Bike rack recommendations (I have no idea)

I live with my wife and my two teenage sons. We all have bikes. My wife and I are the more keen cyclists but the lads come with us often enough.

I am looking at getting something to fit to my wifes car so we can move the bikes elsewhere and cycle. Not sure if the lads would be keen or not but we would definitely need a rack for two bikes, but would be interested if anyone has used any for four and has any recommendations too.

My wife has a Hyundai iX35 (I have a tiny BMW 1 series which I can barely fit in myself!), which is the car we would be mounting them too. I've attached a model of the same car as a pic. We all have cheapish hybrid bikes. Mine and the lads are around 14kg and my wife's is around 12kg so the two bikes would be 26kg combined and the four combined would be 54kg.

Like I said, preference would be for two but I'd be happy to
 

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I've used Halfords and Thule roof carriers and a rear carrier of unknown brand.

There are pros and cons.

I'd say roof carriers are a lot easier and quicker to get on and off and keep your bikes out of the way of boot access. But unless you leave them on all the time (we do) they're a pita to get the whole shebang on and off, and they ruin fuel consumption. Being 6'4" and reasonably strong may skew my opinion.

Rear carriers are a pain, seem to require straps etc, stick out from the side of the car, and don't give confidence in security. And you may need a light board too.

Towbar carriers have a good reputation, but I've no experience personally. And you need a towbar!

Thule are quality. Excellent quality, easy to use, don't scratch your bike, very secure. I'd recommend them unhesitatingly.

We use roof carriers, purely because we have a tandem. I'd rather have a towbar one for the fuel and even easier access.
 

Broadside

Guru
Location
Fleet, Hants
+1, Thule is the way to go. I’ve used five Thule 591 carriers to carry 5 roof mounted bikes, they are great and very easy to use for a couple of bikes but getting 4 up on the roof can be a hassle.

Towbar mounted carriers are the business, I’ve had two of the top spec Thule 4 bike carriers, most recently the Thule 928 or 929 can’t quite remember. They are rock solid but quite expensive new (£500) but I always managed to watch eBay for a couple of months and bagged them for £250 each time. There are more modern versions now. You do of course need a towbar which at a minimum will set you back £200.

For me towbar mount carriers are the way to go, I only sold mine because I’ve now got a VW Transporter which has the VW 4 bike carrier permanently attached to the tailgate, incidentally the VW branded carrier is actually made by Thule.
 

CanucksTraveller

Macho Business Donkey Wrestler
Location
Hertfordshire
I agree with Roubaixtuesday, I've got 3 Thule 532 Freeride racks on a Thule wingbar system and they're excellent, 4 is easily doable if you orientate them alternately, i.e. one forward facing, the next rearward etc. They're very solid, neat, easier to load than I thought, and they keep everything out of the way.
I've had a rear rack from Halfords before that, it was okay for two bikes but not for the claimed three, visibility was reduced, there was a bit of swaying about when heavily loaded which always caused worry, and there were straps everywhere. I also caused 600 pounds worth of damage to my tailgate hinges when I opened and closed the powered tailgate less than carefully, and trapped a strap anchor in the hinges. On some models of car you lose the ability to use the boot altogether. In hindsight it would have been cheaper at around 500 pounds to fit the Thule system rather than scrimp on an 80 quid carrier and 600 in body shop repairs to the car. They're actually not too bad on small cars with a steep tailgate and one or two bikes with occasional use, but for anything else, no.
I've no experience with towbar I'm afraid.
 
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Location
Kent Coast
Over the years, I have had several cycle carriers, and, as has already been said, all have pros and cons.
We got 3 adult bikes on the roof of a Cavalier, but that meant fitting the roof bars each time and then bolting the bike racks on each time. Then lifting the bikes onto the roof of the car. Not too bad for me at 6 foot 1, but it would be too awkward for some.

We had a towbar mounted bike carrier for a while. It clipped to the tow ball, with two bars sticking upwards in a V shape, from which two bars stuck out to hang the bikes from. The bikes knocked together on it and their paint was damaged. They weren't posh bikes so not a problem, but it would have been for expensive bikes. Plus I needed a light board with a number plate to tie on the back.

By the time we bought our campervan, our daughter had grown and moved away, so just 2 bikes to carry. We bought a really solid 2 bike towball mounted carrier. Made out of offcuts from the Forth Bridge by the feel of it. It had a big bolt that tightened the fixing onto a tow ball, and had integral lights and a number plate holder. There was space for 2 bikes, with adjustable wheel holders and frame clamps, and we used it to carry 2 mtbs and later 2 ebikes (batteries removed) all around UK and Europe with no dramas at all. We did have to remove it on site to get access to the back doors of the van, but it then formed a handy "bike stand" whilst on campsites. For me it was the most secure carrier. It was not a Thule make, but I believe Thule make similar designs for up to 4 bikes if you don't mind paying....
 

icowden

Über Member
Location
Surrey
I have a SARIS Bones boot mounted rack (3 bikes). I'm only 5'6" so the roof seems a long way up to me.
The problem with a rack for 4 bikes, is that it starts to get too heavy for a "trunk" mount rack. Even with 3 I spend a LOT of the journey checking the rear view mirror and not going too fast. It *is* secure, but it doesn't feel *that* secure. Plus hit a big speed bump or pothole and you are going to want to check the straps.

For me, the main obstacle to a roof mount rack would be the height of the car vs the height of me. My next rack on my next car would be a proper strong towbar mounted rack.

The other thing to consider with the SARIS Bones trunk mounted racks is that they seem to be designed with road bikes in mind. 3 road bikes with drops fit no problem. If you have a mountain bike the handlebars start to be an issue, or for a low step bike you need an additional "crossbar" device. I've used both :-)
The handlebar problem is the bike nearest the car. where the handlebar will start bashing the rear window - so you need to strap it up or put some cushioning on the handlebar to protect the car.
 

T4tomo

Guru
I have a roof rack one - feels very secure when I've used it (very occasionally). I have a estate car so can fit bikes with front wheel and seat post removed vertically in the boot, which my preferred way (can fit 2 in with only the 40% of the rear seat folded down, and 3 with 60% down) but if passengers and space and luggage don't allow...

The tow bar ones are the best, but priciest especially when you factor in fitting a tow bar. The roof rack one is a slight faff to mount the roof rack and slide the one or two bike fittings into place, I don't leave the roof rack on when not using it for fuel and noise reasons.
 

ebikeerwidnes

Über Member
I have a tailgate mounted carrier - not an expensive one but it has carried 3 bikes at time

3 points

a) security is dodgy - I always put an extra bike lock around everything otherwise the outer bike could be released in less than a minute - less with a sharp knife
b) fuel consumption - I used to use it on an X reg Yaris (1.3l engine) - one time going from N. Wales to Manchester with all 3 bikes there was a strong head win - the car was doing just over 50 with my foot flat on the floor - the wind resistance is huge so fule comsumption will be affacted. However, it is easier to get bikes on and off so it works for the occasional one off
c) check your can is suitable for the rack. My current car has a totally glass rear window - the hooks that hold the rack on would be on glass which is not going to work!!! However, I had to dig into the user guide a lot to find somewhere that it said this!
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Avoid anything thqt rests upon the tailgate glass. Ive seen too many over the years (ex copper) where the glass broke and deposited bicycles in the road. Its messy. Even worse, your insurers are unlikely to cover your own coats and damage (theyll cover 3rd party costs) if you use auch a device and it goes wrong.

Up on the roof, or a towbar mount are the way to go. If you really can't do that then at all costs avoid cheap ones that rest on the glass in any way.
 

cyberknight

As long as I breathe, I attack.
I have a SARIS Bones boot mounted rack (3 bikes). I'm only 5'6" so the roof seems a long way up to me.
The problem with a rack for 4 bikes, is that it starts to get too heavy for a "trunk" mount rack. Even with 3 I spend a LOT of the journey checking the rear view mirror and not going too fast. It *is* secure, but it doesn't feel *that* secure. Plus hit a big speed bump or pothole and you are going to want to check the straps.

For me, the main obstacle to a roof mount rack would be the height of the car vs the height of me. My next rack on my next car would be a proper strong towbar mounted rack.

The other thing to consider with the SARIS Bones trunk mounted racks is that they seem to be designed with road bikes in mind. 3 road bikes with drops fit no problem. If you have a mountain bike the handlebars start to be an issue, or for a low step bike you need an additional "crossbar" device. I've used both :-)
The handlebar problem is the bike nearest the car. where the handlebar will start bashing the rear window - so you need to strap it up or put some cushioning on the handlebar to protect the car.
similar height , what i do is carry a small foldable step which gives me enough height to get bikes on the roof , much more secure i thought than boot mounted options i have tried .
Of course the issue maybe as said somewhere is weight of the bikes if like us your "a short ass " 14-15 kg isnt a lot of weight but it can be awkward to handle it over your head .
If i was going to be carrying bikes a lot i would look at a towbar system , thats north of £300 to get a towing ball fitted then the cost of the rack .
 

byegad

Legendary Member
Location
NE England
I had a Tow-bar carrier fitted to a 06 Yaris, much smaller than your chosen mode. It was brilliant, the Yaris had a removeable ball, so the ball stayed clamped to the rack and it was clipped on and off easily by just me. It did a round trip of 1600miles into France with no issues at all and no discernible extra noise or drag up to 130kph.
 

mustang1

Guru
Location
London, UK
I've used Halfords and Thule roof carriers and a rear carrier of unknown brand.

There are pros and cons.

I'd say roof carriers are a lot easier and quicker to get on and off and keep your bikes out of the way of boot access. But unless you leave them on all the time (we do) they're a pita to get the whole shebang on and off, and they ruin fuel consumption. Being 6'4" and reasonably strong may skew my opinion.

Rear carriers are a pain, seem to require straps etc, stick out from the side of the car, and don't give confidence in security. And you may need a light board too.

Towbar carriers have a good reputation, but I've no experience personally. And you need a towbar!

Thule are quality. Excellent quality, easy to use, don't scratch your bike, very secure. I'd recommend them unhesitatingly.

We use roof carriers, purely because we have a tandem. I'd rather have a towbar one for the fuel and even easier access.
+1 to all the points mentioned, especially this bit:
Thule are quality. Excellent quality, easy to use, don't scratch your bike, very secure. I'd recommend them unhesitatingly.
 

mustang1

Guru
Location
London, UK
It's already mentioned here but I'll also repeat it with some experience:

I went on holiday with a couple of other families. One of them went with a towbar rack (3 bikes), another went with a rear-hatch carrying thingie (2 bikes), i went with Thule roofrack (4 bikes). Btw, thanks to @fossyant and @I like Skol for your tips.

On holiday, we took our bikes to various locations and every single time, I had the bikes on the roof ready to go, and took them off the quickest, ready to go, while we waited for the others. I had the least hassle but was expecting the tow-bar solution to be the best (alas, it was not a Thule).

I'm pretty sure there are Thule-like, and even Thule-compatible devices out there but I never looked into them. I'm very happy with Thule, and unless they increase their prices in some chronic fashion, I'll stick with them for future purchases too.

Caveat: I've heard very good things about Yakima and Saris Bones, but I prefer to stick with European products in this case.

EDIT: oh yeah, I forgot to mention if you are accustomed to a quiet motorway cruise, the roof rack makes substantial (for me) wind noise and dont think about opening the sunroof unless you really love sunshine (I do, and I do; it gives more of a holiday vibe). The plan was to remove the roof rack when not in use, but I knew that was never gonna happen ^_^).
 
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