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Leaving your bike on your car-mounted bike rack?

Old 08-04-22, 12:49 AM
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VegasJen
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Leaving your bike on your car-mounted bike rack?

Hey all. For some time now I've just left one of my bikes on the hitch mounted bike rack on the back of my car. Partially because I'm out of room elsewhere, partially because it's the bike I use when I travel to ride and partially because I feel a bit more comfortable that I'm not stranded in the event I have car issues.

Since it spends so much time on the back of the car, everything from quick trips to the store to drives into Vegas, it gets a lot of road grime just sitting back there. I'm probably not as good as I should be about keeping the chain cleaned and lubed. But is there really any other downside to this? I'm sure the UV out here doesn't do rubber and plastic any good either. Anybody else just drive around with a bike all the time?
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Old 08-04-22, 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen View Post
Since it spends so much time on the back of the car, everything from quick trips to the store to drives into Vegas, it gets a lot of road grime just sitting back there. I'm probably not as good as I should be about keeping the chain cleaned and lubed. But is there really any other downside to this? I'm sure the UV out here doesn't do rubber and plastic any good either. Anybody else just drive around with a bike all the time?
You hit the main problems of leaving the bike strapped to the rear of a car. I traveled in a motorhome for 5 yrs carrying a bike on the bumper, and though the bike itself suffered serious deterioration, it did work when needed. However I did take extra care with matinance, especially lubrication. Also, when driving in wet weather I would often cover the bike with a fitted cover to reduce rain getting into bearings.

What do you do about theft?
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Old 08-04-22, 02:39 AM
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Sure, although I don't usually carry a bike everywhere, I have been known to tote on around for weeks at a time. The bike rack stays on pretty much all the time from Mar -Nov, though. A lot of the things I use the car for, I can work around an empty rack, but having to frequently access the rear hatch would have me constantly loading an unloading the bike, so I don't always take one unless there's a strong chance I'll need or want it.

I've carried bikes on extended trips as well, they're very useful for exploring new cities, it's more engaging than being in the car, and you can cover more ground than on foot.

For me, rain is a bigger issue than UV; I use an old ten-speed with flat-bars as my travel bike, it has an aluminum frame, rims and derailleur, so I don't have to worry to much about rust, and downtube friction shifters so there's not even much cable housing. I put one of my old saddles on it, so nbd if it gets wet or scuffed (a shower cap works well as a saddle cover, btw)
I keep a bottle of White Lightning "Wet" chain lube in the kit for the chain and pivots, as well as a spray bottle of automotive "Quick Detailer" for cleaning off the paint an metal bits.
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Old 08-04-22, 06:59 AM
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Someone’s gonna steal your bike eventually.
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Old 08-04-22, 07:14 AM
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Well, I've been chewed out because someone walked into my bike rack when the car was in a parking lot. Car and rack were stationery. On a clear day. I figured that was their problem.

I have to agree with @Koyote, though; you're just advertising "here's a bike to steal" when you leave it on the rack and drive around where you're not driving to ride the bike.

Assuming from OP's user name she's in the desert, an occasional wipe with a rag and perhaps Pledge will clean the dirt off most parts of the bike. A different rag to wipe the chain off is probably all that's needed if you're using a dry lube. Of course, when the bike gets rained on, you may want to dry it off ASAP and give it a taste of oil (aka wet lube) to prevent rust and hit the cables with some lube.
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Old 08-04-22, 07:56 AM
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I leave my 1up bike rack on all the time, without the bike. Have for a few years.
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Old 08-04-22, 07:57 AM
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When you finish picking all the low hanging fruit, you'll be doing 24 mph on a Tri
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Old 08-04-22, 08:08 AM
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Up until lately when the monsoon season arrived with a vengeance rain hasn't been a problem in the Las Vegas area. We went months with no measurable precipitation. However, I would not leave your bike on the rack. I used to buy bikes at the Metro police auction in the distant past. I bought a nice road bike and had it re-stolen within a year. It was parked outside a business in a sketchier part of town locked to a metal sign post. It's hard to securely lock a bike to the car when it is on the rack so you are tempting thieves to steel both the bike and rack. As far as the bike being useful if you get stuck, you aren't going to ride very far in the heat of the summer. A cell phone is a much more useful tool. Any bike left outside in Las Vegas is going to be crap in short order. I can see my neighbor's cruiser deteriorate by the week as she leaves it out in the sun behind the gate at the house.
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Old 08-04-22, 08:15 AM
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Here in Denver, the bike would be gone… in the blink of an eye. 🥺
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Old 08-04-22, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Someone’s gonna steal your bike eventually.
This

I have a roof rack but will not leave the bike on the rack if I'm out of sight for long periods, somebody is going to steal it.
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Old 08-04-22, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Gyro View Post
I leave my 1up bike rack on all the time, without the bike. Have for a few years.
That's great but how does it have anything to do w/ the OP's question?
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Old 08-04-22, 12:16 PM
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What car do you drive? If it's just one road bike I would just take the front wheel off and carry it inside the car.
And then use a tow hitch mounted swing-away cargo box to store whatever you normally use your trunk for:
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Old 08-04-22, 12:38 PM
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ofajen
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It’s always been my preference to pull one or both wheels and keep the bike in the back of the vehicle.

Otto
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Old 08-04-22, 12:43 PM
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In New England, the road grime is a mix of salt and sand for about 6 months of the year. I think that would be kind of hard on a bike, it certainly doesn't do the cars a lot of good.
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Old 08-04-22, 01:30 PM
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I get nervous leaving my bike on my car-mounted rack for a few minutes while I run inside a gas station to buy something or use the restroom.
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Old 08-04-22, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Gyro View Post
I leave my 1up bike rack on all the time, without the bike. Have for a few years.
Someone’s gonna steal your bike rack eventually?
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Old 08-04-22, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I have a roof rack but will not leave the bike on the rack if I'm out of sight for long periods, somebody is going to steal it.
Mine's a hitch-mounted rack. I don't trust the flimsy little cables that allow me to lock the bike to the rack -- they could practically be cut with a nail clipper. I carry a heavy U-lock if I expect to leave the rig unattended for more than a minute or two, but even that makes me uneasy.

When travelling with a bike, I take it into the hotel room at night.
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Old 08-04-22, 03:47 PM
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I don't leave a bike on the rack if I won't be able to see it. That's even true if it's locked to the rack.
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Old 08-04-22, 06:19 PM
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1) Possibly annoying as it blocks your rear view or boot entry depending on car.
2) Road grime and cruddy weather.
3) Somebody is eventually going to steal your bike.


Originally Posted by Mojo31 View Post
I don't leave a bike on the rack if I won't be able to see it. That's even true if it's locked to the rack.
^ This. The longest I've ever left my bike on the rack unattended is ducking in to pay for fuel. Even then I was nervous! 😅
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Old 08-04-22, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Well, I've been chewed out because someone walked into my bike rack when the car was in a parking lot. Car and rack were stationery. On a clear day. I figured that was their problem.

I have to agree with @Koyote, though; you're just advertising "here's a bike to steal" when you leave it on the rack and drive around where you're not driving to ride the bike.

Assuming from OP's user name she's in the desert, an occasional wipe with a rag and perhaps Pledge will clean the dirt off most parts of the bike. A different rag to wipe the chain off is probably all that's needed if you're using a dry lube. Of course, when the bike gets rained on, you may want to dry it off ASAP and give it a taste of oil (aka wet lube) to prevent rust and hit the cables with some lube.
I'm am in the desert. Thanks for the tip on Pledge.
Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
Up until lately when the monsoon season arrived with a vengeance rain hasn't been a problem in the Las Vegas area. We went months with no measurable precipitation. However, I would not leave your bike on the rack. I used to buy bikes at the Metro police auction in the distant past. I bought a nice road bike and had it re-stolen within a year. It was parked outside a business in a sketchier part of town locked to a metal sign post. It's hard to securely lock a bike to the car when it is on the rack so you are tempting thieves to steel both the bike and rack. As far as the bike being useful if you get stuck, you aren't going to ride very far in the heat of the summer. A cell phone is a much more useful tool. Any bike left outside in Las Vegas is going to be crap in short order. I can see my neighbor's cruiser deteriorate by the week as she leaves it out in the sun behind the gate at the house.
Indeed it has been dry this year, even by desert standards. I think we got more rain in the last week than the entire preceding year. (BTW, I'm in Pahrump)
Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
In New England, the road grime is a mix of salt and sand for about 6 months of the year. I think that would be kind of hard on a bike, it certainly doesn't do the cars a lot of good.
Desert. Sun/UV is much more of a concern.
Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I get nervous leaving my bike on my car-mounted rack for a few minutes while I run inside a gas station to buy something or use the restroom.
You need to live somewhere else.

Eventually, someone may very well get my bike. The more I travel, the more exposed it is, the greater the odds of eventuality. I live in a small community outside of Vegas so I don't have to deal with much of the typical riff-raff most city people deal with.

My bike rack is home made. I bought a couple of cheaper hitch mounted racks but they supported the bike by either the wheels or the cross tube. I wanted one that the wheels sit in, but those are on the pricey side. I don't have a lot of cash, but I do have steel and skill so I fabricated this one. Not impenetrable but somebody would have to work at it if they wanted to steal the bike and not destroy it in the process. (For the record, the bike that normally rides on the rack is a Trek Lexa)

Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
1) Possibly annoying as it blocks your rear view or boot entry depending on car.
2) Road grime and cruddy weather.
3) Somebody is eventually going to steal your bike.




^ This. The longest I've ever left my bike on the rack unattended is ducking in to pay for fuel. Even then I was nervous! 😅
The biggest nuisance I've found is it does inhibit access to the trunk.
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Old 08-04-22, 08:47 PM
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Well crap. I made that rack about four months ago, thought it was the cat's ass. All proud of myself about how good a design it is. It wasn't until I posted this picture that I see the inherent flaw in my design. Oh well. Now that I see it, I'm working on solutions. Time for design 2.0.
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Old 08-04-22, 09:29 PM
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The only risk is of having the bike stolen as tires are cheap to replace in terms of UV damage. If it was my bike I would also put a plastic bag over the seat so that road grime and the like does not go from the seat to my pants and then to my car seat.

For my part I practice out of sight out of mind and have since I graduated from college had a vehicle that would allow me to easily put my bike inside and then I would cover it with an old moving pad. My truck caps have had tinted windows and black curtains and no one could see inside. I had a bike stolen and it was because I locked it to a light post.
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Old 08-04-22, 10:59 PM
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I have a cheap bike rack but I never use it. It's not one of those good hitch mount type. Instead I use my very old 200K+ mile Honda CRV with dark tinted windows to haul my bike around. It's my bike car, trailhead car, drive in the snow and ice car, and car for parking in sketchy areas. I fold the rear seats down put a blanket down and then take off the front wheel and set (not slide) the bike in the cargo area. I then cover it with two blankets and also the tono cover keeps part of the bike hidden. Makes it difficult to tell what is in there. Plus being an older car no one will think anything of value is in the car anyway. I still don't like leaving my bike unattended even in this car for very long. Works great for what I need it for and my bikes never collect dust, grime, dirt, and other crap that is on the road. It also is out of the sun and rain except when I'm riding in the sun and rain.
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Old 08-04-22, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by SpeedyBlueBiker View Post
I have a cheap bike rack but I never use it. It's not one of those good hitch mount type. Instead I use my very old 200K+ mile Honda CRV with dark tinted windows to haul my bike around. It's my bike car, trailhead car, drive in the snow and ice car, and car for parking in sketchy areas. I fold the rear seats down put a blanket down and then take off the front wheel and set (not slide) the bike in the cargo area. I then cover it with two blankets and also the tono cover keeps part of the bike hidden. Makes it difficult to tell what is in there. Plus being an older car no one will think anything of value is in the car anyway. I still don't like leaving my bike unattended even in this car for very long. Works great for what I need it for and my bikes never collect dust, grime, dirt, and other crap that is on the road. It also is out of the sun and rain except when I'm riding in the sun and rain.
Out here, besides Sun/UV, my biggest concern is really more sand and dust. Rain is pretty uncommon but we get wind storms that will coat anything and everything with a fine layer of gritty powder. So my chain and gears are really my biggest wear items from the elements. After that, it would be rubber and plastic from the UV.
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Old 08-05-22, 08:48 AM
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Certainly the chain is one component to be concerned about with extended exposure. When I was working, I would keep one of my road bikes mounted in the bed of my pickup truck so that I could go on quick rides during my lunch breaks. I kept it locked, so it’d stay there overnight when I’d get home. Obviously there was rain and humidity. It was a CroMo frame, and generally, I tended to the chain, and other components for corrosion. But I never though about the seat post/tube. It never needed adjusting. Then one day after several months of extended exposure…something encouraged me to take the seat off. Otherwise, the bike was in good condition…no frame rust, or corrosion of components. But I wasn’t able to get the post out of the seat tube. I mean I used all the tricks. I even tried pounding it in farther to loosen up the corrosion but it would NOT budge. Eventually I inadvertently bent the frame trying to remove it, and that was the end. I salvaged all the components and used them on another frame. But, I don’t let any of my bikes get extended exposure anymore.

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