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The ONLY Style of Bike Rack Suitable for a Carbon Fiber Bike


July 2021

I transported my Trek on a trunk-mounted rack twice. I didn’t know any better at the time, but that’s only an excuse. I’m lucky I didn’t crack, fracture, or otherwise break the top tube of the frame (the part of the bike that whole bike dangles from on a trunk mounted rack). And so began the lesson on what bike rack to use with which bike.

Any rack that uses the top tube as the support for holding the bike isn’t suitable for a carbon fiber frame, in my humble opinion. When it comes down to it, if you’re going to put your bike on the back of your vehicle, you’re going to want something that supports the bike from the wheels to protect the frame:

Our bike rack holds four bikes and relies on the strongest parts of the bike for support – this means no crushed carbon fiber at the end of your drive.

That’s really the issue here. With a carbon fiber frame, the material is made to be unbelievably strong in very specific ways and places. They’re also astonishingly weak in others. The simple truth is, a lot of bad can happen when you dangle a carbon fiber bike from the back of a vehicle.

Aluminum, steel (and I’m assuming titanium) are more forgiving with the style of rack you choose – you can get away with a hanging trunk rack, but now that I have a proper bike rack, I have to wonder if I’d ever go back to a trunk mount for the aluminum bikes I have… I don’t think so.

The trunk mounted racks are gangly, imprecise, and the amount of damage a bike can sustain on one is simply too great a risk. Especially when you’re dealing with bikes that cost thousands, just for the frame, to replace.

The Saris rack we’ve got is phenomenal, 1Up makes a rack that doesn’t even touch the frame, Yakima, Thule, Kuat… there are a half-dozen more. I’d rather put a hitch mount on a new car than risk my bikes.

Update: My friend, the Unironedman asks, in the comments section, about roof mounts. While these are excellent systems, my carbon fiber frames wouldn’t do well against a garage. I refuse to risk it.

The simple truth is, if you want your carbon fiber bike in one piece when you get to your destination, you’ll want a rack that supports the wheels.



  1. unironedman says:

    What say you to the roof-mounted ones? It always freaks me out when I see bikes mounted on the roof, only strapped in by their wheels…

  2. I’ve got a very similar rack and highly rate it. Looks like yours has the latch to let the rack angle down for easy trunk access too. I tend to lay the seats down and pop my bike inside the car when I can, but otherwise it’s got to be a hitch mount for sure!

  3. Dave Talsma says:

    My favorite rack ever is my Kuat Transfer, very affordable and nothing touches the bike frame. And yes, I have smashed a bike into a car port using a roof rack.

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