How To Carry A Tandem Bike On A Car?

In this article, we are going to walk you through how to transport a tandem bike by a car.

As the tandem bike is designed for 2 people to ride it simultaneously, it will not fit all bike racks built for the standard bikes. Therefore, you need to figure out the ways that work for your tandem bike.

It would be best if you had a safe and suitable road to ride a tandem bike. The best method is to go to a convenient place to enjoy riding with your friends after safely carrying the bike on your automobile.

The article includes a list of methods by which you can transport the bikes and their further explanation. At the end of the article, we also have included several tips that will help you on your journey with tandem bikes.

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A Quick List Of Different Methods Of Transporting The Tandem Bike

Let’s go through the list of methods that you can follow to transport the tandem bike on a car. I will also describe each method in detail below.

Related reading: How to Transport Bike in SUV?

  1. Carrying The Tandem Bike Without Any Rack. With this method, you will not need any racks. In fact, you can carry the bikes in your car just like any other item if you have the right type of car. However, you must improvise if you are hauling other things or passengers. Do not worry. We got you covered on that too!
  2. Trunk Carrier. Using this method, you will need a strap-on trunk rack. The rack will be mounted on the back of the car. The bike will be in a vertical position.
  3. Regular Roof Cargo Rack. Roof cargo racks are very convenient as they allow you to easily carry all sorts of items. You can even carry tandem bikes on these, but you’ll have to take the wheels off to do so. Also, improperly placing the bike can damage the roof as the bars may dig into them while you’re driving. However, you can easily set this right by tying the front fork at full lock and turning the stoker’s bars to 90 degrees. You’ll have to lie the bike flat on the roof rack and tie it down with Bungie cords.
  4. Hitch Bike Rack for Tandem Bikes. Hitch bike racks are rather convenient as they can be used to carry your bike at the back of your vehicle. The hitch racks are fitted into the receiver tube of a vehicle. Depending on the model, hitch racks can let you carry one or two bikes. The hitch racks for tandem bikes are a bit different as they are designed to facilitate longer bikes.
  5. Roof Bike Rack for Tandem Bikes. As tandem bikes are longer, they can’t be fitted on regular roof racks. Thankfully, there are specially-made roof racks for tandem bikes. These are much longer and can usually be folded so that they don’t block the trunk.
  6. Utility Trailer for Car. Utility trailers can help you carry one or multiple tandem bikes on the back of your vehicle. You’ll have to attach the utility trailer to the vehicle and then mount the bike or bikes on the trailer. Although you’ll need some time to get used to dragging a trailer behind your car, it’ll become very convenient once you get used to it.
  7. Truck Bed Bike Rack For Pickup Truck. If you own a pickup truck, this method might be for you. You can buy racks that you can mount on the back of your truck. These racks allow you to tie your bikes down so they can’t be stolen. Also, the bikes don’t move around when tied properly. So, there won’t be any damage to your vehicle.
  8. Tailgate Bike Pad For Pickup Truck. This one too is for pickup trucks. You can get tailgate bike pads that you can fasten to the tailgate. Finally, you’ll have to fasten the top tube of the bike to the tailgate pad. The tailgate pads come with a strap for facilitating this. This is a great method for keeping tandem bikes stable and for carrying multiple bikes at the back of your pickup truck.

Now lets talk about each method in detail.

Carrying A Tandem Bike Without Any Rack

It’s not advisable, but you can actually transport a bike without a rack. For the larger car like a station wagon, minivan or SUV, it’s pretty easy. Drop the rear seats down using the electric control panel or the manual lever on the sides of the back seat. Just make sure the bike’s drive side is facing front here.

Read more: How To Carry Bike In Car?

Slide the bike calmly and gently. Make sure the bike’s gear does not face too much pressure. It can damage them. Also, keep in mind that the chain and the rings are not in contact with the side of the car. Cover the bike with a sheet, if possible.

What If I Am Hauling Kids and Cargo in the Back?

In that case, remove the front wheel of the tandem bike. It’ll help you to protect the rear mechanism. The chain will also stay in place. Most bikes have a quick release. Use that mechanism and undo the clamp mechanics on the brake.

Put it in the rear as before but make sure the handlebars do not strike the top tube. After that, put the front wheel again on the top of the bike.

Make sure there is a sheet between. If you are using disc brakes, put something in the caliper of the wheel to make it secure. Or else the pistons can push out and pads close onto each other, potentially damaging the bike. Use stock plastic or hardboard cards.

Still, if the car is not able to fit, you can remove both of the wheels.

How To Remove The Rear Wheel?

Turn the bike upside down. Put the rear gear in the smallest cog. Use the quick-release mechanism if available. Now pull the real derailer upwards. Now the wheel will automatically come up.

Installing the wheels is much easier. Just follow the instructions but in reverse.

Multiple bikes can be carried through the method we have mentioned. Just follow the instructions and make sure to use soft cloth sheets to create layers between the cycles.

Carrying A Tandem Bike On The Trunk Carrier

Important! Please check the vehicle safety regulations and statutes for your home state and any state you intend to travel through before assuming you can operate your passenger vehicle with any cargo extending beyond the fender lines.

While the tandem bike is wider than the regular one when mounted on the trunk rack, the regular hanging style trunk rack can be used for short trips witout a problem. You may consider removing the front wheel or even both wheels to reduce the width and improve the stability on longer trips.

Just lift the rear side of the bike and drag it towards the wheel tray assembly. Anyone can do it easily with one hand. Attach a strap from the support of the carrier to the bike’s rear tire. The strap is adjustable, so it’s going to fit any tandem bike you have.

The next thing that you have to do is, tip the bike to a vertical position. The rack has two places where you can hook it up. Carefully hold the cycle up vertically and attach the tubes with the bolts.

The bolt also has a hand knob to fasten the grip. As we have said before, these racks are not that secure so, try to use the mechanism. Tighten the strap in the rear wheel too. Use a second strap to hook the handle. Once you do this, you should be all set.

Carrying A Tandem Bike on the Roof Mounted Carrier

For this method to work, your racks need to have the roof utility bars installed. If you do not have a utility bar on the roof, you are going to have to buy a new one.

After buying the rack, assemble the carrier on the roof bar. Adjust the length of the roof rack according to the carrier. Tighten the bolts. Now do the same for the other side.

To carry the tandem bike on the rack, you have to remove the front wheel and attach the front fork to the rack. You’ll be able to lock the fork into the rack if the rack offers security features.

You can also lay the bike flat with the roof. In this case, you’ll have to turn the stoker’s bar to 90 degrees and tie it firmly with a bungee cord. This will render the bar immobile and will prevent any rattling.

Now for the unloading part, just follow the instructions as mentioned earlier, but in reverse. The tandem bike should now be ready to ride. The two remaining clamps need to be removed entirely. You can store the carrier in the back of your car.

The best part about roof tandem racks is the security features. These allow you to lock the front fork right into the rack and the fork can’t be unlocked without the key. So, you can leave the bike on the roof of your vehicle.

Also, the rear part of the rack acts as an extension. The extension can prevent you from opening the trunk of your vehicle. As it’s removable, you can remove the extension whenever you don’t have the bike mounted. This will help you access the trunk easily.

Pros

  • It makes it easy to carry the tandem bike
  • Mounting and dismounting are very simple.
  • Built-in security features make it secure and convenient
  • The rack extension can be removed to make space for the trunk

Cons

  • The bike may hamper the aerodynamics of the vehicle and make it harder to control
  • Despite the simplicity, the mounting process is time-consuming

Hitch Bike Racks for Tandem Bikes

Tandem bikes are simply too long, so you won’t be able to carry them flat against the back of your car as they’ll increase the effective width of your vehicle. This makes it tough and impractical to carry tandem bikes on hitch racks designed for regular bikes.

Fortunately, you can find hitch racks made especially for tandem bikes. These racks come with a short bar on which you can place the rear wheel of the bike, and a long vertical bar that can support the tube of the bike.

To mount a tandem bike on these, you need to place the rear wheel on the bottom bar and attach the strap to the wheel. Once that’s done, position the bike vertically and attach the top strap to the top tube. This will help you keep the bike stable while driving.

This is a great method for carrying tandem bikes, but it comes with certain disadvantages. For example, installing these will give you a hard time accessing the trunk of your vehicle. It might also limit your choices when it comes to finding a parking space. You’ll also need some time to get used to driving the car with the bike installed.


Pros

  • Allows you to carry a tandem bike without requiring disassembly
  • Easy to mount and dismount the tandem bike
  • The racks are built well enough to support the bike properly and keep it safe

Cons

  • You’ll have a hard time accessing the trunk
  • Access to the rear doors may get blocked if you use these with a mini-van or SUV
  • Makes parking difficult
  • Needs some time to get used to driving with the hitch

 

Roof Bike Rack for Tandem Bikes

Thule Pivoting Tandem CarrierThule Pivoting Tandem CarrierCHECK CURRENT PRICE

If hitch racks for tandem bikes don’t appeal to you, you can take a look at tandem roof racks instead. There are some amazing options to choose from in this regard. The best part about roof racks is that they’re very safe and usually come with a built-in locking system.

You have to remove the front wheel and lock the front fork to the locking mechanism of the rack. The rear part usually comes as an extension of the main rack. The extension allows you to place the rear wheel, which you can strap into the rack.

One disadvantage of this method is that you’ll have a hard time using the trunk as long as the bike is mounted. If the bike isn’t mounted, you can take the extension off to make some clearance. Another disadvantage of this technique is that you’ll need to take the front wheel off. While this doesn’t take a lot of time, it’s an extra step. Also, you’ll need to carry the wheel in the vehicle, which will eat some space up.

Pros

  • Very safe as it comes with built-in security features
  • Convenient as the rear extension bar can be removed
  • Doesn’t hamper the driving experience much
  • Bikes can be mounted without extra pair of hands

Cons

  • Accessing the trunk can be tough with the bike mounted
  • You need to take the front wheels off and carry the wheel in the vehicle

Utility Trailer for Car

If you don’t want to haul the tandem bike on the roof, back, or inside your vehicle, then it leaves you with the option of using a utility trailer. Utility trailers are great for carrying your tandem bikes.

These are essentially extensions with wheels. These offer bars or a platform on which you can tie the bike down. With some extra U-locks or cable locks, you can even secure your bike firmly on these trailers.

The best way to carry the tandem bike on a utility trailer without damaging the bike would be to use a fork mount. You can always install a fork mount on the trailer. With this, you’ll have to remove the front wheel of the tandem bike and lock it into the fork mount. If you get a fork mount with a built-in locking system, all the better.

Once the front fork is locked right in, you have to attach the rear wheel to the trailer using a strap. You can also use a U-lock for additional security. As there’s going to be some space left in the trailer, you can use a u-lock to secure the front wheel on it as well.

Also, if there isn’t any protection in the front of the trailer, you can put up a board for extra safety. This will protect your bike from any stone or dirt that may fly onto the bike and damage or dirty it.

Pros

  • Leaves a lot of space inside and outside the bike for carrying extra gear
  • Doesn’t block any opening of the car, as in the rear doors or the trunk
  • Keeps the bike safe and secure
  • Extra accessories can be used to protect the bike from environmental damage

Cons

  • Carrying the trailer is burdensome

Truck Bed Bike Rack (For Pickup Trucks)

You can get a great bike rack for a truck bed. You can either get a rack for one bike or even for multiple. These are very convenient as you can carry as many bikes as your truck allows, lock them securely, and keep them safe at the same time.

There are different types of truck bed bike racks. You can get bike racks that rest on the surface of the truck bed. These come with vertical parallel bars between which you can place and lock the front wheels.

You’ll also find racks that look a lot like regular roof racks but are for tandem bikes. You can use these to secure your bike’s front and rear wheels. There’s also a side mount option where you attach the rack to one side of the truck. Then, you attach the bike to the rack.

Also, you can get racks that allow you to mount the fork of the bike to the truck. These, like the first method discussed, are to be placed on the surface of the back of the truck. You need to take off the front wheel of your bike and mount the fork on the rack. These are great for keeping your bike secure.

Read more: Best Truck Bed Bike Rack Reviews and Buying Guide

Pros

  • Offers a variety of racks
  • Let’s you carry the bike without the fear of harming it
  • It doesn’t affect the truck as the bikes are secured firmly
  • Keeps the bikes secure from theft or external damage

Cons

  • Some racks can be a bit pricey
  • Some of the racks can be tough to use

Tailgate Bike Pad (For Pickup Trucks)

Tailgate bike pads might be a bit tougher to pick because they come in various sizes. You need to pick one that fits the size of your truck. These are easy to use.

All you need to do is attach the bike pad to the tailgate of your truck. Lay the pad on the tailgate first. Slightly open the tailgate and take the straps from underneath the hinge to the other end of the pad. Depending on the tailgate pad, there may be four to six fasteners on the tailgate pad.

The key to proper setup is to fasten the inner two straps first. Tighten these so that they come down to the right height. After that, fasten the straps on the sides.

Depending on the pad, there will be three or more straps on the top of the tailgate pad. To mount the tandem bike on one of these, you need to put the bike’s top tube on the pad. Position it properly so it sits on one of the straps of your pad.

While the bike is mounted, make sure to mount it from the left and keep the front wheel hanging out of the truck. In this position, the handlebar should be kept at a 90-degree position.

Finally, strap the top tube of the bike in, and you should be ready to go.

Read more: Best Tailgate Bike Pad Reviews & Buying Guide

Pros

  • Easy to setup
  • Keeps the bike as well as the tailgate safe from damage
  • Keeps the bikes well secured and minimizes rattling
  • Let’s you carry a lot of bikes at once

Cons

  • Aren’t heavy-duty accessories

Some Tips to Follow When Carrying the Tandem Bike on Your Car

While we covered the instructions, here are a few extra tips for carrying the bike.

  • Use a bike traveler bag, which will save your car from dirt. The bag will cost about 20-40 bucks.
  • Use a stepping stool to load the bike on the roof-mounted rack.
  • Buy a tray-style back rack when opting for trunk strap-ons. It means less wear and tear for your bike’s tires and delicate frames. Try an aftermarket trailer hitcher to keep the cost down.
  • Use a tailgate pad to protect both the bike’s frame and the rear bumper of the pick-up trucks. The tailgate pads are soft pads made with foam that are installed in pick-up trucks.

Related reading: How To Carry Bike In Car?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use hitch mounted bike rack to carry my tandem bike?

No, you cannot use the regular hitch-mounted bike rack for your tandem bike. Why? Simply because the distance between the front and rear wheels is larger, and the regular hitch rack’s wheel trays will not fit. So, you have to choose between either the roof-mounted or trunk carriers. Or you can invest in a custom-built hitch tandem bike rack.

Which is the best way to carry the tandem bike in a pickup truck?

If you have a pickup truck, you can choose between two ways of transporting the tandem bike. You can use either the pickup truck tailgate bike pad just and set up the tandem along with your regular bikes. Or you can install the truck bed bike rack.

Conclusion

If you were wondering about how you could carry a tandem bike in a car, I hope my comprehensive guide has helped. We understand that securing it is more challenging than regular bikes. Hence, in my blog post, I explained different types of racks that work with tandem bikes, and how you can use them.

To give you a small recap, you can carry your tandem bike using a trunk carrier, roof cargo rack, hitch bike rack, utility trailer, truck bed, or even a tailgate bike pad. If you don’t have space inside the car or even at the back, you can remove its front or back wheels for more space. But, at the end of the day, no matter which method you use, they all have their pros and cons.

I hope now you can go to your favorite road or track to ride the tandem bike with your family or friends.

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