Choosing the car rack that's right for your needs is a process of finding a balance among cost, convenience, and security. For an overview of the different styles of car racks, and the pros and cons of each of them, see this page, Understanding Your Car Rack Choices, on our web site.
Of course, the staff at all three of our stores has plenty of experience with installing car racks of all types. We can help you select the right rack to meet your needs and budget, and ensure that it is installed according to the manufacturer's specifications for the utmost in safety and security.
Regardless of the style of car rack that you have or are considering buying, here are five tips that cover some of the most frequently-asked questions that we get about racks, as well as the most frequently-made mistakes.
1. Choose your rack before choosing your car. This may sound a bit ridiculous at first--if you're preparing to invest many thousands of dollars in the car of your dreams, why should your choice be affected by a $100-$200 bike accessory? However, if you're serious about cycling, then you're probably serious about carrying your bike(s) around safely and conveniently. Once you've settled on both the car and the rack you want, check with us or use the rack manufacturer's fit guide to verify that the rack is compatible with the vehicle.
2. When you're setting up a trunk-mounted rack, be sure to have the lower feet resting on the horizontal surface of the car’s bumper (if available). This will ensure that as much of the weight of the racks and bikes is supported by the bumper, and only the minimum necessary strain is put on the supporting hooks and straps. See the photos below for examples:
4. Don’t let the bike hang too close to the ground. This applies to both trunk racks and some hitch racks, and is a problem more often with cruiser-style bikes or ladies-frame bikes using a frame adapter bar. If one or more of a bike's wheels are hanging too close to the ground, then as you go over a big bump or approach a steep incline, you run the risk of having the wheels dragging on the pavement, or even worse, having the bike knocked off the rack or the rack knocked off the car. To solve this problem, try to fit the arms of the rack into a different area of the bike's frame so that the bike hangs higher. You might also be able to change the position of the frame adapter bar, if you're using one. Also, make sure the rack's bike support arms are set at the appropriate height. See the photos below for examples:
Century Cycles is an authorized dealer for Thule (say "TOO-lee") and Saris (SARE-iss), two of the most popular and reliable car rack manufacturers, and all of their racks are made here in the good ol' U.S. of A! Stop by any of our three stores and let us help you find the best rack for your vehicle!