Own a BMW and want to tote a bike? BMW sells some very stout factory roof racks. These racks mount by screwing into the frame …
Own a BMW and want to tote a bike? BMW sells some very stout factory roof racks. These racks mount by screwing into the frame of the roof of your BMW. These look a lot like Thule racks but are adorned with BMW labels and fit incredibly securely.
What I like about BMW racks is that they mount by screwing into the frame of the BMW, not just merely pinched down. The BMW Base Support system costs about $240. From this base you can adapt ski holders, surfboard carriers, cargo boxes and luggage racks.
BMW’s racks have a very clean design with silver bars and black base towers. The base towers are sculpted to follow the contour of the BMW’s roof. Labels are placed on the bottom side of these light feeling racks that remind you which one goes in front and the rear. This is important so that the contour of the base matches up with the BMW’s roof.
A neat trick I’ve used before when using just the racks to carry things such as a ladder or even, gulp, a canoe is that you can put the tow hook on the front bumper and I got an extra tow hook so ropes can securely tie the thing down front and rear.
A bonus feature of these BMW bicycle holder’s over most aftermarket suppliers such as Yakima is that the BMW ones come with secure keyed locks that keep your bicycle from being stolen. Though the bolts that hold the racks on are coded bolts, it’s still possible that these could be removed but would be difficulty.
For the roof racks to be installed on the 92-99 E36 3 Series models the rubber stripping in the rain gutters needs to be pushed back at the joint of the doors and roof. The roof rack has reversed-L-shaped mounts that the BMW roof rack mounts on. The rack is then secured by tightening its coded bolts. A nice bonus is that the different bicycle holders and accessories are exchangeable between different BMW racks. So when you replace your BMW, all you need to do is get a new base.
On newer BMW cars there are four little trap doors hiding the base mounting point on the roof. BMW gives you a little plastic key to pop these open. They’re very useful because it’s easy to chip the paint trying to pop it up. Once up, the base of the BMW rack seats down and then the base mounting screw is torqued down. I have used the old type pinch down or across base systems on other cars and they never felt as secure as this bolt it to the frame of the car. I have seen a similar system on Porsche. It’s an incredibly secure base.
BMW sells six different bicycle holders from roof to hitch to trunk. The $152 BMW Racing Cycle Holder is a lockable, quick release type holder that fastens securely on the front fork. The rear wheel stays on and is strapped to the tray. It requires removal of the front wheel of the bicycle which is easy on quick release front hubs. I have one of these and use it to hold my carbon fiber bicycles. It offers secure mounting an minimal shifting during high speeds on the freeway compared to the upright style bike holder.
The $155 BMW Touring Cycle/ Mountain Bike holder is great for your more rugged bicycles, such as the BMW Touring Bicycle pictured on this Valencia Orange BMW 1M. This is designed for bicycles with a least 1” frame diameter, up to a 2.1”. Tires strap down to the bicycle holder with blocks and locking ratcheting plastic straps. Between these blocks is an adjustable center arm which reaches up and ratchets down to hold the frame of the bicycle. The bikes do mount firmly but do buffet and wiggle quite a bit more on the highway with this route compared to the racing cycle holder. They still hold up to 90 mph though the wind noise at that speed is really loud.
The BMW racks can support four bicycle holders, but I am only comfortable with three and I alternate their direction so the handle bars don’t bump into each other. In the past, I have used other bicycle carriers, Yakima and Thule, as well as different systems roof and hitch mount, and amongst all of them, I find the factory mount that BMW has engineered into the roofs of their cars to be best.
They look great, and are designed to work with your BMW. Their prices are even reasonable. The only place where I’d choose the others brands over a BMW rack would be on the hitch mounted variety.