Cycle Carrier Types Explained

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A Thule tow bar mounted cycle carrier loaded with 2 bikes.
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A Thule tow bar mounted cycle carrier loaded with 2 bikes.

In this guide we explain the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of cycle carrier.

Cycle carriers are a great accessory to have attached to your car, allowing you the freedom to take your bikes with you. Whether you are full on adrenaline junkie looking for the fastest downhill challenge or just wanting to take a relaxing gentle cycle through a forest, a quality cycle carrier will make getting you and your bike/s there easy.
There are three types of cycle carrier to chose from, the best choice for you depends on a number of factors including
  • The kind of vehicle that you have.
  • Whether you have a towbar fitted, and what type towbar you have fitted.
  • Whether you have roof bars fitted.
  • If your vehicle have the spare wheel on the rear of the vehicle.
Thule ProRide 591 cycle carrier
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Thule ProRide 591 cycle carrier

Roof Mounted Cycle Carriers

Cycle carriers that are mounted on roof bars that attach to the roof of your car. Roof bars can be removed when not in use, or can be used to attach a roof box. The only drawback is the fact that attaching your bike to it could be a bit awkward given that you have to raise your bike over the roof of your car. Thule have developed a new type of roof bar that pulls out making attaching your bike much easier, see our guide about Thule SlideBar.
Thule ClipOn 9103 cycle carrier - note how the bikes obscure the number plate and lights.
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Thule ClipOn 9103 cycle carrier - note how the bikes obscure the number plate and lights.

Rear Door Mounted Cycle Carriers

Rear door mounted cycle carriers are another popular option, however there are several drawbacks to this type of carrier. Firstly as the carrier is only attached using straps it can have a tendency to become loose. All manufactures of this type of carrier advise that the straps are re-tightened every couple of hours. Secondly as the carrier is not fixed in a very secure way, theft is also a possibility.The rear number plate and rear lights could be obscured by the carrier and bikes, in the UK this could results in a fine and points on your license. Therefore a light board with number plate on may be the only way to avoid this.
Witter ZX302 cycle carrier
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Witter ZX302 cycle carrier

Tow Bar Mounted Cycle Carrier

Tow Bar mounted carriers are by far the best option, these are more sturdier than the rear door carriers as they have a fixing point on the vehicle to attach to. Most quality affordable models take less than 2 minutes to fit, some of the better models allow the boot to be opened without the need to unload all the bikes. Tow bar mounted carriers also usual come fitted with a light board and number plate space. Some models also fold up allowing for easy storage when not in use.
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