Bike-Rack Blunders

Only when you have driven into a low barrier, or tree branch, or garage with bikes on your roof rack, will you understand the process that follows. A dramatic series of emotions, admin and, if you’re not insured, loss of bike or a hefty cash outlay to replace.

The moment you hear the sound, you know. Depending whether you’re on your way to - or back from - your ride, your mood drops instantly from the mild excitement of pre-ride anticipation or buzzing post-ride satisfaction to a low point that is so significant it carries with it the five stages of grief…


You simply are in a state of disbelief that you just did that. You just drove into something that was too low for the bikes on the roof.


Then you get angry. Initially with something/someone other than yourself, but then switching the anger to yourself when you realise that you are actually the only one to blame.


Can you undo it? Please can it be undone! Please? [Weeping sounds]


It’s a super low period emotionally. The more expensive the bikes, the greater the depression.


You can’t change it. It’s done. It wasn’t smart. It was your fault. It isn’t going to be an easy near future. At least nobody died, right?

The moment you hear the sound, you know.

The moment you hear the sound, you know.

Of course, having bicycle insurance won’t make the whole thing unhappen, but it will ensure that while you’re beating yourself up about being so careless, you will have the peace of mind that something good will come of this awful mess. Sundays offers affordable bicycle insurance that covers your bike should it be damaged while on your roof rack or rear-mount rack.*

Real-life bike rack horror stories!

Here are some real-life bike rack horror tales. Some may be amusing. Some may be frightening. Some may be silly. But all are real. All scenarios are relatable. All could happen to you. Let these be your warning.

My mountain bike handlebars caught a low tree branch and pulled the bike out the carrier arm. The bike fell off the side of the car with the wheels still firmly gripped in the wheel holders. The back wheel came off the worst with a pretty bad buckle. – Michael

Collected a friend’s bike but forgot it was on the roof rack and drove straight under a carport at home! The noise was honestly sickening as the bike got ripped off the roof and I watched it fall past the rear window in my mirror. I felt like if I could reverse the car it would rewind the event. My mate had to borrow a bike for her Ironman race four days later. - Craig

I sheared off my tri-bars and saddle, plus huge damage to the garage door, garage ceiling, bike rack and more. I just reversed, took the bike off, re-parked the car and opened two bottles of wine. – Wayne

Dropped my son at school and was going for a ride afterwards, so had my mountain bike on the towbar rack. About three minutes after driving off from the school, I heard cars around me hooting and pointing at the back of my car. Looked in the rearview mirror to discover my bike had disappeared! Pulled over to see the frame clamp must have come loose over speed bumps earlier and the bike was dragging along behind. The wheels were still strapped in. The handlebar was sheared down by about two inches! - Sean

Twice on one trip! Had the bike on the SUV’s roof. First time, did some serious damage to a huge tree’s low-hanging branches. Second one was a few days later when my Stumpjumper removed the drive-thru signage (chains-and-all) at a McDonalds. All of this despite the sticky note on the dashboard reminding me: “BIKE ON ROOF!” courtesy of a well organised wife. – Thomas

Went to visit my mother with a bike on new roof racks. Pulled onto the pavement outside her house where I always parked and couldn't understand why something seemed to stop the car, I backed up and put foot again this time with a bit more vigour! Something was still obstructing the car. On a third and final attempt I managed to park in my regular position and only on exiting the vehicle did I realise what has caused this dilemma. A big fat tree branch met with my bicycle, and my perseverance meant that something had to give way. The frame couldn't be repaired. I had to buy a new frame. – Sandi

I had just taken delivery of a brand-new Trek / Gary Fisher Superfly 9.9, I think it was like £6K back then! I was in the passenger seat working on my laptop. My ex-wife was driving and went into the covered parking at a shopping centre. Needless to say, the bike was totaled. Haven't seen my ex since! Just kidding, but she wasn't popular for the rest of the weekend - Dean

It was a grey and dreary day. I was heading to a bike shop in an open shopping centre parking lot to have a puncture fixed. There was a low cross beam that I didn’t see! Crash, heart stopping moment, bike hanging next to my window. Frame was cracked through. Many ‘I told you so’s’ followed. My bike was broken, the car was fine, my ego was bruised. - Deborah

As a teenager we used to carry my bike on the top of my Dad's car. We'd always remember if we came straight back home from a race but chances were good we'd forget if we did something else after the race, before coming home. We drove into the garage twice with the bike on. The second time however, I freaked out and tried to get out of the car at the same time my Dad started reversing. The open passenger-side door caught on the inside of the garage and got pulled off its hinges. The bike was OK though. – Donovan

Some useful safety tips!

It’s human to forget you have bikes on your car’s roof. Here are some methods that can help you remember and avoid going through the five stages of grief unnecessarily:

  • Put something in front of your garage. When you are leaving home, having loaded your bike or bikes on your roof rack, put something in front of your garage door like a garden chair. This will force you to get out of your car to move it when you get home and will also remind you why you put it there in the first place…
  • Put your garage remote somewhere different. If you have a remote-controlled garage door at home, put the garage door remote in the car boot, or somewhere completely different to where you normally store it. This will force you to look for it and maybe even get out of the car to get it, reminding you in the process that you need to remove your bike/s first.
  • Use a steering wheel cover when transporting bikes. Buy a steering wheel cover that feels quite different to your steering wheel. When you carry bikes on your roof rack, fit the cover to remind you that there’s something different about the height of your car…
  • Sticky note on the dash or windscreen (or mirrors). This also can work as a reminder, but you need to put it somewhere very prominent. Sticking more than one brightly-coloured note, including on your rear-view and or side mirrors can be useful.
We've also tried a sticky note on the steering wheel!

We've also tried a sticky note on the steering wheel!

Sundays offers the best bicycle insurance in the UK. Whether you are a mountain biker, road cyclist, cycle commuter, triathlete or eBike rider, you are at risk of bicycle damage, making comprehensive bicycle insurance a sure way to gain peace of mind. *Terms and conditions apply.

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