Paddy Hopkirk Freeball tow bar cycle carrier £89.59

Three-bike car rack

BikeRadar score 2/5

The selling point of this bike rack is that it attaches to a plate bolted behind your towbar. In theory this should give it the stability of a towbar rack, while still allowing you to tow a caravan or trailer.

It can carry three adult bikes, weighing a total of 45kg (99lb), and is supplied with rubber mounting loops and buckled straps to tether the bikes together. It even swings down to allow access to the car boot.

All good on paper, but in reality it sways alarmingly when loaded and holds the bikes in pretty much the same position as a cheaper, and most likely more stable, boot-mounted rack.

Although you can adjust the angle of the arms, you can't change their height, which means that on the majority of cars the number plate and rear lights are obscured, meaning you will need to fork out for a lighting board.

The rubber straps used to secure the bikes are not attached to the arms in any way – it's only the natural grippiness of the rubber that stops the bikes sliding off. As a result, we avoided driving up any steep hills with the rack attached.

Attention to detail also leaves somewhat to be desired. Two straps are supplied so you can tether the rack to your car using a pair of plastic 'dumbells' that sit inside the boot. One of our straps was twice as long as the other and lacked the metal hoop needed to attach the dumbell, so we had to tie it on instead. This didn't cause any problems but isn't what you'd expect for 90 quid.

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