There is nothing better on a Saturday morning than throwing your gear in the car, hooking up your bicycle and heading off for a rural cycle. In fact, this describes any typical weekend for me. Cycling is a magnificent hobby because you can do it pretty much anywhere, but my preference has always been, and will always be the countryside. You can’t beat cycling amongst the trees and along country lanes. Of course couch, a cycle ride does require planning and often a fairly long drive just to get to the starting point of your cycle ride.
In order to facilitate bike rides in the countryside, you will need a method of transporting your bikes. You might be fortunate enough to have a truck or trailer that can carry bikes, but most people, like me, have to invest in a bike carrier.
There are three main types of bike carrier; hatch carrier, roof carrier, and tow ball carrier. They work in different ways but ultimately carry out the same purpose, they help you take your bikes on your car safely.
Car Hatch Bicycle Carriers
Hatch carriers simply strap on to the edges of your hatch lid. Padded arms protect your window glass and the strap will secure the bike frames safely onto arms of the rack. These arms are often padded to protect bike frames. To set up my hatch carrier, I fixed the arms so that they locked onto my car. I attached the straps onto the edge of the boot and tightened them up. I was really careful to do this as tightly as I possibly could, and I checked it over a few times to make sure that it really was securely in place. Once the carrier was securely fitted, I simply dropped my bike onto the struts, I securing well with the strap and made sure that the strap went over the bikes top tube.
Hatch carriers are the cheapest bike carriers to opt for. I like how easy they are to fit and remove, so they are really great for just using occasionally. In my opinion, they are best used with lighter frame bikes. They are not too expensive and I find them to be really easy to fold and store when not in use. However, when bikes get stolen it is often from this type of carrier and if they are not loaded correctly and they can damage the paintwork of the car if great care is not taken when attaching the bikes.
If you don’t fancy the sound of a hatch carrier, perhaps you should consider a tow-ball carrier. I like the look of tow-ball carriers, they are convenient and hook onto the tow-ball already on your car. This is a solid connection to your automobile that has electrical connections already set up. Towball racks usually accommodate up to four bikes and some of the more sophisticated ones even fold for storage.
When I was setting up my tow-ball carrier, I gave the tow-ball a really good clean first.
Next, I placed the clamp over the tow-ball. Simply opening up the carrier was enough to clamp the carrier on to the tow-ball and pressing down on the handle locking the clamp in place. After placing the arms in the right position for the bikes, these grab the bike higher up and given the bikes are placed on the bottom of the rack, these give a snug and secure fit. My bikes seem safe in the tow-ball carrier, I am always careful to strap them on too. The tow-ball carrier I used was really well made, it had a solid frame. I also used the extra lock supplied which minimises the chance of your bike getting stolen.
My favorite bike carrier of all is the roof carrier. I fancy driving off with my husband children and the bikes on the roof of our SUV, looking like we’ve just come out of the Tour de France. Of course, the reality of the roof carrier means lifting above my head and that makes the idea, suddenly, much less appealing. Roof carriers look great whether they are carrying: road bikes, BMX bikes or children’s first bikes and roof carriers are also easily fitted. They clamp horizontally on to bars running the length of the car. Mine was supplied with a pivoting arm which just clipped on to the down tube of the car.
These carriers are best suited to strong, tall people of which I am neither, so I fear my dreams of driving down the Champs Elysees with my white yellow shirt during the Tour de France have been thwarted somewhat. On a more serious note, the main thing I should caution you about regarding the roof carriers is when using car parks with low height restrictions. My friend forgot his bikes were on the roof of his car when he drove into a valet park. His car and all of his bikes were, unfortunately, destroyed.
The purpose of the bike carrier is to get you where you want to be so that you can jump on your bike and head off on an enjoyable trek with your family. Don’t forget to leave some space in your trunk for a large picnic basket for afterward. A glass of wine always goes down well too, so why not check into a hotel and make a whole weekend out of that trip to the country with your family and bikes. The only problem is, you might want to do it every weekend and before you know it you will have friends wanting to join you too. Have a great weekend on your bike wherever you decide to go.