How to Keep Bike Rack From Swaying?

Bike racks are a super convenient device and showcase that you’re moving forward as a cyclist. However, one question that all bike rack owners ask is how to keep bike racks from swaying. It’s not an alarming situation, but it’ll sure make bicycle owners worry. 

There’s no need to worry though. We’ll explain everything that you need to know about bike racks. With so many different bike racks, there are many different answers to how to keep the bike rack from swaying. 

Before we get into the different available solutions, it’s essential to understand the different bike racks on the market. 

Types of Bike Racks 

There are multiple different kinds of bike racks on the market that you can choose between. Cyclists have the option between picking strap-on trunk racks, hitch-mount racks, and roof racks. 

Every type of bike rack you find on the market has its advantages and disadvantages. Each type uses a different method of connecting to your vehicle and the bike rack sways for a different reason. 

Here’s a brief description of the main bike racks that are available in the market. 

Strap-on Trunk Racks 

As the name suggests, you’ll need to strap these bike racks onto the trunk of your car. It’s generally the least expensive bike rack on the market. The straps are responsible for attaching the carrier frame to the car’s trunk. 

Once you manage to attach the bike rack to the car, you can rest the bike’s frame on the plastic-coated support arms that it provides. To use this type of bike rack properly, you’ll need to strap it to the car’s trunk as tightly as possible. 

After you have the straps as tight as possible, you’ll need to properly orient the arms to ensure that you can put your bikes on the carrier without encountering much trouble. While they may be accessible, affordable, and will do the job, there are certain disadvantages as well. 

A strap-on bike rack offers the most significant chance of damaging the vehicle and the bikes on the carrier. If any one of the straps becomes loose or too frayed, it can create a troublesome situation. It’s quite a wobbly bike rack without the necessary equipment.

Hitch-mount Racks 

A hitch-mount rack is arguably the most popular type of bike rack on the market. They’re available in multiple different sizes depending on the type of hitch present on the vehicle. 

Naturally, SUVs and larger cars will feature a more substantial hitch than smaller cars. To connect the bike rack to the vehicle, you’ll need to attach the hitch on the bike rack with the car. 

Once you manage to connect both, you’re free to put as many bikes on the carrier as it supports. Generally, the number of cycles a carrier can support depends on the hitch size.

 For example, class-I hitches feature a 1.25-inch opening and are designed to work with most cars and smaller SUVs. While class-III hitches, on the other hand, will feature 2-inch openings and are designed for use with larger pickups and SUVs. 

Roof-mounted Carrier

Lastly, the third main type of bike rack is the roof-mounted carrier. A roof-mounted carrier can attach to the vehicle in several different ways. Most roof-mounted carriers will attach to the car via their roof racks and crossbars. These are pretty common in SUVs. 

However, if your vehicle doesn’t feature either roof racks or crossbars, you’ll need to use roof racks that rely on mounting feet and clips. These models tend to be more expensive than those you can just attach with the roof rack. 

Now that you understand the primary type of bike racks on the market, let’s take a look at what causes each particular bike rack to sway. 

Why do strap-on trunk racks keep swaying? 

As the name suggests, a strap-on trunk rack is completely dependent on the straps to ensure that it connects properly with a vehicle. If the straps aren’t tight enough, then you’ll encounter plenty of swaying. 

Most people don’t realize that using the strap-on trunk rack properly requires binding the straps as tightly as possible. 

How to Keep Bike Rack From Swaying

How to Keep the strap-on Bike Rack from Swaying?

Strap-on bike racks tend to be the most affordable type of bike rack on the market. However, their design features several limitations. One major issue is that the stability depends entirely on how tightly you can manage to secure the straps. 

If you feel like even at their tightest, the bike’s still swaying and isn’t stable, you can get some extra rope to help make the carrier as secure as possible. Focus on strengthening the attachment points and ensuring that there’s no slack in the straps. 

Without proper tightening, it’ll leave you in a spot of bother with your bicycles constantly swaying back and forth. The swaying really isn’t good and can cause significant damage to both your vehicle and the bikes you’re attempting to carry. 

That’s why paying attention to your straps, and all the attachment points is essential. Even though they’re inexpensive, if you don’t use them properly, they could end up creating a lot of trouble. 

How to Keep Bike Rack From Swaying

How to Keep roof-mount Bike Racks from Swaying?

When you’re trying to learn about how to keep the bike rack from swaying, the type of carrier plays a significant role. Roof-mount racks are much different in comparison to the other carriers on the market. 

Consequently, there are different reasons behind why a roof-mount bike rack might sway, and they require a specific solution. 

Luckily, preventing a roof-mount bike rack from swaying isn’t particularly difficult. All you’re going to need is a tie-down strap. After installing the bike rack onto the vehicle, you can use your hand to check for stability. If it doesn’t  

The more downward pressure the roof rack experiences, the lower the amount of sway that occurs. Another potential solution for roof-mount bike racks is to rely on a crossbar adaptor. They’ll help provide your roof-mount bike rack with a solid base so the downward pressure will increase. 

By using a crossbar adaptor, you’ll also ensure that the bikes don’t move around and end up damaging the other bikes you’re carrying. 

How to Keep Bike Rack From Swaying

How to keep the hitch-mount bike rack from swaying? 

By their nature, almost every hitch-mount bike rack that you buy will exhibit some form of swaying. That’s because there will always be a little space in the hitch receiver. It’d be impossible to attach and detach the device with the tow bar without the space. 

When your hitch-mount bike rack is new, you won’t have to worry about the carrier swaying a lot. However, with the progress of time, the metal on metal contact can widen the distance from the receiver. 

While trying to solve this issue, there are several different potential solutions that you can take. Here are the main ways that you can solve the issue. 

Use a hitch clamp 

If you’re learning about how to keep the bike rack from swaying, then it’s highly likely that you’re already familiar with the term hitch clamp. A hitch clamp is an add-on component that helps serve as an additional hitch stabilizer. 

When buying a hitch clamp, it’s essential to ensure that you get one that matches the size properly. If you can’t find the correct size, you’re going to have to get an adapter. You must use a hitch clamp on both sides with the adapter to get the best results. 

Once you install a hitch clamp, you won’t have to deal with any annoying rattles or movement from the bike carrier. It’ll help completely solve the issue and ensure that you don’t have to worry about anything. 

How to attach a hitch clamp? 

For those new to cycling, it’ll be really challenging to attach a hitch clamp without proper instructions. Luckily, even though there are a lot of different parts, the overall process of installing a hitch clamp is reasonably straightforward. 

The first thing that you’re going to do is slip the U-bolt over the tow bar and slide it until it makes contact with the face of the hitch receiver. Once it’s in the ideal position, connect the hitch tightener plate with the U-bolt. When connecting the hitch tightener plate, ensure that the raised end faces away from the hitch receiver. 

All that’s left to do now is tighten all the nuts properly until the metal plate comes into contact with the tow bar and hitch receiver. 

Use Anti-Rattle Kit

Aside from using a hitch clamp, customers also can employ an anti-rattle kit. The anti-rattle kit also goes by the name of the receiver lock pin. It’s a very effective way of helping reduce the level of wiggle room between the hitch receiver and tow bar. 

It’s essentially just a piece of metal that you’ll need to insert into your tow bar. Once you finish inserting, put the tow bar into the hitch receiver and connect it via a threaded pin. 

Use Anti-Sway Straps

Another option available to cyclists who want to reduce the overall sway on their bike racks is using an anti-sway strap. As the name suggests, the anti-sway strap attaches to the bike and helps minimize the movement. 

These are actually more useful for learning how to keep bikes from swinging on bike rack. If the bikes swing excessively they can end up damaging the car and themselves!

It’s a good idea to connect the anti-sway strap to the bike’s front. If you use an anti-sway strap, it’ll only reduce the vertical movement effectively. It has minimal impact on horizontal movement. That’s why the anti-sway straps are typically used with other sway-reduction methods. 

How to Keep Bike Rack From Swaying

Conclusion 

A bike rack swaying can lead to unnecessary stress for bicycle owners. However, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of ways you can learn how to keep bike rack from swaying. 

Firstly, you’ll need to identify what type of bike rack you have as each different type has a different solution. Once you’re aware of the type, eliminating the sway is a fairly simple task. 

After stopping your bike rack from swaying, it’s important to perform regular maintenance on whatever device you use. That way, you can ensure that your bike rack remains in optimal condition for longer!

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.

Leave a comment