The best bike racks

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6 of the best bike racks
Loading up the car for a family holiday? Don’t forget your bikes. The latest bike racks make it really easy to transport up to four bicycles safely – then you can park the car at your destination, and enjoy the scenery on two wheels. Stuart Morton, chief sub-editor of Auto Express and Carbuyer, takes you through six of the best.
 
Bike racks come in three basic designs: roof-mounted, rear-mounted and towbar-mounted. Rear-mounted racks are the cheapest, but they’re often the most fiddly and least stable, as they simply hang off the back of the car, with straps to hold them in place. And you’ll almost certainly have to buy a separate number plate and lightboard to keep on the right side of the law.
 
So it’s worth spending more on an alternative bike rack. This will mean investing in roof bars or a towbar for your car, and towbar-mounted racks in particular are quite expensive. But if you’re likely to use the rack frequently, this will be money well spent for an easier life.
 
Towbar racks have lights and number plates built in, and the best even tilt for access to the boot. Roof-mounted racks are great if you have lightweight bikes that are easy to lift. Just keep an eye on the maximum load capacity of your roof bars, and bear in mind the extra drag may affect your car’s fuel consumption.
 
Here’s our rundown of six of the best bike racks:
Atera Strada DL
Atera Strada DL
eBay loves: Easy to use, durable, neat design
Watch out for: Expensive (but worth it)
RRP: £427.50
Number of bikes: 3 (4 with adaptor)
 
The Altera Strada DL towbar-mounted rack has a sturdy, high-quality feel. Plus, you can pretty much lower it onto your towbar straight out of the box. Just push it down and listen for the click, and the rack’s locked in place.
 
It takes three bikes (or four with an optional adapter), up to a maximum capacity of 60kg, with the wheels strapping down securely and adjustable arms locking around the frames. One key operates all the locks. Plus, if you need to access your boot, you just press a bar below the number plate with your foot, and the whole rack tilts away from the car. It’s expensive, but brilliant.
Thule EasyFold 932
Thule EasyFold 932
eBay loves: Brilliantly conceived for simple storage
Watch out for: Eye-watering price
RRP: £500
Number of bikes: 2
 
Towbar-mounted bike racks can take a lot of storage space – but not this one. The Thule EasyFold 932 is a revolution, as it packs away into a slim, compact package, complete with useful carry handles, and weighs 16.9kg.
 
When you’re ready to go, lower it onto the towball and simply unfold each side. This reveals plastic bases moulded for two bikes’ wheels, with clever quick-release ratchets to strap them in, while the arms clamp around the frames. Fitting and loading bikes takes minutes, and although it can only carry two cycles, the 60kg capacity means you can transport a heavy electric bike if you want to. And when you’re finished, just fold it up in the shed and forget about it. 
Buzzrack Cruiser 3
Buzzrack Cruiser 3
eBay loves: Great price, sturdy feel
Watch out for: Fitting and tilting could be easier
RRP: £195
Number of bikes: 3
 
You can see that the towbar-mounted Buzzrack Cruiser 3 shares some features with our top bike rack – the clamps for the bike frames and the runners and straps for the wheels are built into a sturdy metal frame, as on the Atera Strada.
 
It feels more basic, but that’s what you get for the much lower price. And this towbar rack still does the job. You’ll have to spend more time putting it together out of the box, and attaching it to the towbar can be fiddly, as is tilting, but if you can put up with this, the sub-£200 Buzzrack is a fine budget choice.
Atera Giro AF
Atera Giro AF
eBay loves: Simple to use, high-quality finish
Watch out for: Expensive one-bike solution
RRP: £85
Number of bikes: 1
 
This sounds a lot to pay to carry one bicycle, but the Atera Giro AF is the Rolls-Royce of roof-mounted bike racks.
 
The adjustable wheel supports are the same as on the Atera Strada DL, and allow you to steady the bike with just one hand as you lock the simple twist grip around the frame with the other. Then just twist the grip again to tighten it, tighten the wheel straps and you’re done. It’s as simple as that.
 
The Giro AF weighs just 3kg, but can take bikes weighing up to 17kg. And while it fits standard roof bars, it comes with adapters to fit aero bars – plus usefully the rack locks to the roof bars and the bike to the rack with one key.
Thule ProRide 591
Thule ProRide 591
eBay loves: Easy to fit bike to, suits most bars
Watch out for: Pricey for carrying one cycle
RRP: £95
Number of bikes: 1

The Thule ProRide 591 weighs 1kg more than its Atera rival, but can take bikes up to 20kg. And it’s just as well thought out.
 
Your bike’s wheels roll easily into the wheel tray, allowing you to hold the bike with one hand as you click Thule’s Self Adjusting Frame Holder around it. This will only click one way, and has a reassuring ratchet mechanism that tightens neatly one-handed. Then you just secure the plastic wheel supports and lock everything.
 
Again, it’s simple but really effective. The ProRide 591 suits roof bars up to 56mm wide, and comes with adapters for some aero bars and T-track section bars, although optional adapters are available. 
Exodus Rear High Mount 3 Cycle Carrier
Exodus Rear High Mount 3 Cycle Carrier
eBay loves: Low price, fairly simple to fit
Watch out for: Not as sturdy as a towbar rack
RRP: £99.99
Number of bikes: 3
 
You don’t get the security and stability of a towbar or roof-mounted rack with this Halfords own brand product, which simply straps to the back of the car. But it’s much better value for money – as the Exodus rack carries three cycles for less than £100, with no need to splash out on a towbar or roof bars.
 
Its metal arms adjust to fit your car’s hatchback or tailgate, and it clamps into place, with rotating rubber jaws holding your bikes. Plus, it mounts the bikes high up and out of the way of the number plate and lights on many cars. The best rear-mounted option.
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