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Hitch rack or roof rack (Honda Civic)

Old 04-22-15, 03:01 PM
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gerald_g 
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Hitch rack or roof rack (Honda Civic)

Hey all

(I have searched, and read, but the search terms are so general, I get too much info)

I'm considering buying a used civic 4 door.
I currently have a VW golf, and I just fold down the seats and stuff the bike inside.

The Civic is not a hatch back, so that won't be possible.

I am considering A: a roof rack (I already own a front axel and rear tray system to bolt onto the cross bars) or B: putting on a rear hitch us use a hitch mount (I already own a hitch mount rack too)

What are the pros and cons of each, and have I missed something?
I usually will be only hauling my own one bike.

Hitch PROS

bike is lower - no worries about low entries etc.
less bug on bike
possibly easier to load on bike, (but not a big deal either way)

Hitch CONS

trunk may be harder to access with bike on
may block tail lights/license plate to an extent
bike may get dirtier if driving in bad weather on dirt or dirty roads
With lock running through trailer chain connector, may be more secure than roof rack.
rack sometimes jiggles, because the receiver square is small on these smaller hitches,

Roof rack PROS

could use roof rack bars for alternate carrying such as cargo box, or kayak
bike is less likely to "jiggle" like I see them do on hitch mounts sometimes.

Roof rack CONS

Hight could be an issue
More bugs on bike
Don't like how roof rack has to mount onto modern gutterless cars - looks funny
Need to put front tire somewhere inside car as I'd use my fork mount on rack cross bars

What have I missed, what are your experiences?

Thanks
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Old 04-22-15, 04:30 PM
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I think that you pretty much have it. When I had a roof rack it made a lot of wind noise until I bought the wind fairing accessory. You do have to be aware of low overheads and I was always nervous because I couldn't see my bike on the roof rack,
I have such a short garage that I have to remove a hitch rack before closing my garage door. I hate that.

If I were in your shoes, I think that I'd cost out what I have to buy new in order to fit each system onto my car.
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Old 04-22-15, 04:35 PM
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I prefer the hitch simply because I know that sooner or later with the roof rack I would go into a parking garage, or even a fast food drive through with a low roof, and smash my bike. The same may not apply to you.
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Old 04-22-15, 04:54 PM
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Air drag from the stuff on the roof will cut MPG a Bit.
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Old 04-23-15, 06:49 AM
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I use a Thule roof rack on a Forester, mostly as I've had this system a long time and don't desire to invest in a hitch system.

If I were to start new, I'd do a hitch, even though having the roof rack is useful for our canoe, lumber, a roof box with camping gear, etc...

They are about the same investment, $500 or so.

One advantage to the hitch system is if you have 2 vehicles and desire to use either to transport bikes, it's easier to move a hitch system to another vehicle - provided you plunk down an additional $180 for the receiver on the 2nd vehicle. Moving a hitch rack is far easier then moving a roof system.

As well, check to see if the Civic's rear seat folds down. A buddies Honda does this and he can fit his road bike in the trunk once the front wheel is off.
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Old 04-23-15, 08:34 AM
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One other con for the hitch rack is that if you get rear-ended, your bike probably is toast. Sure, it's probably the other person's fault, but that still may leave you without a bike for some period of time.
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Old 04-23-15, 08:39 AM
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I have carried bikes inside small 4 door cars many times. The way to do it is to remove the front wheel. Open the passenger side rear door and put the bike inside the car upside down. Turn the handlebars so that the brake levers face the back of the rear seat. It will fit. Then the front wheel can go on the floor of the car. You will notice that all the greasy bits of your bike will be well clear of upholstery and carpets. I have carried my bikes this way for years. It takes me about 15 seconds to put my bike into the car, including the time to take off the wheel.
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Old 04-23-15, 09:58 AM
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Although I have never used them, I am pretty sure that after a long ride, I'm not going to want to lift my bike to the top of my car... and being tired, I am far too likely to scratch up the roof of my car... especially if I remove the front tire, I would end up using my fork as a nice paint scraper.

Also, I have heard of people damaging cars and bikes by driving into a garage with a bicycle on top of their car, and don't recall ever hearing of bicycles being damaged by being rear ended with a hitch rack... You might do some damage if you collide with something while backing up, but you can see the bikes are there when you look back... you can't see them on top as you drive into a garage.

Parallel parking is a pain with a hitch rack... so I avoid places where I have to parallel park when carrying bikes.

I have heard that the gas mileage is decreased whether you use a roof rack or a hitch rack. Depending on car, etc... Roof racks have the bikes facing forward, so relatively aerodynamic. On a hitch rack, even though they are somewhat in the slipstream of the car, they are sideways, and potentially present significant frontal area to catch the wind.
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Old 04-23-15, 11:18 AM
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Thanks for the input all - I'm leaning toward the hitch.

I also have an F150, so I use that to haul stuff, and don't ever need to put lumber on a roof rack.
The F150 already has a hitch and receiver, so I can move the rack from truck to car easily.
I have wide cross bars on a canopy roof rack on the F150 too, and carry a canoe an two kayaks up there, but they are too far apart for bike rack purposes.

Looks like a hitch is only around $150 - $200, and I can do the install. A good roof rack would cost more.

I believe it would take longer to remove the roof rack and reinstall it when I want to take it off, and put it on.
The hitch, just pull the pin, and slide it out. 15 seconds or so to install or remove the hitch rack.
This is not in my original PROS and CONS list, but it's a big PRO to me, maybe I'm lazy?
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Old 04-23-15, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by gerald_g View Post
Thanks for the input all - I'm leaning toward the hitch.

I also have an F150, so I use that to haul stuff, and don't ever need to put lumber on a roof rack.
The F150 already has a hitch and receiver, so I can move the rack from truck to car easily.
I have wide cross bars on a canopy roof rack on the F150 too, and carry a canoe an two kayaks up there, but they are too far apart for bike rack purposes.

Looks like a hitch is only around $150 - $200, and I can do the install. A good roof rack would cost more.

I believe it would take longer to remove the roof rack and reinstall it when I want to take it off, and put it on.
The hitch, just pull the pin, and slide it out. 15 seconds or so to install or remove the hitch rack.
This is not in my original PROS and CONS list, but it's a big PRO to me, maybe I'm lazy?
Your F150 probably has a 2" receiver. You can't put a 2" receiver on a Honda Civic, so switching back and forth will require a 1 1/4" rack and an adapter for use on the pickup
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Old 04-23-15, 11:45 AM
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is there a compelling reason not to consider a traditional trunk rack?
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Old 04-23-15, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
is there a compelling reason not to consider a traditional trunk rack?
I was assuming, perhaps incorrectly it would make access to the trunk a giant pain.
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Old 04-23-15, 11:59 AM
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My rack has a single bolt through the hole used for the ball, so I can bolt it onto a 2" or a 1-1/4"
I could also mod the receiver on the Honda to 2" - knowing I'd never tow with it anyway.

(I have metal working equipment as needed)
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Old 04-23-15, 01:02 PM
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If the hitch ball is on a Square steel Piece and removable, leaving a 2" square tube receiver on the car , then there are racks to use that Fitting sub frame on the Car.
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Old 04-23-15, 01:05 PM
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I'd vote for a hitch rack. The adapters aren't a pain (for a 2 inch hitch vs. smaller) and you can keep the rack forever as for a roof rack it'll only work as long as you have the car.
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Old 04-23-15, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gerald_g View Post
I was assuming, perhaps incorrectly it would make access to the trunk a giant pain.
I guess if the bike was on the rack
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