Cheap, do it yourself bike racks

The best thing to do if you’re driving to a place where you will ride a bicycle is to rent it when you get there. However, if you have a favorite bike, you’ll probably want to take it with you. To reduce the risk of theft, carry it inside your car. If it won’t fit, use a rack.

If you have a van, station wagon, or hatchback, put down newspapers to absorb any grease, then place the bike left side down, on top of them. If there’s room, you can lay a second bike on top of the first by separating the two with dense foam padding or a sheet of heavy corrugated cardboard.

To carry a bike in a sedan, load it into the trunk, rear end first so that the delicate rear wheel mechanism is protected. The front end will turn down against the car. Tie plenty of foam padding around the protruding end and fasten the trunk lid with a cable and padlock to prevent bouncing and reduce the chance of theft.

A rooftop rack is the best. It carries several bikes, which are held apart and so will not get scratched. The bikes are out of the way, so that no part of the car is inaccessible and the driver’s vision is not blocked. The only disadvantages are that it is the most expensive type of rack, it may restrict entry into some parking garages, and it is hard to reach-but thieves will have more trouble reaching it too.

A less expensive type of rack fits over the trunk and is fastened with straps at the top and bottom of the trunk. Its disadvantage is that it has some effect on rear visibility.