A loaded bike rack means extra weight on your car, which is likely to slow you down. But how fast can you drive with a bike rack?
Generally, you shouldn’t exceed 55mph with a trunk rack, 65mph with a hitch rack, or 80mph with a rooftop rack.
So, essentially, your driving speed depends on the type of bike rack you’ve (its mounting style).
But in addition to that, the load capacity, road condition, weather, vehicle’s horsepower, and the road’s speed limit are also influential.
I’ll discuss all these factors to help you drive safely with a rack.
Let me elaborate on my post title.
How Fast Can You Drive With A Bike Rack? (Bike Rack Speed Limit!)
Remember, an average rack weighs about 10-30 pounds, with some weighing as much as 40 or more pounds.
If you add that to the bike’s weight, which is about 30-40 pounds per bike, you’ll be carrying some extra 40-70 pounds at the very least.
And if you load more bikes, then you’ll be hauling more weight. For that reason, you cannot expect to go as far as you usually do.
Here’s a breakdown of the average speed limits of different bike rack types.
Let me now break it down for you.
a) Trunk Rack – How Fast Can You Drive With A Trunk Bike Rack?
Trunk racks are generally lighter than other bike racks, and they are not the strongest. So, don’t expect to load many bikes on them or ride faster.
If you do, the rack will likely sway around and rub against the bicycle rack. Even worse, it could become loose and detach and drop your bike.
Overall, it’s advisable to drive under 55mph when you have a trunk rack on your car. You’ll be much safer that way.
b) Hitch Rack – How Fast Can You Drive With A Hitch Bike Rack?
Hitch bike racks are more stable than trunk racks. So, you are likely to go much faster on a hitch rack than a trunk rack.
Depending on the hitch rack style (platform or hanging), you can hit a top speed of 65mph.
Note, however, that hanging hitch racks are likely to sway when you speed up. As a result, you’ll have to keep the top speed under 55mph.
So, it’ll be safer driving at the same speed as that of a trunk rack (55mph). But if it’s a platform hitch rack, then you can easily clock 65mph under perfect road conditions.
c) Rooftop Rack – How Fast Can You Drive With A Rooftop Rack?
Rooftop racks make your car move more aerodynamic, which means you can go much faster despite wind drag. The only negative is that you’ll spend more gas on the extra mileage.
Overall, you can run under 80mph with a rooftop bike rack.
However, the top speed depends on the vehicle’s horsepower, road condition, and weather. And with most roads having an 80mph speed limit, you can hit top speed with a robust rooftop bike rack.
Special Category – Soft Bike Rack For Hatchback
While most bike racks are made of steel, aluminum, and sometimes plastic, soft racks commonly feature rubber.
As a result, they are generally lighter. But despite that, you can load them with more bike weight than most racks.
A soft rack like the Sport Rack Pursuit Bike Rack (Link to Amazon) only weighs 6 pounds but allows you to load three bikes of up to 105 pounds.
Overall, you can hit 80mph with a soft rack. Essentially, that’s because they are firmer and mostly come with anti-sway or anti-wobbling systems.
Other Factors That Determine How Fast You Can Drive With A Bike Rack
Rack Load Capacity
The number of bikes you load onto the bicycle rack and their collective weight determines how fast you can go. If you put too much load on the bike rack, then you need to slow down.
Road Condition and Traffic
You can expect to drive with a rack much faster on paved roads than off-road. That’s because the off-road bumps and rough patches slow you down.
But if the paved road has too much traffic, you should go slower. It’s harder to go fast when many cars and people are crossing the street.
Terrible weather conditions like strong wind and rain hurt your top speed. Strong wind, for example, offers you some resistance and is likely to drag you.
On the other hand, rain makes the surface slippery, which means you have to slow down. Also, heavy downpour reduces your road visibility, which means you’ve to drive more cautiously.
The Road’s Speed Limit
No matter the type of bike rack you have, you shouldn’t exceed the road’s speed limit. If you do, then you will have broken the traffic laws, and that’s punishable.
So, know the speed limit of the road you are driving on and run under it. In most urban streets, the limit is 70-80mph.
Vehicle Size and Horsepower
Generally, the vehicle’s size, especially its horsepower, determines how fast you can go with a bike rack. If the car has less horsepower, expect it to go much slower with a bike rack.
So, before you can mount a rack on your car and secure a bike on it, know your vehicle’s horsepower.
How About Thule Racks? How Fast Can You Go With Thule Bike Rack?
Thule bike racks are amongst the most robust and most reliable bike racks on the market. So, you can expect them to carry more loads.
Likewise, you can expect to go much faster with a Thule rack. According to Thule, their bike racks have a 130km (roughly 80mph) speed limit.
This top speed usually is attainable with a platform Thule rack with anti-wobbling properties like the Thule EasyFold XT 2.(Link to Amazon)
Thule’s platform racks are much stable and more effective in driving fast while carrying heavy bikes.
A Guide on How To Drive With A Bike Rack
Here are the general tips for safe driving with a bike rack:
- Get a good quality car bike rack – The bicycle rack must be strong enough to carry your bike securely. So, invest in a quality rack to hold your bike firmly when you speed up.
- Secure the rack well – Buying a quality car bike rack is not enough. You also have to secure it firmly on your car before mounting your bike. So, double-check the strap to ensure nothing wobbles.
- Stay within the speed limit – Lastly, don’t go past the road’s speed limit, no matter how strong you think your bike rack is. You’ll avoid problems with the traffic police if you do.
1. Is There A Speed Limit With A Bike Rack?
Different bike racks come with varying driving speed limits. Trunk racks, for example, have a 55mph limit, while hitch racks and rooftop racks have a 65mph and 80mph speed limit, respectively.
Bike racks are only safe on a car if they are secure. They shouldn’t wobble or rub against the car’s body. They should also hold firm to avoid dropping your bike or detaching when driving.
It’s only when a bike rack rubs against a car’s body that they can damage it. If that’s not the case, then the bicycle rack is safe. So, invest in a quality bike rack and install it properly to be safe.
4. How Many Bikes Can A Car Bike Rack Hold?
Most car-bike racks come with a 1-3 bike loading capacity. Nevertheless, an option such as the Allen Sports Deluxe 5-Bike Hitch Rack can hold up to 5 adult bicycles.
5. Is It Safe To Drive On Highway With Bike Rack?
It’s usually challenging to drive on a highway with a bike rack as you’ve to go slower than usual. If you move too fast, the bicycle rack might start wobbling and rubbing against the car.
6. Does A Bike Rack Slow You Down?
Bike racks add some extra weight to your car, which slows you down. You are likely to slow down more when the bike rack is carrying a bike.
7. Is It Ok For Bike Racks To Cover License Plate?
In most places, it’s unacceptable for the bike rack to cover the license plate. That’s unless you have an auxiliary license plate.
In some states, it’s illegal to drive around with an empty (unloaded) bike rack. In others, it’s even a more serious offense if the bike rack covers the license plate.
9. How Do You Transport A Bike On A Rack?
It calls for a more robust car bike rack to transport a bike on a bike rack. The bike rack can be mounted on the roof, spare tire, hitch receiver, or trunk.
In conclusion, how fast can you drive with a bike rack?
Depending on the rack type, you can hit 55-80mph driving with a rack. However, the speed limit also depends on the road, weather, the vehicle’s horsepower, and the rack’s load capacity.