It’s not just you who hates it.
Aside from making a terrible noise, too much sway can even damage a bike (and the car, too), depending on the situation. So it’s essential to minimize this sway as much as possible.
Each of these racks requires a different fix to prevent the bike from swaying. Hitch rack, trunk rack, roof rack, bumper rack — all require different fixes.
Moreover, I’ll give you a bunch of tips for new buyers to minimize the possibility of any issues right from the get-go on how to prevent bikes from swaying on bike racks.
How Come Bike Racks Sway?
In most cases, bike racks are going to cause some sway – it’s just the way they are designed. There is no way to avoid it. The reason behind this is the way they are designed – it’s not the manufacturer’s fault (at least in most cases); it’s just the way they are constructed.
On the other hand, some racks (fork-mount roof racks, for instance, allow for significantly less wobble by design by their design, which is especially true if you’re using something along the lines of a hanging hitch rack or trunk rack.
There are a couple of reasons why I think it’s beneficial to have a clearer understanding of what works how. I think it’s advantageous to have a clearer understanding because that allows for both a better buying experience and an easier time minimizing the wobble. I’ll explain the reasons behind the swaying as well as how to prevent it.
The issue of bike racks and swaying bikes
There are four main types of bike racks that can be divided into four categories:
- Hitch-mount bike racks.
- Roof-mount bike racks.
- Trunk-mount bike racks.
- Spare tire-mount bike racks.
These are usually the most common types of racks one might find.
Hitch-Mount Bike Racks
One of the most popular types of bike racks is the hitch rack. Hitch racks attach to the trailer hitch of your vehicle, and are one of the most common types of bike racks. There are two areas where unwanted movement can occur. The first is the connector itself, since there is usually some wiggle room there.
There is an intention for this part to be there (to some extent) because otherwise, it would be difficult for the rack to slide into or out of the car. In terms of how much leg room there is, it can vary from one manufacturer to another.
It should also be noted that with time, the receiver will become loose due to the wear and tear that it receives, and even a little bit of expansion in that area can result in a significant increase in the swaying as a result.
In addition, depending on what type of hitch rack you are using, your bikes might also be able to move a bit. There are generally two types of hitch racks available – hanging and tray hitch racks. Hanging racks hold the bikes by their frames and are typically able to move a bit more than tray racks.
On the other hand, platform and tray hitch racks, on the other hand, control the sway better because the bikes are placed on a platform, thus minimizing the amount of sway. This can also influence the ability of your rack to control the sway.
The best way to minimize the sway of a bike on a bike rack that attaches to a trailer hitch
Generally speaking, the movement in hitch racks can be attributed to the connection itself, and as such, it is important to minimize the wiggle room between the tray and the hitch receiver. As I mentioned above, the connection itself is the main cause of the movement.
Using a hitch clamp is one of the first solutions you can try out. So, how does a hitch clamp work? Essentially, the hitch clamp clamps down on the car’s hitch receiver and the rack’s tow bar.
By doing so, you will be ensuring that the parts no longer have the space to move around so much. Moreover, you will be able to control just how tight the clamp is. Also, it is important to remember that these products are compatible with everything, including the typical 2′′ or 1.25′′ hitch receivers.
It is possible to find hitch clamps that work on all kinds of racks, no matter if it is class I, II, III, or IV or if it is class I, II, III, or IV. They will not affect the capacity of your rack either. This means you can carry just as many bikes as you could before attaching the hitch clamp to your rack.
There is no doubt that these are also quite affordable, but in one case, they can be a bit more expensive if you are using an adapter. Since there are now two points that we have to deal with, it is likely that you will need to use two hitch clamps to minimize the swaying properly, and this will increase the total cost you incur.
Using a receiver lock pin is also an excellent way to lessen the amount of wiggle room between the hitch receiver and tow bar, which in turn reduces the likelihood of the trailer swaying. Another way to minimize swaying is to use an anti-rattle kit or receiver lock pin.
You will find what is essentially a piece of metal that needs to be inserted into the drawbar or tow bar to allow it to operate. In order to tighten the connection as much as possible, the bar needs to be placed into the hitch receiver and connected with the threaded pin. The package should also include a washer, which, together with it, tighten the connection as much as possible.
In the event that you were to use adapters, you would also create another point where there may be a bit of wobble, so bear that in mind. In the event that you are using an anti-rattle kit, you will not experience any swaying or rattling sound.
There is one solution here that isn’t exclusive to hitch racks. Now, since platform racks do not sway as much as hitch racks, this might not be as necessary, but you can still see some improvement if you use these tools.
If you consider hanging hitch racks, the equation is quite different. These racks allow for significant amounts of movement, and in some cases, an anti-sway cradle may be required to accommodate this movement.
There are many racks out there that come with these cradles through the box, a good option if you have not yet decided to buy one yet. The cradles attach to the rack and minimize the legroom to prevent the bikes from moving.
The purpose of these solutions is exactly what their name suggests – the bikes are strapped tightly to the rack and their movements are minimized, so you are able to get the top-heavy portion of your bike to settle down and wobble significantly less.
If there are no other sway-reduction methods at play, they may not be able to completely eliminate horizontal movements if there are no other sway-reduction methods present.
Roof-Mount Bike Racks
The roof racks that we have next can be a bit risky, as they rest the bikes on the top of the vehicle, and can be a bit dangerous. However, on the plus side, they don’t sway anywhere near as much as hitch racks and offer a relatively stable ride.
This type of roof racks comes in two main types – those that mount on forks and those that mount on uprights.
Unlike downseat roof racks, upright roof racks hold the bike as it is, so that you do not need to take anything off your bike or modify it in any way. However, upright racks take up more space and introduce more drag, causing the bike to move more than before.
Unlike upright bike racks, fork-mount bike racks require you to remove the front wheel of the bike, because they are attached to the frame of the bike. These racks are generally much more stable than upright bike racks because they are attached to the frame of the bike.
In this case, it is the design of the rack that is the problem. Fork-mount racks are built to hold bikes by their frames to ensure a tight fit, while their counterparts are a bit shaky, to be honest.
This rack can be dangerous because of the location of the bikes on the rack if you are not careful. You can minimize the swaying with the help of fork mount racks. However, fork mount is not the only way to minimize swaying.
Bike Sway on Roof Racks: How to Minimize It
An easy way to do this would be to use a tie-down strap as a means of securing the trailer.
I know straps may seem like a generic solution, but they’re nothing to be scoffed at, in fact, straps can be one of the easiest ways (although not the only one) to stabilize a wild roof rack in a reasonable amount of time.
There is not much to say about the mechanism working here. The straps increase the downward pressure on the rack, and as a result, it has less wiggle room.
In spite of the fact that, it is probably not going to be able to remove all of the wobbling, so keep this in mind as well.
A crossbar adaptor can also be a reliable solution for rook racks because these do not require any assembly, and they are generally not hard to set up. A well-built product of this type does well in reducing the bike’s movement without causing any damage to it.
Trunk-Mount Bike Racks Swaying
A trunk rack is like the hassle-free brother to hitch racks, as they go to the back of the automobile and for the most part do not require much setup. They can be mounted to the trunk or hatch of the vehicle, and usually can hold up to three bikes at once.
This type of rack uses a combination of straps and hooks to secure itself to the vehicle, which makes the whole setup process much quicker and easier.
Furthermore, they are lightweight and efficient, making things much easier to carry around. However, those traits also result in them being susceptible to swaying when there is a noticeable amount of weight on them. In addition to damaging the surface of the car, the swaying could also damage the bikes themselves.
In addition to this, you need to be aware of the damage risks associated with making adjustments (or failing to do so) when using the rack on another vehicle.
There are a number of ways to minimize bike sway on trunk racks.
As opposed to other racks, the success of a trunk rack installation largely depends on you. And it is indeed possible to reduce the movement of the rack by properly installing it, which is something that can be accomplished in many cases.
To be sure there is little sway on it, the first thing we need to do, is to get the straps and hooks adjusted. But adjusting the hooks and straps is not the only thing we can do. We are still able to rely on our good old friend – the anti-sway stability cradles.
It is important to note that many racks come with these soft rubber cradles out of the box, and a new buyer should keep this in mind when purchasing a new rack. Having these cradles clamped down on areas of movement can keep the rack from swaying.
A second way to avoid the sway is to use extra straps in order to reduce the sway.
I agree, even more straps are needed.
Unless you are able to set up the rack’s straps properly and use anti-sway cradles to prevent the rack from swaying, this is a path you might want to consider pursuing if you find your rack’s straps do not work as expected. This might be a necessity, especially if you plan to carry multiple bikes on the rack.
The process can be a bit tedious at times, but by combining these solutions you are likely to be able to eliminate most of the sway.
Spare Tire-Mount Bike Racks
The spare tire-mounted bike racks are not as common as the other options listed above, and it is not possible to use them with a vehicle that does not have a spare tire (for example, an SUV).
Although we will be addressing these as well, it is imperative that we keep in mind that the performance of these racks varies depending on the size of the tires, and thus their own size as well. The bad news is that these racks can often sway quite a bit, especially when a heavy load is being carried.
The best way to minimize bike sway on spare tire racks is to follow these simple steps:
In terms of options, we do not have as many options with these as we do with hitch racks, for instance. We have an anti-sway cage or cradle that may be the best option for you.
A bicycle cradle is essentially a part of the bike that is mounted underneath the arms that hold it in place. It is usually made from a rubbery or stretchy material, which is capable of minimizing the overall movement of the bike and absorbing the shock more effectively.
In addition to the spare tire, a lot can also depend on the spare tire, which is why you will need to consider any modifications that can be made to that area if that can help.
There are a few more types of racks, but they generally fall into these categories in one way or another, or they may use the same methods to reduce swaying as these types of racks.
What I think about the topic
Having your bikes moving left, right, and up-down while you are driving is not a pleasant experience for any driver. It is not just about the high heart rate; it can end up damaging your car or bike as well. This is why it is extremely important for you to know how to prevent your bikes from swaying on bike racks. Following the methods above should help minimize the god-forsaken movement. Follow them, and have a worry-free ride!