The best roof bike racks that are perfect for your car

Spend some more time with nature without running out of puff with a roof-mounted bike rack.

A man loads a bike onto his roof bike rack

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

More and more of us are enjoying the simple pleasures of a bike these days. Some use them for commuting in congested cities, while others love nothing more than strapping them to the top of their cars and driving somewhere more scenic for a pleasant bike ride.

Selecting the right bike rack can be a bit of a challenge so we've done all the research for you. We've found the best roof racks on the market so you can find the perfect one. And remember that most bike racks require a roof rack to work. Thankfully, we've made a handy guide to roof racks you can read to get clued up.

The best roof bike racks

Best dual bike rack

Thule FreeRide Twin Pack 532 Bicycle Carrier
Price: $600.00

Thule has a reputation for making excellent bike racks and this twin set is an ideal choice for most bikes. Offering good adjustability for different bike sizes and quality construction, these bike racks fold up for a streamlined look when not in use.

Pros

  • Great quality
  • Adjustable for different sizes

Cons

  • You may need a roof rack adapter

Best bike rack for adjustability

Yakima HighRoad Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier
Price: $244.95
Alternative retailers
Backcountry$164.45View offer
Wayfair$256.12View offer

A very adjustable bike rack, this option from Yakima is a great option if you own a collection of different sized bikes. The rack adjusts simply and the wheel support has clearly marked size guides to help you secure your bike quickly and securely.

Pros

  • Very adjustable for different bike sizes
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Requires a roof rack

Best budget suction bike rack

Suction cups as a roof rack? It may sound a bit dodgy but it's actually a great solution if you don't have a roof rack but still want to mount a bike rack on your car's roof. There are different versions available, the largest able to hold three bikes at once. And the suction pads are more than strong enough for most bikes.

Pros

  • No need for a roof rack
  • Multi-bike support

Cons

  • You need to clean your roof every time you want to attach this bike rack

Best budget bike rack

If you're on a tight budget, this model from Halfords is a safe bet. The Halfords brand name should reassure you that this model is of good quality, even if it doesn't offer the features that the others do.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Good quality

Cons

  • Not the most stylish
  • Only supports up to 15kg

Best premium bike rake

Another clever option from Thule, the ProRide 598 will automatically position your bike when you load it up and is tool-free, making it easy to use and adjust. It even comes with a five-year warranty if you register the product online.

Pros

  • Very easy to install and use
  • Great quality

Cons

  • You may need to buy adaptors to fit your car's roof rack

Best for bike rack for sports cars

Sea Sucker Komodo
Price: £1,377 - £1,450

www.wiggle.co.uk

A very expensive but top-quality option from Sea Sucker, this suction bike rack is a very clever option for cars where a normal bike rack will not work. It can be mounted almost anywhere on a car, making it perfect for convertibles and sports cars if you don't want to install a towbar.

Pros

  • A very stylish and effective model
  • No need for roof racks
  • Even the smallest cars can support this bike rack

Cons

  • You'll need to remove your bike's front wheel

The best roof bike rack accessories

A bike rack essential

RIO Direct Ratchet Tie Down Straps
Price: $9.99

Ratchet straps are the go-to accessory for securing loads and this twin-pack from RIO Direct is a simple addition you can buy for total peace of mind. Each strap is designed to safely carry up to 90kg, making it ideal for bicycles.

Protect your carbon fibre bike

Own a fancy carbon fibre bike? Keep the expensive finish immaculate in transport with this protector from Thule. The flexible design allows it to work with different sized frames and different bike racks.

Ideal for pillarless car doors

Designed for use where traditional ratchet straps simply don't work, this hatch hugger will hold your bike securely. Especially useful for cars with pillarless doors, these straps won't damage your glass but will keep your bikes strapped in.

Single wheel storage

Some bike racks require you to remove the front wheel in order to secure your bike to the rack. And while you can simply place the detached wheel in the boot, it will eat up valuable space. This single wheel mount from Thule will conveniently store your wheel (it may also be fit for a unicycle, too).

Essentials to keep in your car

Amazon Basics Bungee Strap

Another invaluable thing to have with you if you're carrying anything is a set of quality bungee cords. This pack from AmazonBasics comes with six 40cm bungee straps and can be used to help further secure a bike to your bike rack.

What you need to know about bike racks:

Will it support my bike?

Bike racks will generally support a range of bike sizes and shapes but be warned, for some bikes, you'll have to buy adapters. If you own a fat bike, for example, you'll need to buy a set of adapters for the exceptionally thick tyres. The same will be the case if you're incredibly tall and need a specialised bike frame. The best thing to do is to check with the manufacturer before buying.

What features should I look for?

The most obvious deciding factor in choosing a bike rack is whether you have a roof rack. If you do, you'll have an impressive selection of bike racks to choose from and a range of adapters to ensure that it works with your roof rack. If you own a car where a roof rack isn't a possibility or you don't want one, then you'll be looking for a suction-cup bike rack which limits your selection.

Bike racks that don't require you to remove the front wheel of your bike will be a blessed relief after a long bike ride. Also, remember that your front wheel still needs to be stored somewhere and can take up valuable storage space in your car.

What else should I consider?

Remember to check your car's overall height with the bike rack attached. Not only is this a good way of ensuring you've attached everything properly, but it'll avoid an embarrassing incident if you pop through a low drive-through on your way home.

Also, consider investing in some additional security if you're planning on leaving your car unattended with your bike on top. Many bike racks come with some security but additional options are available too.

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