Which of these bike racks is right for you depends largely on what can fit your car but here are some features to look out for and reviews of our favourites.

It can be nice to just get out and ride from your front door but there’s no doubt that at some point you’re going to want to take your bike further afield. There are a few options for transporting your bike but if you don’t want the faff of taking the train and you want to keep the inside of your car clean then a bike rack has to be the obvious choice.

bike racks

Where it mounts

There are three main mounting systems for bike racks – roof, tow bar and strap – each of which comes with its own pros and cons:

Roof mount

These are probably our favourite option as they don’t obstruct any doors and we reckon they’re a bit more secure. However, you should be careful under low bridges, they can be a pain to put bikes on and they will hinder your fuel economy.

Tow bar mount

These racks are strong and secure but you will need a tow bar to be able to fit one and they tend to be more expensive.

Strap mount

Strap bike racks are probably the most universal design so if you’re struggling to find a rack that will fit, look here. These racks tend to be the cheapest, however we’ve never been convinced by their security from bumps on the road or potential thieves.

Ease of mounting

Ideally you want the process of fitting a bike to your rack to be as easy as possible. It may seem intuitive in a dry car park but will it be as easy with a slippery, muddy bike in the middle of winter after a long hard ride?

bike racks

Security

This can mean two things, how securely your bike is attached to the car and how secure it is from thieves.

No bike racks will have zero play in them but you want the bike to move around as little as possible. It can be very disconcerting driving around country roads with it swaying around on top of you.

Similarly no bike rack can ever be thief-proof, but a securing bar is definitely going to be more of a deterrent than some fabric straps. It’s worth saying that we recommend you keep your bike in your sight at all times if its on the bike rack.

Thule ProRide 598

bike racks

Price: £100
Rating: 9/10

Thule’s ProRide is one of the easiest and quickest roof racks to get your bike into, and while this second generation version might look almost exactly like the old 591 it replaces, it has a couple of worthwhile improvements.

Read the full review of the Thule ProRide 598

Buy Now: Thule ProRide 598 at Chain Reaction Cycles from £84.99

Pendle Fork Mount Roof Rack

bike racks

Price: £88.25
Rating: 9/10

If you’re not a fan of roof racks that clamp the down tube, there is another option. Fork-mount racks, like this British-made Pendle, fasten the dropouts securely using the fork’s own 15mm (or 20mm) thru-axle, coupled with a simple toe strap at the rear wheel. Simple and safe, they cause little damage to the bike.

Read the full review of the Pendle Fork Mount Roof Rack

Buy Now: Pendle Fork Mount Roof Rack at Pendle from £88.25

SeaSucker Talon

bike racks

Price: £299.99
Rating: 8/10

Due to the unique set-up of this bike carrier, it was very hard not to worry about our precious cargo when using the SeaSucker Talon QR-1 roof rack. The extremely effective sucker pads stuck like glue, but trundling down the motorway it was always in the back of my mind that the bikes weren’t being held in place by traditional, sturdy nuts and bolts.

Read the full review of the SeaSucker Talon

Buy Now: SeaSucker Talon at Tweeks from £284.99

Thule VeloCompact 927

Price: £435.00
Rating: 9/10

The VeloCompact differs from its predecessors by being smaller and lighter. The wheel trays and lights slide inboard by 30cm when not in use, meaning it’s more convenient to carry and store. Yes, there are less expensive tow bar racks out there, but you’ll only buy a rack like this once, so it’s worth the investment.

Read the full review of the Thule VeloCompact 927

Buy Now: Thule VeloCompact 927 at Tredz from £389.99

The best mountain bike racks

Which of these bike racks is right for you depends largely on what can fit your car but those were some features to look out for and reviews of our favourites.

  • Badger

    I originally used the Thule ProRide 591 and it was great for my hardtail and is really easy to use.
    However with the trend for bikes with a longer wheel base I found it didn’t work for last year’s Mondraker Foxy or this years Specialized StumpJumper. When the arm held the bike near the bottom bracket the front wheel was half way off the front of the carrier which really wasn’t secure.
    So I’ve moved to the INNO Tyre Hold bike carrier (INA389). This bike carrier doesn’t contact the frame at all but holds both tyres which means its ideal for carbon frames and those bikes that are a little longer. The INNO website states it will carry up to a 2.7inch width tyre but I’ve only tried up to 2.4inch.
    I’ve found it works well with the following bikes:
    • Voodoo Bizango (29er)
    • Mondraker Foxy (29er)
    • Specialized StumpJumper (29er)
    • Whyte T-130 (650b)
    The Bizango, StumpJumper and T-130 all have rear Mudhugger mud guards and there’s no clearance issue.

    At £160 each I was originally put off by the cost which is why I had bought the Thule ProRide. Unfortunately the introduction of a new bike required an additional spend on new bike carriers. Due to the way you load the bike onto the carrier a collapsible stool is advisable for shorter people. The carrier isn’t as stream lined or looks as nice as the Thule ProRide but it definitely does a better job. As in the previous post I too got scratches/scuffs from the Thule ProRide. Damage is fine if you hit a rock or fly off into a bush but isn’t great if you get it whilst driving home.

    So an big thumbs up from me for the INNO Tyre Hold bike carrier, oh and if you’re into road bikes it will hold them too!

  • Joe

    I don’t fancy clamping the frame of a nice new carbon mountain bike or constantly removing the front wheel. I used Thule roof and rear mounted racks that caused frame damage i.e. scratches/abrasion so I tried the Yakima FrontLoader. In the UK it cost about £90, is easy to fit to roof bars, secure and doesn’t contact the bike frame because it holds the bike by its wheels. I’ve driven hundreds of miles at motorway speed carrying a carbon Yeti bike without any issues.

    Why not include products like this that might appeal to people who are concerned about frame damage ?