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How to Lock Bikes on a Car Rack? – 4 Simple Methods

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to lock bikes on car bike rack

Car racks are important to properly transport bikes on a vehicle. However, securing bicycles is not just about keeping them stable but also about making sure they are safe. This requires us to know how to lock bikes on car bike racks.

We’ll take a look at 4 reliable ways for securing bike to car rack as well as discuss a few critical things to keep in mind. This includes whether using locks is important in the first place. Keep reading to learn more.

Methods to Lock Bike on Car Rack

</p> <h3><strong>Method 1</strong><strong>: </strong><strong>Lockable car bike rack</strong></h3> <p>

Some rack brands feature models that incorporate a built-in locking mechanism. This method of mounting a bicycle is best used along with an additional security measure. However, the quality of the built-in lock also needs to be paired with more foolproof ones coming at higher prices, and these racks aren’t cheap, to begin with.

One viable option I’d recommend is to lock bike on Thule rack using their included locking arm clamps. This is done using a lock and key mechanism on the arm.

Other brands may use other ways to secure bicycles. To lock bike on Kuat rack, they use integrated cable locks instead. The cable locks come out from the side of the base along with a hub to lock to.

As locking mechanisms will differ according to each brand and model, I suggest checking out the user manual to secure your bike properly.

Related Guide: Steps to Put a Bike Rack on a Car

</p> <h3><strong>Method 2</strong><strong>: </strong><strong>Passive strap</strong></h3> <p>


A bicycle secured on a bike rack may not be enough to give some people peace of mind; at least to me, it isn’t. What if someone resorts to just taking the whole rack? This is where the passive security strap—an economical but effective solution—comes in.

This hatch or trunk lock strap effectively keeps the rack in place. It uses a long cable with a loop on one end and a disc or ball attached to the other, allowing us to secure the entire rack by hooking it to the vehicle.

This disc/ball (sometimes referred to as a puck)l is placed inside the trunk or hatch, keeping it locked in there unless the trunk is opened. A good strap is made of thick reinforced steel cables to make cutting through more challenging. However, low-quality straps would be easy to sever.

  • Bring the strap around the rack
  • Insert the puck through the loop and pull tight
  • Place the puck inside the trunk or vehicle hatch and close
  • Have the strap pass through the bike’s wheel or frame for better security
</p> <h3><strong>Method 3</strong><strong>: </strong><strong>D-lock or U-lock</strong></h3> <p>

This type of lock is similar to a padlock, meaning it is opened/closed using a key. However, the U loop for a bicycle lock is bigger and can be used to secure a bike to a fixed anchor, such as a car rack.

It’d be best to get a big U-lock with a steel core and a Diamond certification from Sold Secure to lock your bike on a hitch rack.

It is also important for the U-lock to be challenging to move; a loosely placed lock is easier to pick or break. Having the lock includes the frame, rear wheel, and the support or anchor helps in this regard.

  • Open the U-lock
  • Have the U pass through the frame and the rear wheel
  • Lock in the frame and wheel to your support or anchor on the bike rack
</p> <h3><strong>Method 4</strong><strong>: </strong><strong>Cable or chain lock</strong></h3> <p>

The cable lock is another popular way of securing a bicycle in different situations, including car racks. Similar to their use for other instances, it is also not recommended to use them on their own; you should at least combine this method with a passive strap.

Chain locks are to but more reliable as car bike rack security, at the cost of being heavy and difficult to carry around. However, the installation process is pretty much a breeze:

  • Bring the cable or chain around the frame and rear wheel
  • Wrap the chain around your anchor
  • Tighten the loop before locking in
  • Ensure that the chain or cable does not sag to the ground

Different Types of Car Racks for Bikes


Here are some of the most common rack types for vehicles.

  • Hanging hitch—Attached to the back of the vehicle and secures the frame by hanging. It’s very easy to install, but some hanging hitch models may block your rear door access.
  • Platform hitch—also attaches to the back of the car but secures the wheels on a flat base. Similar to hanging hitch, this type is easy to mount, but some can block your trunk door.
  • Roof rack—a roof platform where the bicycles are secured at the wheels or frame. These are less likely to wear off if carrying heavy bikes. However, you’ll have to pay attention to height restrictions in certain areas.
  • Truck bed—rack bed can only be installed on trucks or pickups. These are ideal for carrying multiple bikes over a long distance. The downside of this type is that it can scratch your car.

What Should I Do if the Bike’s Not Secured?


A bicycle not secured properly is at high risk of being stolen. Unfortunately, incidents of theft are on the rise. This is why the first thing you need to do is to use security items and bike locks for car racks.

Use multiple locks to properly secure your bicycle. It’s also a good idea to secure the frame and rear wheel together. Avoid locking only the front wheel, as it can be easy to detach it from the rest of the bike.

Aside from locking bikes on bike racks, there are other things you can do to keep your bicycle safe if you need to park your vehicle with the bicycle still mounted. Here are additional tips to consider.

  • Park only in well-lit areas, preferably with security cameras
  • Position the bike in tight spaces where it is difficult to move
  • Cover the bicycle

Frequently Asked Questions


Which lock is best to prevent theft?

There is no one type of lock for a car bike rack that can provide the best security, and all locks can be removed by force or specialized tools. For example, keyed locks can be picked, while others can be disengaged by force or even cut.

Even more expensive locks can still be disengaged without a key, although premium models may be more difficult to bypass. This is something that is often covered by many videos found online.

If locks cannot completely prevent theft, why bother using them?

While complete prevention is not something you can get by using locks, it still makes it more difficult for thieves. If you’re talking about bikes on a car rack, there would not be enough time for theft to occur unless the bicycle is left mounted on an immobile vehicle for an extended period.

If a thief has to spend more time removing the bicycle, this increases the risk of getting caught, which may be enough to deter attempts to do so. Use two or more locks for better deterrence.


Now you know how to lock bikes on car bike rack in 4 different ways. This is a very important matter because recent reports indicate that bicycle thefts are on the rise, and it is up to us to protect our property from getting stolen.

What do you feel is the best way to secure bike on bike rack? Also, how do you feel about all those videos and tutorials about breaking locks all over the net? Tell us your thoughts about these in the comments section below.

Always ride safely.

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