it and secure them by using the handle straps. You can use a security cable to ensure optimum safety. You should use those if the rack has additional anti-theft or security features. Now, your bikes are ready for the trip.

Unloading the bikes are also hassle-free. But during this, just make sure you don’t damage your vehicle’s paint job. This is about the functionality of trunk-mounted bike racks. 

Spare-Tire Mounted Bike Racks – Explaining the Inner Workings

As the name suggests, this type of rack is attached to the vehicle’s spare tire. It’s a good option for those who own an SUV, Truck, or other one with an extra tire at the back. Unlike trunks, spare tires make a solid base for the rack to sit on. And for that reason, there are no security issues in these racks.

The most significant advantage of the product is that it’s easy to install, remove, and store. Hence, if you’re someone who uses bike racks occasionally, you can purchase one of these. Okay, enough selling. I think we should talk about how it works now.

Well, it works exactly the same way as trunk-mounted racks. Everything is the same in this one except the mounting place. You must attach the product to the spare tire using bolts or straps. The tire holds the item’s main frame where the bikes hang.

After installing, it’s time to hang the bikes and secure them with the rack’s wheel and frame straps. You can add more safety features if you want. And you’re ready to roll with your spare tire-mounted bike rack. The disadvantages of this one are also similar to the other. 

Hitch-Mounted Racks – Simplest of the Lot!

Okay, we’ve come to the final bike rack type, and this one is probably the most used. Let’s talk about hitch-mounted bike racks. Roof-mounted means attached to the roof, and trunk-mounted means attached to the trunk. In the same way, hitch-mounted means the product is attached to a hitch.

This means you’ll get proper distancing from your vehicle this time.

Hitch-Mounted racks come in two styles: Platform and Hanging. The first one is generic, which you see in the market. It consists of ratchet hooks that grab onto the bike frame and different-sized platforms or wheel cradles to hold the bottom part of the bikes.

You can carry up to 4 bikes in these racks.

On the other hand, hanging styles can carry up to SIX cycles. Here, you have a stand with all the straps to hold onto the bike frame, and the package travels at a ninety-degree angle.

The worst part about the product is its space shortage. You need more space to load a lot of bikes. Also, transporting e-bikes in one of these is challenging.

The working method of the two styles is similar. First, you need a hitch that matches the rack’s receiver. After that, you must install the hitch and set the product by pushing its receiver into it. With a few bolts and lock pins here and there, your product is ready to go.

In the hanging style, a horizontal handle carries most of the weight. And on the other one, there’s a whole platform or wheel cradle for the job. Also, it has a vertical arm with ratchet hooks to contain bike frames.

There are also wheel straps for the platform-style hitch-mounted bike racks. It keeps the wheels in place and makes everything more secure. Since the horizontal bar does most of the jobs in hanging style, the item is lackluster in strength and security.

The Final Words

From a distance, bike racks may look like a complex tool. But when you deep dive and try to uncover its various layer, you’ll find it simple and easy to operate.

Like all other products, it also has divisions. All the types have at least one unique element that makes their functionality different.

For that reason, I described the four most common types and discussed functionality one by one. The brief discussion gave you a proper idea of how a bike rack works.

Eddie Burton - Senior Author
Senior Author: Eddie Burton

Eddie Burton is a passionate car enthusiast and a seasoned mechanic with over 15 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has worked with a variety of vehicles, from classic muscle cars to modern luxury cars, and has extensive knowledge of all types of auto parts and accessories.

Eddie’s love for cars began at a young age when he would spend hours tinkering with his first car, a 1967 Mustang. Since then, he has pursued his passion for cars by working in various garages and workshops, honing his skills and expertise in everything related to automobiles.

As a contributor to our website, Eddie shares his in-depth knowledge and experience with our readers, providing valuable tips and advice on auto parts, repairs, and maintenance. He’s committed to helping car owners get the most out of their vehicles by providing honest and practical reviews of auto parts, accessories, and tools.

With Eddie’s vast experience and expertise, you can trust his recommendations and insights on everything related to cars. Whether you’re a seasoned car owner or a newbie in the world of automobiles, Eddie’s articles and reviews will help you make informed decisions and keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

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