The 10 Best 4 Bike Car Racks
Cycling: A Family Affair
On another level, it's a near-universally accepted form of fun, popular among people of all ages, colors, and creeds.
In today's increasingly hectic world, parents everywhere are recognizing how important it is to set aside quality time to spend with their kids. For many, the ideal family activity should involve a few things: opportunity for bonding, fresh air, and fun.
Cycling checks off all of those boxes and more. On one level, it's a great way to get your whole clan out from behind those electronic devices that consume so much of our attention today and force them to interact in person. On another level, it's a near-universally accepted form of fun, popular among people of all ages, colors, and creeds. After all, who doesn't have a couple fond childhood memories of that time they skinned their knee learning to ride their shiny new bike?
Perhaps most importantly, though, biking is one of the greatest activities for keeping your family in shape. According to health agencies the world over, riding a bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce risk of health problems associated with a modern sedentary lifestyle, helping to protect the body against serious diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It's primarily an aerobic exercise, which means it stimulates and strengthens those organs that facilitate the flow of oxygen throughout the body, such as the lungs and heart. What's more, unlike other aerobic exercises, it's low impact, so it doesn't inflict as much stress on joints and muscles.
And, as previously noted, it's suitable for a wide range of people and ages, since the activity can be as intense as the rider wants and generally does not require high levels of skill.
Of course, the benefits don't end there. By forcing them outdoors and putting them in touch with their natural surroundings, biking can help strengthen kids' relationship with the environment, which is great for society as a whole. Cycling is also a relatively inexpensive pastime, so you don't have to worry about incorporating it into your family's monthly schedule of events.
Types Of Bike Car Racks
Before you and your whole family are able to hit the trail, though, you're going to need to figure out how to get them — and their bikes — there. That's where the car bike rack comes in, offering a safe and convenient way to transport all your equipment to its destination.
The first major factor to consider when looking for a bike rack is type. Racks come in at least four main varieties, and which one is right for you will depend both on preference and the style of your vehicle.
Of course, they also require that the bikes be lifted up to the roof, which can be annoying.
Trunk racks fasten to the rear decks of smaller cars, such as sedans and hatchbacks, via a system of straps and paint-friendly hooks. They're the most lightweight and often most economical kind of rack out there, making them ideal for smaller families and regular weekend trips. On the other hand, they're not always as sturdy as other racks, so aren't great for hauling multiple big, heavy bikes, and can also be among the most difficult to install and remove.
Roof Racks mount to the crossbars or siderails on top of your vehicle, where they hold your bike upright. They're among the most versatile racks available, since they can often be converted to accommodate other kinds of sports gear, such as kayaks or cargo boxes. Plus, whereas other racks place bikes in front of a vehicle's rear window, where they can obstruct a driver's view, roof racks keep them up top and out of sight, making them a bit safer for navigation purposes. Of course, they also require that the bikes be lifted up to the roof, which can be annoying.
Hitch Racks slip into the hitch receivers of SUVs and trucks and offer a stable platform on which to rest more than one bike. They're sturdy and reliable, often extending away from the back of the vehicle and avoiding contact with any part of it except the hitch itself, which is helpful if you're worried about dinging the exterior. Many also feature mechanisms that allow them to fold down or swing away from the back of the car, allowing you to maintain complete access to your trunk. For all of those reasons, and despite the fact that they may require a bit more of an investment than other racks, these are usually the best option for larger families or anyone looking to transport more than two or three bikes.
Safety First And Other Concerns
No matter what style rack you decide to buy or where you're going with it, it's important to keep a few things in mind to ensure your group stays safe while having fun. Cycling is a very physical activity, after all, fraught with ample opportunity for accidents and injury — but you can avoid all that by taking the right precautions.
Helmets are an absolute necessity, as are good shoes, comfortable clothing, and plenty of water.
When it comes to the rack itself, make sure to devote plenty of time to the installation process. Most racks come with comprehensive user manuals that should spell out in detail — often with pictures — how to properly secure it to your vehicle. Check the rack for defects, and also make sure the bikes themselves are correctly placed in their hangers or trays.
Be aware of your own vehicle's limits, too: if you plan to load the outside of your rig with a car rack and four bikes, in addition to four people and all their gear inside, you'll want to be sure your suspension, transmission, and tires can handle all the weight.
Finally, remember to protect yourself — and your family members — during the bike ride itself. Helmets are an absolute necessity, as are good shoes, comfortable clothing, and plenty of water. You may want to wear glasses and gloves for a little added security. And, if you're bringing young kids along, make sure to outfit them with a little extra protective gear, such as knee and elbow pads, as well as training wheels if need be.