How to Carry Bike on Roof without Rack

It’s incredible what our passions can make us do to achieve that feeling of satisfaction. For example, as a cyclist, you may be having your favorite cycling terrain far away from your residence. And nothing gives you joy and comfort than riding through that terrain.

It, therefore, makes sense to transport your bike to your favorite place and enjoy cycling. However, your car doesn’t have a roof rack. What do you do now? You can buy one and install it.

If you don’t have the money to buy yourself a roof rack, I will enlighten you on how to carry bike on roof without rack. Read on to find out.

How do you carry a bike on the roof without a bike rack?

You can carry a bike without a rack by strapping the bike on the roof. However, you have to be careful not to scratch the roof’s paint. 

Strapping your bike on top of the roof is an efficient way of transporting your bike to your favorite cycling terrain. However, the condition of the car’s roof should be of primary concern. The bicycle may scratch the roof and remove the paint.

Also see: How can I remember my bike on the roof?

I will give you a detailed procedure for strapping the bike on the roof without accruing much damage. And how to enhance the safety of the bicycle and other motorists as well.

Some of the Materials You Can Use To Strap Your Bike on the Roof

  • Ratchet Straps

Ratchet straps are rock solid and reduce the risk of loosening and slipping due to vibrations. Unlike a car rack, they are cheap, and you can acquire several for around $10. Check the strength of the straps to ensure they can hold the bike’s weight.

We recommend this 15 Feet long 500 Lbs rachet strap 

Avoid cranking the straps too much as they damage your car’s roof or the bike’s components.

  • Rope

If you are running low on finances, you can use a rope to tie down your bike. It is an efficient method because it adds versatility. You can use many to enhance holding strength.

Tying knots can be challenging if you have never used them before. If that’s the case, first learn the different techniques of tying knots. Additionally, choose a rope that is rigid and can hold the bike over a long distance.

  •  Bungee Cords

Use bungee cords to prevent the bike’s wheels from spinning. Avoid relying on them as the primary tie-downs as they are hard to maneuver. The safety of your bike is paramount if you want to have successful transportation.

We recommend these 36 inch bungee cords 

  • Tarp

When you finish strapping your bike on the roof (I will take you through the whole process), I recommend covering the bicycle using a tarp. It is ideal if you are embarking on a long journey. Consequently, you prevent dust accumulation or keep the bike dry in case of rainfall.

We recommend this car tarp for covering your bike

Also see: Are roof racks bad for bikes?

Step By Step Process of Using Straps to Carry Your Bike on Roof without Rack

  • Read the manual. Each of the above products (except the rope) comes with detailed instructions for use. The bungee cords and the ratchet straps have different instructions. Read the guidelines before use.
  • Lay down a blanket on your car’s roof to prevent roof damage. It protects the roof’s paint and prevents friction when moving. It is also an efficient way of absorbing vibrations, thus keeping the bike intact.
  • Since you don’t have a roof rack, your car may have rise rails or cross rails, and in other cases, it may not have anything at all. Read the manufacturer manual to know the proper use of the rails and the maximum allowable weight.
  • When securing straps, guarantee tightness by running them through the doors and not the windows. Give the straps/ropes a twist to ensure there is no noise when moving. It also reduces the amount of force exerted on the straps.
  • If your straps have hooks, attach them all inside your car.
  • Place your bike in the middle of the roof between the doors. Line it up from the beginning of the roof such that it is not hanging over the windshield. You, therefore, get a clear view when driving and ensure there is no updraft as the bike can catch air and cause movement.
  • If your bike is long and the wheels end up hanging on the windshield, unmount the front wheel and place it inside the boot. Assemble it again when you reach your destination.

Proper Use of Straps

You must ensure that the straps and ropes get the proper attachment. It prevents them from becoming loose, opening, unfastening, or releasing while the car is moving. Observe the following guidelines for efficient strap use.

  • If you are transporting more than one bike, they should be in direct contact to prevent constant shifting during transit.
  • Avoid over-tightening straps as they may cause damage to your car.
  • Cover your bike using a sturdy tarp or netting.
  • Follow manufacturer manual
  • Push and pull the bike/bikes individually to ensure they get held tightly.
  • Check the bike after every ten minutes of driving.
  • Don’t over speed and stay on your lane on freeways and highways.

Test Load

Before going out on the road, make a short trip around your neighborhood to test the effectiveness. Brake consistently to see if the bike gets held tightly. You have to be sure.

During transit, if you hear rattling noises or whipping sounds, pull over and countercheck the bike. You may have a loosened strap/rope, rendering your bike unsecured.

Check Government Regulations

It is illegal to transport cargo on the roof in some regions. Consult your local government to ensure you are not breaking the law when transporting your bike on the roof. Remember, you are already operating on a budget, and there is no need for extra fines.

When Is It Ideal to Transport Your Bike on Roof without Rack?

You can transport your bike on the roof with straps if you do not have a roof rack. It is a cost-effective way of conveying your bicycle.

You can also use straps if you are not traveling for a long distance. The straps/ropes can endure over short distances.

Is It Okay to Carry Bikes on Roof without Roof Rack?

Yes, it is okay to carry your bike on the roof without a rack.

However, you have to ensure that it gets secured by strapping it tightly. It helps reduce movement. Additionally, consult your local government to see if they permit transportation of cargo on the roof.

How Do I Carry My Bike on the Roof?

The most efficient way of carrying your bike on the roof is by using a rack. However, no everyone has the money to buy one. Another ideal way of achieving this is through the use of ropes/straps.

With effective tightening techniques (mentioned above), carrying your bike on the roof is a straightforward process.

Can I Strap a Bike on the Roof of My Car?

Yes, you can. There are various materials one can use, like bungee cords, ropes, and ratchet straps.

Unlike a rack where it is pretty simple to mount your bike on the roof, these materials require the utmost attention to detail.

You have to countercheck every knot to ensure your bike gets held tightly.

Is Strapping a Bike on Roof without Rack Safe?

Yes, it is safe to strap your bike on roof without a rack, as long as you execute the procedure to perfection. To achieve safety, avoid leaving any parts hanging and counterchecking that all its components are well strapped.

You can prevent noise when in transit by removing movable parts that cannot get strapped. For example, you can disengage the pedals or front and rear wheels.


I have shown you how to carry bike on roof without rack. You can now transport it without having safety concerns. Let us have a recap of what it entails.

You need the necessary materials like ratchet straps, bungee cords, ropes, and a tarp.

Achieve proper strapping by placing the bike in the middle of the roof on a blanket to guarantee balance and prevent scratching. Follow the manufacturer manual as it should be your primary guide.