How Fast Can You Drive With A Bike Rack? (Quick Answer!)

You recently bought a mountain bike rack because you plan to bring your bicycle on road trips. However, you wonder if it can slow you down.

You ask others and get conflicting answers. They’re speaking from experience, and you find the information confusing.

Many new cyclists are like you. They also want to find answers to their dirt bike rack questions.

Fortunately, you can get the required information from this article. So kindly read on to learn more.

Types of Bike Racks

Trunk Mount Racks

A truck-mounted bike rack is at the back of the trunk. Generally, straps fasten it, and the stand has arms and cradles.

Trunk Mount Racks

A recreational cyclist often uses this rack because of its adjustable fit. Therefore, they can use it in several types of motor vehicles.

A truck-mounted rack is portable, lightweight, and quick to store. It is also straightforward to mount and dismount.

Unfortunately, this gravel bike rack has limited load capacity and obstructs access to the trunk if mounted.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the rack depends on how secure the straps are. Failure to tightly secure the hybrid bike can make it sway while driving.

Hitch Mount Racks

Cyclists often use hitch racks if they should transport at least three bikes at a time. Generally, a hitch mount rack can carry up to five conventional bicycles and has the following styles:

  • Platform Styles

A platform supports the bike rack to prevent damage to the electric bicycles. Its design is the safest and most straightforward way to carry hybrid bikes.

Unfortunately, a hitch rack is more expensive and heavy. Therefore, it can be cumbersome to store when not in use.

  • Hanging Cradle Style

Generally, this style is less expensive, lighter, and has better ground clearance than the platform style.

However, the bikes often collide because they swing as the vehicle moves. Therefore, motorcycles may have slight paint abrasions.

Roof Mount Racks

A roof mount rack is versatile because it can be for an outdoor or cycling enthusiast.

However, adding several cradles or creating a rack system from scratch can increase the price.

Aside from bicycles, you may also use them to transport cargo boxes, skis, and small boats.

Spare Tire Mount Racks

You’re familiar with a trunk mount if you have a sport-utility or off-road vehicle. Usually, you use it to rest on the tire.

Generally, you can use this mount to transport two bikes, but it may be inconvenient because you need to remove the tire covers.

Moreover, a loaded rack adds height to the vehicle; therefore, you should be cautious when maneuvering or backing up in tight spaces.

Speed Limit for Driving with a Bike Rack

On average, a rack weighs at least ten pounds. However, if you add your bicycle’s weight, the overall weight can be at least 30 pounds.

Moreover, if you load more bicycles, you add more weight. Here’s the breakdown of high-speed limits.

Trunk-MountHitch MountRoof Mount
Under 55mphUnder 65mphUnder 80mph

Speed Limit of the Trunk Mount Rack

A truck mount rack is weaker and lighter; therefore, you can’t load several bikes simultaneously. You also can’t ride fast if you mount it.

Moreover, the rack will sway and hit the bikes; therefore, ensure not to ride fast or load many bikes.

Your motocross bike will likely fall because the trunk mount rack can quickly detach and become loose.

Therefore, maintain speed at less than 55mph if driving with a trunk mount rack to be safe.

Speed Limit of the Hitch Mount Rack

You can drive faster with a hitch mount rack because it’s more stable. Therefore, you can expect a speed of up to 65mph.

However, you should limit your speed to 55mph because the rack will sway. If you have a platform hitch rack, you may drive at most 65mph.

Speed Limit of the Roof Mount Rack

If you have a roof mount rack, your vehicle can travel faster. However, you use more fuel because of the increased mileage.

You can drive at a higher speed of at most 80mph with a roof mount rack. However, this top speed should consider the weather, road conditions, and your car’s horsepower.

Factors Influencing Driving Speed with a Bike Rack

Rack Load Capacity

The combined weight of your fastest electric bike rack and bicycle determines your speed. Therefore, you should slow down if you’re carrying too much weight.

Traffic and Road Conditions

You drive faster on flat terrain than off-road. However, if you drive in the city, you can’t go fast.

Weather Conditions

Rain and strong winds limit your speed because they drag and resist you. Moreover, you slow down on slippery surfaces caused by the rain.

In addition, you experience reduced road visibility when it’s raining heavily. Therefore, you should drive cautiously.

Speed Limit on the Road

Speed Limit on the Road

It would help if you didn’t violate traffic laws; therefore, ensure you follow the specified paved road speed limit. Generally, most streets have a speed limit between 35 and 65 mph.

Horsepower of the Vehicle

Generally, the vehicle’s horsepower will allow you to go as fast as possible, even if you drive with a BMX bike rack. Conversely, if your car has less horsepower, you travel slower.

What to Consider When You Transport Your Bike

No Overloading of the Rack

Each rack can only accommodate a specific number of bicycles. If you carry more, you can’t drive fast.

You shouldn’t exceed the weight limit of 200lbs if you want to drive safely with your bikes.

Proper Security of the Rack

You should ensure you lock the bike rack before you drive to your destination. Therefore, follow the instructions when you install the frame to prevent costly mistakes.

In addition, properly load your racing bike to protect the car paint from damage.

Consider the Rack Height

The rack height is essential, especially when crossing low bridges or parking in a garage. Moreover, you should know the overall size of your bicycles on the rack.

Consider Bike Safety

Thieves know that bike racks are expensive; therefore, if you have them in your car, you should adequately lock your bike.

Remember that car insurance doesn’t cover your bike or rack if there’s an accident.

Insurers consider your bicycle outside the vehicle; therefore, it’s not part of the insurance cover.

How to Choose a Bike Rack

It’s best to consider these things when buying a rack for outdoor adventure.

Bike Type

You’ll find many bike racks suitable for mountain bikes. Therefore, you should ensure that the frame you buy can fit your bike.

Bike Quantity

Many bike racks can carry more than one bicycle. Therefore, if you have more bikes, you should buy a frame that can accommodate the number of bicycles you have.

Weight Capacity

It helps to consider the maximum weight of each bike; then think of the total weight of all bicycles.

It would help if you got a rack carrying all the bike’s weight.

Hitch Size

Ensure your chosen rack fits if it has a 1.25″ hitch. However, you’re ok if your frame has a 2″ hitch.

Bike Loading Feature

It would be best to get a platform rack because it’s better than a hanging rack. Moreover, you’ll find it challenging to load the bike on the frame if you should lift it high.

Damage Potential

If you opt for a hanging rack, your bicycle may move, resulting in a damaged car or bike. Therefore, get bungee cords to prevent this issue.


Are you planning to take a long trip? Ensure your rack has the tilting feature.

Combo Features

Moreover, if you need to carry other equipment, such as a ski, you should buy a bike rack with combo features.

Locking Option

Your chosen rack should have a locking feature to prevent theft.

Can You Transport a Bicycle without Using a Bike Rack?

A bike rack is perfect when you’re traveling with your bicycle. It prevents your bike from moving around. However, you can still travel without it, but you should follow these tips.

  • Disassemble the front wheel
  • Ensure the chain ring won’t be damaged or bent
  • Don’t place heavy items on the bike’s top
  • Put garbage bags, tarps, or blankets under the folding bike to prevent grease from staining the upholstery.
  • Don’t leave the bicycle inside the vehicle when the weather is hot
  • Drive slowly to prevent damage to the bike

How a Bike Rack Affects Fuel Consumption

Several factors affect the gas mileage of your vehicle. Accessories like a bike rack are one of them.

You attach your bike rack outside of your vehicle, changing the car’s shape, dimensions, and weight.

Moreover, a bike on a bike rack negatively affects your car’s weight and aerodynamics by increasing fuel consumption by as much as 28%.

The Best Bike Rack for Fuel Mileage

Generally, a hitch rack is better for fuel efficiency for all types of vehicles. However, the average speed, vehicle type, and bike rack type create the most impact on fuel consumption.

A roof rack negatively affects fuel economy because of the aerodynamic drag on top of the vehicle. On the other hand, a hitch bike rack affects the slipstream.

On the other hand, bikes on a hitch rack create a larger surface area to act like a parachute.

Usually, a trunk bike rack is slightly worse because it sticks out above the road when loaded. However, it’s better when no bike is on it because it’s foldable.

How Much Does Each Bike Rack Type Change Gas Mileage on City Traffic Speeds

If you’re traveling on city roads, here are the negative changes in fuel efficiency based on the car and bike rack types.

Roof bike rack (loaded)7%15%16%
Road bike rack (empty)1%2%3%
Hitch bike rack (loaded)5%13%14%
Hitch bike rack (empty)0%1%1%

How Much Does Each Bike Rack Type Change Gas Mileage on Highway Speeds

Roof bike rack (loaded)19%28%30%
Road bike rack (empty)5%11%14%
Hitch bike rack (loaded)12%25%27%
Hitch bike rack (empty)2%3%4%

Now that you know your driving speed when you have a ride rack, it’s time to learn about your bike’s speed.

Thomas Kersten

Hi, I am a passionate biker, and I have been riding for more than ten years and share my biking tips and tricks with the world. I've tested more than 300 bikes.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.