Electric bikes are an excellent alternative for commuters or recreational bicyclists because they provide the user with a boost when needed, reducing the effort required to pedal up steep hills. However, transporting this kind of bike can be difficult without the proper equipment and accessories.
Typically, you’ll need a special car bike rack for electric bikes. E-bikes are on average twice as heavy than standard bikes, making them difficult to transport without the necessary equipment. Transporting an e-bike with a standard rack poses the risk of damaging your vehicle or bike.
The rest of this article will take a closer look at why you need to invest in car bike racks specifically designed for e-bikes and what kind of rack you can safely use. I’ll also go over some of the best e-bike racks available and how their design impacts ease of use.
Read on for more details and tips on transporting your electric bike safely.
Why Do Electric Bicycles Need Special Racks?
As with regular bicycles, transporting an electric bike generally involves securing it to a car rack with straps or, in some cases, hooks that come in the box when you purchase the e-bike. But while you can use an ordinary rack to transport conventional bikes, this isn’t the case when it comes to e-bikes.
Electric bicycles need a special hitch mount bike rack because they’re typically heavier than regular bicycles. E-bikes weigh between 35 – 80 lbs (16 – 36 kg), whereas most standard bikes weigh around 18 – 25 lbs (8 – 11 kgs). This added weight is due to the electric motor, battery, and thicker frame on an e-bike.
The increased weight means that traveling with an electric bike using a regular bike carrier can damage either your car or bike. Even if you can get away with using an ordinary rack without breaking the locks, there’s still a risk of damage due to impact or shaking while driving down bumpy roads.
What Kind of Bike Rack Is Needed for an E-Bike?
If you want to transport your e-bike safely and securely, you need a rack designed specifically for the purpose. It’s crucial to find one that easily fits your car and locks onto the vehicle without a hassle. Not only does this keep an electric bike in place during transit, but it also means that thieves will have a hard time stealing the bike or rack from your car.
A hitch-mounted bicycle rack is ideal for transporting an electric bike. This type of rack is designed to work with different-sized bikes, including heavy ones with large battery packs. As a result, it’s possible to use this type of rack even if you ride a heavy-duty e-bike.
Besides, the best racks for electric bikes are the ones that attach firmly to your vehicle for utmost security. Compatible with most bicycles, including regular and electric mountain bikes, these types of carriers are easy to load and unload when you get to your destination. Still, such racks can be folded or disassembled so they don’t take up too much space in the back of your car.
However, if you have a folding e-bike and can fit it into your car once folded, you won’t need a separate bike rack.
Can You Transport an E-Bike on a Standard Bicycle Rack?
It may seem intuitive to strap an e-bike onto a regular bicycle carrier and head off on your journey. After all, this is what you would do with a non-electric bike. Unfortunately, though, there are some problems with this approach.
You shouldn’t transport an e-bike on a standard bicycle rack. Regular racks are typically weaker and may not handle the added weight of your electric bicycle well. Thus, the car rack may break under the weight or the e-bike may get damaged.
However, some regular hitch-mounted racks are sturdy enough to transport e-bikes, but be sure to check their load limit before using them.
As I mentioned, securing an electric bike onto a standard bicycle carrier increases the risk of damaging the vehicle or the bike itself. Therefore, it’s vital to use a rack designed to handle heavier bikes.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Bike Rack for Your E-Bike
Before you decide which electric bike rack is right for you, it would help to evaluate the different options on the market. In that regard, there are several factors to consider, including the following:
What Type of Rack is Recommended for an E-Bike?
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of rack will work best for your needs. According to Consumer Reports, the notable types of racks on the market include:
- Roof-mounted racks: These transport regular bikes on top of your car and can be used to carry and move other bulky objects, such as skis and canoes. However, roof racks are complicated to install and remove and may hurt your car’s handling due to the raised center of gravity.
Additionally, it’s almost impossible to get a 60lb-80lb e-bike on the roof of any car without hurting yourself or damaging your car. Thus, roof racks are NOT RECOMMENDED for e-bikes.
- Hitch-mounted racks: If you need a way of transporting your e-bike that doesn’t take up space inside your vehicle, then this type is just what you need. Like traditional trunk racks, these attach to the rear bumper to hold bicycles securely in place during transit. Installing them is a breeze, but you may have to buy a trailer hitch (if you don’t have one) and drill holes in your car’s chassis (which could void the warranty).
Hitch racks are typically RECOMMENDED for carrying electric bicycles, but you still need to choose the correct one (see my suggestions for the best e-bike car racks below).
- Trunk-mounted racks: These are designed to work with sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs. They attach to the rear door of your car and make it easy to transport your lightweight bike. However, they don’t work with all vehicles, and you may need to remove the rack (and thus your bike) before opening up the trunk.
Typically, trunk-mounted racks are not capable of holding the weight of heavy e-bikes (the maximum weight limit is generally around 35lbs). Therefore, like roof racks, they are NOT RECOMMENDED for electric bikes.
Does the Rack Fit Your Vehicle?
The next thing you’ll need to look at is whether the bike rack fits on your car. If it doesn’t, then it would be best to look for an alternative.
As a rule of thumb, you should always read the description carefully before making a purchase and compare the bike rack’s measurements with your vehicle’s specs.
Another thing to look for when choosing a car rack is whether it fits with the type of hitch receiver you have. If you plan to use a trailer hitch receiver, make sure that any rack you buy will fit over it properly. That way, the whole unit will sit flat against your bumper to prevent it from sagging.
Does the Rack Have a Locking Mechanism?
Another crucial thing to look for when shopping for a rack for e-bikes is how well it secures and protects your load.
Most racks come with locks and tie-downs to keep everything in place during transit. Also, it would help to consider whether it’s easy to attach locks or tie-downs by yourself.
Type of Bike Rack Material
A rack’s material is important because it determines how well the load will stay in place during transport. It also determines whether you can use your e-bike carrier to transport other objects and whether or not it can withstand harsh weather conditions and temperatures.
If you’ll be using your e-bike rack regularly, I recommend that you get one made out of sturdy materials such as steel and aluminum.
3 Best Car Bike Racks To Buy for Heavy E-Bikes
There are many bike racks on the market, so finding the right one to handle the weight of your special e-bike can be difficult. However, you don’t have to worry because I’ve done the hard work for you!
Below are four of the best electric bike racks available on Amazon.com today:
Best Way To Transport an Electric Bike: Kuat NV Bike Rack
The Kuat Racks NV 2 Bike Rack is designed to carry two e-bikes with a weight capacity of up to 60lbs each. It’s also made of durable aluminum and is easy to install. without any tools. This rack can hold bikes with up to 48″ wheels, including fat tire electric bikes up to 4.8″ wide. It has integrated cable locks and comes in two hitch sizes (1.25″ and 2.0″).
Best Bang for Your Buck: Hollywood Racks Sport Rider for Electric Bikes
The Hollywood Racks Sport Rider E-Bike Rack is a favorite among electric bike owners. It can fit almost any vehicle, including sedans, SUVs, and hatchbacks with a 2″ receiver hitch. But the best thing about it is that its maximum weight capacity is 80lbs per electric bike! So it’s useful no matter how much your electric bike weighs.
Additionally, it has a locking bike frame (to deter thieves), uses a patented tightening system for easy installation, and can fold flat or tilt down for easy access loading.
Plus, it actually carries full-size fat tire bikes with tires up to 5″ wide!
Best for Added Stability: Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack
A popular sports equipment brand, the Thule EasyFold is another great platform hitch rack frequently recommended by e-bike owners. It’s easy to install, made of sturdy materials, and can fit most sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks with 1.25″ and 2″ receiver hitches.
It securely carries two e-bikes with a weight capacity of up to 65lbs each. With tool-free installation, you can quickly attach it using the integrated loading ramp.
This bike rack also includes locks for the rack and the receiver, wheel straps, easy transport wheels (with carrying handle), a foot pedal that tilts the rack so you can easily get into the rear of your car. It fits tires up to 4.7″ wide (so it’ll fit most fat tire e-bikes).
Find more of the best hitch bike racks here!
How To Install a Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack for an Electric Bicycle
Now that you’ve chosen a rack for your electric bike, it’s time to install it. But how do you ensure you’ve mounted it safely and correctly?
Here’s how to safely install a hitch rack for an electric bike:
How to Install the Hitch Rack
First, make sure you have the appropriate size hitch attached to your car.
Then, to install the rack:
- Slide the arm of the rack into the car’s hitch mount
- Line up both holes in the mount and the receiver
- Screw the bolt in (there should be a washer on both sides) and tighten it
- Securely lock it by inserting the large pin into the bolt
Secure Your Electric Bike to the Rack
First, remove your battery from the bike and keep it in a safe, cool location.
Then follow these steps for putting your e-bike onto the rack:
- Lift one tire onto the front of the rack and repeat with second tire
- Step the rear wheel to the rear bike tire slot and repeat with the front tire
- If you have another e-bike to attach, do the same (only you won’t have to step it back to the rear spot)
- Slide the tall ratchet up and over the the tire and secure it per manufacturers recommendations
- Adjust the tire baskets as needed so its directly below the tire (avoiding the spokes)
- Secure the tire straps
- Make sure everything is tight and the e-bike can’t wobble
And voila, your electric bike is ready for transport!
This video provides some tips and tricks on loading a heavy electric bicycle on a car rack:
The bottom line is that your e-bike will need a special rack that can handle the added weight of your bike. If you’re looking for a bicycle rack with this capacity, check out the options above and choose the one that best suits your individual needs.
Also, remember the following tips for choosing an e-bike car rack:
- Choose one that fits your vehicle.
- Ensure it has a locking mechanism to deter potential e-bike thieves.
- Opt for a hitch-mounted rack if at all possible. Otherwise, pay close attention to your e-bike’s and rack’s total weight and proceed with great caution.