How to Transport a Bike Without a Rack?

If you love to cycle, you probably want to bring your bicycle along on an adventure, vacation, or other events. Sometimes you might need to use a vehicle because of long distances.

Bike racks are the best and most convenient way to secure bikes when travelling from one place to another. Ideally, bike racks should be accessible for all and easy to acquire.

Sadly, this is not the case. 

This is because bike racks are an added expense- sometimes even too big an expense for the average person. Bike racks are also prohibited in some states.

As bleak as it seems, there are still other options to transport your bike. 

This article will serve as your guide and by the end, you will have a solution to your bike transporting needs.

Here’s how you can transport your bike without a rack:

How to Transport a Bike Without a Rack?

1. Load it in the trunk.

This method will work in larger vehicles such as SUVs and minivans but also in smaller vehicles as long as you are not transporting anything else. 

First, ensure your bike is clean.

You don’t want grease and mud tainting the interior of your car, so you should properly clean and dry the bike carefully before putting it in.

Disassemble the bike

I mentioned above that a bike can fit in a large vehicle or a vehicle with a spacious trunk, but if the space is not enough or you need to carry more cargo and the bike seems cramped, you have to take off one or two wheels.

Adjust the back seats

The rear seats should be folded so that the bike can fit in the back properly.

Deal with the chain grease

To keep the chain grease from being smeared onto the car’s interior, you will have to use a rug, bubble wrap or bike cover to put the bike in to avoid contact. You can also shift the chain such that it is on its smallest ring so that it does not move around.

Slide it in

When putting the bike in the trunk, ensure that the front tire side is facing forward or at an angle to avoid forcing it and out. The bike should not be squeezed such that it makes contact with the vehicle’s sides. 

Secure it

Now that the bike is inside, you should make sure that when travelling and navigating the road, it does not keep hitting the sides of the car because this can damage both your vehicle and your car. 

You can achieve this by tying the bike down with strong cords.

2. Put it in your back seat

For people with larger cars and sufficient space, this is the method for you. It also doesn’t require much effort.

Simply clean the bike before putting it in and remove a wheel or two. Then lay a rug or blanket on your car’s back seat for extra protection against dirt. 

3. Carry it on the roof 

This is a good method but also very risky. Putting your bike directly on the roof can dent the car or damage its paint. It also poses a great risk when it comes to navigating ceilings and if you don’t tie the bike down properly you might drop it on the way.

Nonetheless, if you would like to pursue this option, follow these steps.

First, you need to shield the roof of the car from damage

Directly placing the bike(s) on the roof will damage or scratch the car’s paint. To prevent this, a budget-friendly option is to place the blanket on the roof first before putting the bike on the roof. You can also use a high-quality fiber rug.

Next, you can either choose to take the bike apart or not.

If your bike is too long, taking off a wheel is your best bet.

If not, it is okay to put the bike as it is, but make sure it is in the center to properly distribute the bike’s weight on the roof and to avoid the bike moving towards the windshield. 

Use the proper materials to secure the bike 

For a person with a tight budget, a rope can prove to be useful. A rope can work as well as any other material if the knots are tied properly and secured to the car. 

The other options include strong bungee cords and ratchet or cam straps. Both these options provide security and prevent the bike from swaying back and forth if used properly. 

It is highly advisable to tie straps through doors as opposed to windows.

Protect the bike

As mentioned above, this method has its perils. To keep your bike safe, you will have to keep checking if it is tied down properly especially if you are traveling a long distance. 

A tarp will come in handy to safeguard the bike from rain and dust, and it will possibly deter thieves.


Some areas have strict government policies against carrying cargo on the roof. Make sure you are aware of these policies before proceeding with carrying your bike on the roof. 

4. Take it apart and put it in a box or travel case

You may not be interested in tying the bike on a roof or carrying it in the back next to precious cargo such as food. This will then be your best option, but it needs a lot of work if you’re up for it.

There are travel cases made for carrying parts that will be reassembled at the destination. They cost around $40 to $50, but are a worthwhile investment if you intend to travel a lot with your bike.

For the frugal bike owners, a good-sized box will also come in handy. 

The bike will have to be taken to pieces down to the last triangle- and arranged properly such that fragile pieces are not prone to damage. 

If you are using a box, a protective foam, cloth, or even bubble wrap should be placed in the box first before the bike parts. When using a travel case, start with the bigger parts and tuck away the smaller delicate bike parts in a polythene or plastic bag for extra safety.

5. A makeshift bike rack

This is the section for the avid DIY enthusiast. You can use PVC pipes, wood boards or even metal bars for a temporary makeshift rack of sorts.

If you are willing to part with cash for materials or even use readily available materials in your home, this method will be economical and simple.

You will need to measure and connect the PVC pipes or wooden boards to your required size. Make sure they are properly connected to avoid losing your bikes.

Strap the bike on properly and securely and voila! You now have your DIY rack

6. Rent a minivan, trailer or pickup-truck

If you have some cash to spare, you can rent a larger vehicle that will be large enough to carry the bike in.

A pick-up truck bed will be large and convenient enough to fit the bike as long as it is strapped down perfectly with rope or cords.

Trailers and minivans are adequately sized to carry bikes in. Proper strapping and cleaning of the bikes is important when using rentals. 

Final thoughts – how to transport bike without rack

We’ve come to the end of the article and I hope it served its purpose.


Most people will tell you that disassembly is your safest bet.

This is because transporting a bike without a rack is already considered unsafe because of the possible damages. Taking it apart and carefully packing it eliminates the possibility of damaging a vehicle.


If you apply any of the other methods with great precaution, you might be successful.

The ball is in your court.

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