If your vehicle is compact, carrying a bike or two presents its challenges. Here, a bicycle rack to carry your bikes safely on the exterior of the car, be it on the roof, the trunk or via a rear hitch, has its place.
But if your car is mid-sized or larger with double doors or a hatchback with cargo space and/or back seats that go down flat, you’ve got options. Have you ever thought of putting your bikes inside the car? It may be something you tried but didn’t find it practical as the bike(s) and front wheels move around as you drive, potentially damaging your interior.
We have a solution. With a bit of creative thinking, a few parts, and some elbow grease, you can make your own custom DIY interior bike rack for your car.
The benefits of an interior bike rack
Why put your bikes inside the car? I can think of several reasons, let’s look at a few.
- Bikes are less likely to get stolen inside your vehicle. Now you can go to the bathroom at a gas station, run an errand or pick up some shopping on the way home without a worry. Your bikes will be safely locked up in your car and not in full view to tempt any passersby.
- There is no danger of damaging your bikes, car or home. With a custom DIY rack, your bikes will be stationary inside the car and not causing any damage to its interior or the bikes themselves.
- It’s easily removed when not being used. Simply remove your rack when you don’t need it. Thus, freeing up additional person and cargo space inside your vehicle until you need it again.
- Helps keep your car clean and organized. Bikes attached to an interior rack won’t cause any accidental grease marks in your car. Everything will have its dedicated place.
- You’ll save money on the cost of a branded bicycle rack, and any peripheral items (a hitch). The money you’ll save on a name brand rack plus any additional costs associated with its installation can go to a new set of wheels or some other cool bit of kit.
- Customize the rack for your bikes and vehicle. Do you want to carry a gravel and a mountain bike? Or maybe a road and a full-suspension? You’re the designer, you know what you need, so customize it to fit perfectly in your vehicle’s dimension, trunk or backseat area.
- Pride in knowing you did it yourself. Think of how proud you’ll feel when it works like a charm and your riding buddies ask you to make one for them.
QR or thru-axle?
Depending on the year and type of bicycle or if you have disc or rim brakes, you could have either a quick-release or a thru-axle to hold the front wheel to your fork. This is your point of contact for the bicycle to the rack, so verify which one you have and its length before you begin.
QRs are fairly standard, and any independent front fork QR mount will work fine. Thru-axles have different lengths and thicknesses. You’ll need the skewer to enter and exit the front fork mount to keep it stable. Measure and test your design before you build.
Bits of plumbing supplies (a “T” connector for example) combined with accessory pieces that thread in and cut to length are inexpensive, so you’re not stuck buying pre-made. Another option is finding some old wheels, cutting out the hubs, and attaching them to your base material with some L brackets.
Handlebar to handlebar or handlebar to seat?
How you set up your rack will depend on the interior space of your car and your preference, of course. If you have one or more bikes to transport, avoid having the handlebars side by side as it is typically not the most space-saving method. You’ll gain more floor space by nesting the bikes handlebar to seat.
If you have a van or a vehicle with a tall interior, try mounting your bikes vertically. And depending on the width of your car, bikes positioned parallel to the rear of the car and not perpendicular to it may work as well. Regardless of your method, handlebar to seat will save the most space.
Wood or metal?
Wood and metal are obvious choices for the base of your new custom DIY rack. Consider the tools you have available for the project before choosing the one best for you. Most households have a saw while cutting aluminium or metal can be more dangerous and complicated. Don’t forget those safety glasses.
Check the Internet or your favourite DIY store for T-track systems (aka guide rails) for workbenches or make your own. These aluminium rails come in different lengths and have a hollow centre designed to move objects where needed, yet lock them in place with dial clamps when necessary. This freedom could be just what you need if you have various bikes to carry at different times.
Don’t forget the wheels
You may get away with sliding your front wheel(s) between the bikes but they can still move around. To keep things clean and organized, plan on incorporating front-wheel holders too. Upcycle some old bicycle forks for the job or pick up a new one.
Notable examples to inspire you
Every car is different, and even if you aren’t too handy with tools or need more ideas, there are plenty of tutorials online that show you how to build your own DIY bike rack from scratch.
This DIY principle also works for carrying some of your other favourite equipment too. So, if you want to save money, keep your car clean and organized, provide an extra layer of protection against theft or vandalism, and have the satisfaction that comes from knowing it was a DIY project – then making a bike rack for the inside of your car is a smart idea. We’d love to see what you’ve created. Share your pictures of your custom DIY interior car bike rack with us!