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How to Fit a Bike in a Car: A Complete Guide

Trying to fit a bike in a car can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with limited space or a big bike. But don’t worry, it’s totally doable and actually easier than you might think. This guide will take you through each step, giving you practical tips and tricks on how to fit your bike in a car, whether you’ve got a small ride or a spacious SUV. You’ll learn how to take apart important parts of your bike, arrange it properly for max space efficiency, and make sure it’s secure during transport without any damage to your precious two-wheeler or your vehicle. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a pro at fitting a bike in a car. So, ready to overcome the challenge and bring your bike on your next adventure? Let’s get started!

How To Prepare Your Bike And Car For Transport

Cleaning And Inspecting Your Bike

Cleaning your bike before transportation not only ensures a clean car interior but also provides the perfect opportunity to inspect your bike for any damage that could be exacerbated during the journey. Here are some essential tools you’ll need and tips on how to use them effectively:

  1. Bike Cleaning Brush: A brush with strong bristles can help dislodge stubborn dirt and grime from your bike’s frame and wheels. Pay special attention to the cassette, chainrings, and derailleurs, which are notorious for collecting dirt.
  2. Rag or Microfiber Cloth: Use a rag or microfiber cloth to wipe down your bike’s frame, handlebars, saddle, and rims. The cloth’s soft texture ensures you won’t scratch your bike while removing dirt and grime.
  3. Bike Cleaner: Regular dish soap mixed with water can work in a pinch, but a dedicated bike cleaner is the best option. These are typically biodegradable and designed to break down dirt and grime without damaging your bike’s frame or components.

Protecting Your Car from Dirt and Scratches

While we are focusing on preparing your bike, it’s crucial not to overlook protecting your car from potential dirt and scratches during transport. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to shield your car’s interior:

  1. Blanket: An old blanket can double as a protective layer. Spread it out where you’re planning to place your bike. It’ll help catch any dirt that falls off and cushion the contact between the bike parts and car interior, preventing scratches.
  2. Sheet: Similar to a blanket, an old sheet could also work well. It may not provide as much cushioning but will effectively keep off any dirt or mud from your car seats or trunk.
  3. Tarp: If you have one to spare, a tarp can be very effective. Its water-resistant properties are particularly useful if your bike is wet or muddy. Lay it out in your car’s trunk or backseat before loading your bike.

Removing Accessories and Attachments from Your Bike

Before proceeding to disassemble or load your bike, remember to remove any accessories or attachments. These items might be small, but they can cause scratches or get damaged during transport. Plus, removing them can also save space and make your bike easier to handle. Here are a few common bike attachments you should consider removing:

  1. Water Bottle: If you have a water bottle attached to your bike, remove it and store it separately. It can leak and wet other parts of the car or the bike itself, leading to potential damage.
  2. Pump: If you carry a pump on your bike, it’s advisable to remove it and place it separately in the car. Not only can this prevent it from scratching the interior of your car or your bike, but it also ensures you know where it is in case of a flat tire during your journey.
  3. Lights: Bike lights, whether they are attached to the handlebar, seatpost, or elsewhere, should be removed. This not only prevents them from getting damaged but also protects your car and bike from potential scratches.

Remember, the goal is to make the bike as stripped down and compact as possible, making it easier to fit into your car.

How to Remove the Wheels from Your Bike

Removing the wheels from your bike offers several benefits for transportation. It saves space, reduces weight, and minimizes potential damage.

If you haven’t yet removed a bicycle wheel, we have a comprehensive article for you: How to Remove a Bicycle Wheel. This article provides all the necessary information to safely and effortlessly detach your bike wheels for convenient transportation. The guide breaks down each step with clear instructions and valuable tips, empowering you to confidently disassemble your bike’s wheels.

If you’d rather watch videos instead, I highly recommend checking out this one.

How to Fit Your Bike in the Trunk of Your Car

Fitting your bike in the trunk of your car offers several advantages. Firstly, it enhances security. With your bike stowed away in the trunk, it’s shielded from the elements and potential thieves. Secondly, it can offer fuel efficiency. Unlike external bike racks, stowing your bike inside your car reduces air resistance while driving, which could lead to significant fuel savings on long trips.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fitting Your Bike in the Car Trunk

  1. Measure the Trunk and Bike: Start by measuring both the trunk of your car and your bike to know the space you need to fit your bike. Measure the length, width, and height.
  2. Remove the Front Wheel: Depending on your bike model, you may need to remove the front wheel to fit your bike in the trunk. This step usually involves loosening the quick-release skewer or unscrewing the axle.
  3. Turn the Handlebars: For some bikes, turning the handlebars parallel to the frame can save space. Loosen the stem bolt to turn the handlebars, then tighten it back up. If your bike’s handlebars are still too wide after being turned parallel to the frame, consider removing them altogether. Just remember to store the removed screws in a small, safe place.
  4. Lower the Saddle: Lower the bike’s saddle as far as it can go. Doing this can reduce the bike’s height and make it easier to fit in the trunk.
  5. Place the Bike in the Trunk: Now it’s time to put your bike into the trunk. It’s usually best to put it in chain-side up to avoid getting grease in your car.
  6. Position the Front Wheel: Place the removed front wheel on the side or atop the frame, ensuring it’s secure and doesn’t have room to move around.
  7. Check Everything is Secure: Before closing the trunk, double-check that the bike and the wheel won’t move during transit. Use straps or bungee cords if necessary to secure them.

Tips and Warnings for Positioning and Securing Your Bike

  • Gear Side Up: Always position your bike with the gear side up. This prevents the derailleur and other sensitive components from coming into contact with the car’s interior, reducing the risk of any damage or scratches.
  • Use a Bungee Cord: A bungee cord, or a similar alternative, can be a great tool for securing your bike in place. Loop it through the frame and around a fixed point in your trunk to prevent the bike from moving while the car is in motion.
  • Watch out for Grease: The chain and gears of your bike can sometimes have grease on them. Be mindful of this when positioning your bike to avoid getting grease on the interior of your car.
  • Check for Loose Components: Before you start your journey, give your bike a quick once over to ensure there are no loose components. These could potentially cause damage if they come free during transportation.

If you require a more comprehensive explanation, I recommend checking out this video.

How to Fit Your Bike in the Back Seat of Your Car

By stowing your bike in the back seat, you keep the rear window clear, maintaining better visibility while driving which is a key factor for road safety. In addition, it allows you to keep an eye on your bike at all times, providing peace of mind, especially when expensive or cherished bikes are involved.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fitting Your Bike in the Back Seat of Your Car

  1. Assess the Space: Before you begin, inspect the available space in your car. Consider the size and type of the back seat, as well as the number of doors. This will help you determine whether the bike will fit and how best to position it.
  2. Prepare Your Bike: As with stowing in the trunk, prepare your bike by removing the front wheel, turning the handlebars, and lowering the saddle. This will make the bike more compact and easier to handle.
  3. Open the Back Doors: If your car has four doors, open both back doors. This will give you more room to manoeuvre the bike into position.
  4. Place the Bike in the Car: Carefully lift your bike and place it on the back seat, chain-side up. If your car has a bench seat, it might be easier to place the bike diagonally.
  5. Position the Front Wheel: Once the bike is in place, find a safe spot for the front wheel. Ideally, it should be alongside the bike, but if space is limited, it can be placed on top of the frame.
  6. Secure the Bike: Use bungee cords or straps to secure the bike and prevent it from moving while the car is in motion. Make sure it’s fastened to a secure point in the car.
  7. Close the Doors and Check: Finally, close the doors carefully, ensuring they do not scrape or impact the bike. Then, double-check that the bike is secure and won’t move during transit.

Tips and Warnings for Positioning and Securing Your Bike in the Back Seat

  • Use the Seat Belt: The seat belt can be used as an additional security measure. Wrap it around the frame of the bike and fasten as usual, making sure there’s no excessive slack. This will not only secure the bike but also prevent it from oscillating during sharp turns or sudden stops.
  • Employ the Car’s Headrest: The headrest of your car seat can serve as a useful anchor point. You can loop a bungee cord or strap around the headrest and the bike frame to ensure the bike stays in place. Do remember not to apply excessive force when securing as it might damage the headrest over time.
  • Always Use Straps: Straps or bungee cords are indispensable tools for securing your bike. They ensure that your bike won’t shift around while you’re on the move, protecting both the bike and the car interior from potential damage.
  • Avoid Blocking Your View: While positioning your bike in the back seat, make sure it doesn’t obstruct your view through the rearview mirror. Safety should always be your priority.
  • Padding for Protection: Consider using padding or soft materials between the bike and the car interior, especially in areas where there might be some friction. This can prevent scratches or other damage to both the bike and your car.
  • Be Mindful of Sharp Components: Some parts of the bike like pedals or the chainring could potentially scratch your car seats. Be mindful of these when placing the bike in and make sure they’re not in direct contact with your car’s interior.
  • Check for Stability: Before setting off, give your bike a gentle shake to make sure it’s securely fastened and won’t move or rattle during your drive. Re-adjust and secure further if necessary.

Check out this video, if you need more explanation.

What To Do Now

To transport your bike in your car, whether in the trunk or back seat, careful preparation is key. Assess the available space and remove the front wheel, lower the handlebars and saddle. Position the bike with the gear side up and secure it with bungee cords or straps. Avoid blocking your view or damaging your car’s interior with grease or sharp bike components. Always check for stability before starting your journey.

You might find this article interesting as well: “Why Does the Bicycle Chain Keep Coming Off?

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Mate is a passionate bikepacking enthusiast and the founder of this website. He loves exploring new destinations, admiring nature, and engaging in outdoor activities. He strongly believes that healthy living should be environmentally friendly too, which is why he prefers to use bicycles for his transport needs.