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Are you in the market for a bike frame adapter bar? No doubt you’ve heard they’re the best way to transport your bike if you have trouble mounting it on your car rack. This guide covers what you need to know about choosing the best bike frame adapter bar so you can bring your bike on any rides or road trips.
A Bike Frame Adapter Bar is Also Called a Cross Beam
A bike frame adapter bar goes by many names. You might hear it called a cross beam, a cross-bar top tube or a level top tube. If you’re a seasoned cyclist, you’re probably familiar with the terminology and how a bike frame adapter bar works.
If not, then know that a bike frame adapter acts as a bridge between your bike’s seat tube and stem.
Once you have it in place, you can use that “bridge” to attach the bike to the cradles on your hitch rack or truck-mounted rack.
But is a bike frame adapter really necessary? In most cases, yes.
Why You Need a Bike Frame Adapter Bar
If your bike doesn’t have a level bar from seat to handles, chances are you won’t be able to sit your bike neatly on the rack. In addition, if you are transporting several bikes without adapters and they are not all level, one side of the rack will likely have to bear more weight, which can be risky. The adapter bar will give you peace of mind.
Plus, the arm supports on your rack might not fit properly into the “triangle” of your bike’s frame. There’s also a greater chance that the bikes’ stems will keep rotating. Your bikes can bump into each other or your car’s trunk, scraping some paint off themselves or the car.
And if your bike has a non-standard frame, you simply have no choice but to use an adapter.
That said, some people have enough room on their bike racks to keep their bikes balanced and level while transporting them without an adapter. Others have racks that use the bike’s wheels as attach points. This keeps the bike firmly in place, making an adapter unnecessary.
Choosing the Best Bike Frame Adapter Bar
There is a wide range of choices available, but these factors can help you find the right bike adapter bar for your bike rack.
- Size: Ideally, it’s best to get an adjustable bike frame adapter that fits a variety of bikes. Some adapters have a telescoping tube that can be adjusted with a spring-loaded button. Once the adapter has opened to the correct length, you can lock it in place to keep it extended. If you get an adapter bar that doesn’t adjust, ensure it’s the right length for the distance between your seat post and headset.
- Durability: Bike frame adapters made from aluminum, steel or carbon fiber are typically most durable.
- Coating: Adapters with anti-rust coating are always best. The coating shouldn’t come off easily.
- Ease of use: Read online reviews to find out whether the bike frame adapter you want is easy to install. After mounting, the adapter bar should stay firmly in place. It’s best to choose an adapter bar with the right “hole size” to ensure a firm attachment. Some bike adapters have hooks, but adapters with a clamp system or locking collar design are ideal.
- Capacity: Check how much weight the adapter supports to prevent overloading the bike and having the adapter break during transit. Also, some bike adapters can be used on more than one bike. If you need one like that, be sure to check the dimensions and carrying capacity of the bike frame adapter bar to verify that it’s suitable for carrying more than one bike.
- Versatility: Make sure the adapter bar works with all types of bike carriers, whether you’re mounting on a hitch, trunk or spare tire.
- Bike protection: You don’t want a bike frame adapter that scratches your bike finish, so choose one with molded rubber or plastic-coated clamps.
- Warranty: A longer warranty is usually a good indicator of quality, which means more bang for your buck.
5 Best Bike Frame Adapter Bars
Below are the bike frame adapter bars we feel are the best on the market. Please note I have used some Amazon reviews to compile the pros and cons for each option.
Allen Sports’ model 900B is the most popular for transporting your bike and it’s suitable for any standard bike rack. The length varies from 16 inches to 27 inches.
- Has internal spring to maintain tension and keep your bike in place
- Hooks have a plastic coating to protect the bike’s finish
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Hooks still have metal ends that can damage your bike’s finish
Yakima’s TubeTop is a one-bar bike adapter with a weight capacity of 45 pounds. It’s suitable if the dimensions between your bike stem and seat post range from 14.5 to 31.5 inches.
- Molded collars to protect your bike’s finish
- Anti-rotation inserts for improved stability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- No locking mechanism
The Swagman Deluxe bike frame adapter has a telescopic adjustment ranging from 19 inches to 26 inches, so it can fit most frames. It has a weight capacity of 35 pounds on hanging racks.
- Has push buttons for easy installation and removal
- Vinyl-coated hangers that protect your bike’s finish and secure firmly to your bike
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Might not be suitable for all standard bike frames and weights
The Saris Bike Beam is suitable for a variety of bike frame styles. The telescoping bar adjusts from 19 inches to 25 inches long, and the bar has a weight capacity of 35 pounds.
- Lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s faults and defects
- Easy to install and mount, and the clamps have a rubber coating
- Stays in place during transit
- Durable and strong
- Beam is not spring-loaded and has no locking mechanism
- Telescoping tube has an adjustable length of between 21 and 28 inches to fit various bike sizes.
- Holds bike firmly in place with an interlocking gate that keeps each plastic clamp closed unless you push a button to open.
- Made from steel and has a rust-resistant black powder coat finish.
- You may need to add extra padding on the clamps’ contact points to protect your bike’s finish.
- The length may be too long for some standard children’s and women’s bikes.
Bike bar adapters are an easy solution for fitting your bikes to your vehicle’s rack. They are typically recommended for women’s bikes and kid’s bikes. An adapter bar is also great if you have a full-suspension mountain bike.
Use the factors mentioned above to make comparisons and find the best bike frame adapter for any bike style. Our top five cross-bar adapter suggestions are a great starting point. So start shopping and enjoy hooking up your bikes and taking them wherever you want to go, be it road trips, camping trips, or other getaways.