How to Keep Bikes from Swaying on Bike Rack

How do I keep bikes from swaying on the bike rack?


It can be extremely unnerving when you notice that your bikes keep swaying back and forth on the bike rack while on the move.

While it is easy to ignore the constant movement- bikes swaying about isn’t a good sign.

To learn more about how you can nip this problem in the bud in the present and future, read through this article.

Why do bikes wobble while on the rack?

Sometimes we wonder why a bike wobbles consistently on the rack when it seems to be secure.

Some reasons are as follows:

1. Natural conditions

As per the laws of physics, the force of inertia will act on a moving body, which in this case is the bike.

Furthermore, strong winds and rainy conditions will result in the bike moving about.

2. Driving fast

For the fast drivers, while cruising at a high speed on the road, your bike(s) will constantly rock about especially if you’re driving on rough bumpy roads or terrain.

3. Rack Suitability and security

If you use a bike rack that is not appropriate for your vehicle, it affects the stability of the rack and bikes as a whole.

This mostly applies to rear-mounted racks. Not all racks will be suitable for all vehicles due to their different sizes and designs.

Make sure you install the rack properly onto your vehicle by carefully reading the instructions and using the appropriate tools.

4. Damage to the rack due to prolonged use

Over time, the connections on your bike rack will not be as secure as they were before due to wear and tear. 

Since the consistent friction affects overall stability, the bikes will start to move to and fro.

Is it bad for bikes to keep swaying on a bike rack?

Yes.  The most obvious effect is the irritating noise and distraction.

But more importantly, when bikes keep swaying on the rack, they begin to collide. 

This will consequently damage the bike’s body and paint as well as your vehicle’s.

Now that we’ve established the cause and effect relationship, let’s get into how you can keep your bikes from wobbling about.

how do you keep  bikes from wobbling

1. Check the suitability of the rack

We discussed above how it is better to check the compatibility of your bike rack to your specific vehicle. 

When buying a rack, steer clear of compromising quality just because of the price of the bike rack.

Once you are sure of the compatibility, ensure you have installed the bike rack correctly.

2. Type of rack

As you are already probably aware, there are four main types of bike racks namely roof, hitch, trunk and spare mounts.

Hitch mounts are a very popular bike rack choice because they are more user-friendly and sturdy.

There are two types of hitch mounts:

  • Platform or tray hitch- this holds bikes on a platform mechanism
  • Hanging hitch- this holds bikes by hanging them by their frames

Hanging hitch mounts allow the bike to move about unless you have an anti-sway bar. Tray hitch mounts are preferred because they hold bikes steady by both their wheels and frame.

3. Secure the rack 

Most manufacturers of bike racks try to make bike racks more user-friendly, so their installation allows easy installation and removal. Unfortunately, this affects how secure your rack is to the vehicle because there is more room for movement. 

To secure your rack better, you can use hitch-tighteners/clamps, anti-rattle devices, or straps depending on the type of bike rack. 

A hitch clamp or tightener is made up of a U-bolt and a steel plate that hold down the hitch receiver to the tow bar. It is universal for all car types and only requires a few bolts and washers to secure the connection.

An anti-rattle kit is another method of stabilizing the bike rack. It is made up of a threaded pin that secures the hitch receiver by joining the pin through the hitch hole onto a tightened metal bracket. 

You can also use a bike rack stabilizer strap to secure your bike rack onto your vehicle. For roof racks, straps are the best option.

4. Position your bikes properly

How you load your bikes will also affect how much they sway back and forth.

The best way to load your bikes onto a rack for racks installed at the rear is as follows:

  • Remove the accessories from the bike
  • Load them starting from the largest to the smallest in alternating directions.
  • Strap the frame, wheels as well as pedals, and handlebars for extra security.
  • Lock your bikes. This is optional but highly recommended.
  • Check how secure the bikes are by manually moving the bikes about.

Additionally, you can use a bike cradle. This is a stand designed to firmly hold the bike’s wheel in place on both sides.

5. Separate individual bikes and parts with padding

Using padding will keep the bike from swaying and hitting the vehicle or another bike.

You can use bike-bumpers, foam pads, and pool noodles between points of contact. They will prevent excessive movement as well as denting and scratching between bikes. 

6. Extra strapping

Using as many straps as you can is very important, especially for a roof mount rack.

Tying bikes down does not have to be expensive. You can even use a rope with tight knots.

Alternatively, you can use bungee cords and store-bought bike wheel stabilizer straps. 

Some of these options come with hooks and some even come with the bike rack.

6. Check the protruding parts of the bike

Elongated bike parts such as the crank arms, seat post, and handlebars should not be ignored because they can also swing around. 

In addition to the bike being secured by frame, these parts should also be strapped onto the whole mechanism.  


As explained above, bikes rocking back and forth opens them up to possible damage, so do not ignore your bikes if you see them swaying.

Now that I have outlined various methods for keeping your bike from swaying, you can transport your bikes stress-free.


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