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How To Lock Bike On Car Bike Rack

Your bike is one of your most prized possessions. The last thing you want is to damage it, or worse, have it stolen. A car bike rack is super popular amongst bike owners for a convenient method to safeguard their bikes from falling into the wrong hands.

When securing your bike to your car bike rack, chances are, you are away from the safety of your home. This is even more nerve-wracking for solo travelers. Today, we will talk about some of the best ways to secure your bike through locking it to your car bike rack.

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Why Should You Lock Bike To Car Bike Rack?

So, you decided you need to get a car bike rack. That means you think your bike could use a little more security.

Assuming you decided to get a trunk car bike rack, this could mean that you might need some extra security. To lock bike to bike rack is one of the primary preventative measures to keep pesky thieves at bay.

Bike owners know about the inherent risk of traveling with a bike. Securing your valuable can help you relax and truly take the edge off on a trip. There’s a saying in the biking community that loosely means any bike can be stolen if the thief has the right mindset and tools. While this certainly sounds discouraging, the more precautions you take, the less the chances of your bike getting stolen.

Theft can happen in grocery store parking lots too. One can never be too safe. As a solo travel, stopping somewhere can be tricky. Therefore, it is necessary to secure bike to car rack.

How To Lock The Bikes To The Car Bike Rack

There are five methods to lock bike to car rack. Before we get into the details of each, we will talk briefly about them to give you a quick idea.

Firstly, you can use a bike rack with an in-built locking system. While not the most secure or popular option within the bunch, it’s convenient and cheaper than most alternatives. When buying a bike rack, try to get one with a lock for added protection.

A passive lock strap uses a long strap to loop around the important parts of the bike and keep it safe. It’s best for use in trunk-mounted bike racks.

A tow hitch way requires more effort and is harder to assemble. Think of it as a multi-step process to ensure better protection for your bike.

A U-lock is simply a lock shaped like the alphabet “U” to go around the wheels and frame of the bike and hold it in place.

And finally, cable locks are long chains and cables used to wrap around the different parts of the bike and lock bike to car rack.

Use Bike Rack with Built-In Locking System

Some bike racks come with a built-in locking system. The more expensive ones have higher quality locks which are more difficult to penetrate. We find that using a separate lock on top of the in-built locking mechanism works the best as you are essentially creating a two-layer safety system for your bike.

There are many types of bike racks such as hitch racks, roof racks, and more. If you want to get a hitch rack, the most popular option for bike racks, we recommend the Thule T2 PRO XTR 2. It comes with a set of amazing features including a wide trigger for single hand use, integrated cable lock, and a comfortable, wide grip and slide to hold the front wheels.

The T2 ditched a bolt and secure the hitch receiver using an expansion wedge to be tightened with a locking knob. Plus, this makes installing and removing the system extremely easy.

Passive Lock Strap or a Trunk Lock Strap

The passive strap looping system is ideal for use in your trunk mounted bike rack but can also be used to lock your bike on the roof mounted bike rack. Although this strapping method is simple to perform, it might not be the strongest or safest lock.

In this method, you’ll have to use a lock strap, that can be labeled as either passive or trunk in the market. A long cable is used, which is usually made of materials that are flexible and thin. For locking in the bike to the rack, the cable sports a rounded rubber disc at the end, which can be an entry for the strap to be threaded in.

Here, you’ll have to place the bike frame on the rack and use the strap to create multiple loops. You’ll then have to tighten the strap and check for movements of the bike frame. As of last, closing the puck of the cable loop will seal the deal.

Thule Passive Lock Strap uses metal cables in nylon coverings, to make sure that the straps are unbreakable and laid back on the frames. When you intend to use this strap for a roof rack, one of the ends should be looped around the nearest car door.

The Tow Loop/ Tow Hitch

The tow hitch way of locking up a bike on a car bike rack involves more effort and to some, it can be quite difficult. For your hitch mounted bike rack, securing the bike with any of the fixed parts of the car, like the bumper can be a simpler version of the security system.

Otherwise, you can also affix the bike with a looping cord on an external hitching system. Make sure to use a padlock for final protection. An adjustable, vinyl-coated cable lock like the Master Lock Python cable lock comes with keys and Velcro straps for additional steadiness.


If you want the most heavyweight method to secure bike on bike rack, go for the U-lock. They are extremely difficult to cut through and thus naturally deter thieves on the lookout for a weak bike to snipe.

Don’t get us wrong, any lock is breakable. But you would need specialized tools to get through a U-lock. Their working mechanism involves a key removing a bolt connecting the two ends of the lock’s “U.” once that’s done, you can easily slip the lock in or out.

A U-lock can be used to fasten the bike frame to the rack or you can get a bigger U-lock and secure multiple bike frames together.

The Master Lock U-Lock is a sturdy, easy to use option. It comes with two keys and a carrier bracket for simple transportation. And since the lock is under $20, it’s a budget friendly choice too. Thanks to the disc key, users get an extra layer of protection against lock picking. It’s also scratch and weather resistant.

Cable Locks

Chain and cable locks offer better security for bicycles in comparison to straps. Simply run through the wheels and bike frame and then across the bike rack. Users love them for their lightweight, portable, and effective nature. However, their lightweight nature is also what takes away from their strength.

Cable locks are best for short stops. You can use them to tie a bike to a bike rack or tie multiple to one.

How To Lock Bikes To Hitch Rack

For this process, you need just the hitch rack and some extra locking straps for added protection. Many cars come with tow hook on the rear, welded to the frame. Thread a cable lock through the rear wheel and frame, and lock the ends below the car’s frame onto the metal loop.

If your cable is long enough, feel free to thread it through the front wheel too.

How To Secure Bike To Roof Rack

You don’t usually need any special methods or equipment to secure bike to roof rack. Having said that, check the manufacturer’s instructions as this may differ according to bike rack type. This instruction goes without saying for every bike rack – check the user manual.

Simply lift up the bicycle onto the rack, fasten it in place, and you’re done! You can also use a cable to run it through the bike and then inside the vehicle for added protection.

How To Lock Bike To Trunk And Spare Tire Rack

The best method here would be using a U-lock to secure the bike to the trunk and spare tire rack, secure them to the tow hooks and you’re good to go.

Alternatively, use a cable to wrap around the inside of the trunk rack, lead out the trunk, and wrap it around the bike securely and then place the other end inside the trunk. Lock it and that’s a tight fix.

What Part Of The Bike Do I Lock?

When you lock bike on car bike rack, note to focus on the frame and wheels. If you can nicely secure these bits, the thief will find it very hard to access your bike. A cable or chain can easily wrap around a bike’s parts but you may not be able to secure all the parts if you’re using a U-lock.

In these cases, it’s best to get two U-locks for the job; run one through the bike rack and the front wheel and the other through the frame and the back wheel. If you cannot afford to buy 2 U-locks. Use one on the frame and front wheel, and then a cable for the other parts.

When strapping bikes to bike rack, make sure all the necessary parts mentioned above are secure in place.


Now that you know all on how to lock bike on car bike rack, we hope you will be sensible and never leave your bike unsecured. You probably spent a whole lot on your bike so it’s best to do a little to keep it away from thieves.

The optimum way to make sure the bicycle is safe is using a car rack to hold it in place. With the aforementioned tips, you can keep your bike safe and enjoy its services for a long time.


Related reading: Transporting Bicycle in Pickup Truck

Related reading: How To Fit Two Bikes In A Car?

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