You may only be able to ride one bike at a time, but what if you could use one two-wheeler to get the other to the trailhead? We dove into the novel concept of carrying a bike on your motorcycle. It’s easier than we thought.
While there are many great bike rack options out there for vehicles, there are next to none when it comes to bike racks for motorcycles. What if there was a way to combine your favorite two-wheeled activities by using your motorcycle to carry your bicycle? As it turns out, there is.
There are plenty of options, from DIY projects to manufacturer customizations. Despite how odd these bike rack contraptions look on the road, it’s all safer and easier than it might appear.
Why Would I Need a Motorcycle Bike Rack?
Leaving the four-wheeled cage at home is sometimes preferable. There’s no doubt that using a motorcycle to get around can be far cheaper than driving a car or truck.
Not only does a motorcycle bike rack allow you to get in more seat time, but it also saves money and limits the hassle of driving to mountain biking trailheads or paved commuter paths.
Be Prepared to Draw Attention
Let’s face it, it’s not every day you see a bicycle on the back of a motorcycle. It’s worth noting you’re going to make quite the impression. Be prepared to factor in some extra time for answering questions about where you got your rack, how the motorcycle handles, etc.
Luckily, the attention you get will most likely be positive and curiosity-driven. What we’re saying is you’ll have ongoing opportunities to advocate for two of your favorite pastimes at the same time.
Some Customization Required
With all the different types and sizes of motorcycles and bicycles out there, you may have to slightly modify, or even custom order a rack. But suppose you don’t require customization for the perfect fit. In that case, you may still be inclined to add extra padding or straps to compensate for varying degrees of user error and to allow for variable conditions.
Family-owned 2×2 Cycles makes racks for just about every combination of factors imaginable. And if they don’t have what you want, they can often customize something to solve any issue.
If you are handy and love a challenge, you will find oodles of DIY stories to further inspire you, or at the very least, entertain. One motorcycle — two bikes and two riders. A tandem bicycle. A bicycle attached to a sidecar. A bicycle completely dismantled, stacked, and strapped down on the back of a motorcycle. Modified car carriers, wooden racks, and fabricated-from-scratch metal jobs.
Depending on how much time, money, and skill you have, there are many ways to safely and successfully carry a bicycle on the back of a motorcycle.
The Quick, Easy Way
If you don’t possess the skills or patience to build your own, or you would prefer to save your time and energy for riding both your bikes, you can buy a purpose-built rack for around $265-365.
Currently the only game in town, 2×2 Cycles has spent the last decade building racks to help two-wheeled passions merge. The company even makes an adapter for one of its bicycle racks, allowing it to be used on either your motorcycle or your vehicle. For more information, reach out to them on the company’s website.
By now, you may have many questions, like how the bike rack actually attaches to the motorcycle, and how can I secure everything when I’m parked. We hope to answer all those questions and more below.
Bike Racks for Motorcycles FAQ
How Is the Motorcycle Bike Rack Positioned?
The most efficient motorcycle bike rack orientation holds the bicycle in line with the motorcycle, allowing the wind to pass over the rider’s body and around the carry system and load. This means either horizontal/straight back behind the motorcycle (parallel to the ground), vertical/straight up behind the rider (perpendicular to the ground), or at an angle somewhere in between.
USA-based rack builder 2×2 Cycles offers a horizontal style and a newer vertical model. Both are highly adjustable and customizable.
Racks that carry the bicycle perpendicular to the motorcycle are less common. They are harder to properly balance, create more wind drag, and make negotiating traffic trickier (forget about lane splitting). Due to the sheer width, it may even limit parking and route options.
How Is the Motorcycle Bike Rack Attached?
The go-to point for attaching a bike to a motorcycle is the rear frame. A base for the bicycle rack is bolted behind the seat. Most commonly onto or in place of a top case mount, and utilizing existing rear grab handles or sissy bar attachment points.
Once set up, attaching the rack can be just as quick and easy as putting a bicycle on a vehicle.
Do I Have to Take My Bicycle Apart to Carry It on My Motorcycle?
Not necessarily, as 2×2 Cycles does offer an optional tower for its vert rack to allow both wheels to stay on most MTB and BMX bikes, but not road bikes. Most carrier styles generally require removing at least one of the wheels, which gets stowed on the rack securely in line with the bicycle frame.
How Can I Secure Moto Gear While Cycling?
The most common question that comes up is what to do with your motorcycle gear while you are on your bicycle, and vice versa. Nobody wants to come back from a ride to find their gear missing.
Locking side cases are a great solution if your motorcycle can accommodate panniers, and you don’t mind the extra weight and bulk. You can carry your bike gear inside the cases.
However, a full motorcycle luggage system is not cheap. Such an investment might not make sense unless you do a lot of travel and need storage for, say, camping gear.
Top cases are common and a simple solution that offers a moderate amount of secure storage. But that can get tricky when trying to fit a top box with a bicycle rack. To address this, 2×2 Cycles came out with a rack style to create space on the back of the bike.
Whether it’s a top case, dog crateor a bulky gym bag, the vert rack positions the bicycle straight up instead of straight out, making it possible to bring along whatever you need.
How Do I Secure the Bicycle to a Motorcycle Bike Rack?
The 2×2 Cycles racks that are quick-release-compatible create an attachment point for a padlock, which locks the rack to the motorcycle. This is not an option on the vert rack with the MTB tower and doesn’t address the bike itself being walked off with.
The manufacturer suggests using a rubber-coated cable lock, running it through the bike wheels, frame, holes in the rack, and the frame of the motorcycle to lock it all down. Of course, any kind of lock that can be cut off only provides so much security. But anything you can do will hopefully deter opportunist theft.
Like carrying your bike on your vehicle, if you have to step away for any amount of time, it’s ideal to keep it in your line of sight.
How Does the Motorcycle Bike Rack Affect Motorcycle Handling?
Wind drag and buffeting are greatly minimized when the bicycle’s forks are positioned behind the rider’s back. Both the horizontal and vertical racks from 2×2 Cycles have this design. Overall, riders have compared to the difference in handling to riding with side cases or a passenger. Some claim to forget it’s even there.
When the bicycle is well secured to the rack — and the rack is well secured to the motorcycle — you shouldn’t experience much movement. If you plan to ride rutted, potholed, or washboard roads, you should prepare for a certain amount of wiggle and jiggle. Make sure you’re extra confident in your bolts, tie downs, and bungee cords.
What Terrain Can I Tackle With a Motorcycle Bike Rack on My Motorcycle?
Essentially anywhere you can take a motorcycle. But it all depends on the size and type of motorcycle, how comfortable you are riding loaded down, and your experience level on different types of terrain.
Wind is less of an issue on larger, heavier motorcycles, generally speaking. On a GS 1200, a well-traveled rider may be unphased riding on the highway with a bicycle hanging off the back. In contrast, a newer rider on a smaller, lighter, less powerful bike like an XT250 may prefer staying local.
A dual-sport bike or something with off-road friendly tires can get you places sometimes inaccessible to 2WD or even 4WD vehicles.
Is a Bike Rack for Motorcycles Street Legal?
2×2 Cycles has been handcrafting and selling bicycle carrier systems domestically — and internationally — for over 10 years. It’s even sold to law enforcement. It’s also not heard of any laws against carrying a bicycle on a motorcycle anywhere in the US
With that said, some countries do reportedly restrict how far objects fixed to the back of a motorcycle may project. Definitely double-check whether you are in compliance before hitting the road.