Transporting bikes by car

Car bike racks to help you travel to cycling events conveniently

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We all know that cycling is generally a green activity that can transport us miles under our own steam. But whether you’re keen or not so, cars are a necessity for most of us. 

It can be simple activities like travelling to a Sunday morning race, getting to a sportive with your mates or taking the family on holiday, but at times we all need to carry our bikes by car. But which method is best for you?

The first question is how many bikes you need to carry. Then what type of bikes, how far and how frequently? Which car – or cars – do you have, and will you be taking a mixture of bikes? Are they heavy and will they be getting dirty? 

Carriers can be mounted on the boot, towbar or roof - or you can even go rack-less and put it in the boot. Whichever rack you choose, they have advanced enormously since the old finger-trapping models of questionable functionality.

But whichever method you choose to transport your bikes, know that the all-new Mazda3 is the perfect companion for all your cycling adventures.      

Recently the winner of the 'Red Dot Award: Product Design 2014' in Germany, its superb design innovation, functionality and ergonomics has won over critics and drivers alike, highlighting the KODO design language that embodies the Mazda brand’s vitality as a perfect match for its convention-defying SKYACTIV Technology. Also a top nominee in the 2014 World Car Design of the Year awards, the all-new Mazda3 is uncompromisingly efficient and fun-to-drive and is the perfect vehicle to facilitate your bike journeys this summer.

Transporting bikes by car: the options

Summer’s fast approaching and for many that means packing up the car with cycling gear and heading to races, sportives, or simply to a new destination to explore some exciting new roads or trail. There are a number of different ways of transporting a bike – or bikes – by car, so check out the guide below to choose which method is best for you.

Back seats down, bike in the boot

If you’ve just got the one bike to carry about, why not put the back seats down, take off the front wheel and put it in the boot? Lay a sheet over the top, throw the wheel and spare kit and head on your way.

Pros: Having it inside the cabin means the car’s aerodynamics – and therefore fuel efficiency – is maintained. Also, this is probably the most thief-proof method of transport

Cons: Passenger room in the back is lost and there’s always the risk of an oil stain on the trim

Traditional roof rack

Racks, such as the Thule ProRide 591, are quick and easy to use and keep bikes stable and secure on top of the car. The bike is held in place with a strap on each wheel and a central clamp on the downtube. They’re ideal for taking a couple of bikes on holiday and there’s no need to disassemble them.

Pros: Space inside the car is maximised, bikes are separate and there are minimal contact points with other metal and hard plastics – and that means the bike’s paintwork is protected.

Cons: The risk of forgetting extra height when driving into a multi-storey car park; a detrimental impact on fuel economy.

Clip-on rack

Some racks use clips and straps to create a stable platform over the boot and rear window on which to carry bikes. The beauty of these is there’re no achy arms when reaching up to fix a bike in and they’re easy to use.

Pros: Quick and simple to install or take off; bikes are easily accessible

Cons: Bike frames can rub against the rack bars: the rear view mirror view while driving is obscured; bikes are a target for thieves        

Tow bar-mounted rack

Have a big car and have plenty of bikes to transport? A tow bar mounted system such as the Witter ZX404 might be the answer. The rack takes four bikes and mount securely to the tow bar plate. Bikes are kept largely out of the wind to so fuel efficiency is maintained.

Pros: Simple, secure and easy to fit and retrieve bikes

Cons: The expensive option, bikes are at threat from thieves

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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