Bikes are a mode of transport by themselves so you can pedal yours to wherever you want to take it. However, there are times when this is not very helpful. You will need to come up with something else when you want to transport it over a long distance or when you want to travel a little faster. As you can imagine, this can be quite a headache. So, what do you do?
This article will present you with all the possible options. None of them will be perfect and you will have to choose the one that is the least cumbersome for you. What you need to know is that it can be done—you can travel with your bike to wherever you want to go.
You can carry it either on your car or in your car.
Transporting Your Bike in Your Car
This is not as simple as it sounds but it is arguably the safest. It is also the cheapest since you will not need to buy a rack—if you do not own one already. You cannot just throw your bike in the car as it is. Most vehicles do not have enough space to fit an entire bike and you have to do a few technical things depending on how spacious your car is.
a. The Boot
The smaller the space of your trunk, the more disassembling you will have to do. If you have a bigger boot your bike will fit perfectly with the front wheel off. If the space is smaller, you may have to take off both wheels. For a very small boot, you will have to take off the saddle too. You can easily do this with an Allen wrench for most bikes.
Note: just because the boot is big does not mean that you can get away with taking off one wheel. Consider any other equipment and luggage that you will have to put in there as well. The key concern is to have your bike in good condition at the end of your journey.
b. The Back Seat
What if there is no way a bike can fit in the boot of your car— or there are equipment that could scratch it there?
Well, you can still carry it on your backseat. In fact, you would be surprised to realize that you can carry more than one bike this way. It is going to be a little trickier than the boot method, especially if you have kids on board.
First, clean your bike. It does not have to be squeaky clean but wipe off anything that may stain your car. You may also want to take off the front wheel. Instead of placing the bike on the seat, put it on the floor. Position it in such a way that the left pedal is resting on the seat to ensure a little stability. Have a piece of cloth between the pedal and the seat to avoid staining and also between the dropouts and the seat to prevent them from digging into the seat.
Having your bicycle in the car may keep it safe from thieves but it may be dangerous to you and any other people in the car. Ensure that you restrain it to prevent it from causing serious damage, should the car crash or even take a sharp bend. This will not be necessary if it is in the boot.
Another thing, even though you have tried cleaning your bike, it may still stain your vehicle. Grease stains are probably the most common.
Transporting Your Bike on Your Car
The most popular way of transporting a bike on a vehicle is by the use of a bike rack. The best thing about racks is that you will have plenty of space inside the car for luggage and passengers. There is a wide range of racks available. Different cyclists choose different types of bike racks based on their personal preferences; feel free to do the same.
a. Roof Rack
This rack allows you to fasten your bike to your car’s roof. It is an efficient method and many people opt for this rack type. Your bike will be secure all the way and there is no chance of it getting scratches from other equipment. Like every other option, the roof rack is not perfect.
For starters, the process of getting your bike onto a roof rack is not an easy one. It may be frustrating at first but you will manage.
With a bike on your roof, there are places your car cannot go into places like the garage. Do not make the mistake of forgetting that while driving.
One more disadvantage is that your car will consume more fuel (about 25% more). This is due to the fact that it will have to use extra energy because of aerodynamic drag.
b. Tow bar Bike Rack
The tow bar rack is an awesome kind of rack that lets you transport more than one bike without much stress. They may be a little costly but they are worth it. Unlike the roof rack, you will not strain much during the attaching process. Some models allow you to effortlessly access your boot whenever you want. Although you can carry several bikes on the tow bar rack, be careful not to exceed the weight limit.
This method is very secure and it does not affect fuel consumption like the roof rack. Nonetheless, it still has its downside. Your car must have a tow bar. It may be an easy target for thieves so you will need a better security system. Finally, unless you get the foldable models, storing these things can be a pain.
c. Boot Bike Rack
This is not the safest way to transport your bike but it works well for cyclists who barely travel. Boot bike racks are relatively inexpensive. They are ideal if you like to travel with different cars since they are easy to install and uninstall. The process of getting the bike onto and off of the rack is also not complicated.
A boot bike rack is great and seems like a good option, no doubt. However, if another car rams into your vehicle from behind, that will be the end of your bike. Securing the bike poorly may damage it or the car. Another downside is that you will not have access to the boot of your car as often as you would like.
What If You Have a Pick-up Truck?
Well, good for you. The transportation process is a whole lot simpler and less overwhelming for you. You can carry several bikes in there without having to splash money on a bike rack, but you will still need to secure it. Use bungee straps or build your own bike track. If you have the money, there are numerous truck bed bike racks available (emphasis on if you have the money because a truck rack is not really necessary).
Travel Bike Cases/Cardboard Box
In some cases, you will need more than a bike rack.
A cardboard box is the most affordable choice. You can easily get one around your house or go online and buy—they are super cheap. Note that this is only suitable for cheap bikes. If yours cost an arm and a leg forget about using a cardboard box. Although you will not spend much money using a box, the work involved is a lot. You need to disassemble the bike and remove the pedals, handlebars, seat and front wheel. You also require plumbing insulation or a lot of bubble wrap to secure your bike and prevent any damages during transportation.
For cyclists that love fancy stuff, bike cases are a fantastic option. They may cost you a little more but you can go with your bike wherever you want with your preferred mode of transport. There are soft cases, semi-rigid cases and hard cases. The soft case will not protect your bike from damage if something heavy falls on it, but at least you can get it at a small price. The hard case is obviously the best. As long as you get one meant for your bike type, you are good to go.
On the downside, cases can be bulky, especially if you are traveling by plane. You may find yourself paying an additional fee if your luggage exceeds the weight allowance.
All these methods are effective and your bike will get to your destination regardless of your choice. The issue is that they all have one or two disadvantages that you have to deal with. Carrying your bike in the car may mean that you cannot have the rest of your luggage in there—either the space will not be enough or your bike will get scratches—unless, of course, it is very spacious. With a bike in the back seat, you risk having your car stained; moreover, you cannot travel with friends or family. Bike racks are great but if you load your bike the night before you may not find it in the morning. The roof rack will have you spending more on gas while the boot rack will make it difficult to access the trunk. Bottom line: look for the method that seems less stressful for you.