The one problem with those means, however, is that they will cost you a lot of money. Besides, not everyone needs to spend a large sum of money for a joyride once in a while, and as such, it makes more sense to use the factory roof rack to transport your bikes.
In other words, it is helpful if you know how to tie down your bikes to the racks. But there is a catch. Tying them down can prove to be quite difficult if you do not know how to do it. From dented bikes to major accidents, nothing is out of the question.
Alternatively, if you have an upright roof rack that isn’t very stable by default, then you may need to make some adjustments to it as well. For that reason, I will show you how to properly strap a bicycle to a roof rack and add a few tips as a bonus.
It is important to understand how roof racks work
As far as roof racks go, there are two major types: the ones that come as standard with your car, as well as the aftermarket roof racks that can be purchased for specific purposes.
It is possible to buy factory roof racks from the manufacturer
As the name implies, these racks are pre-installed on your vehicle’s roof, and they provide attaching points for any cargo you may wish to transport. Even though these aren’t the best option for people who want to transport their bicycles frequently, many occasional bike users rely on them.
A factory rack is a rack that is designed to hold all sorts of items, from surfboards to cargo, and they come in one size that fits all. This makes sense for a factory rack since you are able to mount other racks on them as well.
It is true that many of these racks come with raised side rails, while other racks come with rails that are flush with the side.
In spite of this, it is possible to tie down your bikes to these racks without having to spend a lot of money on proper racks. This process does require some more work, which we will discuss in more detail later on.
With these racks the most considerable risk is that the safety of your bikes is entirely dependent on your own skill and attention. If you fail to tie things down effectively, you run the risk of accident. On the other hand, even the jankiest upright rack would still be somewhat safer than this.
Bike Racks on Roofs for Regular Bikes
As you can imagine, these are racks specifically designed to be used for carrying bikes. As you can imagine, these are much better suited for this purpose, and you don’t need to spend as much time making sure the bikes are secure. There are two major types of bike racks available. The mounting process can vary, however.
Upright Roof Racks
For a bike rack, as the name suggests, it’s basically a rack with arms that tighten down on your bike’s wheel or frame, keeping the bike secure. But a single arm isn’t always enough for a rack of this design, so the user needs to secure the bike in several different places to ensure it’s protected.
There is a good reason you need to spend longer tying down your bikes to the roof rack. That’s because they hold your bikes exactly the way they are. The front wheel remains on, and there is no modification necessary, so you have to spend more time tying them down.
Fork-Mount Roof Racks
As the bike racks hold the bikes by the forks, the user will have to take the front wheels off the bike in order to load or unload it. However, this also means that you won’t have to worry as much about stability as you would with other methods.
As a result, the bikes will be much more stable if they are mounted by their forks, and there will be very little work involved in tying them down.
Due to the wide range of different roof rack mechanisms available, we will focus our attention primarily on factory roof racks and upright roof racks. Tying things down properly is of primary importance for these types of roof racks, although the mechanism differs greatly.
The Best Way To Strap A Bike To A Roof Rack
Let us now begin to take a look at how the bikes can be tied down, shall we? We will begin with factory racks, which will be helpful in the case where you do not have a bike rack installed in your vehicle.
How to Tie Your Bike to Your Factory Roof Rack
Considering that you do not have any clamps or mounts to attach the bikes to, we will have to rely on straps or hooks. I will discuss the kinds of straps you should use first, as what you choose can make a huge difference to the results.
The bungee cord is a type of elastic cord that you will see being used in various ways. Due to its elasticity, I wouldn’t recommend using it as the first line of defense when tying down your bikes.
It is important to note that these cords are not the best way to go if you want to keep everything from moving around. That means the bikes will not be as secure as you want, especially if you are traveling at high speeds or on rough terrain.
Rather than using them for that purpose, I prefer to use them to secure the wheels in place or to prevent the bike from making small movements during transport.
I recommend using ratchet straps if you want to tie down your bike as these things are rigid, secure, and can handle a lot of weight without even buckling when you’re tied down.
One inch straps, for instance, usually have a breaking range of over 3000 pounds – certainly way more than what we’ll ever need. Thanks to their rigidity, these straps are able to eliminate any possibility of movements being introduced into their system.
Considering the fact that we will not be able to use a bike rack, the straps will be our only line of defense. Therefore, it is imperative that you invest in these. You can get a few for less than $10, which is not much at all when compared to how much a decent rack would cost.
I don’t recommend using ropes to tie down your bike on a roof rack unless you’re in a bind and just need to get going. They don’t come with any hooks or other methods of attachment, so you’ll have to rely on good-old knots to get your bike secured.
The quality of the rope you use is also something you need to keep in mind. While ratchet straps tend to have a bare minimum quality, ropes tend to vary in their quality.
As I said, if you want the bikes to be able to hold over a long distance, you need to know your knots well if you want them to last.
As a result, if you decide to use rope, you will need to burn the ends in order to ensure that they don’t fray. However, you will not be able to do this with organic ropes; they will keep catching fire over time.
Keeping the bike in place by tying it down
Now that we have cleared up the preferred methods, let’s take a look at the process.
It is mandatory for you to be aware of one thing before you begin – the weight capacity of the rack.
It is not necessarily a problem when you are tying a single bike, but you should still refer to the manufacturer’s manual and be sure of what you are doing. Better safe than sorry, is our motto, right?
The very first thing you should do would be to place a piece of sheet or blanket on the roof of the trailer so that the bike has some padding. This can help the tie-downs to be more effective as they can absorb some of the stresses created during transport.
As you are now ready to mount your bike on your roof, I recommend placing it from the beginning of the roof to ensure that it does not block the rear windshield view or cause updrafts (which is even more dangerous). It should be fine to place the bike in the middle of the car, however, if the bike is smaller in length than the car.
It is also possible to make the front wheel detached from the car and thrown into the trunk if there is still a blockage in the rear-view mirror.
Assembling the straps and attaching them
I think it’s time to tie the bike down with the straps. It is very important to read the instructions for your ratchet straps or bungee cords before attempting to use them. They all work in slightly different ways, and most manufacturers should provide you with a basic understanding of how to use them. There are no manuals for ropes, so you’re probably on your own.
In order to use a ratchet strap, the user needs to place the webbing through the slot in the middle of the spool, whereas bungee cords use hooks and are relatively easy. Place the straps around the bike so that it does not have any space to move.
Afterwards, make sure that everything is tight enough. Leaving things loose will result in your bike or roof getting scratched up, so be careful not to do that. Making things too tight could result in the same results and scratch up the finish.
If the straps are not tied down with the rack, you can give them a few twists before tying them down, which will help prevent any unwanted movement or noise. Using this method won’t depend too much on the type of factory roof rack you have, since ropes and straps are pretty flexible.
There is one thing you should keep in mind when you’re getting everything in place. If you have new straps, do a test run as soon as possible. No matter how certain you are that they’re going to work, it’s never wise to go commando without making sure they’re going to work.
The Best Way to Tie Down Your Bike to a Regular Roof Bike Rack
In case you decided to replace the factory racks and want to get a better one, this is the guide for you. As we mentioned earlier, there are two kinds of roof bike racks – upright and fork-mount.
You will have to tie your bikes down in a specific way depending on the type of rack you have. For instance, fork-mount racks are fairly secure, and you won’t need much strapping. However, upright racks aren’t nearly as stable, and you’ll need to be very careful how you tie them down.
Mounting the Bike
The first step would be to mount the bike to the bike rack, which would be the very first step of the process.
The upright rack may require you to lift your bike up, place it on its slot, and then use the clamp to secure the bike in place. The clamps on the upright rack may be different from the ones on a wheeled rack, so make sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
On the other hand, fork-mount racks require you to remove the front wheel of your bicycle, making it easier to tie things down, as the bike is lower, and the bike does not move around as much as it does when you use fork-mount racks.
We should wait until after the bikes have been mounted properly before starting the tie-down process, as otherwise it won’t make much of a difference if we don’t do so.
Tying and Strapping
The best way to do this is to have quality tie-down straps, which are usually provided with bike racks out of the box. However, there are several manufacturers who do not provide such straps, so you might have to purchase them aftermarket.
There are a few basic things we need to do before we go ahead and tie things down to the roof. Firstly, we should look for a few points of contact that we can use to tie things down to. These points should be spread evenly across the roof to ensure that the bike is stable from all directions. This is our primary goal, after all.
As soon as you have determined where you will tie things down, start strapping down your bike, making sure you do not overtighten it. Make sure that you tie things down as tight as you can while avoiding overtightening.
I believe that you should loop them around several times to ensure the best level of stability. If you have an upright rack, you should loop them around even more than once to ensure the highest level of stability. Make sure that your rack and bike are locked properly at the same time.
Usually, quality bike racks don’t require you to strap things down extensively, but if you have multiple bikes on the rack, it may be worthwhile to consider this if you want extra security. More importantly, if you have multiple bikes on the rack, it may be worthwhile to consider this if you have multiple bikes on it.
If you are going to carry bikes on factory racks, then you should make sure to do the basics right by consulting the owner’s manual and then proceed to these steps. Obviously, these steps are significantly different if you intend to carry bikes on factory racks.
Lastly, I would like to share my final thoughts with you.
As I have mentioned above, the best way to tie a bike down to a roof rack depends on what you have, what you are carrying, and how you are doing it. However, there are some basic steps we need to follow to ensure this process goes smoothly. The roof racks can be very risky if they are not properly tied down, so I would urge you to pay extra attention to them. And once you are done with that, you can sit back and enjoy your ride as much as you can!