Unless you live in a neighbourhood that is great for biking the odds are that at some point you will have to transport your bike. This is especially true if you are an avoid mountain biker, but live in the city. Riding around the neighborhood is just never going to compare to the thrills of hitting those mountain trails. Of course, getting your bike to where you want to ride is a very easy and straightforward process if you invest in a bike rack.
These will not only protect your bike, but also your vehicle as well during transport and will ensure that both reach the destination in one point. However, what if you don’t have the funds for a bike rack or are unwilling to splash out on one? While it is still technically possible to transport your bike without a rack you are taking a serious gamble with your equipment.
Inside The Car
The simplest way to transport your bike without any extra equipment is basically by stowing it inside the car. If you have a car with a trunk that is large enough you might be able to get away with this, but usually a bike trip requires all kinds of other equipment and items as well which will leave very little room for the bike. In addition, during the ride the stowed items might shift around causing scratches to your precious bike. Also bear in mind that if you plan on taking a few friends along things will become even more crowded inside the vehicle. Then there is also the hassle of taking the bike out of the vehicle when you arrive at your destination and then stowing it again when it is time to leave.
This is even more of a hassle if you have to disassemble the bike in order for it to fit inside the car. There is also the added risk of possible tearing the upholstery or leaving grease stains everywhere. If you rode a muddy trial and your bike is covered in dirt you are also going to run into problems when it is time to put it back in the car. Something else that people don’t normally think about is how hot the temperature inside the car can get on sunny days. If you leave the bike inside a hot car there is a big chance that the tires can pop. Finally, if you have multiple bikes to transport you can forget about using this method.
On Top of The Car
If you don’t care too much about the condition of your car or bicycles it is possible to strap the bikes to the car roof without a car roof rack. However, this is really a gamble as there is a very real possibility of the bikes falling off if you don’t do a proper job. Also, in order for this method to work the bikes will have to be mounted upside down on the roof which can lead to the paint getting scratched.
It might be possible to get away with this method if you are only transporting the bikes for a short distance, but for longer distances especially at freeway speeds you will be flirting with disaster. In order to make this method slightly safer you need to remove the front wheel as well as non-drive side pedal and then place a blanket on the roof before securing the bike. This way you can transport the bike with the handlebars facing up, but inevitably you will end up with a dent in the roof if done regularly. Then of course there is the risk of getting a fine for hauling an unsafe load not to mention placing other road users at risk.
As these two methods clearly demonstrate it is not impossible to transport a bicycle without a rack, but it is either very inconvenient or very dangerous. A proper bicycle rack is worth it even if only for the peace of mind they provide. Since most bicycle racks are also very affordable there is no need to put your equipment at risk in order to save some money. In the long run a rack will simply work out better for both your bike and vehicle.
I love the outdoors and I'm fortunate enough to be able to spend most of my free time exploring it with my mountain-bike. In my spare time, I write reviews and guides for Rackmaven.