To see the best trails and roads, or find the best hills and single-track, you sometimes have to drive to them, making a bike rack indispensable. The best bike racks are secure enough that you don't have to worry about losing your bike during the drive, but simple enough for anyone to use. When looking for a bike rack, find one with a good fastening system, one that allows easy mounting and one that doesn't get in the way when you're not using it.
Thule 963 Spare Me Bike Rack
Thule's 963 Spare Me 2 ($153, as of January 2010) is a solution for cyclists whose vehicles have a spare tire mounted on the back, preventing a trunk- or hitch-mounted tire. As its name indicates, the Spare Me bike rack mounts directly onto a vehicle's spare tire. Its frame cradles and sturdy strap system keeps bikes in place. CarBikeRacks.com recognized the Spare Me for its ease of setup and stability, noting that "the bikes did not shake or move at all while . . . driving."
Hollywood Racks Express 3 Trunk Rack
Hollywood Racks' Express 3 ($60, as of January 2010) is a versatile trunk-mounted rack. Designed to fit any vehicle, the Express 3 can hold up to three bikes and keep them safe during transport. Soft cradles protect the finish on bike frames and keep them separated, and sturdy rubber straps as well as an integrated tie-down strap keep them in place.
Yakima BackSwing 4
With its multiple hinges, Yakima's BackSwing 4 hitch-mounted rack ($267, as of January 2010) blends utility with mobility. Outdoor.com said it "accommodates a wide variety of bikes," and that it "is very secure and easy to use." The BackSwing 4 mounts to a vehicle's tow hitch. It fits up to four bikes securely with individual frame cradles and rubber security straps. And when not in use, the BackSwing 4's arms can swing down to save space, and the hitch itself can be adjusted to lie flush with the vehicle for a custom fit.
Article Written By Billy Brown
Billy Brown is an outdoor sports writer living in Northern California.
An avid rock climber and trail runner, he's been writing about outdoor activities, fitness and gear since 2005. He regularly contributes to "The Record Searchlight," uncooped.com, and Trails.com, as well as other print and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Simpson University and is a NASM-certified personal trainer.