Tips for Transporting Your Bike by Car
As summer approaches, cyclists are gearing up for longer rides. Many will be mounting their bikes on their cars to head for wide open spaces. Whether your rack goes on the roof, trunk, or hitch, you’ll need the appropriate choice for your car as well as your bike.
Even with the right fit, bike racks can be tricky to install. Doing so properly is essential to ensuring the safety of others, in addition to protecting your bike and car. Bikes have been known to come loose and cause traffic accidents due to improperly installed racks or bikes that weren’t sufficiently secured.
What should you know about transporting your bike by car? Quite a few things, especially if you’re embarking on your journey for the very first time.
Choosing Your Mode of Bike Transportation
For most drivers, placing a bike in the trunk or back seat is ideal. But when that’s not an option, there are a few other choices.
More appropriate for lighter bikes, a roof rack is often the most stable and secure way to carry a bike on a car. One benefit is that access to the trunk, as well as rear visibility, will be unimpeded. It requires mounting your bike onto a roof-mounted rack and securing it with cords or straps so it stays in place while you drive.
Despite the benefits of a roof rack, there are some important factors to consider before using one:
- It requires more strength to use and is impractical for heavier bikes.
- You might have trouble fitting into low-overhead areas.
- The wind resistance caused by bikes overhead could lower your gas mileage.
Roof racks are made to transport bikes safely, but you won’t be able to keep an eye on your bike through your rear window. Be sure to follow the safety tips carefully that are listed below.
Your other options include installing a rack – sometimes called a hitch-mount bike carrier – on the back of your trunk or hatchback. They can go on many types of vehicles and eliminate the need to lift your bike overhead. Access to your trunk or hatch will be limited, but it’s easier to mount and you can keep an eye on it while driving.
Safety precautions to keep in mind:
- The bike could be damaged in the event of a rear-end accident.
- Install it so neither end is hanging too close to the ground.
- Be sure your taillights are visible.
- If not properly installed, some racks may scuff the paint of your car.
Additional Safety Considerations
Accidents can be prevented simply by reading the specs carefully and following all mounting instructions. Certain types of bike racks can be problematic, as most states require that your rear license plate be visible. There can also be legal consequences to a poorly installed bike rack. If it isn’t sufficiently secured, you could end up with a ticket or fine.
Test It Out
Particularly when they’re on top, bikes can shake when you’re driving, so you’ll want to ensure they are held tightly in place. With bikes on the rear of your car, additional bungee cords can stabilize the wheels and keep them from spinning.
Do a test drive before embarking on your trip, and keep a close eye on it. Keep in mind that straps can loosen while you drive. If your rack is held on by a nylon strap, stop after a few miles to tighten them if necessary.
Seek Professional Input
If you’re new to bike transportation, bike shop employees are fonts of knowledge who can eye your mounting job, check it for safety, and make sure you don’t skip any steps. And make sure you’re using the best rack for your vehicle. When in doubt, online reviews can tell you about drivers’ experiences with different ones. Any extra steps you can take to ensure a smooth and safe trip will be well worth your while.
In the unfortunate event that the bike rack is damaged or lost due to an accident, there is a strong possibility that your car insurance will cover the claim. It would likely be filed under your personal property auto insurance coverage. If your bike is damaged, check your policy to make sure your coverage protects this monetary loss, as well.
AZ Auto can help you compare quotes and find the best deal for your needs – both as a driver and as a cyclist. This ensures you find an auto insurance policy that protects you, your family, and your belongings on your next trip.