Economical bicycle transport - which solution is the best?
The holiday season has just ended, but it is still possible to leave in the early, warm autumn. For those who have planned their vacation right now and are planning to spend their free time on numerous bicycle trips, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of individual two-wheeled transport methods. Holders for the roof, the trunk lid or the hook rack - the characteristics of these solutions and their impact on the economy of travel will help you make a decision.
The decision to buy equipment for transporting bicycles largely depends on what car you have. With a tall model, mounting brackets to the roof, and then the bikes themselves, may be cumbersome and difficult, and entry to places with low ceilings is limited. Some holders for the tailgate may prevent access to the trunk of the car, and the purchase of a hook rack requires a hook or the installation of just this additional element. However, each solution also has some advantages.
Roof bike racks
It is the most commonly used solution among drivers transporting their two-wheelers. The roof holders owe their popularity mainly to their low price. When deciding to use the railings for transport, however, one should remember about the difficulties that arise when mounting the handles, as well as bicycles. With tall cars, it may not be possible to place your bike on the roof. It may also be problematic to mount the second and subsequent two-wheelers.
The accusations often made against roof holders are also related to the quality of riding with the transported bikes. Such a journey is accompanied by additional, bothersome sounds and noises. In the case of a short route, they may not be noticed, but during a trip of several hours or several days, they may turn out to be tiring and distracting. When transporting bicycles, you should also adapt your riding technique to changes related to the additional load. The manufacturers of roof holders warn that the maximum speed of 120 km / h when transporting bicycles is required. Riding too fast, as well as bumpy roads, can loosen fasteners and cause your bikes to become detached. Traveling with bicycles on the roof is also associated with an increased level of fuel consumption. The additional load significantly affects the aerodynamic shape of the vehicle - mounting a bicycle rack and a bicycle attached to it on the roof causes an average increase in fuel consumption of 41% (tests carried out by the German automobile club ADAC).
The users of the roof holders also pay attention to the problems associated with this solution when parking in garages or entering underground or multi-storey car parks, e.g. in shopping centers. Some of them, after a few hours' journey when parking in the garage, forgot about the additional equipment on the roof, as a result of which the bicycles were damaged. The transport of bicycles on the roof is also associated with dirt from insects and a high risk posed by bicycles in the event of a collision with another road user. In the event of a collision of vehicles at high speed, the bicycles are released and thrown in front of the car. It is a very dangerous situation both for people using a vehicle transporting bicycles and for cars in front of the vehicles involved in the road accident.
Bicycle holder on the trunk lid
Transporting bicycles on this type of holder has many disadvantages. Starting from the difficulties in placing the bikes on the rack, through limiting the visibility of the rear window or completely or partially covering the rear lights or the license plate, to blocking, in some models, access to the trunk of the car. Problems are also associated with damage that can occur during the transport of two-wheelers. Direct contact of bikes with the varnish causes numerous scratches and chipping. In addition to the paintwork, the tailgate is also exposed to damage. Additional load and uneven road surface may lead to displacement of the tailgate on its mounts. Due to the numerous disadvantages of this solution, a towbar-mounted carrier may be a better alternative.
Bicycle rack for the towing hook
The main advantage of towbar bike racks is the ease of use. Both the mounting of the luggage compartment frame and the two-wheelers themselves are carried out at a low height, which makes the process easy to implement. Additionally, tiltable luggage racks allow easy access to the trunk of the car. The discussed solution is also the quietest of the presented methods of transporting bicycles. They are also very safe. In towbar-mounted racks and in flap holders, the risk posed by transported bicycles in the event of a collision is much lower than in the solution related to mounting bicycles on the roof. After a collision, the entire impact force of the bicycles is directed to the car's trunk lid, so there is no risk of damaging other vehicles. Another advantage of this solution is the lowest impact on fuel consumption. The transported bicycles change the shape of the vehicle to a small extent, so that the air resistance is lower than in the case of e.g. roof holders, as a result of which the fuel consumption of the vehicle only slightly increases. In addition, most towbar models have an additional light kit and a space for a license plate. Thanks to the changes to the law introduced at the beginning of the year, it is possible to apply for an additional license plate, which solves the problem of covering it with an additional trunk.
The purchase of a towbar-mounted rack is most often decided by people who have this additional element of vehicle equipment. However, bearing in mind its advantages, the additional purchase of a hook may be a suitable solution. Today, there are many models in the towing system market with different mounting mechanisms. People who often use transport, animal or caravans, most often choose a hook with two or four bolts. However, it is not a good solution for everyone. On some car models, the hitch ball obscures the fog light or the license plate. In such cases, it is recommended to purchase and install a hook with a detachable ball. The two-stage locking system used in this type of hooks is easy to use and ensures safety when towing a trailer, because it prevents the ball from sliding out of its socket by itself. The ball is connected in two simple movements with a special lever that releases this element from the socket. The main advantage of this solution, however, is that the unused hitch ball can be stored inside the car - it is available for use at any time, without affecting the appearance of the vehicle.
- The purchase of a towbar significantly increases the functionality of our vehicle. Transporting bicycles on a bicycle rack, bulky equipment or additional luggage on a small trailer will not be a problem anymore - says Robert Lichocki, Brink's sales director in Poland. - A wide selection of various types of hooks guarantees that the hook will be tailored to individual needs - he adds.
It is precisely for the diverse lifestyle of people who decide to install a towing system, incl. Brink, one of the largest manufacturers of towbars in the world, has developed a special hitch dedicated to small city cars and non-towing vehicles . An additional element on the ball of this type of hooks makes it impossible to attach a trailer to the car. Thanks to this, although the vehicle is not approved for towing other vehicles, it is still possible to mount a bicycle rack.
Safety is the most important
Regardless of what the final purchase decision will be, the driver should remember the basic principles of driving with additional load. The most important thing is to adjust the speed to the road conditions and changes that have occurred in the vehicle due to the transported bikes. As when driving with a trailer, the braking distance is increased. Therefore, you should pay special attention to maintaining an appropriate distance in front of the vehicle moving in front of us. Due to the mounted rack, both sudden acceleration and braking, which can reduce the stability of the bikes and cause their unhitching, should also be avoided. Particular attention should also be paid to maneuvers such as, for example, reversing with a trunk and bicycles. The vehicle becomes longer, making it more difficult to judge the distance from the obstacle and easier to damage.
Due to the above-mentioned advantages and disadvantages of individual solutions, transporting bicycles on a rack mounted on a towbar turns out to be the best way of transport. It is both safe and economical. While for those who do not have a towing hitch it does involve purchasing and installing it, looking at the long term costs it can be a good investment with the least impact on fuel consumption. Additionally, the functionality and packing capacity of the car is increased. Regardless of what the final decision is made, before buying, you should analyze the advantages and disadvantages of all proposed solutions.
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