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car rack guide

Car Rack Guide

How to choose the right car rack for you

It can be difficult choosing a car rack, so we've created this simple car rack buying guide to help you discover the best bike rack for your needs. We also have some useful links to car rack compatibility information at the bottom of this guide.

Car rack styles

Roof Racks

roof racks


  • Boot isn't obstructed
  • You can leave in a safe space when not used
  • No problems reversing & parking


  • Causes drag & reduces fuel efficiency
  • Harder to mount & remove bikes
  • Vehicles with roof rails are ideal

Boot Racks

boot racks


  • Very portable
  • Easy to mount/remove bikes
  • Improved fuel economy
  • No fittings needed


  • May need a light board
  • Be careful when reversing
  • Fastenings can damage to paintwork
  • No access to boot
  • Remember to disable automatic rear wipers

Towbar Racks

towbar racks


  • Low height makes it east to lift bikes
  • Less risk to paintwork
  • Very strong & sturdy
  • Improved fuel economy


  • Need a towbar
  • Can be expensive
  • Need a light board
  • Obscures boot (some can tilt giving you access)

Things to consider

What's your budget?

You're budget will determine the type of car rack you want. Roof racks tend to be the most affordable car racks, starting from around £30, boot racks from £40 and towbar racks begin about £50. If you're planning on transporting more than one bike you'll want a higher budget.

What type of bikes are you travelling with?

Road bikes are slim, lightweight and easily mount to most car racks. However, if you're transporting mountain and hybrid bikes then you'll want to consider the width of your tyres. Some MTB's come with very wide tyres that won't fit into the wheel holders on roof racks and towbar racks. You can buy specific racks for these types of bikes.

Most boot racks have a weight capacity of 45kg, that's roughly three standard MTB's, or four lightweight road bikes. Oddly shaped bikes such as full suspension mountain bikes and women's specific frames can be difficult to fit to a boot rack. You can get adaptor beams which fit to your seatpost and headset for easier mounting.

How many bikes do you want to transport?

Roof racks will carry just one bike, but you can fit two or three racks to your roof, depending on the size of your vehicle. Boot racks often fit three bikes but can go up to four in rare exceptions (check the maximum weight capacity of the rack). Towbar racks can also fit up to four bikes, weight isn't a problem.

How frequently will you be travelling?

If you're going to be using the rack regularly, you want it to be easy to use. A roof rack is ideal for securing your bikes out of the way. You don't need to worry about reversing or parking unlike with boot and towbar racks. You'll also have access to your boot.

However, because your bikes are so high up they can be fiddly to mount. Boot and towbar racks make it easy to secure bikes but you'll need to be careful parking up.

How far will you be travelling?

Drag reduces fuel economy. If you're heading up to the highlands for an epic weekend away then a roof rack may not be your best bet. Boot racks and towbar racks keep your bikes out of the wind for a more efficient drive.

Car racks & light boards

Do I need a light board for my car rack?

Before you buy a car rack you should determine if you need to fit a light board to your car. Your number plate and rear lights have to be visible from all angles at all times. The easiest way to do this is by fitting a light board. Don't fit the light board to your bikes (this is illegal), fit it to the car rack itself.

Thule car rack light board

Car rack compatibility

If you have a towball on your car then you can use most towbar racks with no problems. Roof bars and boot racks are a little more complicated. Please follow the links below to find the compatibility for our main brands:

Hollywood | Peruzzo | Saris | Thule