Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

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Jonty

Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby Jonty » 28 Aug 2009, 8:13pm

Do members, or the CTC as a body, have a view on bicycle carrying systems for cars? The type which rests on the back of cars and is held by straps does not inspire confidence in me. I seem to recall reading that a motorcyclist had been killed when one of these failed; also I know someone whose bike fell off one of these on the motorway.
The roof mounted type are better in my view but there must be concerns about car-handling, damaging your car and of course one has to lift the bikes up which may not be so easy for older people; however, they are very popular.
In my experience rear mounted systems using a towbar and additional illuminated number plate are the safest and best option (and the most expensive). Do members recommend any particular make? Thule, Westfalia and Witter make systems which can carry up to 3 bikes: the latter works by hanging the bikes from what looks like a large set of upturned handlebars which slots onto a metal stem, whereas the former two use a "carrier" solution which the bikes stand on.
I'm inclined towards the Thule or Westfalia. Have any members experience of either system?
Thank you.
jonty

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rbrian
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby rbrian » 29 Aug 2009, 10:51am

About 15 years ago, my Dad loaded up his Volvo 940 estate with 2 adults, 4 kids, 3 tents, 4 bikes on a Witter tow-bar mounted carrier, and a Topper boat on the roof. Drove all the way to the south of France with no problems at all, though I'd hate to think how much fuel we used.
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Mick F
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby Mick F » 29 Aug 2009, 11:04am

This is ours:
http://www.thule.com/Thule/ProductDetai ... 83185.aspx
Good, solid, reliable.
We have the Two Bike one, but you have to keep the bikes from rubbing against each other.

Have a read at a previous thread:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21424
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby mw3230 » 29 Aug 2009, 3:48pm

I've used roof carriers and tow ball mounted carriers. I carry my tandem on the roof of my Berlingo and often carry two solos inside. On balance I would say that the tow ball version are the best, but of course you need to have a towing bracket and ball fitted (perhaps £150 from a non dealer tow bar specialist) Roof bars and/or a roof rack offer more versatility as you can then carry other items - Ikea, DIY etc. In both cases careful fitting and mounting of the bikes will ensure a safe journey but it is worth remembering that you get what you pay for. The cheaper carriers are not a patch on the dearer versions. Why not check the local classified ads or place a wanted ad on here?

By the way, some of the Halfords roof carrying equipment is made by Thule
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby drossall » 30 Aug 2009, 12:22am

I'd agree that towbar racks are best. Our is by Pendle. It needs a fitting added into the towbar. I like the look of the ones that fit onto the ball proper, as they need no extra fitting.

Edit: obviously, with a ball-mount rack, you can't tow at the same time. However, we had the towbar fitted to carry bikes, and don't own a trailer - we just borrow one very occasionally.
Last edited by drossall on 31 Aug 2009, 9:09am, edited 1 time in total.

DavidT
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby DavidT » 30 Aug 2009, 9:16pm

Over the years I have tried the rear mount strap on type and roof rack mount, on a variety of cars.

Last year I fitted for the first time, option 3 - the tow bar mount. Having read various postings on here (acknowledged at the time), I bought a Thule (Euroway model I think it's called - mid range - about £240)tow bar mount rack. Best system by far in my experience.

Actually have been using it today so benefits are very fresh in my mind! Wonderful. Easy to fit. Integral light board. Integrated tow bar locking handle. Lockable, good tilt mech to allow access to boot whilst loaded, good separation of bikes requiring minimal padding - none in fact today, but depends on which bikes I am carrying together. Peace of mind that everything is staying put. (Priceless :wink: )

I would happily recommend a tow bar rack system to anyone reading this as the best system if you can afford it/fits car. I traded myself up a bit through the Thule range, but don't regret it at all.

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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby squeaker » 30 Aug 2009, 11:41pm

Bought a Witter ZX88 towbar type a while back. Only used it once (so far): it worked fine. I like it as it was sensibly priced, easily removes from the car (leaving an adaptor plate in front of the tow hitch - extra adaptor plates can be purchased separately for other vehicles) and you can tow with bikes on the rack (depending upon what exactly you are towing).
Also have a couple of Thule roof bar types that work by clamping onto the front fork dropouts (front wheel removed). Neat design and easy to use, but I worry a bit about the lateral bending loads on the forks, and definitely not aerodynamic!
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby Greybeard » 31 Aug 2009, 7:40pm

Thule three-bike towbar mounted one has been no problem at all, and it saves lifting bikes onto the car's roof. Only drawback is that the tandem is a little on the long side and overhangs the car by quite a lot :shock: Must consider buying a 1950's Cadillac (a fair bit wider than a Passat) :wink:

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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby james01 » 2 Sep 2009, 10:12am

Greybeard wrote: Only drawback is that the tandem is a little on the long side and overhangs the car by quite a lot

I occasionally need to transport our tandem on our small car. I find that it can be bungeed/strapped very securely along the roof rack crossbars, with padding inserted where appropriate, in a few minutes. I'd buy a specialist rack if I were carrying it every week, but then that wouldn't leave much time for cycling :D

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frank9755
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby frank9755 » 2 Sep 2009, 1:23pm

+ 1 for Thule towbar mounted

Also +1 for having had a strap-on rear mounted one fall off - on a roundabout when the straps got wet and stretched following a heavy shower. Got the towbar fitted as soon as we got home!

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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby Big T » 2 Sep 2009, 1:29pm

One disadvantage of roof top bars and fittings is the struggle to get the bikes up there. I'm fairly tall but it's still a struggle and a faff for me.

If starting from scratch I'd go afor a towball fitting rack - either Pendle or Thule.
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anniesboy
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby anniesboy » 2 Sep 2009, 2:04pm

I use Thule ,I used over in France earlier this year with no problems.The one I use has arms that clamp around the frame ,hence no issue with rubbing together.http://tinyurl.com/lf6qym
Heres a photo of my first loading on car,I find loading much easier if one of the handlebars are turned.I of course don't leave bags on.

Forgot to add this rack hinges down in order to easily access rear/boot.
Image Attachments
bikes on rack.jpg
Last edited by anniesboy on 2 Sep 2009, 3:15pm, edited 1 time in total.

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yakdiver
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby yakdiver » 2 Sep 2009, 2:41pm

if you have a tow ball very cheap and it works
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/product-SJSC ... -11412.htm
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby fivebikes » 2 Sep 2009, 9:02pm

Our best carrier was a Pendle wheel support carrier. It attached to the towball and was a solid as a rock behind a VW camper and 2 different Volvo estates. We carried 4 bikes with ease (and no big impact on fuel economy as the bikes were below the roofline). On changing to a Toyota Prius (pius!) hybrid the only option at the time was Bromptons! Brilliant and good for 35 mile rides if it's not too hilly. Latterly have used roof bars on the Prius and they are okay with Thule carriers for the bikes and a Pendle for the tandem but the fuel economy goes out of the window....Drops by 20% on motorways. Decent bars and carriers are safe and not too hard to lift to. I can manage the tandem by myself. If you can get the bikes on a tow ball carrier behind the vehicle and below the roofline I reckon you have the safest and, petrol wise, cheapest option though.
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Re: Bicycle Carriers for Cars: best and safest solution

Postby tooley92 » 2 Sep 2009, 9:12pm

I have had one of these http://www.maxxraxx.co.uk/home.html for the last 5 years or so.

It is very secure in use and easy to fit and load, I particually like the number plate hanger. In all a top bit of kit :D

They usually have a stand at the caravan/camping show at the NEC and do some good discounts.
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