The weather is starting to get nicer and dusting off the family bikes is starting to sound more and more tempting. Why not make the most of a family bike ride by investing in a tow bar bike rack so you can take the kids into the countryside for a more scenic bike ride?
We've found the best two bar bike racks on the market as well as some clever and essential accessories that'll make loading and unloading a lot easier.
Related: The best towing cars 2021
The best tow bar bike rack
1. Westfalia bikelander
Westfalia may be better known for campervan conversions but it also offers some excellent bike racks. This model supports two bikes with a maximum weight of 60kg. Featuring a tilt function for easy access to your boot and coming with an integrated license plate holder and LED driving lights, it has everything you need and is perfect for a beginner. This example is even capable of folding up when not in use, making it easy to store. Pros:Very well made and easy to useFolds away for easy storage Cons:Quite expensive Only fits two bikes
2. Thule VeloSpace XT 2-Bike Towbar Mounted Bike Rack
Thule is the go-to brand for quality bike racks and this double unit is very impressive, if slightly expensive. Able to carry two bikes of any size thanks to adjustable pump buckles and featuring locks, it's the perfect expensive choice. Pros:Excellent quality Cons:Quite expensiveOnly fits two bikes
3. Streetwize 3 Bicycle Carrier Towball Fitting
Despite being a budget choice, this bike rack can easily carry three bikes at once. Its maximum weight capacity is 45kg meaning it'll hold up to two e-bikes and one regular bike. You'll just have to remember to make sure your rear lights are number plate are visible when the bikes are attached. Pros:Great valueSupports up to 45kgCons:Doesn't fit swan neck tow bars
4. Thule VeloCompact 3-Bike Towbar Mounted Bike Rack
If you have quite a few bikes to carry with you then the Thule VeloCompact should be on your radar. While the 60kg weight limit means you won't get three electric bikes on it, it'll easily hold three regular bikes with the option to add an extender for a fourth bike. While it doesn't fold up, it will fold flat for easy storage.Pros:Will carry three bikes with easeGreat security features Cons:Expensive
5. Peruzzo Cruising 2 Bike Towball Carrier
A very basic model from Peruzzo, this bike rack will hold two bikes with a maximum total weight of 30kg. It's incredibly quick and easy to install and is perfect for people who want to be able to remove it regularly. You'll need to buy a light board though. Pros:Great value for moneyCons:Can only support up to 15kg bikesNo security features
The best tow bar bike rack accessories
1. Maypole Trailer Board
Some cheaper tow bar bike racks lack rear lights or a licence plate holder, meaning you'll need a light board to stay legal. This light board from Maypole will include everything you need while being good value for money.
2. Amazon Basics Bungee Strap
A garage essential, bungee cords will always prove invaluable, especially when you need to tow anything. This pack from AmazonBasics comes with six 40cm bungee straps and can be used to help further secure a bike to your bike rack.
3. Thule Foldable Loading Ramp
While a tow bar bike rack makes loading and unloading easier than a roof-mounted one, bikes can still be heavy. This ramp will make loading even the heaviest bike easier. Simply attach to any Thule product and you'll be able to wheel your bike on to it. It then folds up when not in use.
What you need to know about tow bar bike racks:
Why should I choose a tow bar bike rack?
The other type of bike rack you can buy for your car is a roof-mounted bike rack. While these don't need a tow bar, most need a roof rack. They also aren't the best choices for families, as you can only really carry three bikes on them. Tow bar racks can often carry four bikes.
A tow bar bike rack will also be easier to load and unload because it is mounted lower than a roof-mounted bike rack.
One potential drawback with a tow bar bike rack is that they can block you from accessing your boot. If you do want access to your car's boot while using one of these, then you can buy an easy-access bike rack that tilts - but these are very expensive.
Will it support my bike?
Tow bar mounted bike racks can easily fit different bike types. Some will require you to have a horizontal top tube on your bike but aside from that most offer great adjustability for different sized bikes.
Tow bar bike racks can accept more weight, meaning many can carry electric bikes, something roof-mounted bike racks aren't able to do.
What else do I need to know?
By law, your licence plate and rear lights need to be visible to people behind you. If you're not sure, look at buying a rear light board.
Also, double-check which type of tow bar your car is fitted with because not all bike racks will be universal.