man securing a bike on the roof rack for a high speed drive

How Fast Can You Go With A Bike Rack?

Driving a car is a task that requires a lot of attention from the driver. Then, when a bike rack is mounted on the vehicle, the already tedious task becomes a bit more tedious. Bike racks are handy for transporting bikes from one place to another, but they limit the overall performance of your vehicle.

A vehicle with a bike rack can’t go as fast as a vehicle without a rack. A fully loaded bike rack negatively impacts your car’s weight and the aerodynamics and increases fuel consumption by 5-28%. The impact is greater with smaller vehicles and higher driving speeds.

Therefore, knowing how fast you can drive with a bike rack is essential to avoid accidents.

How Fast Can You Drive With A Bike Rack?

Generally, the rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t go faster than 55 – 65 mph with a bike rack. However, this isn’t a rigid rule. How fast you can go with a bike rack depends on many variables.

The type of bike rack, where it’s mounted, the type of vehicle, how many bikes the rack can hold, and whether the car carries bikes on the bike rack are some variables that must be considered when determining the maximum allowable speed.

Don’t forget to check your bike rack’s owner’s manual to see if there are manufacturer-specific speed specifications. The maximum speed for one type of bike rack may not be the same for another.

While we understand the adrenaline rush you get from speeding your car across the open road, it’s important always to put safety first. Follow the speed laws on any road to protect yourself and others.

Related reading: Can Car Bike Racks Get Wet?

Types of Bike Racks

There are many types of bike racks on the market. Each type of bike rack affects your vehicle’s performance in many ways. The most popular types are listed below:

  • Hitch Rack
  • Roof Rack
  • Spare Tire Rack
  • Trunk Rack

How Fast Can You Drive With A Hitch Rack?

Hitch racks are mounted on the rear end of your vehicle. They’re very sturdy and can hold a large number of bicycles. When you mount a bike rack on the rear of your car, you can drive your vehicle up to 65 mph in perfect road and weather conditions.

However, if it’s raining outside or you’re driving on a bumpy road, you should reduce the speed of your vehicle. If it’s raining outside or you’re going on a bumpy road, you usually shouldn’t exceed the 55-mph mark on your speedometer.

Hitch racks also come in two different categories. You can go up to 65 mph with a platform carrier, while with a hanging hitch carrier, you can go 55 mph at best, even if the road and weather conditions are perfect.

How Fast Can You Drive With A Roof Rack?

This type of bike rack is mounted on top of the vehicle. It’s one of the market’s most reliable and practical bike racks. It’s one of those bike racks that does not restrict a vehicle from adhering to low-speed limits.

With a roof rack on the roof, a vehicle can go up to a speed of 80 mph if the road, weather, and traffic conditions allow it. It’s important to note that roof bike racks are comparatively heavier, affecting the vehicle’s acceleration and braking performance. You must keep these two things in mind to drive safely with a roof rack.

How Fast Can You Drive With A Spare-Tire Rack?

Spare tire bike racks are ideal bike racks for SUVs and off-road vehicles. Like a hitch rack and trunk rack, a spare tire rack is anchored to the vehicle’s rear with the spare tire. Unlike the other bike carriers, the spare tire carrier isn’t permanently mounted to the car, making it much easier to attach and install.

However, the carrier isn’t efficient if you plan to drive your vehicle fast. A car with a spare wheel carrier can go up to 50 miles per hour. Going beyond this speed is dangerous as it increases the chances of the carrier getting damaged or detached, leading to a catastrophic accident.

Related reading: Best Spare Tire Bike Rack Reviews & Buying Guide

How Fast Can You Drive With A Trunk Rack?

As the name suggests, the trunk rack is attached to the trunk of a vehicle with straps that hold it in place. This type of bike rack is lightweight, and people have the misconception that vehicles with trunk racks can go faster than vehicles with other bike racks.

But in reality, just the opposite is true. Because of their light weight, trunk racks aren’t as stable as most other bike racks. Therefore, vehicles should slow down to avoid damage.

As a rule, motorists shouldn’t drive faster than 55 mph. Otherwise, the vehicle and bike rack can be damaged, eventually leading to an accident.

Are Bike Racks Safe to Use?

Yes, bike racks are very safe to use when properly mounted. An incorrectly mounted bike rack can cause the bike to come loose in the middle of the road and cause an accident. Therefore, bike racks must be mounted appropriately.

Properly mounted bike racks are one of the safest and most practical tools for transporting bicycles from one place to another.

Are Bike Racks Safe On Highway?

Yes, bike racks are very safe, even on highways. The key to safely using bike racks (whether on the highway or any other road) is properly mounting the bike rack. Make sure your rack is securely attached to your vehicle. Follow the prescribed way to mount the bike rack.

For extra stability, you can tie the wheels of your bike with a rope or a bungee cord. If you follow this, you won’t have to worry about your bike coming off your vehicle in the middle of the highway.

One thing that often causes concern is the noise and vibration that the bike rack causes. Vibrations that don’t feel normal should always be checked. If you notice an unnatural shaking and noise, you should slow down and see if the noise subsides. If it does, you should maintain the lower speed for the rest of the ride. If not, the bike rack may not be adequately secured.

Related reading: Can You Use A Bike Rack for a Wheelchair?

Final Thoughts

Bike racks somewhat limit speed, but a bike rack’s convenience outweighs the inconvenience. Although 55 – 65 mph is a general rule, how fast you can go depends on the quality of your bike rack.

Usually, the manufacturer of the bike rack will specify a speed limit. No one should exceed the speed limit set by the manufacturer. The total weight is also a significant factor. If you load three or more bikes on the bike rack, you need to make sure that you slow down because the extra weight will take your vehicle more time to slow down.

Finally, you should always consider the road, weather, and traffic conditions when deciding how fast you should drive.

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