How To Prevent Bike Theft From Your Car Bike Rack

bikes on bike rack of car

Many people enjoy using bike racks that go on the back of their car because it allows them to take their bikes almost anywhere. However, they worry about thieves stealing their bikes off of their car bike rack. How can you prevent your bike from being stolen in this way?

Use a chain lock, a u-lock and cable, and straps to secure a bike to a car bike rack. Never leave the bike unattended and out of sight, even when it is properly secured. Car bike racks have built-in locks that do little to prevent theft but ensure the bike won’t fall off of a moving car.

Now that you know about some of the ways you can secure your bike to your car bike rack, you are probably wondering how to use these devices and materials to properly secure your bike to your bike rack. Keep reading to find out!

Bike Lock Methods for Car Racks

There are many ways to lock your bike up when you put it on a car bike rack, but some are superior to others and although car bike racks do have methods installed that are meant to prevent theft, these basic measures usually don’t deter thieves and are easy to get through.


After you put your bike on the car bike rack, get long, thick straps and loop it through the bike spokes, bike seat, and the bike frame before knotting it and closing the trunk on the straps so the knots are inside of the trunk. This will make it impossible for a thief to untangle the bike from the straps, and if they really want to steal the bike they will have to cut through the straps. If they try to do this, it would attract attention and take time to complete. The thicker the straps are, the more secure your bike will be.

Chain and Lock

Use a chain and padlock to secure your bike to your car bike rack. If you don’t want to purchase the parts separately, then purchase a chain that already has a lock attached to it. Chains are hard to cut through without a bolt cutter, which not many thieves carry when they are out and about.

Make sure to purchase a long chain when you are going to use it to secure your bike to a car bike rack. When securing the bike, loop the chain through the frame, spokes, and around the seat of your bike to fully secure it. Try to loop it around the bike rack as well.

Chain locks are actually very popular in the bike community because they are long and dense, but not so heavy that they are uncomfortable to carry while riding a bike.

Chain and U-Lock

Use a chain and u-lock to secure your bike to a car bike rack. U-locks are quite small, but they are made of thick and durable materials that will ensure that your bike will stay secure on the bike rack. If you don’t have a chain, you can just use a u-lock, but you will only be able to secure one part of your bike without a chain if you just use a u-lock.

Security Cable and Lock

Use a u-lock and security cable to secure your bike to your car bike rack. Although they will have to be used separately, they will ensure that multiple areas of your bike are secure and can deter thieves.

Should I Use a Cable Lock to Prevent Car Bike Raft Theft?

Although cable locks are commonly used to secure bikes to bike racks, they are not the most secure mode of theft prevention because they can easily be cut through by a thief who then will walk away with your bike. If you don’t have any other option, then feel free to use a cable lock to secure your bike to your car bike rack, but know that it may not work as well as some of the other methods.

If you want to use a cable lock, purchase a long one and loop it through your bike’s spokes and the bike frame, as well as the frame of your bike rack. Although it will make it harder for you to remove your bike from the rack, it will also make it harder for someone to steal it. Also, use both a cable and a padlock or u-lock.

How to Prevent Bike Theft on Car Bike Rack

There are things that you can do to prevent thieves from walking off with your bike when they are on a car bike rack other than locking it up in various ways.

Never let your bikes out of your sight when they are on a car bike rack. If you keep an eye on them, you can see when people approach them. Don’t be afraid to yell at them if they get too close or seem like they want to steal them.

If possible, bring your bike in at night or hide it in some way so thieves can’t see it. If they can’t see your bike, they can’t steal it. Also, never lock your bike to a tree when you are in the forest or a park.

When locking up your bike, if possible, run the lock through the spokes, the saddle, and the frame of your bike. This will make it harder for thieves to untangle your bike from the rack and will likely deter them slightly.

If you are still worried about your bike being stolen, put a small tracker on it. This will make it easy for you to find it and get your bike back if it does get stolen, and you can give the tracking information to the police when you report that your bike has been stolen. This will make it much easier for the police to find and return your bike if it does get stolen.

Now that you know of some ways that you can lock up your bike while it is on a car bike rack, go out and utilize your car bike rack frequently. Enjoy the peace of mind that your bike will not be stolen if you leave it somewhere because it has been locked up properly.

My Recommended Gear for Year-Round Cycling on a Budget

It took me years of trial and error to figure out the best and most affordable setup for my daily bike commuting. I would only recommend the gear that is good quality for a good price. Here’s my full year-round gear recommendation guide.

Want to know how much your cycling gear should cost? Check out my guide with different budget options here.

Ride on!

Benjy Suzaki

Hi, I'm Benjy Suzaki and I love cycling with my kids. Biking has been a big part of our family life ever since I decided to bike everywhere instead of drive, including to my job in NYC from New Jersey. is all about how to make biking a priority in your daily life through bike commuting, bike maintenance, and riding with kids.

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