Carrying your bikes by car: safety, insurance, accidents, everything you need to know

Per Guillem ROBERT
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 7:09 AM – Technique

– This article has been read 9652 times. Comments: 3.

Many of you will no doubt go on holiday this summer with your bikes attached to your car using a laptop, a hitch, or a bike rack on the roof.

Last year I published an article entitled “European countries’ rules for bicycle racks”.

In this article I will talk about the different security points to check to ensure safe transport even over long distances, but also what the law says and what you should check with your insurance before leaving.

Because most of the time, your bike transported in your vehicle is unfortunately not insured … nor is the bike carrier.

The law allows the transportation of bicycles by car, but of course not anyway. Like any additional “stowage” in your vehicle, you must ensure that the bicycles are perfectly fixed in a system provided for this purpose and approved.

Of course, here I will not talk about the subject of the bicycle transported inside the car in the trunk, which here will be considered as luggage. However, it must be verified that, if the seats have been folded, the bicycle is fastened enough not to be thrown in the event of an accident. In an accident at 56 km / h, the weight of the bike we carry is multiplied by 35. Thus, even your 7 kg bike becomes a 245 kg projectile.

A plate and visible lights

Whether your bike is being transported on a platform attached to a hitch ball like the Thule Easyfold XT, Thule VeloSpace XT o Buzzrack Eazzy 2 o at the trunk door as for Thule Outway Hanging, the license plate and lights must be perfectly visible.

On a bike carrier that attaches to a tow ball, the lights and plate holder are usually integrated, so don’t worry. On the other hand, for a bike rack that attaches by straps to the trunk door, things get complicated, as you will often need to add a license plate holder and a light reminder … which will need to be plugged into a dam 7. or 13 dowels.

Because, with rare exceptions, once the bikes are in place in the rear door bike rack, the lights and plates are hidden.

Do not exceed the limits

Each bike carrier has limits on the number of bikes, but also on the total weight of each bike. At a time when electric-assisted bicycles, which can weigh more than 20 kg, are commonplace, this point needs to be checked. In the case of a VAE, you can for example remove the battery during the trip to put it in the trunk, this will always save 3 to 5 kg.

Make sure everything is in order

Needless to say, many of us have already seen on the holiday route bikes that are not securely fastened to the frame, with bikes moving in the wind. It is better, as far as possible, to fix the bike carrier at least the day before departure, than in a hurry a few minutes before departure.

Therefore, the conveyor must be perfectly attached to the car or to the tow ball. Most modern models have clear indicators (visual or audible) that validate that the system is properly locked.

For a bike rack attached to the roof bars, this check also begins with the fixing of the roof bars themselves, which must be fitted to your vehicle.

Then you will have to do the same with each bike that will be fixed to the bike carrier, using straps or clamps. Fixing to the frame, but also fixing the wheels very often. The goal is to keep your bike from moving during transportation, which could damage your car and bicycle, but ESPECIALLY, keep your bike or bike carrier from slipping off your vehicle while you ride, which could have dramatic consequences.

In the case of a bike rack on the roof that holds the bike with the fork, make sure it is compatible with your type of attachment (quick release or through axle) to avoid last minute disappointments.

For carbon bikes, you will need to invest in a specific distribution-enabled interface clamping pressure over a large area to minimize the risk of damage to the frame.

Make sure … period

Installed on the bike carrier, itself fixed to the vehicle, the bikes are not part of the standard accessories and equipment of a car. Therefore, they are not covered by conventional car insurance contracts. The same goes for your bike carrier. If it is relatively expensive, it is best to opt for an additional option with your insurance.

Therefore, it is essential to take out bicycle insurance for all equipment placed outside, including the bicycle rack, bicycles and protective cover. if any. The same goes for a roof box.

Vehicle accessories or accessories and accessories warranty is often an option to add to your initial contract. It covers damage to the roof box, bicycle rack, luggage rack and any items added to the vehicle after leaving the factory: GPS, car radio, special tires, etc.

For a value of 3000 € for example, it costs between 1.5 and 2 € per month, for a value of more than 11000 €, the cost of the option will be 60 € per year depending on the insurance.

And since an accident is always possible, check your coverage in any case, namely:

  • if someone touches you and therefore damages your bicycles and bicycle racks
  • if you lose a bike on the road and cause an accident

Mandatory lock for pauses

If on short weekend trips you may not have to stop, on long summer hikes you will need to take breaks.

Even for a few minutes in a rest area, it is best to use a lock. While bicycle racks are usually equipped with an integrated anti-theft cable, this is more of a deterrent than actually anti-theft. If you still have your car in sight during the break, don’t worry, it will be enough.

But for longer stops, more serious blockages will be needed. In the event of theft, the insurer may refuse the refund if the bicycles were not secured with an approved lock or if you have left your vehicle and its load unattended for a long time.

Be aware of changes in vehicle dimensions

In the case of a roof bike rack, the total height must be taken into account to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises at the toll booth or when crossing certain bridges.

This type of charge will also deny you access to most underground car parks, which are too low.

But in the case of a bicycle carrier located at the rear of the vehicle, you must also take into account the total length in case of reversing. Remember that your vehicle is at least 1 meter longer. If you have a reversing camera, don’t worry, you’ll see it quickly when you turn it on, but if you don’t have one, you’ll need to be careful not to hit the bike carrier or the bikes. a voral or a pal.

Also, if your bike carrier is tilted to access the trunk, you will need to provide extra space.

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