How to Lock the Bike to the Hitch Rack

Being extra cautious in keeping your bikes safe is always a plus no matter where you place them because the thieves know most of the hacks to steal your bike. Your job is to mainly make their life as difficult as possible while trying to steal your precious bike.

You could place your bike in those high-profile expensive bike racks with various locks pre-installed, and yet your bike could get stolen if kept on a shady.

I was once very confident with my hitch rack locks leaving my car in a suspicious area. After returning, I saw that one of my bikes got stolen. So, clearly, it is essential for you to be cautious, and for that, I am here to help you. 

Know the types before understanding: What is a hitch rack?

External measures are needed to lock the bike to the hitch safely

Before knowing how to lock the hitch racks properly, you should know which type of hitch rack you are using. You could own a hanging bike rack, but you are actually looking to lock a platform-style bike rack. So, clearly, the procedure and locking will have disparity. 

Thus, for your clarity, I will briefly talk about the types. Also, it will help you understand the other types in case you don’t know about it.

Hitch racks are those that are attached at the rear end of the vehicle, the racks can be placed at the rear hitch, at the rear tire, or with a different hitch from the rack.

Hitch racks are better than the other racks because of their aerodynamics. Also, it keeps the mileage more stable than other racks like the roof-mounted racks, making you save more fuel. 

1. Platform Style Bike Racks

I will tell you off the bat. Out of the two types, platform-style bike racks are better than the two in terms of accommodation and security. It holds a better attachment than the hanging bike rack because you get to place it at the surface of the bike, and there’s also a clamp attachment for the wheels so that the bike gets firmly fixed.

Also, there’s enough space between the frames of the bikes. Another plus is that it can accommodate any type of bike, be it kids’ bikes or the mountains bikes with large wheels. When you will need to use your back trunk, the platform-style bike racks also have tilted. 

2. Hanging Bike Racks

The hanging bike racks fall into the category of the more budget-oriented and easy-to-use segment. These bike racks are cheap and more portable than the platform-style bike racks but the biggest drawback is they are not as multi-featured and sophisticated as the platform-style bike racks.

These bike racks can also have multiple bikes but not different types of bikes. It is usually the straight-frame bikes that are more suitable for hanging bike racks. The bikes are mounted on the top tube where you place the main frame, then you simply attach the straps given on all the core parts.

Keep in mind that if your bike has wires attached to the frame or you have a painted coating that is vulnerable to rough surfaces,s then it will be wise if you attach a bike frame with a frame adaptor. Lastly, hanging bike racks also have a tilting mechanism on them, but not all of them have it. 

How to lock bikes on the hitch rack

I guess now you are well aware of the types of hitch racks and have identified which type of rack you even own. I will first guide you on the basics of locking your bike on the hitch rack and then further tell you the external measures measure you should take for maximum protection. 

Lock Bikes on Hanging Bike Racks

Here are the steps: 

  1. So, first and foremost should be to carefully inspect if the hitch rack is installed correctly with the vehicle or not. You should troubleshoot it a couple of times by putting pressure on it and then attaching all the parts. Some hanging bike racks come installed, so I hope you are in luck. 
  2. 2ndly should mount the bikes on the top tube, and lock them with the cradles. That is the primary attachment where your bike will stay in the fixed position.
  3. If you require an adapter, then do make sure you place the adapter on the bike rack. A ruined paint job along with torn wires will be the last thing you want on a trip after attaching your bikes.
  4. Place all the straps there for a firm grip. Make sure you attach the straps on the wheels with the frames so that the wheels don’t wobble while the car is in motion. Also, attach the straps with the top tube if there is provided. Based on the companies you may also be provided some unique locks with keys. Companies like Thule and Allen Sports provide those so hope are you aware. 

Lock Bikes on Platform-style Bike racks

Here are the steps:

  1. Just like as mentioned before, the first and foremost should be to check if the rack is perfectly installed with the vehicle. Then attach all the parts. Platform-style bike racks are rather complicated to install and require a lot of installation. So, be careful in connecting the parts as well. An excellent way to inspect if your parts have been correctly installed or not is by tilting the rack a couple of times. 
  2. Now mount the bike on the platform, which is the surface part of the rack. The platform should place the bikes well with accommodating space.
  3. After firmly placing the bike, you will pull up the arm that secures the wheels from moving. 
  4. If you have buckles to attach to the wheels with the platform, then you must attach the buckles. Not all bike racks have buckles. If you own a Thule, then chances you have those attachments. 
  5. Lastly, attach all the straps there are. There should be straps for the frames, the wheels, and for the arms. 

If you had to ask me to choose one then I would most likely go for the platform-style bike racks for the safety from the bikes getting damaged and, of course, for more range in securities.

You may be thinking that the Hanging styles are compact and portable to use, but now even the Platform-based racks come as flexible and portable. Some even come at a fair price.

I hope this comes down as productive if you don’t find enough safety in those racks. 

External measures are needed to lock the bike to the hitch safely.

How to Lock the Bike to the Hitch Rack
  • Cable Locks

Cable locks should be attached to make it as awkward as possible for the thief to steal. The key is to slow him down because it is pretty challenging to stop thieves. So, a twisting-tangling cable lock with a key lock or number combination in it as well will definitely add more to your safety. 

  • U Locks

Also, known as D locks based on where you reside. U-locks can definitely be a plus if you add them. You attach heavy U-locks on the main bar of your bike rack for stronghold. 

  • Spare Straps

Along with other locks, you should attach straps as much as possible for the most important possible security.

  • Key Locks

Padlocks or combination locks can definitely be a plus if you attach them underneath the arms after the hitch because the thieves can intend to steal the parts of your rack because it may be an expensive one. 

  • Hitch Tightener  

A wobbly hitch is definitely a vulnerable hitch, your bikes will be shaky if the hitch is wobbly. So, for that, I suggest you get a hitch tightener where the hitch will be secured tightly. Make sure to get a universal hitch tightener for your convenience.

Issues with locking the bike to the hitch rack

There aren’t any significant issues in locking bikes to hitch racks, especially on the platform-based ones. You could face issues in attaching the bikes if you have a different variety of bikes that are not just for you, but for your family as well.

The female bikes and typical sporty bikes have different build quality and aesthetics but as I have said before, to attach different types of bikes, you require an adapter. Apart from that, I don’t see significant issues with locking the bike on your rack.

You might get a few problems with the build quality of the rack or struggle with lock pins, but those happen due to poor attachments or if the product has become too old. 

Final Verdict

Thus, I believe you are well knowledged about on how to lock bikes to hitch racks. I have specified all the details necessary to know the right hitch, the ways to lock it perfectly as well attach the external locks that are viable for anyone.

The external locks are a necessity because they will assert complete safety in protecting your bikes. Since you are a cycling enthusiast, I hope you have enjoyed getting enlightened about this issue and will also aid others in it.

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