Are bike carriers safe?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Darkman
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Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Darkman » 20 Jan 2020, 6:46pm

We have two bikes I'd like to transport around. We can get them both in the back of the car (Mk6 Civic Type S) at a push but I've started thinking maybe a boot mounted bike carrier would be best, especially if I can get the 11yo to go on a bike again cos then we'd have 3 to carry.

But they just look so flimsy and unsafe. They seem to clip onto the boot top and bottom, and often seem to be putting all their weight on the rear window. Do they have potential to damage the car? Or even fall completely off?

I've seen towbar mounted ones too, but we dont have a towbar, and those ones cost £100s.

Also, what stops somebody buggering off with your bikes when you're stopped at traffic lights?

How are you all carting your bikes around?

tatanab
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby tatanab » 20 Jan 2020, 6:55pm

Safe - yes, if correctly mounted. Also check that your car is able to support it. Some vehicles specifically state that tailgate mounted carriers cannot be used.
Security - lock them to the carrier if concerned.

Mine go inside. 2 is easy with front wheel off and blanket between, just inconvenient, but I can see that 3 would be quite awkward. The answer is to buy a car that suits cycling needs.

Galloper
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Galloper » 20 Jan 2020, 7:26pm

I used a Saris Bones rack for several years on a couple of different cars without any problems. It will take three but I never used it for more than two. It's a very well made carrier and the arms can be easily adjusted to suit different car shapes. I used the fitted securing straps and some bungies for a securer fitting and to stop the wheels rotating. So, relatively easy to get bikes on and off but at least two straps per bike. A D lock or cable lock can be used to secure the bikes to the central boom and thereafter the only way to get the bikes off would be to cut the fitting straps but you would then have all the bikes secured together to lift away from the car. Not a worry at traffic lights but perhaps at somewhere like motorway services and into the back of a van.

The Saris has 6 fitting point, two at the top, two at the bottom and one either side. I never had any problems with movement but always checked each strap in turn after fitting.

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mjr
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby mjr » 20 Jan 2020, 8:20pm

I would not use one which rested on the glass. I use a Peruzzo which rests on the roof and the metal bits of the tailgate. It has arms which clamp the frame and wheel channels which the wheels strap into, which deters casual lifting off. I do not leave it unattended with bikes in.
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bogmyrtle
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby bogmyrtle » 20 Jan 2020, 8:50pm

Check what your car manufacturer says. Some tailgates are made from cheese and not designed to support additional weight.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

PT1029
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby PT1029 » 20 Jan 2020, 9:18pm

If you are willing to buy a good rack (so not cheap), when I worked in out LBS some years ago we sold Thule racks. Each model had on the box a list of model (and model year(s)) for which the rack was good. It probably would fit models/years not listed, but as alluded to with the cheese comment above, some tailgates are made of aluminium or fibre glass which won't take the stress.
Someone used to sell long cables with a (quite big) plastic ball at each end, wrap the cable through the bikes and lock the balls in the boot. A D lock could be used in place of the plastic ball.
Whenever you fit one, stop after 1/2 hr or so to check straps etc have not settled to become loose.
Tow bar ones will be costly, other ones that mount higher up you pay for with much higher fuel consumption (wind drag).

drossall
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby drossall » 20 Jan 2020, 9:40pm

There have been incidents with tailgate-mounted racks falling off. I generally get towbars put on our cars, even though we don't have a trailer, and mount the rack on that. Although I carry the bike in the car if I can.

fastpedaller
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby fastpedaller » 20 Jan 2020, 9:40pm

The only way I'd use one is if I put an additional strap in a complete loop around the tailgate and the rack so that if the other 'clips' securing it to the tailgate let loose.

Darkman
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Darkman » 20 Jan 2020, 10:24pm

Thanks all - think I'll be avoiding them!

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RickH
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby RickH » 21 Jan 2020, 12:51am

We have a towbar, I think it cost around £300 - Brink (used to be Thule but they sold off that part of the business as a separate company). I use a Thule Xpress 970 rack (I think now superceded by the Xpress 2).

I've found it works well & is secure, being clamped to a towball.

I also use a roof rack if I want to tow which keeps the bikes out of the way but is more hassle to get them loaded (although the tandem one is a, now unavailable, model with a gas strut to lift it up onto the roof).

If I don't need the space inside the car I'll transport 1 or 2 bikes (I could probably get 3 in) inside with the front wheels removed.

hamster
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby hamster » 21 Jan 2020, 8:31am

I hate boot racks and would never use another after one nearly fell off. I am sure that there are better examples than the one I had, but you cannot escape the need to provide supplementary lights and numberplate on most cars.

I use a San Remo rack on the roof (it fits the fork with the front wheel removed) and standard roof bars.

millimole
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby millimole » 21 Jan 2020, 8:41am

drossall wrote:There have been incidents with tailgate-mounted racks falling off. I generally get towbars put on our cars, even though we don't have a trailer, and mount the rack on that. Although I carry the bike in the car if I can.
This has been my approach for the last few cars we've owned. Splash out on a trailer and the electrics needed for a light board.

The lack of electric cars that permitted trailer mounts was the deciding factor in our getting a hybrid car last time. We generally need the boot space when moving my bike, so I knew I'd be very restricted without a trailer mount. (I gather that most electric cars cant take rear mounted bike racks either due to their lightweight construction, not that I'd use one.)
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

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Mick F
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Mick F » 21 Jan 2020, 8:53am

I can't let this thread past without my oft-stated story.

We had a towbar mounted rack and Mercian was on it - thankfully at the forward of the two slots. Rear slot was empty.
We were in traffic moving slowly and was shunted. Mercian was fine, but the towbar rack was terminally damaged. It could have been worse, as Mercian could have been terminally damaged as well. :shock: :shock:

The shunt was gentle. Slow speed bump. Had the rack not been there, the car behind could well have not hit us at all as the rack was maybe three feet front-to-back. Even if the car had hit our rear, bumpers are designed to absorb. Towbar racks are most certainly not, plus they are connected directly to the car chassis. Solid hard lump.

Best thing is to put bikes inside the car. We can fit two in the back of our Yaris.
Next best thing is to use a roof rack, but look out for low bridges! :wink:
Mick F. Cornwall

Oldjohnw
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Oldjohnw » 21 Jan 2020, 9:21am

Would need a crane to get my ebike on the car roof! Even with the battery removed.
John

peetee
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby peetee » 21 Jan 2020, 9:23am

hamster wrote:I use a San Remo rack on the roof (it fits the fork with the front wheel removed) and standard roof bars.


+1. Absolutely superb bits of kit. They also made upright legs to fit front wheels in.
The only drawbacks I have found is that some cars offer limited room between the two cross bars or the bar section is too thick. Not a huge problem though as the fittings can be bolted to a single box section running fore-aft that is held in place with U-bolts and is no more difficult to fit.
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