Are bike carriers safe?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
ANTONISH
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby ANTONISH » 21 Jan 2020, 9:45am

peetee wrote:
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.


I also used the San Remo rack.
It worked well - except for the time that I drove into a height limited car park in Brugge :(
Other drawbacks were the bikes being subjected to heavy rain and spray - and the damage done to my threaded headset by the constant rocking.

I always have some kind of estate car or large hatch back and for some years now we have used bike bags. With a split seat it may be possible to carry three bags ?

I had a rear mounted rack which obscured the rear number plate - that necessitated an additional number plate and rear lighting board.

peetee
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby peetee » 21 Jan 2020, 10:20am

What you can get into a car is not always down to its external dimensions. I could get three bikes into my 1986 Polo and struggle to get 2 into my later model despite the fact that it is 200mm longer.
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rmurphy195
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby rmurphy195 » 21 Jan 2020, 10:33am

I use a Saris Bones rack.

Before purchasing I checked the Saris web site for the correct racks for my car, all manufacturers should have this facility.

One check worth making - the upper mounting will likey rest on the window, in my view if the window is fixed to the tailgate from the inside, then perhaps there's a risk of it being pushed-in so I wouldn't use this type of rack (or any type of rack) on such a car!

If the number plate and/or rear lamps are obscure you will need a lighting board, be aware that the electrics to power one might be expensive for your car so check first.

Advantage of boot mounted rack - easier to lift bikes on and off, can fit a cable lock around bikes and onto car's rear towing hook (you might have to screw this in if not permanently fitted). Disadvantages - restricted access to boot, possible need for trailer board, risk of rear-ending damaging bikes, may get muck off rear wheels onto bikes in wet weather, straps get all tangled up in storage! Fit too tightly can bed tailgate/boot lid, too loosely - well, you've seen them haven't you on your travels!

Advantage of roof mounted rack - no need for trailer board, no risk from bike damage due to minor rear-ending, rack stays on car so you don't have to re-attach after a tiring ride, can get into boot Disadvantages - need to lift bikes up, risk of smahing bikes on height restrictors (my friend did this, drove into a layby with a height restrictor on it, bikes, rack and all ripped off roof, lots of danage to car as well.

I originally used a Bones 2, with the single upper leg, but swopped it for a bones 3 with 2 upper legs for better stability. Use "hatch huggers" so as not to clip onto edge of rear window or fragile bits of car.

I've carried bikes with a Hollywood rack, towbar mounted racks (I owned a caravan anyway so no extra expense) and the Bones, never any issues except when I used the 3 legged bones on the MX5, the 4 legged one is better 'cos the legs go either side of the high-level brake light. I've been allover the UK with bikes on the rack, even 4 bikes on the Hollywood rack from Brum to Donegal, touring in France etc. no issues BUT frequent stops to make sure all is secure is a must
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brynpoeth
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby brynpoeth » 21 Jan 2020, 10:45am

rmurphy195 wrote:..
..
frequent stops to make sure all is secure is a must

How frequent? On the motorway there are long gaps between services..

Such a device that can work loose is not FFP fit for purpose IMHO
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simonhill
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby simonhill » 21 Jan 2020, 11:08am

I now have the luxury of a solid rack on the back of my VW camper, unfortunately not possible on mere cars.

However, on an earlier van I used one of those strap on racks for a number of years and some long trips (Czech, France, Camino, Ireland). It fixed top and bottom and was acceptably secure. However, I bought a long cable (rigging wire with loops from chandlers) and passed this through everything then secured to towing bolt. If the worse happened it would at least mean that the bike and rack would remain attached to the vehicle, even if they were dragging along the road.

Re regular checking. I would do it once a short time after starting and if all was well, that was pretty much it apart from a quick look see anytime I stopped for other things.

peetee
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby peetee » 21 Jan 2020, 11:24am

The rear cycle racks can be fitted well and securely on some cars but not others and it’s a matter of chance whether you have the right vehicle and the ability to do the job properly. I’m not being derogatory of people’s capability but some of these things are a fight to get them unfolded, set to the right angle, height, strap placement, strap tension etc etc. and thats just on the car with no load. Add a couple of bikes and all those checks have to be done again - assuming you can get to the carrier with the bikes in the way. Get one of these things wrong and it has the potential to be an expensive, potentially lethal house of cards.
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andrew_s
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby andrew_s » 21 Jan 2020, 2:02pm

I would comment that I have heard tell of on the spot fines (in France, iirc) for using a bike rack other than those approved by the car maker.
Quite apart from the cost, this could also involve having to put the situation right before being permitted to continue.

I'd second simonhill's advice to use a strong enough loop threaded through the bikes and rack to keep things attached to the car in the case of failure. Dropping a rack full of bikes in front of a police motorcyclist in the fast lane of a motorway could have serious consequences for you (as well as the motorcyclist).
A wire loop would also give some protection at coffee stops etc.

In terms of safety, I'd say that, in general, inside > towbar > roof > tailgate strap-on, though car model could change this.

hamster
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby hamster » 21 Jan 2020, 3:14pm

peetee wrote:The rear cycle racks can be fitted well and securely on some cars but not others and it’s a matter of chance whether you have the right vehicle and the ability to do the job properly. I’m not being derogatory of people’s capability but some of these things are a fight to get them unfolded, set to the right angle, height, strap placement, strap tension etc etc. and thats just on the car with no load. Add a couple of bikes and all those checks have to be done again - assuming you can get to the carrier with the bikes in the way. Get one of these things wrong and it has the potential to be an expensive, potentially lethal house of cards.


Agreed, the devil is in the detail.
A previous car had a plastic bumper, with no metal at the bottom. The only places to strap the bottom of the rack were the rear towing lugs (good). However that then made the strap pass close to the exhaust...which promptly melted it. Similarly the curvature and fit of the hooks at the top is very dependent on a good match with the edge of the bootlid - fine for metal saloon types, dreadful on a hatchback with flush glass and a plastic brow at the top.

De Sisti
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby De Sisti » 21 Jan 2020, 3:15pm

I used one of these for years, a Thule 7402 . During ownership it was attached to a towbar I had fitted
onto a SEAT Arosa. I always locked my bikes onto it with either chains or ulocks (to prevent theives taking
bikes away). Cheap plastic sheets were always available to cover the bikes in rainy weather.
Never had any issues at all.
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Vorpal » 21 Jan 2020, 3:25pm

I have a rack that was the predecessor to the Saris bones. I've had it since I bought it used 20ish years in Wisconsin, USA, where they were originally made (don't know if they still are). It is well-used and easy to mount securely (the strap hooks all go to the rear hatchback door or boot lid). The main disadvantage over that versus other sorts is that you cannot easily get into the boot whilst it's mounted.

It's enough hassle to secure the bikes (I add extra bungees) that it's a little work to free them. I've never really worried about them at traffic lights. If leaving them unsupervised (i.e. for a pit stop), I use a cable that goes through a loop under the bumper with one or more d-locks.

I think the most secure arrangement is a roof mounted carrier, with built in locks for each bike.
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Oldjohnw » 21 Jan 2020, 3:36pm

De Sisti wrote:I used one of these for years, a Thule 7402 . During ownership it was attached to a towbar I had fitted
onto a SEAT Arosa. I always locked my bikes onto it with either chains or ulocks (to prevent theives taking
bikes away). Cheap plastic sheets were always available to cover the bikes in rainy weather.
Never had any issues at all.
Image



I had a three bike version of this for years. When the children were young we camped a lot and had an estate car. Three bikes on the back, two on the roof along with a luggage box. Very nervous at first. but no problems.
John

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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby Vorpal » 21 Jan 2020, 3:41pm

andrew_s wrote:In terms of safety, I'd say that, in general, inside > towbar > roof > tailgate strap-on, though car model could change this.

Inside, unless they are well secured, they present hazard to the occupants of the car, in case of a crash.
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mjr
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby mjr » 21 Jan 2020, 4:10pm

hamster wrote: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.

You can easily escape the need to provide supplementary lights and numberplate on most cars by using a piggyback/high-level rack that holds the bike above the lights and plate.

I don't see why a design flaw (or user error but I'm being kind) in one boot rack should disqualify the whole concept. There are some truly awful bendy roof and towbar racks around.

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

I've seen too many people drive roof rack bikes into things and drive along with bikes flexing wildly to be entirely comfortable with that. If I want to take more bikes than fit piggyback, I'll rent a van.
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hamster
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby hamster » 21 Jan 2020, 5:13pm

@mjr you make me laugh. On the one hand you come out in support of rear racks as you 'don't see why a design flaw (or user error but I'm being kind) in one boot rack should disqualify the whole concept' yet in the same breath use exactly that same argument to dismiss roof top mounting! :lol:

Let's face it, there is a lot of cheap, barely functional stuff around for each carrying solution. Vehicle design details turn a practical solution on one to be marginal on another.

Caveat emptor.

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mjr
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Re: Are bike carriers safe?

Postby mjr » 21 Jan 2020, 6:25pm

hamster wrote:@mjr you make me laugh. On the one hand you come out in support of rear racks as you 'don't see why a design flaw (or user error but I'm being kind) in one boot rack should disqualify the whole concept' yet in the same breath use exactly that same argument to dismiss roof top mounting! :lol:

No, the difference is the degree. Once in a blue moon, I see a rubbish rear mount carrier, but every summer, about half the holidaymakers going past with bikes on their roofs are wobbling wildly. The odds of failure seem much higher.
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