Knowledgebase: Bike Carrier FAQs
I need to carry 5 bikes, what’s the best way to do this?
Posted by Charlotte @ The Roof Box Company on 17 April 2012 02:33 PM

There are a few different ways you can carry 5 bikes. You will usually have to consider a combination of roof and rear/tow bar mounting bike carriers.

All on the roof?

You can sometimes, but not always, carry 5 bikes on the roof. You will need a set of roof bars and one bike carrier per bike. It would depend on how long your bars are and what type of bars you go for. You would need bars that are at least 127cm long and would need to go for aluminium aero bars. You can check how long the bars for your car are by selecting your car to see which bars we have available. We will almost always have a range of bars of different lengths.

Whilst it may be possible to carry 5 bikes on the roof on some cars it won’t be that easy to fit them in practice, especially if you have a tall MPV or 4X4. Most people will choose to carry 3 or 4 bikes on the rear of the car and 1 or 2 on the roof.

Other things to consider….

Always check that your roof bars (check our website) and roof (check your handbook) can take the weight of all the bikes + bike racks (usually 3-4 kg each) you wish to carry.

Your fuel consumption will be increased, particularly at faster speeds. You can also expect a certain amount of noise with so many bikes on the roof. If these are a concern to you it may be worth considering carrying some of the bikes on the rear of the car.

On a rear door mounted bike carrier?

You may be able to carry some bikes on a tailgated mounted rack. Most cars can only take up to 3 bikes on the rear door, you can check if we have any rear door bike carriers available by selecting your car. Many modern cars cannot take a rear door mounted bike carrier due to the design or composition of the tailgate. It is not usually possible to fit a rear door mounting bike carrier if you have a spoiler.

Assuming you can get a tailgate mounted rack for your car you will almost certainly need to carry two bikes on the roof.

Other things to consider….

If you are going for a high-mounted rear door carrier you need to make sure it does not clash with anything you are carrying on the roof (e.g. a long roof box).

If your bikes obscure the lights and number plate you need to factor in the costs of a number plate (approximately £15), lighting board (approximately £15), somewhere to plug your light board into (ring round for a few quotes).

You will need to take the bikes off to open the boot.

On a tow bar bike carrier?

Tow bar bike carriers are a very sensible option. Ring round for a few quotes on how much it costs to fit a tow bar, usually between £180 and £500. Independent garages are usually far cheaper than the dealers and a 'bolt-on' style tow bar is usually cheaper than a 'swan neck' or 'detachable' tow bar. Once you have invested in the bike carrier you should be able to use it on many different cars in the future.

It is very easy to fit the bikes to a tow ball carrier, usually much easier than trying to fit multiple bikes on the roof of a car.

Check your noseweight to make sure but generally you can only fit up to 4 bikes on the tow bar because of the noseweight that the tow bar will take. There are a few cars (usually 4x4s with a noseweight of at least 100kg) that can carry 5 bikes on a bolt-on style tow ball, we list any 5 bike carriers against particular vehicles where available. You will usually have to carry at least one bike in/on the car.

The ideal solution

OK, so it all depends on your car, your bikes and your needs. For most people a tow bar rack for 4 of the bikes would be the way to go. Tow bar racks are great for long-term value, safety and ease-of-use. Your last bike may be small enough to fit in the boot, if not it could go on a roof mounting bike carrier leaving plenty of space on the roof for a roof box.

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