Purchase criteria for bicycle carriers

Rear carriers are available in different variants. The most common form is rear carriers for the towbar, which are also called AHK carriers or AHK bicycle carriers. The prerequisite for installation is usually a trailer coupling (short: AHK). From time to time you can also see rear carriers that are attached to the trunk lid. The Capital Time.

Our advice: If you transport your two-wheelers more frequently, the purchase of an AHK carrier is worthwhile in any case. Although these models are more expensive, the simple assembly and the problem-free loading speak for themselves.


easy to assemble

Bicycles are easy to fix

increases air resistance only minimally


Changes in vehicle center of gravity – influence steering behavior

E-bikes are difficult to fit next to each other

relatively expensive (usually over 200 €)

The most important prerequisite for deciding between the existing bicycle carrier types is therefore the existing equipment of your vehicle: The rear carriers in our bicycle carrier comparison are only suitable for cars with a trailer hitch. Roof racks, on the other hand, need a roof rail. Both are not present in every car from the outset and may have to be retrofitted.

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Requirements to equip the car for the bike: luggage and porter

Roof rack: nothing works without railing

If your vehicle already has a roof rail, nothing stands in the way of putting on a bicycle carrier as well as other luggage solutions, roof boxes, and the like.

However, if no railing is yet available, such a railing must first be retrofitted. This, in turn, is only possible if the corresponding connection points are there. Then the roof feet can be attached. The Capital Time.

Attention: Have this work done by a qualified specialist workshop if you do not feel 100% confident in terms of craftsmanship. If a roof box falls off while driving due to faulty or inadequate installation, this can endanger the lives of subsequent drivers. Drivers and owners are liable for any damage.

Roof rails are offered with and without ABE (General Operating Permit) as well as with and without a TÜV certificate and differ greatly in price: You have to plan between about 90 and 400 euros.

If you have an appointment for the main inspection (HU) of your vehicle anyway, you can, for example, do without the ABE of the roof rails and have them tested by TÜV or DEKRA.

Rear carrier: only with towbar

Of course, there is also a catch here: All rear carriers in our comparison are only suitable for mounting on a trailer hitch (AHK). Vehicles rarely have this extra as standard and in the case of subsequent installation, you should always keep an eye on the maximum support load of the trailer hitch.

After all, trailer couplings can be purchased relatively cheaply. The assembly can also be done for laymen in less than two hours. Since brackets for the coupling firstly have a significantly lower air resistance than roof racks and secondly are secured by several screws transversely to the direction of travel, the installation is less problematic.

Attention: Observe the maximum load of the car. It must be at least above the weight of the bicycles to be transported, including the bicycle carrier. Even the best roof rack will not hold your wheels securely if the maximum load on the trailer hitch or roof is exceeded.

Roof rails for several light wheels, rear carrier for two heavy wheels

In most cases, bicycle mounts for the roof rails are sold individually. Usually, up to four wheels can be mounted next to each other, even mountain bikes with wide suspension forks. However, the load capacity of the roof and the roof racks is usually limited to about 20 kg.

This is scarce for pedelecs or Dutch bikes. You should also keep in mind that you first have to transport them to the roof of the vehicle and back down again.

With clutch or rear carriers, the payload is generally higher. Here, 30 kg per bike is possible, but most rear bike carriers only offer storage space for two bicycles.

Mounting: overhead or with a towbar

To mount an AHK rear carrier, a towbar must be present or mountable. Furthermore, a plug connection with 13 poles is mandatory for AHKs (ISO standard 11446). Your car must therefore have such a connection so that you can properly connect the AHK carrier.

The situation is different when installing a roof rack. Here, the basic beams mounted on the vehicle roof, also called roof rails, are the basis for fixing the carrier. Newer car models often have such basic carriers as standard.

Stability: roof racks remain, rear racks must be removed

A roof rack does not necessarily need to be dismantled if you do not use it. It is usually easy to fold up and is hardly noticeable while driving. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the increased air resistance leads to higher fuel consumption, which is only negligible for short or few trips.

Rear carriers, on the other hand, should be easy to remove and store so that they do not take up too much space in the garage or even in the trunk.

In addition, check whether you can still open the trunk lid with the carrier folded down. Most models have a fold-down function, but this is not quite enough for some vehicle types to be able to open the trunk.

Anti-theft protection: additional precautions are useful

The bicycle carriers in comparison have anti-theft devices that can at least deter occasional thieves.

In relevant bicycle carrier tests, however, it becomes clear that it makes sense to additionally secure bicycles with bicycle locks. So your two-wheelers are also safe if you park the vehicle with wheels mounted on it for a long time. Of course, you can be on the safe side if you connect the bikes separately, for example to a fence or a bicycle rack.

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