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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.