In general, you can put different types of bikes on a car bike rack, no problem. It is especially true for rather standard bikes models (such as road or mountain bikes). However, there are some things that might cause compatibility problems, things that you definitely have to consider planning your road trip:
- First of all, nine times out of ten each bike holder place on a rack has some load capacity limits. Normally, it is 30-35 lbs for trunk-mount racks, 40-60 lbs for roof and hitch racks. It means that your bike can’t exceed 30-60 lbs depending on a bike rack type,
- Then, you need to keep in mind that there are also some limits when it comes to the size of the wheel. Normally it is 29 inches in diameter. Moreover, some racks require a wheel to be no less than 20 inches in diameter. Though it is only true for roof bike racks and hitch tray bike racks (applied to wheel mount type racks only, fork mount type racks are all wheels size compatible). If you are looking for a trunk-mount rack or a hanging hitch rack, then the size of the wheel does not matter,
- Also, not only you have to put into consideration the diameter of the wheel but the width of the wheel as well. A standard car bike rack can fit a wheel up to 3 inches wide. There are definitely quite a few racks on the market that can accommodate 5 inches wide wheels. You just have to keep it in mind and buy the right rack if you are planning to transport fat-tire bikes,
- Finally, the length of a bike definitely might cause a problem. The most obvious example is a tandem bike, which won’t fit in a regular car bike rack due to its excessive length.
Most bikes meet the above-listed criteria since a standard bike rack is designed to satisfy the needs of the majority. So to speak if you are planning to transport a bike on a car bike rack that looks pretty much standard, then you have nothing to worry about.
However, some bikes types are the biggest troublemakers when it comes to fitting them in a car bike rack: fat-tire bikes, e-bikes, BMX bikes, children’s bikes, folding bikes, tandem bikes.
Also, as I have mentioned briefly, different racks types have different compatibility requirements. With that being said, let’s go through each bike rack type and see how different bike types fit.
Do all bikes fit on trunk-mount racks?
The only thing you need to bear in mind speaking about trunk-mount racks is that there are strict load capacity limits for each bike. So to speak, the absolute majority of this type of racks allow only 30-35 lbs per bike.
This is the case because trunk racks put a decent amount of pressure on your car’s bumper and rear window. That’s why you can transport no more than 3 bikes and no more than 30-35 lbs per bike.
The size of the wheel (both diameter and width) won’t be a problem since a bike is getting attached by its top side, not by its wheels.
It is worth mentioning that not all bikes fit on out of the box. Some bikes (such as women’s bikes, e-bikes, kids bikes, etc.) will require an adapter.
Do all bikes fit on roof bike racks?
There are two different types of roof racks:
Wheel mount type racks
Fork mount type racks
Both roof rack types have load capacity limits. Normally it is 40-60 lbs per bike, which is going to be more than enough basically always.
Fork mount type racks do not have any other restrictions other than load capacity as you will have to remove the front wheel anyway.
Wheel mount type racks (I am talking about a standard rack of this type) do have wheel size limits. Some racks have only the maximum size limit (normally it is 29 inches in diameter). However, some wheel mount racks require a wheel to be at least 20 inches in diameter so keep it in mind.
Also, a standard wheel mount rack can only fit wheels no wider than 3 inches. As a result, you need to buy a special rack for a fat-tire bike (don’t worry there are plenty of them available).
Do all bikes fit on hitch bike racks?
There are three different types of hitch racks:
Vertical hanging hitch racks
Horizontal hanging hitch racks
Platform (tray) hitch racks
All hitch rack types have load capacity limits. Normally it is 35-70 lbs per bike, which is going to be more than enough in most cases.
Vertical hanging and horizontal hanging hitch racks have more strict load capacity limits per bike (35-40 lbs in general) than platform racks.
However, the main advantage of hanging racks (both vertical and horizontal) is that you don’t have to put into consideration the size of the wheel. Bikes with all wheel sizes fit on hanging hitch racks perfectly well.
Platform (tray) hitch racks have the highest load capacity limits, 60-70 lbs per bike. However, the size of the wheel might be a problem speaking about this racks type.
Some platform hitch racks have only the maximum size limit (normally it is 29 inches in diameter). Though others require a wheel to be at least 20 inches in diameter.
Finally, you have to keep in mind that the width of the wheel can not exceed 3 inches if we are talking about a standard rack of this type. So fat-tire bike owners need to buy a rack designed to be able to carry fat-tire bikes.