The best bike racks

A good bicycle rack should be secure and easy to use. We assess a range of racks, helping you decide which is best for you.

Best bike racks

by Tim Pitt |

Whether you spend your Sundays in a Lycra-clad peloton or simply enjoy pottering around Center Parcs with the kids, a bike rack opens up endless possibilities for two-wheeled fun. There is a huge selection of products available, from hefty platform racks to single-bike sucker mounts. Each has its pros and cons, so we’ve done the research, explained the differences and picked our winners. Ready for adventure? Read on...

Thule Velo Compact 925

Top Choice
Thule 925001 Velo Compact 925

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Swedish brand Thule is a long-established name in car accessories, and this rear-mounted rack is robust and practical. It holds two bicycles and is strong enough to support electric bikes.

One of our favourite things about the Velo Compact 925 is that it comes pre-assembled. That means no confusing instructions or grazed knuckles. Fitting is easy, provided your car has a towbar, cycles can be locked in place and the rack tilts to allow access to the boot. The built-in lights simply plug into your towbar socket. A larger three-bike version is available, too.

Pros Cons
• Built to last • More expensive than the alternatives
• Pre-assembled
• Tilts for boot access

SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

Best For Speed And Style
Seasucker Mini Bomber

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Want to look like you've just driven off the pages of a lifestyle magazine? Then you need a SeaSucker bike rack. This double-bike rack uses suction cups to attach to your car. Larger versions carry up to three or four bicycles, and there's also a solo version if you're free and single.

Aside from looking cool, this rack couldn’t be easier to fit. Simply position the suction cups on your car’s roof or rear glass, then compress the cylinder rods until they clamp into place. It’s lighter and more aerodynamic than traditional roof racks, so it might also save you a tiny amount of fuel. The only inconvenience is having to remove your bicycle’s front wheel – you’ll need to carry that in the boot.

Pros Cons
• A stylish way to carry your bike • Convenience is costly
• Quick and easy to fit • You need to remove the bike’s front wheel
• Light and aerodynamic

Peruzzo Car Rack Deluxe 4-Bike Platform

Best For The Whole Family
Peruzzo 668/4 ETC Car Rack Deluxe 4 Bike Platform

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This large platform-style rack from Peruzzo holds up to four bicycles, making it ideal for family days out or summer holidays. The instructions could be better, but the steel rack itself is sturdy and well-made. Don't forget you need a towbar to mount it, which rules out fitment to some cars.

Loading four bikes takes a while, so thankfully this rack tilts for access to the boot. Its lights are connected via a 13-pin plug adaptor, while the two bikes closest to the car are secured by additional upper arms. Care is needed when reversing, but the relatively low platform means the bikes shouldn’t totally block your view.

Pros Cons
• Holds four bikes • Heavy to fit
• Good quality construction • Instructions could be clearer
• Tilts for access to car boot

Summit Rear Bike Cycle Carrier

Best On A Budget
Summit SUM-613 Rear Bike Cycle Carrier

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A popular choice, this universal twin cycle rack majors on value for money. It will carry two bikes at a push, but is best suited to one. An adjustable metal frame secured by fabric straps, it fits most types of car - including saloons, hatchbacks and estates. The notable exception is 4x4s with rear-mounted spare wheels.

Assembling this rack can be fiddly, and you’ll need to ensure that no components are rubbing on your car’s paintwork (there is protective rubber on the main contact areas). On the flipside, you don’t need a towbar – and loading bikes is easy with the rack in place. Be aware that you may need an additional rear number plate or lights if the bikes obscure these.

Pros Cons
• Very affordable • Fiddly to assemble
• Easy to load bikes • You may need a light board
• Fits most cars

Thule ProRide 598

Best For Roof Bars
Thule 598001 ProRide 598

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For cars with roof bars fitted, this Thule rack offers a quick and straightforward cycle-carrying solution. The bike's wheels slot into trays, while a padded clamp fits around the frame. A torque limiter dial prevents frame damage from over-tightening.

Even if you have a super-light carbon road bike, lifting it up to car roof height may be difficult. Once you’ve done so, though, mounting the bike is easy, and a built-in cable lock offers extra security. Buy two racks and you could position two cycles side-by-side – although this obviously doubles the cost.

Pros Cons
• Compact and easy to carry • Only carries one bike
• A good quality product • Difficult to lift bike into position
• Does not obscure car lights or windows • You need roof bars as well

What type of bike rack should I buy?

We've done a full comparison test on this, but here's a quick summary. Your choice of rack depends on several factors, notably your budget, how many bikes you want to carry and your type of car – including whether a towbar or roof bars can be fitted.

The three main types of bike racks are roof mounted, rear mounted (using straps) and platform racks (using the towbar). Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Roof-Mounted Racks

On the plus side, these are relatively affordable and don’t obstruct the car’s windows, lights or rear number plate. However, mounting and removing bikes is difficult without a step ladder, particularly if you drive an SUV, plus you need to be mindful of height restrictions on the road. You may also need to buy roof bars first.

Rear-Mounted Racks

Usually the cheapest option, particularly as they don’t require any additional equipment – e.g. roof rails or a towbar – these racks are very popular. They can be head-scratching to assemble, though, and may obscure the car’s rear number plate (possibly the lights and rear window, too).

Platform Racks

The best solution for carrying more than two (and up to four) bikes, a platform rack is stable and easy to load. You’ll need a towbar with an electric socket for plugging in the light board, and care is needed when reversing. These racks tend to be most expensive, too.

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