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I just bought a car and my girlfriend has a similar car. We don't really want to scuff up the cars with the types of racks that use pressure points on the trunk.

Neither car currently has a hitch at the moment. Neither car has a roof rack nor the ability to put one on as far as I know.

What are the pros/cons of installing hitches and using a hitch rack vs. buying one rear rack and switching it between cars as needed?

Edit:

We went to REI today and picked up the Yakima SuperJoe 2. After trying to fit it on my car, there's no way it's going to work because the inside bike will rub on the car and not sit correctly because of the pedal. We are going to go back tomorrow and grab the Yakima SuperJoe 3 because it should give us more distance from the car.

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  • 1
    I'd recommend adding the "car-rack" tag here, since the word "rack" is overloaded in cycling, meaning a number of different things.
    – zigdon
    Oct 8, 2010 at 20:03
  • In my experience, this kind of rack that attaches to the trunk is pretty awful. Maybe for 1 bike it is tolerable, but for 2 or more bikes it never feels secure. There is too much weight and on a bumpy road things will move around, and the bikes and the car will get scratched. The best way to go is a hitch mounted bike carrier where the weight of the bike rests on the wheels. You can get a hitch from Amazon for most cars for about $120.
    – Nik
    Apr 20, 2015 at 18:14
  • You could always go for something like this. seasucker.com/products/mini-bomber-1. Not sure how much stick they actually offer
    – Hursey
    Dec 7, 2022 at 0:45

5 Answers 5

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I've used a trunk rack myself and only put a little denim pocket I made over the pedal of the inner bike and haven't had any troubles with it leaving marks, even after transporting a mountain bike from Mississippi to Massachusetts using it. Before I started using the denim pocket, I did have an occasion where I wasn't careful with the pedal and scratched the trunk lid, but that was it.

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    I usually tie a cloth round the pedal for exactly this reason.
    – Amos
    Oct 10, 2010 at 21:50
  • I keep the car waxed really well and that (combined with wiping the rubber pressure points off before usage) keeps the car from getting damaged. Oct 13, 2010 at 12:48
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Here's a comparison from REI's Car Racks: How to Choose:

Rack Type Photo Cost Pros Cons
Roof roof $$$
  • Most versatile system
  • More secure and stable
  • Unimpeded access to car doors or rear trunk
  • Some hoisting and reaching required
  • Wind resistance
  • Will not fit in low-clearance spaces
Hitch hitch $$
  • Simple installation
  • Easy to load and access bikes
  • Some models allow clear access to rear door
  • Good for frequent use
  • Advanced models can be expensive
  • Basic models interfere with access to trunk or rear cargo area
  • Bikes may sway
Trunk trunk $
  • Less expensive
  • Portable
  • Easy to load and access bikes
  • Can be used on multiple vehicles
  • Good for occasional use
  • Interferes with access to trunk or hatch
  • Bikes may sway and contact one another
Spare Tire tire $$
  • Easy to load and access bikes
  • Provide clear access to trunk/rear door
  • Dependent on tire size
  • Can carry 2 bikes max
  • Bikes may sway
Truck Bed
several types
truck $$
  • Easy to load and access bikes
  • Can handle heavier loads
  • Can be attached to tool boxes
  • Bikes dominate storage capacity within truck bed
Cargo Box
not for bikes
cargo $$$
  • Enclosed, lockable gear storage
  • Can hold wet or dirty items outside of vehicle interior
  • Keeps gear out of sight
  • Cost
  • Wind resistance
  • May not fit under low-clearance spaces
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    Their guide is not really correct. Roof racks generally end up being the most expensive. Hitchracks should be a set down, or $$. Apr 20, 2015 at 15:28
  • @ChrisinAK, I edited it in there. In the actual guide, they give price ranges that are probably more reflective of what you're getting yourself into. Because hitch options can get pretty expensive as well. Either way, I really just liked having a guide with pictures to go through.
    – KyleMit
    Apr 20, 2015 at 15:38
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    It misses the most expensive option, which I opted for. Just buy a full size van and put them in the back. Apr 20, 2015 at 15:48
  • Also hitch racks will be a lot more if you don't already have the hitch.
    – Chris H
    Apr 20, 2015 at 17:09
  • Are all cars compatible with roof racks? Compatibility seems like something important to note Apr 21, 2015 at 0:29
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The Thule T2 is the way to go. The T2 uses trays so that you just set your bike on the tray and lock it down. It is a hitch mount so you will need a hitch on your car. The pros are that it is super easy and hassle free to use. Additionally you can put heavier bikes on here that you wouldn't be able to put on most bike racks. The downside is that it is a bit on the expensive side (though REI is having a 20% off sale right now...)

http://www.rei.com/product/799935

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  • +1 for the heavy bikes part. I often see cars with two downhill bikes mounted on that rack.
    – dee-see
    Oct 11, 2010 at 21:44
  • I agree, this is the best kind of bike carrier if you want to avoid damage to the car and the bike. You have to install a hitch, but it's worth it. I've bought 3 hitches from Amazon for various cars and installed them myself, about $120 each.
    – Nik
    Apr 20, 2015 at 18:12
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I've had a bike rack for my car for many years, and having a portable one I could move between cars was very very useful. You never know when you end up with a rental car for a weekend, or go on a trip with a friend (in their car).

FWIW, I had this rack, and after 4 years of regular use it didn't leave any marks on my car.

The fact that it folds easily and can be stored in the trunk of your car is just a bonus :) Also, now that I have sold my car, I keep it in the trunk of my GF's car, so if I ever get stranded, she can come pick me up.

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You can get one of those racks that hangs off the boot of your car, I have a hatchback (Vauxhall/Opel Astra) and it works fine

There are two straps that are anchored inside the boot and the straps come out of the top door hinge, no marks/wear there

The other two straps clip onto the side of the boot door

There are two other straps which go down and clip underneath the car

The frame itself is foam padded on the points that contact with the car. One gold piece of advice I'll give here, is if you rest the rack on the ground, make sure you brush the foam bits with your hands. I forgot to do this, there was a stone it picked up from the ground and after a 40 mile journey it dug right into my paintwork on the bumper and made a nasty scratch

These styles of racks are cheap, around £40 / $60, and take about 20 minutes to setup/takedown

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  • Your rack sounds like the one I've got (from Halfords), I put a little paint mark on each of the bits which move to mark their positions and speed up setting the rack up each time.
    – Amos
    Oct 10, 2010 at 21:49

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