By Stuart Churchill and Samuel Smith
Published: Friday, March 19, 2021
For most avid cyclists, the bike rack is an essential motoring accessory – because not all adventures start from home base.
But before you go fitting your 2-wheeled pride and joy to your 4-wheeled workhorse, make sure you’re following the law.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we’re hitting the streets and cycle paths to improve our health and explore our stunning state.
But unless you have access to a people mover or large SUV, carting a bike from A to B is no easy feat.
Enter, the car bike rack.
Available at most bike and auto stores, basic racks start from about $150. There are 3 main types to choose from.
Roof-mounted bike racks attach to the feet and cross bars of a car’s pre-existing roof racks. If you own a car with roof racks, a roof-mounted bike rack is the way to go.
Boot-mounted bike racks attach to your car by straps and hooks that fit around the lip of your boot. Rubber feet grip the car while arms suspend your bike, keeping it away from your paintwork.
Towbar-mounted bike racks feature locks that secure your bike to the rack, and the rack to your towbar. They’re the simplest to use of all bike racks, but are often the most expensive.
Whichever type of rack you choose, make sure both the rack and bike(s) are securely fastened. If travelling long distances, check again when you stop for a rest break.
If you’re fitting a boot-mounted or towbar-mounted bike rack to your car, all of your number plate must be visible at all times.
If any part of your bike rack (or the bike itself) obscures any part of your number plate, you could be up for a $507 fine and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy. To avoid heartache, and keep safe on the road, you’ll need to source a supplementary plate.
For those thinking they can dodge the penalty by fitting a homemade plate – put the Textas and cardboard down.
Bike rack plates can only be purchased from Service SA. They have the same registration number as your regular plates, so you can’t use them on any other vehicle.
It’s also important to note: the turnaround can be up to 10 business days, so be sure to factor this in if you’ve planned a trip in advance.
The fine for displaying a dodgy plate? $741 and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy. If you’re driving interstate, you could even face criminal charges.
Also note, if your brake lights aren’t visible from a distance of 200m under normal weather conditions, and/or are obscured by your bike, you’ll need to attach additional light units to your bike rack.
Also make sure that no part of your bike protrudes more than 150mm beyond the sides of your vehicle.
Be safe, be seen
A bike rack isn’t the only thing that could obscure your number plate.
Heading back from an off-road trip or skipped the car wash a few too many times? If your plates are too dirty to read, you could be slapped with a $507 fine and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy.
The same applies if your plates have come loose or are hanging on an angle. A quick wash and a simple check could save you, and your wallet, a world of hurt.
If you’re planning to travel at night, check your number plate lights are in good working order. If not, you’re at risk of being defected.
Finally, it might seem obvious, but ensure your tow hitch or tow ball isn’t obscuring your rear number plate.
Most modern hitches can be easily removed when they’re not in use. If you’ve just come back from a biking trip, using a towbar-mounted bike rack, ensure your hitch isn’t jutting up over your plate.