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What are the top cycle carrier options for your Prius?
If you look up the phrase “Bike Rack For Prius” on your search engine of choice you’ll be confronted with well North of a million results. And around 1300 people are typing in that exact phrase.
That’s a lot to wade through and a lot of people who need to drum up the necessary time and patience to sniff out the best rack from that lot.
However, if you’re like me and have some other rather more important things to do, then what you might be after is a shortlist of the best carriers for your Prius and a recommendation for what is, in my humble opinion, the best one of them all.
If that’s you, then read on!
I’ve been doing some research to find the best racks available right now. I’ve been selecting these on the basis of their Pros, their Cons, and real feedback from real purchasers.
If you’re after a recommendation for the best of the best. Here is the quick answer:
Where can you carry bikes on your Prius?
There are three places where you can realistically carry your bicycles. However, I’d normally recommend only two:
- On the trunk lid (recommended)
- On the hitch (recommended)
- Up on the roof (not recommended)
Those of you who’ve already had your morning shot of caffeine may well be jumping up and down at this point and saying, “what about IN the trunk?”
And you’d be right, you can put bikes inside the trunk. In my experience it never goes that well though. Either all the space is taken up by bikes (and you’ve got no more room for the luggage) or you wind up scratching/damaging the bikes or your Prius. I’ve got a YouTube video later on in this article which shows how it’s done. But this is really only here as a warning not to do it. Get the job done properly with a proper rack for your Prius.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the recommended bike racks for each position on your Prius. You can then choose which of them is best for you and your bikes.
Trunk mount bike rack for Prius
I used trunk-mounted racks for years, right up until we got a car that already had a hitch. This rack, from Saris, is a great option for your Prius C, Prius Prime, and most other models of Prius.
Why do I like them so much? They’re easy to fit, they’re very strong and lock firmly to the car, and lots of other buyers like them as well.
Let’s go through each of these in turn.
Not only are they easy to fit, but they’re super easy to fit (that’s a whole different category of easy-to-fitness). Hold the rack in position, hook the straps on, and tighten. Job done.
A second pair of hands makes the job even easier.
Because the racks are such a breeze to fit, that means that you’ll also take them off your Prius when you don’t need them on. That might not seem like a benefit, but I’ve seen too many cars with a crunched backend from where the driver had forgotten about the rack whilst reversing towards a wall. Oops.
The webbing straps tighten up really firmly on the this rack and keep it locked securely in place on your trunk. That’s great because racks that shift and wobbly about can lead to damage happening to bikes – not a problem with this rack.
This is the 3-back hitch rack and Saris also make a 2-bike rack in the same design.
A quick aside. One question that I get asked frequently is how to fit ladies’ bikes or step-through type bikes on to hanger carriers like this one. When bikes don’t have crossbars (or they’re steeply angled), then it can seem as if they’re impossible to fit on. Don’t worry, there’s an easy fix for this. It’s called a crossbar adaptor and they’re easy to fit and use.
Best hitch bike rack for Prius
If you’ve got a hitch mount on your Prius, then I’d recommend this style of bike rack. Let’s take a look and see why.
The Yakima rack can carry 2 bikes – there’s also an optional extra, the Yakima Hold-Up Plus2 Add-On, which turns this rack into a 4-bike carrier for your Prius. It fits really securely onto the 2″ hitch mount of your car.
We’ll talk about roof-mounted racks in a moment (I’m not a fan!), but it’s interesting to compare hitch/trunk carriers to roof racks in terms of fuel-efficiency. Racks that go on the rear of a car, as opposed to the roof, are so much more aerodynamic because they make little difference to the shape of the vehicle going into the headwind. In contrast, a roof rack with bikes can nearly double the size of a car, and therefore create a huge amount of drag. This drag, multiplied by the mileage traveled, will have a huge impact on fuel consumption.
The rack is good for two bikes to a total weight of 120 lbs and secures them by holding onto the wheels (which makes it useful for carbon frame bikes). A couple of things that I absolutely love about the Yakima rack (and that I think make it a great option for your Prius) are:
- The tilting feature
- Its low height from the ground
The tilt – why do you need it? Imagine the situation where you’ve packed the trunk, fitted the rack, and fitted the bikes. Good to go? Yeah, but then someone decides that they need to get something out of the trunk or put something extra in. With a non-tilt carrier, this is a major problem: Bikes off, rack off, trunk lid open. Grrr!
With this rack though the process is simple (and Grrr-free). Undo the mechanism on the carrier and you can swing down to access the trunk, then swing it back when you’re finished. Believe me when I say that I have used this feature, a lot, and you will very much appreciate it!
The low height off the ground is the feature of this rack that I actually think is the biggest benefit of all. Compare holding a bike over your head as you would to lift it onto a roof rack – hard, yes? Chance of your arms getting tired and dropping the bike on your head or the car? High…
Lifting a bike about a foot off the ground to install onto this bike rack though is a heck of a lot easier. Plus there’s less chance of damaging the car or yourself. Which, in my book, is a big plus…
Roof bike carriers are just not a great option, I don’t think.
This is a Thule rack (who are one of the top makers of bike racks) and I think it’s the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, I just don’t like bike roof racks.
The reason (as I’ve already alluded to) is that you have to lift the bikes up real high in order to fit them. That’s hard work and there’s plenty of potential for dropping the bikes, scratching the car, etc.
Plus, there’s the poor aerodynamics of this style of carrier, as we’ve discussed.
Finally? Parking lots with low roofs. Plenty of folks forget about roof racks until they try and park in one of those. Crunch…
Putting bikes in cars
Some people are still determined to try and put bikes inside of cars. So, here’s a YouTube video showing how it’s done.
Here are the headlines as far as I’m concerned:
Yes, it’s doable
Would I recommend it? No
Can you damage your car doing it? Yes, quite likely
Can you damage your bikes doing it? Yes, probably
Can you forget to put important bike bits into the car when you’re packing? Yes! (watch till the end and you’ll see what I mean!)