How to Avoid Smashing Your Bike When It’s Carried on a Roof Rack

April 17, 2019 by Chris Teague

You may have heard the horror stories, or perhaps it’s happened to you: A driver pulls blindly into a garage with a roof-mounted bike rack, smashing the bikes and the garage in the process.

As convenient and effective as a roof-mounted bike rack can be, it does add several feet to the height of a vehicle, and that can be a major drawback. All it takes is one forgetful moment, and you’re looking at some serious – and expensive – damage.

It’s easy to laugh, but the truth is this happens all the time. It’s understandable, too. The only thing on your mind after a long ride is a hot shower and a snack, so taking your bikes down before pulling into the garage easily falls off the to-do list.

roof-mounted bicycle rack

Roof-mounted bicycle racks are convenient, allowing full access to the inside of your vehicle. But they’re not without concerns.

But it doesn’t have to. Here are five useful methods to help anyone be more mindful of a vehicle’s added height while carrying a roof-mounted bike rack.

1. Move Your Garage Door Opener

Being afraid of bumping into your own garage door is a legitimate concern. If you have a standalone garage door opener that can be moved from its normal place, make a habit of putting it in an unfamiliar place inside the vehicle when you leave.

Rack AttackTry throwing it into the glovebox or in a safe space in the rear cargo area. The physical act of searching for the remote will help you remember to remove the bikes before pulling in.

2. Block Built-In Opener

Many vehicles have integrated garage door openers that can’t be moved. If this is the case, you’ll need to block the button or change the feel in a way that won’t let you routinely press it. Several mountain- and road-biking forum members suggest placing tape or a small piece of Velcro onto the button as a reminder.

3. Place an Obstacle to Block Access

A surefire method for remembering to remove your bikes is to place a traffic cone or other large item in the floor of your garage where you’d normally park. The extra step to get out and move the cone should help remind you to remove the bikes before pulling in.

4. In-Car Reminder

Your home garage isn’t the only place capable of damaging your bikes. Other places like parking garages or gated lots also feature low height requirements that can cause problems. You’ll also need to think about drive-thru lanes at restaurants and banks, low-hanging tree branches and other obstructions.

For these, you won’t be able to simply put out a traffic cone as a reminder, so placing something inside your vehicle is the best option. Many experienced riders recommend using a special steering wheel cover that is only installed when driving with a bike rack. Others use sticky notes on their vehicle’s gauge cluster or steering wheel.

The idea is to create an alert that gets your attention easily and reminds you that you’re driving with a few extra feet of gear on top of your car.

5. Consider a Different Type of Rack

If you’d rather not bother with the trouble of driving with a roof rack, other suitable rack options can be just as effective. Hitch-mounted racks are one of the most popular and are capable of securely carrying several bikes. For crossover owners, trunk-mounted bike racks are also an option.

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