Ideally, you might prefer to ride your bike wherever you need or want to go, but if you’ve got an epic mountain biking trek planned or you need to haul your bike to get fixed, a car bike rack is a must.
If you don’t own one, you’ll probably need one eventually, or if you already have a rack, you might be ready to upgrade. When you start shopping around, looking at bike racks, you’ll notice dozens of options. How do you know which kind or brand you want or need?
We will discuss some of the advantages of having a bike rack, and we’ll also take an in-depth look at the various types of Saris bike racks, so you can get a better idea of what kind of rack you want.
Do You Really Need A Bike Rack?
The only reason why you won’t need a rack for your bike is if you don’t own a vehicle; otherwise, you’re likely to need one at some point, especially if you’re an avid cyclist.
Maybe you’ve been borrowing a friend’s car rack or have been able to rent one out from your local bike shop. While this is an excellent option for now, wouldn’t you instead have your own and that will fit all of your needs and wants?
If you’ve been tossing your bike in the back of your pickup or folding down the seats of your car to transport your car from one place to the next, it’s probably time to take a look at a rack for your vehicle.
The Advantages Of A Car Bike Rack
Not only will a rack keep the interior of your car cleaner and less likely to snag a bike part on the upholstery, but it keeps your bike in better shape and ready to ride (rather than disassembling parts, so it fits in your car).
One of the most obvious advantages to owning a rack for your car is that you can transport your bikes more easily, especially when traveling. Since it makes transporting easy, you may be more likely to go on more bike trips, so it’s a win-win.
What Kind Of Bike Rack Do You Need?
Do you have a rack but get frustrated when trying to use it? You might have the wrong type of rack for your car or your bike.
We’ll take a look at the most common of car racks, so you can determine which one is best for you before we take an in-depth at Saris bike racks.
Trunk racks are typically the most cost-effective option, are easiest to install (and remove), and are a favorite type of car rack for a variety of bicycle enthusiasts. Most trunk racks are designed to hold up to four bikes. The bicycle hangs from horizontal arms of the rack, which is usually an A-frame design. The rack attaches to the vehicle with adjustable straps and hooks.
While a trunk rack is very portable and easy to use, it is one of the least theft-proof options, and you don’t have easy access to your trunk when the rack is in use. These types of car racks may also cause damage to the bikes or the vehicle and depending on how it’s installed, the rack may obstruct the view of the driver.
Racks that attach to the hitch of your vehicle typically have a sturdy design and can hold up to four bicycles. While it’s easy to install and remove, you may be more tempted to use a hitch rack of you frequently transport your bike.
The cost of a hitch rack is more expensive than a trunk rack, and if your vehicle doesn’t have a hitch, you’ll need to get one (if you plan to buy a hitch-style rack). While there’s often less of a chance that you’ll damage your bicycle or car, when using a hitch rack, you may still obstruct some of your views.
Spare Tire Rack
If you have an SUV or an off-road vehicle, a spare tire rack may be a good option for you, especially if you’re only planning on transporting one or two bikes. Much like the name suggests, the spare tire rack fits on vehicles where the spare tire is mounted on the rear (and outside) of the vehicle.
Spare tire racks are lightweight and easy to install or remove. One of the biggest downsides is that they are only able to hold up to two bikes at one time.
It’s important to note that while there are other specialty racks, such as a roof rack for bikes, we only focused on the types that are included in Saris bike racks.
A Few Things To Consider When Using Any Of These Rack Styles
While each car rack has a few pros and cons, it’s essential that you always lock your bicycle to your rack to help deter someone from stealing your bike or the rack. Once you get used to using your rack, you may forget that it’s there; this can be problematic if you’re backing up, so make sure you always have enough clearance.
Depending on the rack and the type of vehicle you drive, your rack or bicycle may obstruct the tail lights, license plate, or other important operating lights; this might be a ticketable offense depending on where you live.
Saris Bike Trunk Racks
Now that we’ve given you a brief look at some of the most common types of car racks, let’s check out Saris Trunk Bike Racks. Saris is a Wisconsin-based company run by bicycle enthusiasts and advocates. They make and distribute their world-famous racks for bikes at the same headquarters. Now we’ll take a closer look at the specific styles of Saris bike racks.
All of the Saris trunk racks are designed to hold one to three bicycles. Here are some details about each trunk rack:
This two-bike car rack is 30 x 8 x 30 inches and weighs 9.85 pounds. The arc design fits cars with rear spoilers as well as sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and SUVs. The rubberized feet prevent your vehicle from damage, and the rack straps are coated to minimize damage to your bike.
Made of 100 percent recycled materials and with a lifetime warranty, this rack costs $155.
This three-bike rack is 22.4 x 7.5 x 24 inches and weighs 18.52 pounds. With many of the same features as the two-bike bones rack, the foot on the rack pivots and “floats” to fit easily to a variety of cars (without damaging the vehicle).
Retractable straps and a one-touch lever makes adjustment and installation easy. The price of this rack is $175.
Sentinel 2 and 3 Bike
Like the Bones racks, the Sentinel is ideal for any type of vehicle from a sedan to a minivan. The Sentinel is lightweight, easy to adjust and folds up for portability or to stow away in your trunk. Neoprene hooks and foam pads protect both the bicycles and vehicles.
The Sentinel 2 rack is 21 x 9 x 16 inches, weighs 7.7 pounds, and costs $75. The Sentinel 3 rack is 21 x 9 x 16 inches, weights 9.1 pounds, and costs $90.
Bike Porter 2 and 3 Bike Rack
The Bike Porter Trunk Rack has anti-sway straps that help stabilize your bike(s), and the heavy-duty foam pads protect your vehicle. Rubber cradles on the steel frame allow you to keep your cables separate from your bike frame. Like the Sentinel, this rack is easy to fold up and store in the trunk.
The Bike Porter 2 is 25 x 7 x 25 inches, weighs 11 pounds, and costs $120. The Bike Porter rack for three bikes costs $140.
As the name suggests, the Solo is designed to carry one bike, and like other Saris bike racks, it fits a variety of vehicles. Made of 100 percent recycled materials, the rack is durable, long-lasting and has no rusting parts.
Easy to install, remove, and use, the rack is 16.2 x 14.2 x 10 inches, weighs two pounds, and costs $50.
Other Racks By Saris
Saris bike racks are also available as hitch racks and as a spare tire rack. While we were researching the company’s options, many of the racks were no longer available, and a few were marked as “coming soon.”
The cost of a hitch rack is between $200 and $800; keep in mind that these are heavy-duty racks. For more information, check out the company’s section on hitch racks.
If you’re looking for a spare tire rack, check out the specialty rack section on the company’s site; you may see some other racks that will work well for your vehicle.