Opening Up Possibilities With Bike Racks For Cars

Mounting a bike rack on your car open up a world of fun new possibilities. With it, you can now take your bike and the enjoyment of riding anywhere you drive to. However, if you’re planning on getting a bike rack for your car, there are a few things you should know first.

If you enjoy the freedom of riding your bike, it’s practically essential to purchase a rack for your bike. Without one, you’ll be stuck riding locally around your home. With a bike rack, though, you can go anywhere you want; the possibilities are endless. If you frequently go for family vacations, a nice rack will allow you to take the fun activity of riding with you. Even for business trips, bike racks will allow you to have fun during those few hours you get off work. Of course the greatest benefit is that you can simply take your bike wherever you want to. Mountains, trails and tracks are all great places to take your bike for a spin.

All bike racks are built for the purpose to hold one or more bikes, but many of them are made differently and function differently. To get the most benefit and use out of your bike, it’s important to take the time and choose the right one for your situation.

Bike rakes are usually broken down into two categories – ones that go on top of your vehicle and ones that go behind. Both of these types work perfectly when installed correctly, but your vehicle may only support one type. Read the instructions and label before purchasing any bike rack to ensure it will install properly on your make and model vehicle.

If you choose to install a rack that mounts on the top of your vehicle, be sure to watch for low clearances as you drive. Measure how tall your vehicle is from the ground to the top of the bikes and be aware of clearances that exceed this length. Bridges, underpasses, drive-throughs and garages may all potentially pose a problem. Another problem with the top-mounted bike racks is the difficulty of taking your bikes on and off. Compared to other types of mounts, you’ll find these are more strenuous, as you have to life all the bikes over your head to get them on or off. For some people this isn’t a problem, but if you’re traveling with small children, it can be difficult.

The alternative to top-mounted bike racks are ones that connect to rear hitch. These are typically easier to install and use, as they simply hook up to the back of your car. The only real downside to using these is that you don’t have easy access to your trunk.

With a rack for your bike installed on your car, you’ll find a world of new possibilities and activities open up for you and your family. However, if you plan on taking your family or friends with you, be sure to install a rack that’s able to carry enough bikes. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, as most bike racks can hold up 4 bikes.

A Brief History of BMX Bikes

BMX (bicycle motocross) racing has come a long way since it was first conceptualized. In fact, the humble origins of the sport are often cited as stemming from the motocross documentary, On Any Sunday, which opened in 1971. The opening scenes of that movie followed kids on their Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycles riding dirt tracks and imitating motocross riders.

Of course, those scenes were based on something that was already taking place. Generally it is recognized that BMX as a sport found its footing in California. The bicycle races were predominantly composed of kids who had the desire to participate in motocross but could not afford it. Instead, these riders would groom their own dirt courses and use their bikes. Today’s BMX racing tracks, with inline starts and expressive obstacles, trace back to this origin.

While ever since the invention of the bicycle there have been those who attempted innovations and tricks, most bikes up until this point were designed primarily as a means of transportation. Schwinn’s Sting-Ray changed that. The Sting-Ray was released in 1963 at a time when custom cars and motorbikes were becoming popular. It was custom-built for riding off-road at high speeds and landing jumps. These bikes became popular fast, and quickly became one of the best-selling bikes in the country. Afterward, more manufacturers took note and began designing bicycles with similar custom features, such as twenty-inch wheels.

As custom bikes continued to grow in popularity and design evolution, riders continued to test the limits of what they could do. As this trend continued into the 1980s, BMX came to be about more than just racing. Riders began to perform skateboard-style tricks, and this is how the freestyle division of BMX was born. As a result, new bikes were designed to provide optimal conditions for performing increasingly difficult tricks.

By the 1990s, the sport was nearly ubiquitous. BMX was featured as a major part of the X-Games on ESPN. That trend has continued to the present day, where BMX racing is bigger than ever. The sport has grown to have its own international governing body, and BMX races took place as an Olympic sport for the first time in 2008.

Along with the sport, the bikes themselves have continued to evolve. Anyone interested in BMX biking today has a high and diverse number of bikes available. Which bike is best for you depends on how you plan to ride.

In essence, BMX bikes are simply a type of mountain bike designed to excel on off-road surfaces. These bikes feature 18- to 24-inch wheels and are designed to be lightweight and durable. Their design makes them particularly suited for racing and tricks.

There are actually three forms of BMX racing, with specially designed bikes in each category; namely, racing, freestyle and jumping bikes. Whether you want to race competitively or just have fun on homemade trails, these categories can still be helpful for determining which kind of bike is best for you.

Racing BMX designs are made specifically with the idea of speed in mind. They are composed of lightweight frames and feature customized tires designed to excel on off-road surfaces.

Freestyle bikes are very sturdy, with thick frames and pavement-ready BMX tires. These bikes are best for riding in skate parks, where you can learn and practice stunts and tricks.

Finally, jump bikes feature strong, sturdy frames, capable suspension systems and knobby tires. As the name suggests, they are meant to handle jumps comfortably, whether that be as part of a circuit or a homemade jump in the backyard. These bikes are also good on trails.

If you are just starting out riding off-road at high speeds, then you may want to start with a racing BMX, as these allow you to get out on the track and will have you learning the basics in no time. It is also never a bad idea to contact your local bike shop to get advice on which bike will work for your purposes and with your build.

In addition to these categories, bicycle customization is becoming more widely accessible. This allows you to tailor your bike to your specific racing and aesthetic desires. Whether you want a bike you can occasionally take off-road at high speeds, or you are looking to become a devoted BMX racer, today’s BMX rider has more biking options available than ever before.

Bike Security for Cycle Touring

We’ve all seen the lone wheel padlocked to railings and we can imagine the frustration of the bike owner still holding the key. Of course, quick release axles have made this a more common occurrence. Bike theft in some European cities has risen to significant levels — for example, 10% of all the bikes in Amsterdam were stolen in 2009 and 2,500 a year go missing in the UK’s bike-theft hotspot, Cambridge. And yet people keep using bikes in cities. If you are coming to Europe on a cycling tour here are my thoughts on the basic principles you should follow to ensure your holiday is not ruined by bike theft. These are:

  • bike simplicity and appearance
  • bike locks
  • vigilance
  • overnight security

Bike simplicity and appearance

There is a lot of technology in modern high-end bikes, but a simple, battered old machine is less likely to be stolen than one that looks more valuable. So, if in doubt, don’t choose a bike with multiple suspension, a carbon fibre frame and built-in GPS, but instead buy a cheap one, splash the odd bit of paint on it and replace the components as they wear. Eventually, nothing on the bike will match anything else, but it is unlikely to be a target for thieves. If you must buy an expensive bicycle, try and disguise it with a bad paint job and cheap accessories.

Bike locks

Locks come in various types:

  • frame mounted U-shaped clips that sit ready to lock through the rear wheel. These are commonly found on bikes in Holland and Germany, amongst other places, and provide only a low level of security. You often find them on rental bikes. The key normally can only be removed when the lock is engaged, the rest of the time it is left in situ. We suggest you regard such locks as only suitable for use in low risk places and on cheap bikes that will not be left alone for more than a few minutes — say when popping into a shop.
  • thin cable locks about 2 feet long, sometimes curly, often with a combination lock. These are close to useless, as they can be easily cut with bolt croppers or even pliers. Again, they often come with hire bikes. The combinations can usually be opened by feel, with a bit of patience and fiddling. They will only hold the frame to a secure point though they might just reach to the rear wheel as well. More of a visual deterrent rather than any practical use.
  • solid steel D-shaped shackles. These are very strong and are an excellent visual deterrent but you will find that again they are only big enough to lock the rear wheel and/or the frame to a secure point. The longer type is easier to use, but the drawback is weight – these locks are heavy.
  • six foot long, strong, auto coil cable or chain. These are serious locks but not as secure as the D-shaped shackles. They are long enough to allow you lock both wheels and the frame to a secure point. They are also good visual deterrents. Self coiling ones keep themselves out of your way when you are riding.

If two of you are riding together, a good choice is to use one of each of the last two listed above.

Vigilance

None of these locks will keep your luggage secure in your panniers and for this task the alternatives are:

  • remove your panniers and carry them with you, say into a restaurant. This is a bit tedious but at least you keep your things secure that way. A good alternative is to ask someone if they can keep an eye on the bike for you, perhaps a car park attendant. It would be polite to tip them on your return.
  • place your bikes where you can watch over them. Restaurants with courtyards are attractive places for monitoring or you may be able to seat yourself near a window.
  • Put a cable lock through the handles of your panniers to secure them to the (secured) bike. This won’t stop a thief from opening the panniers and taking things out of them, but it makes them a less attractive proposition.

Or you could just take a chance, particularly in places where theft is unusual. As with a bike, a faded, ripped, ancient-looking pannier will not attract as much attention as a new, shiny-looking one.

Overnight security

Do not leave your bike chained outside your hotel, it may not be there in the morning or it may have been damaged. I always try to get my bike into the hotel garage if there is one, or into the hotel itself if there isn’t. Over the years this has meant that it has been stabled in cellars, barns, attics, balconies, boiler rooms, linen stores and on a bad day, a bathroom, but it has always been safe in the morning. These places are often convenient spots to carry out minor repairs too.

I hope this advice will ensure that your bike tour is not marred by loss of your bicycle or other property.

What Are The 5 Best Mountain Biking Tracks Near Bangkok?

Let’s face it, Bangkok and it’s environs are not particular suited for cycling, the capitol sits in a basin devoid of hills, the traffic in the city is awful and the roads are not the safest for cyclists. Despite this, avid cycling fans have developed and routed a number of trails within a short driving distance of Bangkok that make for a fun day out.

Khao Ito

Khao Ito is perhaps the most famous mountain biking day trip from Bangkok for good reason. Located on the outskirts of Khao Yai, one of the oldest and largest National Parks in Thailand, Khao Ito is a small mountain with dozens of trails suitable for XC mountain biking, all of which are well maintained so that you don’t spend half the time pushing through brush or getting lost.

The downhill from the top of the mountain is a good 10 minutes non stop pure adrenaline rush and there is the added bonus of a car park, restaurant and scenic lake at the base. Khao Ito is located 2-3 hours North East of Bangkok, depending on traffic conditions making a trip to this trail a full day out.

Khao Mai Keaw

Located in Chonburi province, 1-2 hours from Bangkok, Khao Mai Keaw or Tam Pratoon as it is also known is another well known mountain biking track in Thailand that is popular with XC riders. Although the maximum elevation is not high, there are some nice downhill sections and a good combination of terrain and variety of trails to make this a great mountain biking track. Khao Mai Keaw is located on the Eastern seaboard of Thailand, also within close proximity of Pattaya and Rayong.

Wat Suwankhiri

Wat Suwankhiri is situated on a small mountain in Chachoensao province, East of Bangkok. The trail starts in the grounds of a temple (Wat means temple in Thai), and forms a 10km loop around the mountain which can be done either clockwise for fast downhill sections, or counter-clockwise if more technical uphill is your thing.

Few people make it out here so it is likely you will have the trail to yourself but the journey will be worth it as you cycle through jungle and bamboo plantations through some exciting single track. The trail is an hour and a half from Bangkok and lies just off the main road connecting Prachinburi and Chonburi.

Khao Yai Da

One of a number of mountain biking trails in Rayong, Khao Yai Da is a dream for downhill fans featuring huge jumps, ramps, drop-offs, berms and fast decents all packed within this short 2km downhill trail. Downhill fans park their cars at the bottom and cycle/push their bikes up a paved road up the mountain to the start of the downhill before the quick descent to the bottom and often repeat several times.

Khao Yai Da is not recommended for novices despite trails going around some of the ramps, and the cushioned trees give an indication as to how dangerous this trail can be. Reaching Khao Yai Da is quite a drive from Bangkok in the region of 4 hours, however an early start and a combination with other trails in the area can make it worth the effort.

Khao Kheow

Perhaps the most accessible mountain biking track from Bangkok, Khao Kheow is in Chonburi province, around 1 hour from Bangkok and situated near the Khao Kheow Open Zoo and Flight of the Gibbon, two popular tourist destinations in the area.

There are various mountain biking trails in Khao Kheow suitable for XC enthusiasts and a number of different terrains, from riding through farms and forest, to open mountain top and fields. A bike ride at Khao Kheow can be accomplished in half a day leaving plenty of time to explore the open zoo or even do some ziplining!