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.