I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve spent trying to work out how to strap a full suspension bike onto a bike rack.
Thankfully, there’s an easy answer to the problem (see my table of recommendations below) but it’s a challenge that owners of many bike styles have to face. Full sus, hybrid, ladies bikes, step throughs, and BMXs…in fact it’s any bike that doesn’t have the ‘standard’ horizontal crossbar. Which is anything BUT standard!
The answer, as I found out after many hours of wrestling with bikes and racks, is a crossbar or top tube adapter. These are a bar with a hook at each end. One hook attaches to the seat post and the other to the headset (just below the handlebars). This gives a sturdy and horizontal faux crossbar which can now be used to attach the bike on to a hanging style of bike rack.
There are lots of options to choose from and it can get quite confusing when you go looking. Trusting a top-quality full-sus to an inferior adapter is not an attractive option. So, which one is the right one to pick? Here are my recommendations for the best adapters to invest in.
My recommended car rack adapters for full suspension bikes are:
What are bike rack adapters?
Also known as crossbar adapters, faux (or false if you’re less posh) crossbars, bike beams, top tube adapters, frame adapters, or crossbar substitutes. These are an essential if you want to fit a bike without a standard horizontal top tube to a hanging style bike rack.
What types of bikes are crossbar adapters for?
They’re really for any bikes that don’t have the ‘standard’ crossbar. Full suspension bikes need them because they have a steeply sloped bar, often with little space inside the central frame triangle. Bikes that are similar include women’s bikes, kids’ bikes, and BMXs. You’ll also notice that step-through or low-step bikes share this (as do many folding bikes) – generally these don’t have a top tube at all.
How to choose bike rack adapters
There are a few considerations when choosing a top tube adapter:
Attachment – look for adapters with a hook style of attachment at each end. These are easy to use and hold the bike securely
Material used – go with an adapter that uses materials with good rust-resistance, particularly if you’ll be using this in the wintertime. Rubber or plastic coatings can also be useful as they will stop abrasion damage to bike frames
Sizing – Many adapters are a standard length although some are telescopic, which enables them to be used with a wider sizing of bikes
Weight rating – make sure that the adapter has a capacity which will be sufficient for the bike it will be carrying
How to fit bike rack adapters
It couldn’t be simpler! The whole process should take only around 30-60 seconds – faster once you’ve had a bit of practice.
Just hook one end around the seat post (and lock it on), then hook the other end around the headset (just under the handlebars) and again lock this on. Done!
Here’s a video which explains the process:
Bike rack adapters are awesome. I just wish I’d found out about them much, much sooner! With a hanging rack and a full-suspension bike, the only way to fit them together is to use a crossbar adapter like one of these. Pick one of the ones that I’ve recommended and you’ll shortly be out on the road and on the way to your next awesome mtb experience!
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