Here are eight tips from Cycle Traveller for protecting your bike when transporting it as suggested by bicycle carrier specialists Thule. We particularly like the zip-tie tip in number five… just remember to have something to cut them off with at the other end!
- Rear mounted carriers
These types of bike carriers are positioned at the rear of the vehicle using a towbar or hitch gauge mounted system and are great for heavier bikes like mountain bikes and city bikes because they save you lifting the bike onto the car roof. Tip: if the top tube of your bike is on a steep angle, you can buy an adapter that stretches across from the seat post to the handlebars providing a straight bar for the bike to hook onto the bike carrier.
- Roof and platform carriers
For high-quality bikes, such as carbon frame road bicycles, make sure your carrier supports your bike at its strongest points. Good options for these bicycles are rooftop carriers and platform carriers, as they take most of the bike weight on the wheels – just like when you’re riding – instead of putting pressure on the frame itself.
- Positioning your bike correctly
Almost all bike carriers will hold the bike frame somewhere for stability, but make sure to place the clamp is as close as possible to a frame joint – that’s where the frame will be strongest. This is particularly important for carbon frame bikes.
- Number plates
Most states have laws about obscuring both your number plate and your rear lights, which means two fines if your bike is obscuring both. Platform bike carriers like the Thule VeloCompact include rear lights and a number plate holder to avoid this becoming an issue’.
- Boxing your bike
If you’re taking your bike with you on a plane or train, there are a few different transportation packaging options to make sure your precious cargo’s kept safe. Whether you’re using a bike bag or a cardboard box, it’s a good idea to protect the bike with some padding. Round foam tubes work a treat and use cable ties to hold it in place around the bike. Ask your local bike shop to keep some padding aside for you next time they unpack a new bike. Most will keep the box for you too!
- Car hire
If you’re flying interstate for pleasure or a competition and are stuck for how to transport your bike once you’ve landed, some car hire companies like Avis actually have bike carrier options at some locations which make getting around easy.
- Watch out!
Worried about driving into your garage with a bike on the roof? It happens more often than you think! Use a reminder, like putting your bins in front of the garage door, or hiding your door opener in the back seat. There are some more sophisticated digital solutions on the market for those feeling particularly cautious.
- Keep it clean
To help avoid scratches when transporting your bike (especially on carbon frames) wipe your bike down between riding it and popping it on your car. Likewise, keep your bike rack clean (but always take your bike rack off before going through the car wash!). If you’re using a rear-mounted bike rack in muddy or wet conditions, you can help keep your bike clean by using a bike or motorbike cover (but don’t use this trick if your bike is mounted on your roof as the extra drag will stress both your bike and the roof racks).