Recommendations to Transport Bike on Long Car Trip

I’m looking for recommendations on how to best transport my road bike on the back / top of a minivan for a 12+ hour road trip.

Some (maybe not) relevant details. The minivan will be full of kids, pets, and luggage, so the bike needs to go on the outside. The minivan has rails and cross members, as well as a hitch. I have trunk and hitch mounted racks similar to the ones pictured below but am concerned about having the bike directly behind the minivan versus on top for such a long drive. Also, the hitch mount rack requires an adapter to fit with the van’s hitch, but bounces around a lot so, again, I have concerns.




Other posts on the forum have recommended the Thule 591 ProRide and SeaSucker Talon 1, but I haven’t seen a comprehensive thread on different options, recommendations, tips, and tricks. Thanks in advanced!

Buy a 1UP USA rack. It’ll be the last rack you ever need to buy and I would have ZERO worries about a long road trip with it. I would avoid placing it on the roof, you will forget its up there when you make a trip through a drive through.


I just got 4 Thule bike racks and a set of aero Thule roof rails. I got 2 of the older ProRides (591s), one of the ProRide 598s, and an UpRide. I got a deal on the ProRides, and they’re totally great, but the 598 has a better strap for the wheel and won’t over torque on a carbon frame. The UpRide I got for my SL7 S-Works because it doesn’t touch the frame at all. All the racks were great in operation and easy to use. Each one is lockable as well. Also, none of them require wheels to come off, which was important so when I had 4 bikes for the family up there, we didn’t have to put wheels in the car.

I haven’t actually transported the SL7 yet, but I might even want some kind of cover on that too, only because it’s still my baby.

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I have a 1UP USA rack and I take several 12 hour drives to Colorado and back each year with Carbon road and mountain bikes attached. Never an issue. I’m sure Thule and Kuat racks would work well also. I have some experience with Kuat and they are nice but not built as sturdy as the 1UP. The 1UP locks the bike in place via the tire/wheels very securely so no worry about Carbon frames… Make sure you have a robust chain/cable locking system to allow for worry-free stops along the way.


Can’t recommend a rack, but just want to add that it’ll also be more aero behind the car than on top, saving on fuel.





1UP is the way


I’ve driven over 2 days to the south of France with a carbon framed bike and the Thule roof mounted rack without problems. You may want to wrap a bit of cling film around forward facing parts (fork, bars etc.) just as they will inevitably clog up with flies and other crap. The only pain is having a bike on top of a taller vehicle makes it a hassle to get up and down without a folding stool (and I’m quite tall). Personally if I had a hitch option, I would go that way even though the up front cost is more.


I would go with tow bar/hitch every time. It is very secure ( once tightened I stand on it just to make sure it doesn’t budge). I don’t have to worry about driving into car parks with low barriers to keep out campervans. I got one that took 4 bikes, and it was nice to be able to take kids bikes and, for me, a road bike and a mtb, so I could do my rides and also ride with the kids around the camp site.

It does make it harder to reach the boot though!

One version I have seen (a mate with young kids) was a small box trailer with a roof rack on top of that. I think he may have had a roofbox already full of tent bits.


Hitch rack for a few reasons

  1. I am super paranoid that I would drive into a drive thru, low bridge or even just my garage at the end of a long drive and break my bikes.
  2. Fuel economy will be so much better
  3. Much easier to take on and off

It can be nerve wracking seeing the hitch rack move around. One fix is to use a rack that wedges itself into the hitch. Another is to buy a hitch tightener.

Hitch Tightener for 1.25" and 2"Hitches LIBERRWAY 304 Stainless Steel Hitch Tightener Anti-Rattle Stabilizer Rust-Free Heavy Duty Lock Down Easy Insta

I also lock my rack to the car and bikes to the rack, with the bike lock having very little slack. If the bike does happen to come loose, then it will not be lost. Chances are it won’t even touch the ground. This saved my dad’s bike ~20 years ago when racks weren’t so well designed.


2nd vote for Thule roof racks. Expensive but very high quality and durable products. Easy to use as well. :+1:t2:

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Just another item to consider…applies to both roof and hitch mount conditions - check your insurance policy to see what the coverages are in the event of a loss. If you get rear ended by another driver, their liability should take care of it, but there are obvious situations where it might not work out very well for you. Likewise, if the bikes are on the roof and you hit something, the claim would hit your policy.

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how about Seasucker?

not sure if its available in your respective country.

That’s my main concern with putting the bike on the back of the car. Maybe I’m being over paranoid, but … :man_shrugging:

If you’re handy with tools, Bike case laid down sideways or mail the bike to a Fedex location/bike shop. .

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I feel the same way, maybe I’m wrong but I think you can control the risk of the rooftop rack by doing things to remind yourself that there are bikes on the roof. Post it note on the garage door opener, never going through drive throughs without a mental check, etc.

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We have a roof top bag that I may put my bike in on its side. Would also protect it from rain.

This is exactly my concern with hitch racks. Had roof racks on our little car for years and just made a lot of those things a habit and never had an issue (no drive thru’s ever, always stop and look up before going into any garage, etc.). That being said we did go hitch rack for wife’s new car since it’s just a bit too tall for her to comfortably load bikes onto the roof on her own. The 1up has reflective strips all over and I ordered some trailer lights to add for when it’s loaded with bikes to help increase visibility.

I traveled around for probably 30,000 miles (probably WAY more) on my little Fiesta with at least one bike (often two). Only problems I had was when I would get frisky on mountain roads and the bike would try to come off the rack, so I cable locked it on (I also hit the track with that car).

I was rear ended in that car, but I was hit so hard that it wouldn’t have mattered where the bike was, it would have been wrecked (I was hit at 60+ MPH).

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Can’t recommend 1UP enough. +1