Best Bike Rack for Tesla Model 3 (and How to Mount It)


Best Bike Rack for Model 3 Tesla and How to Mount It

Biking is one of the most popular forms of recreation and exercise, but not everyone has nearby access to bike paths and trails.  Fortunately, there is a wide variety of bike racks available that make transporting bikes easy and convenient for bike riders of all levels.  In this article, we examine bike racks for the Model 3 Tesla and determine the best one.

What is the best bike rack for Model 3 Tesla, and how is it mounted?  The best option, taking into account (1) carrying capacity, (2) cost and (3) ease of installation, is a trunk mount bike rack, and the 3-bike premier rack from Allen Sports is our top choice. It offers the best combination of good performance, great value, and ease of use. As explained below, installation can be done in less than five minutes, even by a first-time user.

Different Types of Bike Racks for Model 3 Tesla

Bike racks are available in a wide range of styles and configurations depending on how many bikes you need to transport and what type of vehicle you drive.  Our focus is on sedans (specifically the Model 3 Tesla), and therefore we have narrowed our search for the best bike rack to three bike rack categories:  

  1. Hitch mount bike racks
  2. Roof mount bike racks
  3. Truck mount bike racks.  

The other types which we will not consider are bed racks which are limited to pick-up trucks, and external spare tire racks which are typically used on SUVs.

Hitch Mount Bike Rack

This type of rack is perhaps the easiest to install and offers the least cumbersome method of securing bikes for transport and removing them to ride because they basically consist of either a platform or a post onto which the bikes are placed.  Unfortunately, a hitch mount bike rack requires that your vehicle already has a trailer or tow hitch installed, as every version of this type of rack attaches to the existing hitch.

While you can install a trailer or tow hitch yourself (and there are plenty of resources online to guide you through it), most people prefer to have it professionally installed.  Because of this additional requirement, we move on to roof mount bike racks.

Roof Mount Bike Rack

A roof mount rack transports bikes on the roof of a vehicle.  The majority of roof mount bike racks attach to the crossbars on a vehicle’s roof rack system.  While roof racks are standard equipment on many makes and models of vehicles these days, they are more common on SUVs than sedans.  Furthermore, adding a roof rack feature to any vehicle can be costly.

If installing roof rails and crossbars is not an option, there are roof mount bike racks that utilize powerful suction cups to attach the bike rack to the roof of your car.  

A pumping mechanism is attached to each suction cup, and the resulting vacuum creates a very strong bond between the pad on each suction cup to the surface of the car. A common setup with the suction cup system consists of two separate sections.  The main section is a large bar with multiple suction cups that secures the front of the bike (the front wheel may need to be removed).  Additional suction cup modules secure the rear wheel of each bike being transported.  

Because of the stability that is needed to transport bikes on the roof of a car, the suction cups need to create a powerful vacuum seal with the surface of the car, and this has the potential to create problems if the vacuum pressure is excessive.  (More on this later with specific regard to Model 3 Teslas.)

Tesla Brand Roof Racks (Flat Bar)

Non-Tesla Brand Roof Racks (Flat Bar)

Suction Cup Roof Racks (Bike)

Suction Cup Roof Racks (Flat Bar)

Here are some other factors to consider for roof mount bike racks:

PROSCONS
– Provides a completely unobstructed view through rearview mirror.

– Allows full access to trunk/rear of vehicle.

– Some roof mount bike racks can be accessorized to accommodate other types of equipment (skis, snowboards, etc.).

– Security measures (anti-theft) are available for both the rack itself and bikes that are being transported.
– Bikes must be lifted onto the roof of the vehicle and secured for transport and taken down to ride, which can be problematic with heavier bicycles (mountain bikes can weigh up to 30 pounds).

– Increased drag (reduced fuel efficiency for your car) and noise during driving.

– Height of the vehicle increases dramatically (beware of low-clearance garages, parking structures, fast food drive-thrus).

Trunk Mount Bike Rack

This style bike rack is the simplest in design and concept, and in most cases, is the most economical.  A trunk mount bike rack consists of a metal frame that has several padded struts that rest against the rear of the vehicle.  This is where the bulk of the weight and stress load is placed.  Mounting usually takes minutes.

Trunk mount bike racks have multiple straps (typically six to eight) with coated hooks that latch on to various metal edges of the trunk or trunk lid to secure the rack to the vehicle and create added stability.  These straps, usually made of nylon or similar material, are fed through a buckle and tighten when pulled (much like backpack straps).

PROSCONS
– Economical but effective.

– Rack is easily installed and removed (many models fold up and can themselves be stored in the trunk of the vehicle).

– Certain models can accommodate up to 4 adult-sized bicycles.

– Bikes need be lifted only a few feet above the ground, minimizing strain of mounting and dismounting bikes.

– Easily transferable from one vehicle to another, or mounted on rental cars.
– View will be partially obstructed through rear window or backup camera.

– Caution must be exercised when backing up the vehicle (additional two feet added to rear length).

– No access to the trunk when bikes are mounted.

– Not recommended for trips with prolonged stops as there are minimal security features (anti-theft) for both the rack and the bikes.

– Rear license plate may be partially or completely obstructed.

The Unique Design of Model 3 Tesla

In many cases, the particular vehicle on which the bike rack will be mounted and the specific characteristics of that vehicle may dictate what styles and types of bike racks will be feasible.  In the case of the Model 3 Tesla, this is particularly true.

The Model 3 was introduced by Tesla in July 2017 and within two years became the all-time best selling plug-in electric car in the United States, due in part to its relatively affordable $35,000.00 sticker price for the standard range model.

In general, the Model 3 has been praised for its sleek, simplistic modern design.  From the standpoint of a biking enthusiast, however, it presents challenges.  Unless the Model 3 owner is willing to invest in installing either a roof rack system or a trailer/tow hitch, the only other bike rack options are a suction cup roof mount system or a trunk mount system.

Here’s where things get tricky with mounting a suction cup system on the roof of the Model 3.  One of the most notable design features on a Model 3 is its abbreviated trunk section.  When viewed in profile, the Model 3 is almost hatchback-like in appearance because the trunk is so short.  Another interesting design feature of the Model 3 is its roof.  

On standard models the roof of the car, starting from the center and extending all the way back to the trunk lid, is made of a solid piece of glass.  On special edition Model 3s the entire roof is made of glass (the Panoramic roof edition). 

There have been documented incidents where suction cups that were over-pressurized actually cracked the glass underneath the vacuum pad.  One manufacturer of suction cup bike racks has even linked a work-around for this problem on its website.  Although the occurrences of this problem are few, it is nevertheless a documented hazard and a potentially costly one at that.

Why the Allen Sports Premier Trunk Mount Rack is the Top Choice

The S-103 Premier 3-bike trunk mount rack from Allen Sports offers an easy-to-install system that securely transports up to 100 pounds of bicycle weight for a reasonable price (check it out at Amazon). Its fold-up, space-saving storage design allows it to be stored in the trunk of your Model 3, and within minutes, you can be on the road, headed to your favorite biking spot.

The Allen Sports premier trunk mount bike rack is also available in two- and four-bike configurations.

So how easy is it to install?  See for yourself.

How to Install the Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mount Bike Rack

This bike rack can be installed within minutes, even by bike rack novices, and no tools are required.  If this is your first trunk mount bike rack, it is important to become familiar with the rack and its components and to have a general understanding of how it works.

Once you have removed the rack from its box, you will notice that it is in its folded storage configuration. 

  • Unfold the rack and identify the two padded struts (two rubber feet on each) that essentially place the weight load of the bikes against the top and lower portions of the Model 3’s trunk door.  
  • The upper strut is attached to the arms that support the bikes and will rest on the top of the trunk lid.
  • The lower strut will rest against the bottom of the trunk door where it meets the rear bumper.

There are six heavy-duty nylon straps with flat hooks at the ends of the straps.  The hooks are coated to protect the Model 3’s paint and finish and will latch on to various points of the trunk door.  

Step One: Set Up the Trunk Mount Bike Rack

The first step is to prepare the rack for mounting by locking the bike support arms into place.  The upper padded support struts are connected to the bike support arms (you can identify the arms by the three sets of cradles and tie-downs that secure the bikes).  The lower padded support struts are attached to a u-shaped metal frame.  

Swing the support arms away from the lower support strut until the set-up pins snap into place – the support arms should lock into position, creating close to a ninety-degree angle with the support arms in a horizontal alignment and the u-shaped frame in a vertical alignment.

Next, identify the three sets of straps that will stabilize the rack and secure it to your Model 3.  There is a pair of upper straps, a pair of lateral straps (the hooks on these are marked “Side Straps” by the manufacturer), and a pair of lower straps.

Before installing, ensure that each of the padded rubber feet is clean and free of any dirt particles.  This will prevent any scratches or scuff marks to the paint and finish of your Model 3.

Step Two: Attach the Upper Straps

Position the rack against the back of the trunk door (the vertical portion) with the bike support arms parallel to the ground.  

One at a time, securely attach the upper straps to the rear edge (where the trunk meets the rear window) of the trunk lid.  

Make sure that the two hooks are adequately spaced from each other.  Each hook must be completely hooked over the metal edge of the trunk lid. 

Adjust the length of the upper straps so that the support arms are now angled slightly upward.  This will ensure that the bikes are properly elevated above the ground and away from the vehicle’s exhaust.

Step Three: Attach the Lower Straps

With the upper straps secure, we will now proceed to attach the lower straps. Due to the Model 3’s design, the lower straps, which would normally be hooked onto a metal edge beneath the rear bumper, are better hooked onto the bottom edge of the trunk door (below the license plate area).

There may be too much slack in the lower strap to allow for proper tightening.  To remedy this, remove the lower straps completely from the lower cross bar. 

Take each strap and loop it around the bike support arm (in front of the inner-most set of bike cradles) and then latch the hook onto the bottom edge of the trunk lid.  

Make sure that the two hooks are adequately spaced from each other.  

Tighten both straps, ensuring that the bike rack is secure.

Step Four: Attach the Side Straps

We now turn our attention to the side straps which provide lateral support for the bike rack.  If you stand at the rear of the Model 3, looking down at the top of the trunk lid, you will notice that the lid is irregularly shaped, with portions that flare out above the left and right rear turn-signal/brake lights.  It is on these flared parts of the trunk lid that we want to attach our lateral straps.

Starting with the left side strap, attach the hook to the edge of the trunk lid that flares out above the left-side turn signal/brake light.  Repeat this process on the right side. 

 Once both side straps are securely attached, tighten the straps.  Here are a few photos of this rack installed on a Model 3. 

Due to the unique and quirky design of the Model 3, this is one of the few vehicles where the trunk can be opened with the rack mounted!

Before loading your bikes, ensure that all six straps are properly tightened and that the bike rack is securely mounted on your Model 3.  It is important that each of the padded rubber feet is resting against a metal surface.  

Once you are confident that the bike rack has been properly mounted, you are ready to start loading your bikes.

Step Five: Loading Bicycles

Before loading bicycles, make sure that all loose items have been removed from them (e.g., water bottles, pumps, totes).  When loading multiple bikes, always load the heaviest one first, closest to the vehicle, and the lightest bicycle furthest from the vehicle.

When loading the first bike, have the gears and chain facing you (away from the vehicle).  Lift the bicycle and position the top bar of the bike’s frame onto the cradle on each support arm.  

Center the bicycle on the two support arms so that the weight is evenly distributed.  It may be necessary to secure the front wheel so that it does not come into contact with the rear of your Model 3.  

If there is excess length of the lower strap available, you can wrap it around the front wheel and secure it to the rack to prevent any movement during transport.

Each cradle has a tie-down strap on one end that is secured by tightly pulling over the bicycle frame and fastening to a peg on the other side of the cradle.

Proceed to load additional bicycles, alternating their direction to distribute weight evenly and strapping down tightly in their cradles.

As a reminder, the maximum load for this particular trunk mount bike rack is 100 pounds total, which equates to roughly three adult-sized mountain bikes.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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