Guide to Car Bike Racks

Bored of the same old routes? Whilst just jumping on your bike and riding from home is great, now and again we all feel the need to ride new roads and trails. So what are the options for transporting your pride and joy by car?

Getting your bike and ride mate(s) somewhere else can take a bit of planning, it can be like a big real life game of Tetris. Follow our tips and hit the open road in search of adventure and somewhere new to ride…

In the Car

Dropping the wheels out of your bike and placing it inside your vehicle boot / trunk is the cheapest and safest option.  Make sure you protect the frame / forks from wheel axles / cassette. Soft bike bags or wheel bags can help keep everything safe.

If you like to be able to see your bikes, two bikes without wheels can usually fit across the (protected) rear seat with wheels sat in the rear seat passenger foot wells. Having bikes on the rear seat means you can give them a loving look over your shoulder when stopped at traffic lights. However, take care to avoid the catastrophic oily-chainring-print on light-coloured upholstery. Most hatchback / saloon cars can fit a couple of bikes and people with some creative packing.


  • Cheapest Option
  • No impact on fuel economy
  • Pretty Quick and very safe


  • MTB / CX / Gravel bikes get particularly filthy, and so will your car
  • Limited amount of room for mates
  • Damage Potential
  • Did you remember to pack everything?

Transporting your bike by car to have your fun is all well and good. What about when it’s time to pack for home and your bike is filthy, especially if you have been indulging in off-road action. While a portable pressure washer is a great solution, not everyone has the space and budget. What are the best options for attaching your bike to the outside of your car?


On the Roof

Up on the roof is a great option. Your car interior isn’t cluttered with bike parts and you still have full access to the boot / trunk. However you do need roof bars to attach the bike rack too, and so this option can sometimes be more costly. If you have an SUV or big 4WD vehicle you might find fitting bikes on top a challenge.


  • Full use of the car interior and boot / trunk
  • No dirty bikes inside your car
  • Reversing easy with un-interrupted rear vision
  • Bke can be locked on the roof for security


  • You need a GREAT memory to avoid barriers – NO Drive Thru’s, NO Car Parks…
  • Heavy bikes can be tough to mount up top
  • Fuel consumption will go up
  • Bugs will be collected by your bike
  • Big cars, SUV’s and 4Wd’s can be a challenge to fit bikes to

Off the Back

There are huge benefits to using a rear mounted rack. For those forgetful types, this is the safest option rather than a roof mounted rack. Much easier to load with bikes too, rear racks have come a long way, there are many options which fit on the tow bar / hitch as well as the traditional clip based models.


  • Tow Bar / Hitch option for more security
  • Easy to mount compared to the roof
  • Little effect on fuel economy
  • No worrying about low trees or drive thru’s


  • Access to the boot can be compromised
  • Care required reversing in tight spaces
  • For carrying multiple bikes, some skills are required to get the right order
  • You may need a light / number board depending on where you live.


Merlin Recommended Bike Racks

3 Bike rear mount for most hatchback cars – Hollywood Express £55.99

3 Bike Tow Bar Hitch Mount – I Rack UFO 2+1 £369.95

Single Top Bike Carrier – Peruzzo £25.00

Pick-up / Ute tailgate Pad – Troy Lee Design Signature £100.00

Elite San Remo with Race Lock £58.99

Sea Sucker Talon £296.99

2 comments to “Guide to Car Bike Racks”
  1. Hi there!!! Is it ok to attach carbon frame on car rack on the roof? Any problem to clamp the carbon frame? Thank you.

    • Hi – It can be done VERY carfully! I used a layer of old innertube over the clamp jaws on a Thule clamp for extra scratch protection and DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN CLAMP! Very gently tighten jaws around the frame tube – Clamps can very easily crush a frame. In an ideal world, the jaws of the clamps would be wider for carbon frames to spread the load accross the frame more – IMO. Good luck!

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