But there are several different types of bike racks out there, and each has its pros and cons—some of which may not be apparent at first glance.
What follows, however, is not meant to be a buyer’s guide. There’s no discussion of any particular brands or attempts to steer toward one type of rack over another. Rather, think of this as a candid discussion of one person’s experience with various rack types. Having a better idea of the pros and cons of each will help you get the rack that will work best for you.
There are three basic rack types out there: the roof rack, the hitch rack, and the “strap-on” rack. (There are a few others that don’t really fit into any of these categories, but these three are far and away the most common.)
For any given rack type, I generally look at the following criteria (in rough order of importance):
2) Ease of use
3) Compatibility with different bikes and other equipment
4) Compatibility with various vehicles
5) What, for now, I’ll call “miscellaneous issues.”
Price is fairly self-explanatory, and you often—but not always—get what you pay for.
Ease of use generally has to do with how much monkeying around is required to get the bike mounted on the rack.
Compatibility issues often arise when you want to use the same rack to carry an oddly shaped DH bike, a road bike, and a small kid’s bike; some racks handle varying frame designs and sizes more gracefully.
Vehicle compatibility issues look at how easy it is to switch the rack onto a different vehicle, which might or might not be important to you.
Miscellaneous issues are just the random problems (or advantages) that are inherent to the various rack types.
Let’s start with roof racks….