Whether you’re planning to take your eBike on the next road trip, drive to a nearby trailhead, or bring your bike to the shop for a tune-up, a bike rack can come in handy. But picking out a rack that doesn’t support the weight of an eBike can become catastrophic quickly. And for many of us, picking up a 60+ pound eBike and putting it in our truck, van, or hatchback is difficult to impossible.
Propel is here to help! We want to help set you up for success in all things eBike, including transporting by vehicle.
For even larger cargo bikes, having a tow hitch and attaching a trailer works like a charm.
Here are some things to ask yourself when looking at bike racks:
- Can it support a bike that weighs 60 pounds or more?
Electric bikes are heavy, there’s no way around it. Most of the bikes that Propel carries weigh around 55lbs with the battery removed (the battery should be removed when transporting)
- Is it relatively low to the ground?
Again, eBikes are heavy. Lifting one onto a rack can be challenging. The lower the rack, the less likely you are to pull a muscle trying to load your eBike. Some racks even come with ramps!
- Does the bike sit on wheel chocks (And work with step-through frames?)
Bike racks with wheel chocks–where the tires rest in or on trays–are a better choice for safety and stability. By keeping the weight on the tires and off the frame, these racks also help keep your eBikes structural integrity.
Additionally, when the bike is stabilized from underneath, secured at a distance from the vehicle and from other bikes movement is minimized, which in turn reduces the risk of scratches and damages made to the eBike and vehicle.
This kind of rack is perfect for bikes like the Gazelle Ultimate C380, Riese & Müller Nevo, and other bikes with a step-through frame. These frame styles do not have a top tube, making it so some styles of rack either don’t work, or require additional parts.
A final benefit of wheel chock racks is that they hold the bike in place while you are securing the rest of the frame, no need to balance a bike with one hand while fastening it with the other.
- Does the attachment system accommodate fenders and racks?
Most of the bikes that Propel carries have fenders and rear racks. Be sure the rack you’re looking at will work with a bike that has fenders.
- Can bikes be locked onto the rack?
If you ever need to walk away from your vehicle while your eBike is attached to it, you should be able to secure the bikes so that they cannot be stolen easily off the rack. The racks that Propel recommends include locking systems. If you are looking at other options, keep this in mind as you compare features.
We have found that hitch-mounted bike racks–rather than a roof-rack, or a rack suspended from the frame of the vehicle–are best at meeting the above criteria.
Since the hitch ties into the structure of the vehicle, a hitch-mounted rack can support more weight than other types of racks–as well as absorbs the forces caused by uneven road surfaces more efficiently.
Finally, hitch racks tend to be lower to the ground compared to other styles, meaning that you don’t need to lift your eBike as high to place it onto the rack. In fact, select hitch-mounted racks also include design elements such as a ramp to help roll the bikes up and into position.
Propel Recommended Rack Options
Good racks are not cheap. The quality of materials and craftsmanship usually correlates with price. We do have one customer-recommended option that is cheaper, but it requires a considerable amount of assembly.
The Thule Easyfold XT uses wheel chocks and can hold up to two bikes, with each tray holding a max weight of 65 pounds. The attachment points on the trays adjust to accommodate bikes with different wheelbases as well as different tire thicknesses. The main attachment point is to the bicycle’s frame, leaving fenders and racks unaffected.
This rack is well designed in other regards as well. It comes with a ramp for rolling the bike up into position. Use the Bosch system’s handy “walk assist” function to make loading even easier! (Pro tip: make sure the ramp is really clicked into the rack before use)
The rack also folds up in a compact size, perfect for storing when not in use. The rack itself weighs 40lbs, but can be rolled using the conveniently installed caster wheels.
There are a few additional Thule accessories you might want to consider, like a license plate holder to attach to the outermost bike, or an extra-long ramp if you have a taller car such as an SUV or camper van.
Thule has a new model released this year, 2022, the Thule T2 Pro XTR. It is similar to the Easyfold XT, at a slightly lower price. Each tray can support up to 60lbs, rather than the 65lbs that the Easyfold XT can support.
If you have a lighter eBike such as a Gazelle, the T2 Pro XTR should work well for you!
Küat is a company that specializes in high quality, well-designed vehicle racks. They have a range of highly regarded hitch-mounted bicycle racks that make the cut.
The NV Base 2.0 is the most basic model. It does everything you need for transporting two eBikes!
For those of you who find yourself doing parking lot repairs, the NV 2.0 includes a small built-in bike stand called “The Trail Doc,” which could come in handy and keep you riding.
The Piston Pro-X is Küat’s newest contender, and it is serious. It has integrated lights that connect with the car lights, and pneumatic arms to help load the bikes into position. It is also RV-compatible!
Velocirax is a company that makes very cool bike racks. They’ve thought through a lot of use cases and have designed clever solutions. If you have an e-bike without fenders, or with easily removable fenders, that weighs 55lbs or less (remember, take the battery off), their racks may work for you.
Machined and fabricated in the USA, the 1Up Super Duty Double was suggested to Propel by a customer. It meets all of our criteria, although we haven’t tried it yet ourselves. With a slightly lower level of finish comes a slightly lower price point as well. It has useful accessories, including a ramp option and fender cushions.
A Few Additional Tips and Accessories
When using a rack, we recommend removing the battery(ies) to lighten the load, reduce the bouncing-around forces, and ensure the eBike doesn’t somehow turn on during transit.
Once you’ve removed the batteries, you may want to consider covering the exposed battery contacts to protect them the elements. This is an especially good idea when your drive is long or driving off-road.
Riese & Müller bikes with internal batteries have special transport covers. This is a Riese & Müller aftermarket accessory and can be found at Propel or any other Riese & Müller dealer.
For other bikes with internal batteries, and all bikes with external batteries, Bosch makes eBike Battery pin covers that are only $3.00 a piece. To protect the open frame space when an internal battery is removed, you can throw on a bike cover or wrap the open space with a towel, blanket, etc.
If you are transporting your bike on a rack, you may also want to consider covering it. Not only can a cover protect your bike from dust, dirt, weather, road gravel and more, but it can add an element of security if you need to park for a while and leave the bikes. Even if your bikes are locked, a cover can add a further deterrent to potential theft.
We have another article all about covers here if you would like to learn more.
That’s it for now. Do you have a different bike rack or solution that you would like to recommend? Share your thoughts and recommendations with the Propel community!