If you like exploring national parks on your e-bike or wish to take your electric bike on holiday to explore a new area with your family, you will need to consider transporting your e-bike in your car. Let’s explore the best options you have for transporting your electric bikes safely and securely.
The options for carrying an e-bike in a car include in the trunk, in a pickup bed, with car hitch racks, trunk racks, roof racks, in a trailer, or with straps.
The best transport option for you depends on:
- what kind of car you own
- how many e-bikes you want to transport
- and how often you transport your electric bikes around
Read on to find out the best option for you.
How can I fit my bike in my car?
Transporting your e-bikes inside your car can be a good option for some. There is no risk of scratching or damaging your e-bike, no water will get at the bike, there is less risk of theft and there is no risk of forgetting that your bike is attached to the outside of your vehicle and accidentally causing it serious damage. If you only occasionally wish to transport your e-bikes to explore further afield, this is the best option.
If you have a station wagon, sedan or hatchback that allows your back seats to fold flat, you should first test if your electric bike can actually fit inside or not. To do this, fold down the back seats, moving the seat belts out of the way. Move the trunk cargo cover out of the way or better still, remove it entirely from the car.
If your e-bike is dirty, consider laying some cardboard, tarp, or plastic bags to keep the inside of your car from getting scratched or dirty from moving your heavy e-bike in or out. You don’t want dirty bike chains and muddy tires scuffing up the inside of your car.
Next, remove the battery from the e-bike to make the job easier – batteries are quite heavy! On some e-bikes it may be possible to remove the front wheel – great to save space and weight, so do so if this is possible. Grab a friend or family member to help with the next part. Lift the front part of the e-bike into the car as far in as possible. One person should go around to the back door of the car and lift and pull the e-bike in from that side, while the other person pushes it in from the back of the car. With luck, your e-bike will fit inside the car with a bit of “persuasion”.
Another tip is to turn the handlebars sideways and point the front wheel of the e-bike down into the footwell of the back seat. This allows an extra few inches if you’re struggling to fit the bike in at the back.
So, that is how you’d fit an electric bike inside your car.
However, there are some good reasons that you may wish to avoid putting your e-bike in your car:
- It’s a hassle – particularly if you often explore distant areas with your e-bike
- You don’t have anyone to help load the e-bike – loading it alone is tricky
- Your car simply isn’t big enough to fit the e-bike inside (like a sporty coupe or a small hatchback)
- Your car doesn’t have fold-down rear seats
- You are not comfortable with the thought of scuffing or muddying your car, especially if it’s a lease or a work car
- You wish to load multiple e-bikes to go biking with your family, which are too big or too much hassle to load in your car
With those considerations in mind, let’s explore what other options you have for transporting your electric bikes with your car.
Can you put an electric bike on a bike rack?
Yes – you can put an electric bike on a bike rack. The main consideration is to make sure that your e-bike doesn’t exceed the car rack manufacturer’s weight limit. See the section below for more details on this.
You have several options for mounting your e-bike on a bike rack:
- a tow hitch bike rack
- a trunk-mounted bike rack
- a roof-mounted bike rack
Let’s explore these options and the pros and cons of each one.
Do you need a special bike rack for electric bikes?
No, you normally don’t need a special bike rack for electric bikes. Any bike rack can do the job, so long as the e-bike does not exceed the bike rack’s recommended weight limit. You should never risk putting an electric bike on a bike rack that cannot hold the weight. You risk your e-bike falling off and your insurance is unlikely to cover this type of accident.
Additionally, make sure you check that your chosen bike rack can work together with your e-bikes battery location. Since racks often use arms to attach to the bike, make sure it works with your particular e-bikes layout.
Check your e-bike’s owner manual to get the weight, and check the bike rack’s manual to get the limit. You could also try weighing your e-bike with a weighing scale if you cannot find your owner’s manual. Remember to remove the e-bike battery to gain some extra wiggle room for the weight.
Typically, e-bikes weigh between 40-70 pounds (approx 18kg to 32kg), but eMTBs or heavy-duty e-bikes with large batteries and motors may weigh more. So make sure that your desired bike rack can carry at least that much.
It’s also worth noting that you may not strictly need a bike rack at all. It depends if your car can fit the electric bike inside the trunk (see above) or inside the flatbed of a pickup – see the section on pickups below.
How do you put an e-bike on a rear bike rack?
Firstly, remove the battery or batteries from your e-bike. Transport them inside your car instead of leaving them exposed to the elements. Next, cover your e-bikes with a tarp or bike cover (Amazon link). Make sure that the cover you select is suitable for transportation. Normally there are drawstrings on the bottom that you can pull tight to ensure that it won’t blow off. Putting a cover over an e-bike is especially important compared to a regular bike. After the battery is removed, the battery contact terminals are exposed to the elements, and rain blowing at high speed on the motorway is not good for your e-bike’s electrical components. It’s like a pressure washer that is forcing water into the electrical parts.
For mounting your e-bike or e-bikes on a hitch-mount rack or a trunk-mount rack, you can follow the simple steps in this video below:
Lift each bike onto the rack, tied them securely with a bungee cord or another secure material, and attach the light board securely to the last bike or to the rack itself. Make sure everything is secure before setting off- give everything a wiggle to be sure. It’s a good idea to padlock the bikes to the rack too, for extra stability, security, and peace of mind.
If you have a lady’s bike without a crossbar (i.e. an e-bike with a step-through frame), you can get a crossbar attachment adapter (Amazon link) that allows them to be mounted to a bike rack too.
How do you put an e-bike on a roof rack?
Putting an electric bike on a roof rack isn’t something to rush into, given how heavy e-bikes can be. Getting an e-bike safely up onto the roof of your car can be tricky, so I recommend having two people to do this. Otherwise, consider using a rear bike rack instead.
- Always remove the batteries to reduce the weight, to make the job easier
- A bike cover (Amazon link) is strongly recommended, especially in rainy or dusty environments. You don’t want rain blasting into your battery terminal at highway speeds!
- Drive more slowly than usual, especially in turns or on the highway
You can follow the guide in the video below, but remember to follow the steps with two people to lift the bike onto the roof:
What are the main car rack options?
Roof racks are a very popular option and for good reason. There are variants that can handle bikes with or without the front wheel, which is nice to know depending on if you have quick-release wheels or not. Always make sure that your roof rack is certified for the weight that you want to carry.
- Access to the trunk is completely unimpeded – you can stow your gear after loading your e-bikes
- Your rear parking sensor is not blocked
- You don’t need an additional rear license plate holder or rear lights holder
- Length of parking bays is not a concern since nothing protrudes from the back
- Getting a heavy electric bike onto the roof is not for the faint of heart. E-Bikes are heavy and you will need two people for this job
- Your fuel economy is degraded by the extra drag of having bulky cargo on the roof
- If you forget that you are transporting e-bikes on the roof, it’s an expensive accident! Driving into low spaces like a garage or some drive-thrus is not an option
- Driving in heavy wind or rain risks damage to the e-bikes – using a cover is strongly recommended
- Not a good option for long distances on a highway
Trunk racks are a good option for those who transport their bikes less frequently but still need a bike rack. It can be swapped between vehicles, unlike the other options listed.
- Typically, these are less expensive than other options
- Can be used by multiple vehicles, which is useful in a multi-car household
- It’s much easier to mount e-bikes onto a trunk rack than a roof rack
- There isn’t the huge hit to your fuel economy like with a roof rack
- If a trunk rack is wrongly mounted, heavy e-bikes could become dislodged and sustain damage or even fall off
- It blocks the usage of the trunk, so you have to pack your car in the correct order
- If you have a long vehicle, there is a risk that there might not be enough room in some parking bays
- Your rear parking sensor might not work
- Forgetting that you have an e-bike mounted on the back could lead to an expensive accident when reversing
- You will likely need an additional rear license plate holder and rear lights holder to remain road legal
- There is an increased risk of theft of the bike rack and the e-bike that it’s mounted on it
Towing Hitch Racks
This type of rack is mounted onto the towing hitch point on your car. You will need to first install a towing ball if you don’t already have one on your car. They come in multiple variants that can carry one, two, three, or even four e-bikes on a single rack.
It’s very important to be aware of the maximum system weight. This means the maximum allowed weight for the rack plus the e-bike(s) that you will be mounting on the rack.
- For e-bikes, these are arguably the most hassle-free, secure option
- There are many options and models, which can carry various numbers of e-bikes depending on your needs.
- Some models even have storage boxes, preinstalled lights, ramps to easily load the e-bike, and license plate holders for a hassle-free experience and time savings
- There is much less risk of damage to your car’s paint compared to a trunk-mounted rack as the bikes are well clear of the car body
- It’s much easier to mount e-bikes onto a hitch rack than a roof rack
- Some more upmarket models actually fold at an angle, allowing access to the trunk even after you mount the rack and load your e-bikes onto it
- A typical design has a platform, which the e-bikes sit on top of. They reduce the movement of the bikes as you are driving
- A great option for frequent use and for highway driving – fuel economy isn’t affected like a roof rack, and they are more secure than a trunk rack
- These type racks tend to be expensive
- Budget models will block access to the trunk while mounted
- Similar to trunk racks, your rear parking sensor might be blocked, so reversing is tricky
- If you have a large vehicle, like a large SUV, there is the chance that some parking bays might not be long enough
- Reversing and forgetting you have a hitch rack will be an expensive accident
Do trunk bike racks scratch the car?
Yes, there is a risk that trunk racks will scratch your car’s paintwork. If this is a big concern, either consider using a roof rack or hitch rack instead or cover the bike with a bike cover (Amazon link) before mounting it.
How fast can you drive with a bike rack?
When driving with a roof rack, keep your speed under 75mph (120km/h). Ideally, you should drive much slower than this. Always check your local laws before driving with extra cargo on the roof, there may be special speed limits. You are increasing the stresses on the e-bike when transporting it at high speed. If you need to make a sudden maneuver at this speed like a sudden swerve, there is an increased risk you will damage your e-bike.
Is it illegal to drive with a bike rack?
Generally, bike racks are legal in most countries. However, there may be special laws regarding whether your rear license plate and lights remain unblocked or not. This might mean you need to purchase a rear light board and license plate holder or purchase a rear bike rack that has these already installed.
How do you carry an e-bike in a pickup truck?
For those who love adventuring longer distances in the outdoors, a pickup truck is a great way to get your e-bikes around, particularly e-mountain bikes. The cargo bed of your pickup truck offers serious possibilities for e-bike transportation.
Straps or Bungee Cords
You can lay your e-bike flat in the bed, perhaps wrapped in a tarp or in a bike cover, and securely strap them in place to mounting points in your pickup’s cargo bed. Unless you want your e-bike to get scratched, always wrap it with some material or even put cardboard between the e-bike and the floor, and particularly if you are putting several e-bikes laying flat on the cargo bed.
A tailgate pad (Amazon link) is a great option for transporting multiple e-bikes, conveniently hanging the front wheels over the rear tailgate for quick and easy loading and unloading.
How do you carry a carbon e-bike on a car?
You need to give special consideration when transporting carbon frame e-bikes. Look into roof racks or hitch racks that don’t make contact with the bike frame. Carbon tubes are designed to withstand very specific types of stresses, and the movement of your car through a bike clamp will exert stresses it’s not designed for.
Recommended Car Racks for Electric Bikes
When it comes to mounting your precious cargo to your car, you need to ensure that you’re buying a quality product that holds your e-bike safely and securely. You want to relax when traveling long distance to your holiday destination, not worrying if your electric bike is about to slip off the bike rack!
Thule EasyFold XT Hitch Rack – 2-Bike
Thule is one of the best companies globally for bike car racks. They are well known for producing high-quality products that stand the test of time. the EasyFold XT allows tool free installation, and the rack folds down at an angle so you don’t lose access to the trunk. There is a ratcheting arm which locks without contact to the bike frame- important for carbon e-bikes.
Saris Bones Car Trunk Bike Rack
The Saris trunk bike rack is a flexible, affordable option for many e-bike owners. They’re a quality brand with products made in the USA. This trunk rack fits up to two bikes, and is made from non-rusting material.
There are loads of options when it comes to carrying your new bike with your car. You may find that you can fit your electric bike inside your car, which can be a good option for some people. In this case you don’t need to purchase any additional equipment.
If you have a pickup truck, there are many options to transport the electric bike inside the bed of your truck. It’s important to secure the the electric bike somehow, so that it doesn’t move around while driving and cause damage to the bike. Don’t simply toss your e-bike into the bed of the truck.
If you cannot or don’t want to transport and your electric bike inside your car, there are plenty of options available when it comes to mounting your e-bike on a bike rack. Your main options are a roof rack, a tow hitch rack, or a trunk mounted rack. There are pros and cons to each one.