How to Lock a Bike to a Car Bike Rack

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Traveling by itself can be a stressful experience for some.

You first have to decide where you want to go.

After picking the destination, you will have to find a hotel or a camping spot, choose a transportation method, and then finally start packing.

But what happens with your bike?

Let’s say you want to travel somewhere with some amazing trails that you have been wanting to explore for quite some time, and now you’ve got the money and time but do not know how this will go with the safety of your beloved bike.

Typically, a bike does not fit into the back seat.

So what happens if the car rack you own is sturdy but not the most secure?

You may think about never leaving it out of sight but realize that it is impossible. 

You need a way to lock your bike to your car bike rack and be reassured that it will be its safest all throughout the trip.

Let's take a look at how to lock a bike to a car bike rack safely and securely.

Which Car Bike Rack Is The Best?

Depending on the type of car you have, you can choose between a few types of car bike racks.

The first one is a roof-mounted bike rack.

This means that your bike will be placed on your car roof at all times of travel.

This type of rack is among the safest out there, but you always have to keep in mind that you have something tall on top of your car.

You can either get one that attaches to your pre-existing roof bars or one with a suction system that can be placed anywhere, and it is best used with the front tire removed.

If you want a boot/trunk rack, you need to take a few things into consideration.

They are usually cheaper than roof-mounted racks, but they are also less secure.

This being said, this is the type of rack on which you would typically need extra security.

There are a few options on the market with some sort of locks, but they jump the $400 price mark.

The way this rack works is that it attaches to your trunk with some straps that wrap around the inside of the trunk.

The straps are usually flimsier, and you need to make sure they are always tight around the car and on your bike.

Why You Should Always Lock Your Bike

Assuming you decided to get a trunk car bike rack, this could mean that you might need some extra security.

Not to say the roof-mounted ones are always safe and out of danger’s sight.

Locking your bike should be a prevention method used to first of all ease your state of mind. 

Like we said, traveling with a bike can be stressful, and securing your precious belongings should help and take some of the edge off.

Car bike racks that attach to the back of your car are the easiest to steal from.

The right time and place for someone who eyed your car is all they need to leave you without your bike.

Theft can even happen in a parking lot when stopping for road snacks or at the gas station.

Wherever you stop can be tricky if you travel alone.

This is why you should always make sure to secure and lock your bike to your rack.

The Passive Strap Method

When it comes to securing your bike, there are a few ways to do that.

Avid travellers usually recommend two methods.

There is a simple option and a more complicated one.

The first one is easier, and it requires a passive lock strap or a trunk lock strap.

They are the same thing but with different names. Searching for either one of them will result in the same type of products.

The passive strap method, however, does not ensure that your bike is completely safe, but it works better than just leaving your bike on the rack.

These passive straps are long cables usually made out of a thin material that allows you to ensure your bike’s safety by looping the cable around your bike.

These straps have a stubbed end that goes inside the car through the trunk, locking your bike in place.

This method also works for extra security on the roof-mounted racks; only the end goes through the passenger door.

The Tow Loop/ Tow Hitch

The second option is the tow loop method, which can be done with a tow hitch as well.

This one is more complicated, and it can even be more expensive if you have to invest in an external tow hitch mechanism.

However, even if your car does not come with any one of these, it should still have some sort of loop or hook directly underneath the bumper or under the cover.

You can also use parts that are not removable from under the car.

The way this works is simple after you know which kind of loop or hitch you have.

All you need is a cord or durable strap that you can loop around your bike and through the tow loop to lock it.

These loops are really strong since they are made to help hook up the car if needed.

If you want to use your tow hitch instead, use the same method. Tie your cord to the tow hitch, or secure it with a padlock.

Be very careful if you decide to secure the cord through a part that is under your car.

Make sure not to attach it to anything that can be pulled and broken since this will not only get your bike stolen but also damage your car.


However you decide to secure your car, you must keep in mind two things: the kind of rack you have and the type of car you own.

Make sure always to park your car in safe places and never leave your bike on the rack unsupervised for too long.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Rebecca White - September 23, 2020

thank you for this detailed guide. I thought I know how to lock a bike on a bike rack But seems like there are thing s that I did not know. I have been riding bike since I was a little kid and I am almost 30 now. Been a long journey. Rode many bikes, always brought bike wherever I went to.
Thank you very much for this post. Learned something new today.

Patrick - September 28, 2021

In terms of safety and security, loading your bike into the car would be a struggle. Thank you for sharing this experience

Ankita - January 29, 2022

I found this article useful.


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