Carrying bikes by car

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 48.

The May edition of Which? provides an assessment of nineteen different car bike carriers – six roof-mounted, seven rear-mounted and six towball-mounted.

Of the roof-mounted carriers they rated the Paddy Hopkirk Everest ( as best (costing £30 from Motorworld). They were concerned about the safety of the Thule 511 Velo Vise roof-mounted carrier.

Of the rear-mounted carriers the Paddy Hopkirk Snowdon, which carries three bikes and costs £70 from came out best together with Halfords Spare Wheel Cycle Carrier if you have an externally mounted spare wheel. This costs £60 from Halfords ( and carries two bikes. They had safety reservations about the Thule 973 Backpac which clamps onto the vertical tailgates of estate cars and MPVs.

Among the towball-mounted carriers, they nominated the Paddy Hopkirk Quick Ball (costing £39 from as best for carrying two bikes and the Thule 970-4 Hang On (£59 from as best for three bikes.

There are extra costs to be considered for most of these carriers – roof bars for roof-mounted ones, buying the necessary trailer board and extra number plate for those rear-mounted and towball-mounted carriers which obscure the car’s lights or number plate, fitting a socket where the trailer board lead can be plugged in and, most expensive of all, fitting a towbar and ball if you want to use a towball-mounted carrier and haven’t already got a towball.

Car bicycle carrier

One finding surprised me – the marked effect on fuel consumption. All carriers increased fuel consumption quite significantly. The effect was least for towball-mounted carriers which in the tests caused increased fuel costs of about £8 for carrying two bikes for 1000 miles. High rear-mounted carriers were worst: a two-bike carrier increased fuel costs by about £38 for 1000 miles and a three-bike carrier by about £49. Obviously the best answer is to carry your bikes inside your car if you can.

There is much additional information in the full report in the May edition of Which? This is available in the reference section of the Central Library in Lion Yard.

James Woodburn