Bike racks are inevitable accessories for a person who loves biking and needs to carry them around. However, the question of β€œIs my bike rack illegal?” sometimes makes them confused about using various kinds of racks to transport their bikes.

This issue is mainly related to the safety of everyone on the road, alongside the person and vehicle that are carrying the bike. For example, consider the situation in which you return home after enjoying a great bike ride in your car with your bike locked on a rack.

A police officer stops you and fines you with a ticket is not a pleasant situation. So, it is better if bikers are acknowledged about the different problems and conditions that make their bike rack illegal.

In some places, carrying more than one bike might be illegal, while some other regions consider carrying around empty racks illegal. Here are significant points on illegal racks and how people can use any racks legally and safely for themselves and others on the road.

Is Using a Hitch Bike Rack Illegal?

Many incidents happened in recent years in which the car owners got fined for carrying a hitch rack or bikes on it. One reason that made it happen mostly was the visibility of the license plates of the cars.

Many states have special laws that do not allow you to cover the number plates with any object, including bike racks. The number plates need to be visible for checkpoint identifications and usual police identifications.

Some people have questions about attaching a number plate over the rack to be visible. This might work in some places. Although, in most states, the plate needs to be secured onto the car itself, and the number must be clearly visible.

Above all, leaving the rack on the car is also illegal according to some laws. And it is always better to detach the rack when not in use. That will make sure about the safety of other passengers on the road.

A hitch bike rack that is not in use can cause several problems on small roads or places where people are crowded. Beyond everything, a hitch bike rack or the bike on it covering the backlights of the vehicle can also cause problems for other passengers and with the authorities.

Reasons That Make a Bike Rack Illegal

Using roof racks to carry your bikes is great when considering the license plate situation, but it can also get illegal in some cases. For example, a roof rack becomes illegal when the bike added that extra height to your vehicle.

If you attach a roof rack on a truck that already has some height, that, along with the height of the bike, gets a total of a big height in measurement. In some places or roads, passing a vehicle with a height more than recommended can become illegal.

Above all, it can also become illegal when you are not driving carefully with a bike on top of you in a windy area. The bikes and racks will catch all the wind passing through and can cause big problems.

Different states in the United States have different laws for several things. Although, all of them have the same law on the license plate visibility because of the safety consideration of other passengers on the road. There are small changes in the law declarations, but the core idea is the same everywhere.

Another thing that can make the rack illegal is leaving it on the vehicle when not in use. That means if you are not locked any bikes or other things on the rack. That can be an extra part of the vehicle and can cause problems in the road if it has sharp ends or if it takes more space.

In another case, attaching a bike rack permanently to a car can also become illegal in some places. Again, this is due to the vehicle alteration laws in some countries or states.

There are places where the vehicle owners cannot do any alterations unless they are registered under vehicle authorities. Or, they can carry extras if the vehicle already came with those specs from the factory itself.

How Can Safely Carry your Bikes

Some people carry their bikes inside their vehicle, but most bike riders use external racks. The way you carry around your bikes is according to your preferences. However, it must be strong and safe for you and other passengers on the road.

Carrying the bike if it is easy to remove the wheels and store them inside is more recommended. Keeping the bikes inside increases the safety of the bikes, the carrying vehicle, and it never makes anything invisible around your car.

Besides, the bike must be securely locked even inside the vehicle otherwise, it can cause chaos. If you carry the bikes on any racks, the rack must be locked firmly onto the vehicle.

If you are using a roof rack, it is essential to make sure that it is the right locking system available on your car. For tall vehicles, go for a rack that allows the bike to sit as low as possible or just go with any other kind of rack.

As mentioned earlier, if you are using any other kind of racks, always make sure about the position they are seated. Never let them stick much out of the car, and make sure to keep the number plates and lights visible to other vehicles.


Using any rack is never an illegal thing to do in any place on earth, but some rules must be noted to do so. So that is the right answer for the question of is my bike rack illegal?.

So, get in your car and ride alongside all your bikes safely without worrying about doing anything illegal after taking all the steps you have to take.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *