Mountain biking is just one of the many exciting ways to enjoy the outdoors and there are hundreds of bike trails available for bikers throughout the country. However, not all of these trails are close enough to home for us to simply open the garage and head out. When your ambitions take you further from home, it’s time to strap the bike to a car rack. Keep reading for tips on finding the right bike rack for your needs when it comes to hitting those distant trails.

When it comes to racks, we can break them down into five different types: truck racks, spare-tire racks, hitch racks, trunk racks, and roof racks. Each one offers its own appeal, as well as its own potential drawbacks, depending on your situation, so it’s important to weight all the variables before making a decision.

Roof racks tend to be the most secure and non-intrusive option when choosing a rack. They free up access to the trunk and the doors and are the most versatile choice, as they can be customized to accommodate gear like skis and kayaks, as well. Being the most expensive option, though, roof racks are really for hardcore bikers who will get their money’s worth. They also require more clearance above the car, so keep that in mind before you pull into the garage.

Trunk racks are perhaps the least expensive rack choice and are very easily transported both on/off the car, as well as back and forth between compatible vehicles. They do, however, interfere with trunk access, which can be a pain if you make frequent stops.

Racks designed to fit into a trailer hitch can become expensive if you opt for advanced models, which also allow better access to the trunk. They’re easy to install and remove when needed and work well for avid bikers.

There are also racks that attach to your SUV’s spare tire. While they allow easy access to the bikes and provide better access to the rear door, they’re dependent on the size of your tire and can only carry a maximum of two bikes.

Lastly, there are racks designed to work with trucks, which offer easy loading and access to the bikes themselves. These racks are also able to handle heavier loads. The only potential drawback is that the bikes end up taking up the majority of the truck bed, which can limit space if you’re taking a longer trip.

Take some time to really consider your biking habits and needs before making a choice on which rack to purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and you’ll be sure to walk out with the bike rack that’s perfect for your needs. 

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