Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed by trying to pick out a bicycle carrier. There’s so many different kinds, and brands, and it can seem like a lot to sort out what style would be best for your bike, your vehicle, and getting the most out of your rides. After all, you don’t want your bike rack to be frustrating to use or to put your valuable equipment at risk. So how do you narrow it down? You can start by asking yourself if you want the kind of rack that mounts to the rear of your car, whether by hitch or by attaching to the trunk or hatchback, or if you want a rooftop bike carrier.
Many people prefer rooftop bike carriers because they don’t require getting a hitch added to their vehicles or interfere with opening and closing the back of their car. On the other hand, hitch mount bike carriers or rear mount bicycle carriers can be easier to load and unload if you aren’t confident about lifting things over your head. You can also carry more bikes with a rooftop bike carrier system than with hitch mount bike carriers, which tend to top out after 4 bikes.
If you feel a rooftop bike carrier is right for you, there’s still a few choices to be made, namely between a fork lock rooftop bike carrier and a tire hold rooftop bike carrier. Both are very secure and will take good care of your rig. What it comes down to is partially what style bike you have, how comfortable you are with bike maintenance, and personal preference.
The fork lock carriers require you to remove the front wheel of your bike. Some consider that to be a little inconvenient, especially if they are a newer rider who isn’t as accustomed to bike maintenance. The advantage of fork lock bike carriers is that they offer the most stability and fuel efficiency, especially on long trips. Some, like the INA387, are also designed specifically for road and cyclo-cross bikes. Others like the XA391 FORK LOCK III for Aero Base Rack are made with mountain bikes in mind.
Tire hold style carriers don’t require the extra step of taking a wheel off, and some racks like the Inno INA389 Tire Hold II have just a three step process to get your bike securely loaded. This style also secures your bike without touching the frame, which can be an advantage if you just got a fresh powder coat or an extra-expensive frame.
Whichever style you choose, a rooftop bike carrier is what many avid cyclists choose. This style evenly distributes the weight of your bicycle, doesn’t complicate parking or navigation, and works with the roof rack or bars you vehicle already has in place. Whether you go fork lock or tire hold depends on the type of bike you have and the car you’re driving. Either way, you know that your bike will be safe for adventure after adventure, ride after ride.