How to Put a Women’s Bike on a Bike Rack

We'll explain in detail how to pick adapters, how to attach a ladies' bike to a rack with them, and what to do if you don't have one.
Gloria Bussey
Gloria Bussey
Product Research and Writer
Gloria is a talented writer based in Chattanooga, TN and enjoys kayaking and mountain biking. She graduated with a business degree in 2007 and is now working on a master's i read more
Reviewed By
Steven Martin
Steven Martin
Vehicle Fit Expert and Consultant
Steven is a skilled car mechanic based in Denver, CO. He's a passionate hiker, devoted backcountry camper and his mechanic expertise allows him to maximize space in any vehi read more
Last updated: August 17, 2023
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The bicycle carrier is an essential part of transporting a bicycle from one place to another without any risk. It is used to more easily transport one or more bikes over a long distance. This tool is a suitable way to fix a bicycle. However, most people have no knowledge or mastery of how to arrange a bicycle on a bicycle rack. Also, not all bicycles can be mounted on specific bike racks and all bicycles cannot be mounted the same way. Ladies and children’s bikes are not as easy to mount on bike racks as you may have thought. 

Nonetheless, in this article, we will be teaching you how to put a women’s bike on a bike rack. The problem with women’s bikes is that the top steel tube is slopy, unlike the horizontal bars you have in larger bikes. This feature, therefore, makes them more unsuitable for normal mounting on a car rack. 

So, what do you do? How do you install this type of bike? Fortunately, there are different solutions to overcome this problem. You will find out about the different mechanisms that need to be put in place and implemented by reading further.

Are the Bike Carriers Suitable for Women’s Sizes?

You go on a family trip, and everyone takes their bikes. You then wonder if the bike carriers are suitable for women or children’s sizes and can be installed like just any other bike. If you’ve never had the opportunity to come across a car that carries a kid’s bike on a bike rack up close, then this is probably why you are asking yourself if the bike carriers are suitable for women’s or children’s sizes? And the answer is yes, but…

You have to know that the bicycle carrier itself was primarily designed to carry large-size bikes. Then again, even if you come across a large size, women’s bikes are sometimes incompatible with certain models of bike carriers.

How to Put a Women’s Bike on a Car Rack with Adapters

How to Put a Women's Bike on a Bike Rack
Child and women size bikes are problematic because the horizontal frame space is too short to fit at the attachment points. Therefore, you will need an adapter to solve this problem. It should be noted that any 16-inch or less bicycle will be categorized as a child’s bicycle. Some 20” bikes may also have this problem.

What Is a Frame Adapter?

The solution to solving the problem is called a frame adapter. A bicycle carrier frame adapter is a metallic device (an adapter bar) that has been designed so that it can adapt the transport of bikes with smaller or special frames to a trunk bike carrier and a suspended hitch bicycle carrier. It fits most kid’s and women’s size bikes because it’s a universal bar. The fastening system is standard for all adapters. The difference will be mainly on the length of the device. The minimum length is 19 inches, and the longest is up to 30 inches. 

As a reference, the model most recommended by our experts and most purchased by bikers is the ALLEN Tension Cross-Bar Adaptor. It’s made of alloy steel and designed to fit bikes of 17 to 24 inches long within the seat post.

How to Use It?

To put a women’s bike on a bike rack with the adapters, you first have to install the adapter bar. Just fit your adapter bar to join the seat post and the handlebar stem. The installation of the bike after this should go as usual and fairly easy.

Now, you need to place the bike on the bike rack. If you don’t have a bike rack yet, one of the best brands for bike racks is YAKIMA. Their HoldUp Hitch Mounted Bike Rack is inexpensive and ideal for up to two bikes.

With both hands, gently lift the bike(s) and place it on the bike rack. Take care that nothing damages the bicycle carrier. Always hold the bicycle with your hands to prevent it from falling.

The layout of a bike depends on the type of bike rack you have. On the one hand, the bicycles are placed in an upright position, and on the other hand, the bicycles are arranged obliquely (especially when the bicycles are placed at the rear of the vehicle).

Then proceed to lock your bike, to maintain its stability on the device (bike carrier). You can finally strengthen the fixation of your bike thanks to the tie-down straps. One of the most recommended straps, in this case, is the Boncas Adjustable Bike Rack Strap. It’s a stabilizer strap of three that is used for securing the bicycle wheel from spinning. 

Wheel brackets are items that exist on a bicycle carrier. They allow you to position the wheels of your bike properly. The wheel supports also help to balance the bike. For this reason, place the wheels of your bike correctly in the brackets. Check if the bike is properly positioned.

Put on the grab bars and secure your bike with the safety buckle. After putting the bike in the wheel racks, hold the bike in the correct position using the bars. The role of safety bars is to hold a bicycle upright on a bicycle carrier and keep it secure, thanks to lock buttons. 

You can secure your bike with a safety buckle. It helps protect your bike against theft. It keeps a bike firmly. With a buckle, secure your bikes to the bike carriers. For this reason, all you need to do is attach your buckle to the bike and iron on your bike rack.

How to Put a Ladies’ Bike on a Bike Rack Without Adapters

How to Put a Women's Bike on a Bike Rack
If you don’t have a women’s bike adapter, there are always other ways to attach the bike to the bike rack. A little ingenuity will suffice. On a roof-mounted bike rack, you will have to put the bike in a horizontal position (lying down) and then hook it with a rigid cable (a mountaineering rope or other type), attach the bike under the frame at the saddle bar. Then attach this cable to one of the mountings on the roof bike carrier. Check that the bike is stable and not moving. If it is necessary to add other ropes, do not hesitate.

On a trunk bike carrier, you will have to fix the bike on the straps of the bike carrier and add other longer straps that you will pass between the frame to secure the bike.

Depending on the size of the bike, the positioning and the length of the straps are up to you. For the suspension hitch bike carrier, there is currently no alternative but the adapter bar. It will therefore be necessary that you obtain this one.

Get a Bike Rack That Accommodates Women’s Bikes

There are newer racks today designed to accommodate women’s bikes. This option is the safest and most reliable as you don’t need further tweaking. 

If you plan to take children’s bikes with you, remember to choose a bike rack that is suitable for them and always take into account the safety recommendations.

Some Tips

Don’t overload the rack. We’ve seen situations whereby people loaded five bikes on a bike rack that was designed to hold just four or even three. While still in the driveway, this may still look stable and secure. However, on the tarmac at a speed of 50 to 80 MPH, terrible things can happen. The bikes could go loose and, perish the thought, all the bikes fall, posing a danger to vehicles coming behind you. 

Ensure the bikes are weight-balanced. The frame of traditional women’s and kid’s bikes have sloping top tubes as well as a smaller geometry. Mounting them on a rack can therefore be troublesome.

Ensure the easy to mount and larger bikes are mounted close to the vehicle and keep the weight of the bicycles balanced with the gravitational center.

Final Thoughts

If we come back to the main question, bike carriers are suitable for child and women sizes provided that a frame adapter is used. One of the two options you have is to get a women’s bike crossbar adapter that can be mounted to look like a horizontal top tube. You also need a wheel stabilizer strap and a bike rack lock. When you have these, follow the instructions given in the next section of the article. You can also mount lady’s bikes on the rooftop or the trailer using the tricks we showed you. 

Finally, bike racks are invented to allow everyone to have the opportunity to easily transport their bike while not posing a problem or risk for other travelers. So, it is important to check correctly if the installation of the bike rack is well done, as well as the arrangement of the bikes. Check whether the bikes are properly secured and avoid overloading the device (bike carrier).

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