In that regard, one of the most heated debates is between truck racks and roof racks because it isn’t only the measurements, setup, and experience which can differ considerably between these two types of racks, but also the capacity, stability, and overall durability.
This article aims to provide you with the necessary knowledge about what to pick when choosing a bike rack for your bike. There are so many variables to consider that it can be somewhat daunting for someone trying to make a decision on what cycle rack to choose.
We will get started as soon as possible, so let’s not waste any more time.
Getting to Know Roof Racks and Trunk Racks
A roof rack and a trunk rack differ significantly in most aspects from one another, which explains why it is essential to have a basic understanding of their mechanisms before choosing a roof rack for your vehicle.
Taking a closer look at trunk bike racks
If you are looking for a rack to fit under your trunk, trunk-mount bike racks should be your first choice if you are looking for a budget-friendly option.If you are looking for a premium trunk rack, don’t worry. They are still available.
In most cases, however, it is also possible to attach them to your vehicle’s hatch in order to make them more accessible for you. The basic principle is similar – they’re hanging from the trunk of your car and carrying your bike.
Furthermore, this type of rack relies heavily on the user to set up the rack in a way that provides a decent fit and stability since it is attached by straps and not by a hitch or a crossbar. As a result, achieving a good fit and stability is largely determined by how the user uses the rack.
While this type of rack is capable of holding multiple bikes, at the same time, they cannot hold as many bikes as hitch or roof mounts because they require the trunk of the car to be closed when the rack is mounted.
The majority of trunk racks allow for a certain amount of sway, which, in some cases, can be problematic. The degree of sway generally depends on a number of factors, including the material or its design, which we’ll discuss later.
Number of Straps
It is common for a trunk rack to have either four or six straps, depending on the number of straps it has.
A rack with six straps means that you will have to spend more time setting up your bikes. On the one hand, it means that you will have to spend more time setting things up, but on the other hand, it also means that more safety precautions are in place to keep your bikes safe.
In actuality, four-strap racks are not that common compared to six-strap ones. In addition to making it easier for users to install things, these straps are the only way to secure things, so most manufacturers naturally choose to include six straps, especially if you are going to be carrying more than one bike.
A look at roof mounted bike racks
Basically, roof racks are what you install on your car’s crossbars or upper door frames. These racks are mounted to the top of your car rather than the bottom and therefore require precise measurements to install them.
In order to install these, you will need to be very accurate with your measurements since they are going to be mounted to the crossbars. Additionally, you will need to put the crossbars in if they are not already installed.
As the user must lift the bikes whenever he or she wants to use the rack, this is yet another significant difference between trunk racks and these racks. In addition, they are not obstructing rear access at all, which can be a significant benefit in many cases.
Additionally, they are usually able to accommodate a larger number of bikes than most trunk ranks (more on that later). As far as the mounting mechanism is concerned, there are two options – uprights and forkmount racks – to consider.
Mechanisms that mount roof racks to vehicles
It has been mentioned that there are two options here; let’s now take a look at how they work and how they compare.
Upright Roof Racks
This is one of the biggest advantages of upright roof racks over other types as they don’t require the front wheel to be removed from the bike, instead it just sits upright without any modification to it. They have their own share of drawbacks, however, so you should be aware of them.
As we’ve already mentioned, the hoops used to mount the racks aren’t the strongest way out there. Therefore, some sway can occur with these racks since they’re not as strong in comparison to the other options. That also results in some noise being generated in many situations.
The generous nature of the hoops makes it possible to carry other equipment as well, which is helpful to those that have to carry other equipment on their backs. The racks are still capable of holding an impressive number of bikes, so you shouldn’t have any concerns about that.
Fork-mounted Roof Racks
Fork mount roof racks, on the other hand, are the kind that hold bikes via the forks. As you can probably guess, if it isn’t obvious enough, to use them, you will need to remove the bike’s front wheel.
In spite of the fact that many users dislike this bit and avoid using fork-mount racks, these racks are much more stable than upright racks, and they allow you to move your bike much more easily. While they are way ahead in terms of stability and security, if you aren’t careful, you could damage the finish of your car.
It is also beneficial to note that these racks do not introduce as much wind drag as traditional racks, and we’ll discuss this in more detail in a moment.
Trunk Rack vs Roof Rack
It’s time for us to compare the results within various categories in light of what we have learned so far.
Installation and mounting of the product should be as easy as possible
Let’s begin with the installation process since there are a lot of differences between these racks.
Racks that are used for storing trunks
In order to use trunk racks properly, you will need to get your straps buckled in correctly. As trunk racks rely solely on straps, you won’t need extra tools or equipment. Within just a few minutes, you will be able to use them.
The installation process can, however, become a bit longer for those who need to install an anti-sway bar, and this may lead to the installation taking a little longer. Since the only way to ensure that everything fits properly, you may need to spend some time strapping things in.
In the end, mounting the bikes is fairly straightforward. A combination of cradles and arms hold the bikes in place, and they are easy to figure out once they are mounted. However, keep in mind that damage to the car’s finish should be avoided during the mounting process.
There are several types of roof racks that can be purchased.
The roof rack is usually installed and then just left there, unlike trunk racks, which cause obstructions to the back of the vehicle. This is possible because there are no obstructions to the back of the vehicle. Getting the crossbar and rack measurement right will only take a short time.
Additionally, you can use suction cup roof racks which do not require any measurements and can be fitted to the majority of vehicles. However, it is not the most ideal method for carrying multiple bikes at the same time.
A fork mount rack will require you to remove your front wheel each time you mount your bike. An upright mount rack does not require that you modify your bike in any way. If it’s an upright mount rack, not a lot of modifications are required to your bike.
In addition, if you are not careful when using these products, you can also cause damage to the paint of your car.
Capacity of carrying
In order to have a better understanding of the value of a bike rack, let us compare it to the number of bikes that can be carried on the rack.
How Much Load Can Trunk Racks Handle?
The trunk rack falls slightly behind roof racks in terms of weight capacity, but that’s by design, since the mechanism in place is not designed to allow for the same level of handling power as roof racks.
As a general rule, trunk racks are able to carry two to three bikes at a time without any problems. There are options that offer higher capacities, but this is what is expected from the average trunk-mounted rack. It is for this reason that these products are popular with occasional users or those who carry only a few bikes.
What are the chances of roof racks keeping up with the modern times?
It is important to note that roof racks take the lead in this category due to the fact that they are not connected to anything. Because they do not hang from anything, they can withstand much greater weight capacities. Many of these products can hold up to seven bikes easily, regardless of whether they are upright or fork mounted.
The fork-mount racks are a bit more stable than the upright racks, although they are slightly ahead of the upright options. Besides the car roof, there are other aspects to consider as well. Roof racks are not necessarily suspended, but they put the weight on the roof and are recommended for MTBs and other heavier bikes.
This means that you need to ensure that the car has the capacity to handle the weight. However, you should not worry about this, as you’ll usually be well within the safe limit when you have a lot of friends (unless you have too many friends).
Both of these racks can be quite versatile when it comes to pricing, but there is a general difference between the two.
What Is the Cost of Trunk Racks?
The trunk rack is often among the most budget-friendly bike racks available on the market today. Their lower price can be attributed both to the design and the reduced cost of the materials. However, this does not mean that there are no premium options out there.
A trunk rack with a few decent straps will suffice for people who are wishing to use it occasionally, but for people who are looking for something to use on a more regular basis, a more expensive trunk rack may be the best option.
Obviously, the prices for some of these products can be influenced significantly by elements such as the weight capacity, the security features as well as the anti-sway cradles. For instance, having a cradle that does not sway is understandably going to cost more.
How Can Roof Racks Help Us Save Money?
There are many factors that determine the cost of a roof rack, so there is no one size fits all solution. It is important to understand that the installation mechanism of the roof rack also plays a role to some extent.
For the most part, you’ll be able to get a reasonably priced roof rack if you don’t need to carry many bikes at the same time or if you own a minivan or van. There are many aspects, one of which is the sizing, which depends on your vehicle.
It is understandable that the price of racks with higher capacity also increases with the capacity. Racks which have integrated security features also tend to be more expensive, but this might be worth it if you want a more secure experience.
You can save time and money if you don’t already have crossbars installed if you use suction cups to mount your rack, since you don’t need to put crossbars on the frame. However, such designs aren’t the most secure if you intend to carry multiple bikes at the same time.
Performance Stability and Overall Stability
There is one more aspect of the racks that is essential to consider – their stability.
What is the level of stability of trunk racks?
When it comes to stability, trunk racks lag behind roof racks by a little bit. One of the major reasons for this is the mounting mechanism itself. These racks attach to your vehicle’s trunk and are secured with straps that fasten to the trunk lid.
There are some issues with these racks as they aren’t as tightly mounted to the crossbars as a rack that is tightly attached to the crossbars. However, they can still provide a decent level of stability as long as you’ve set them up properly.
There is one caveat here, and that is that the overall stability of your rack will largely depend on the way that everything is installed.
It is possible to improve the situation even further by using a cradle that has an anti-sway feature. These cradles prevent the bikes from moving around too much and can even prevent them from being damaged.
It is important to keep in mind that if your car has spoilers, then you may be in for an unfortunate ride. Many of these racks can interfere with the spoilers, so it is important to keep this in mind.
This type of product does have a number of advantages over roof racks, one of which is that they create less drag, which means that fuel consumption is kept lower than with roof racks. This is definitely a factor worth keeping in mind.
You would probably need to buy an external lock in order to make sure that the bikes are kept secure, however. They fall somewhat behind in terms of security, though.
How well do roof racks keep up with the times?
In terms of stability, roof racks excel especially well over their upright counterparts. Most upright racks are prone to swaying a bit on most cars because of the way they attach the bike to the car. And since their hoops are hung on the roof, this is unavoidable.
The bikes are still well secured, but the swaying can cause quite a headache for some people. Fortunately, fork-mount racks do a great job of alleviating this problem. As it is stated, these racks hold the bikes by their forks and keep everything in place and tight.
As a consequence, the experience becomes much more safe, and the swaying of the bike is much less noticeable than you might expect. However, the price for all this stability is having to remove the front wheel of the bike every time.
Fork-mount racks will add the much-needed stability to your bicycle, while upright racks are the better alternative for those who feel as though removing the front wheel would be too much of a hassle. Both types will give you the added stability you need.
One of the major disadvantages of roof racks is that they pose a serious aerodynamic challenge to the car. Due to the fact that roof racks are placed at the top of the vehicle, they significantly increase wind drag, and fuel consumption can increase by up to 30% in some cases, which is why most people avoid them.
Aspects of accessibility and interference
The place where the rack is going to be used is certainly a determinant factor when it comes to making a purchase. These racks are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their intended use.
How Easy Is it to Interact with Trunk Racks?
Probably not needing to explain twice, a trunk rack is a piece of equipment attached to the back of your car. Having a trunk rack attached to your car comes with a number of issues. First of all, the trunk cannot be accessed without the rack in place.
The best advice I can give is to steer clear of a trunk rack if you have to access the back of your car often. This includes the hatchback door and everything in between.
Additionally, there are some benefits to riding a bike on a stationary trainer as well, such as the fact that you don’t have to lift the bike up and down like you would if you were working out. Mounting the bikes is also the fastest and easiest thing you could possibly do.
It is also important to understand that if you only use the rack occasionally, then the trunk rack is a better option. Roof racks, for example, can be a bit tricky to setup and take down (though you may decide to leave it there). On the other hand, trunk racks are easy to take down since they are just strapped on.
The Roof Racks are Easy to Interact With – Are They Easy to Use?
Roof racks are the best option when it comes to ensuring rear accessibility. They, as the name implies, are installed all the way up on the roof of your vehicle, and they are the easiest way to gain access to the trunk or rear door when you need to.
Consequently, I’d recommend these to anyone who requires access to the back of the car on a regular basis. Furthermore, they can also be used while driving, which is a huge advantage. Trunk mounts are the opposite in this regard, which is a huge disadvantage.
There is a downside to having the bikes up there, however, as they can bring about a few problems if not handled correctly.
One of the main problems is that you cannot drive through low clearance areas, because you will hit those beautiful bikes against the roof if you do. This eliminates the possibility of driving through low tunnels or garages. It has been observed that many users forget that there is a bike mounted on top of them, causing them to do an unfortunate accident.
Additionally, if you’re only going to use the roof rack once or twice a year, you do not require a roof rack if you only intend to ride on it once or twice a year. A trunk rack is more conveniently located and easier to use in this situation than a roof rack.
Here are my last two cents on the topic.
It is clear from what has been said above that the debate between trunk racks vs roof racks is quite subjective in nature, because it is a matter of consideration of the user’s perspective here. Everyone has individual preferences, use cases, and budgets, which all play a role in what they choose.
This is why I’ve portrayed a number of scenarios outlined above, giving you a general notion of which route you should take based on the scenario. Let me conclude by saying – have fun!