Tip of the day: How to avoid decapitating your bike

If you have a bike…and you have a car…it’s likely the two occasionally mate.  There are many ways they can have a relationship together – be it inside the car, hanging out on the back, or one of the most popular – up on top.


The problem with the up on top methodology is that it places the bike in the ideal position for a post-ride fail.  What kinda fail?  Well, you’ve finished up that long bike ride and you’re either exhausted…or jazzed.  As you approach the house you revel in the fact that you can finally relax a bit.  Naturally like every other time you near the garage you press the magical button and the garage door opens.  Moments later you start to drive in without a second thought.

And then you hear it…a bunch of snapping, shearing, and twisting pain.  You have now disassembled the bike in a less than ideal manufacturer recommended manner.

So, how do you prevent this?  Well, there are a number of ways that folks try.  Most center around placing something in ones garage that blocks them from entering – such as a box or traffic cone.

The problem with that is that I’m lazy.  That requires me to both remember and then actually complete the task of placing the item there pre-ride (especially early in the morning).

My method?  Much simpler.

As I leave the house and press the button to close the garage door I simply take the garage door opener off the visor and toss it into the passenger side on the floor.  This is beneficial in that I’ve now removed it from my easy access.  So I as drive back to the house hours later it’s no longer something I’d reachable mindless access to or press without realizing it.

Thus: Problem…meet…solution.  No bike decapitation.

Have a great weekend all!  And if you’re in the DC area and headed to the Bumpus in Rumpass on Saturday for the Olympic race and see me at the race, say hello!  Would love to meet ya!


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  1. I’ve done this, and it was expensive: $1600 repair bill for the car; the rack was ruined, and the bike has a huge dent in the top tube.
    Now I put the garage remote in the trunk with the front bike wheel. Solved.

  2. Anonymous

    I’ve done this too. Snapped bike in two, ruined roof of car & damaged house….

  3. Enjoy this weekend’s race :)

    Unfortunately DC is a bit too far from home (Madrid, Spain)

    Funny post, thanks!


  4. Isn’t it just that there are two groups of people with roof racks? Ones that have crunched their bikes on something, and the others that will eventually in the future?

  5. I love your simple tips, lately! I used to worry that we’d do this all the time, but somehow we always remembered!!

  6. Anonymous

    What do you do if your car has a built in garage door button?

  7. That’s why I have a rear mount bike rack. Plus alot less bugs are on my bike when I get to destination.

  8. I live in the city where no one has a garage. Problem solved.

  9. Someone I know uses an old bike glove and puts the garage opener inside it to remind himself. This is one of those mistakes that people seem to only make once. I personally only use rear mounted carriers because I’m sure I would end up making this mistake eventually.

  10. My car has a built in garage door button. Apparently, technology is adapting so that roof racks can still snap bikes. Evolution?


  11. That is the best solution that I have heard to date. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Anonymous

    Beware of rear mount bike racks! I used to have one but was in an accident on my way home (ironically) from my A race, hit from behind on I95. Carbon bike = death by minivan. Thank God my Zipps were in the car….

  13. Ron

    Before leaving I just drag a garbage can into the middle of the entrance so I have to get out after opening it.

  14. Jen

    The glove compartment in your car is a magical place.

    (1) It can hold your garage door opener when you want to make sure to not drive through. Handy when you have a passenger who might step on your garage door opener if it’s left on the floor.

    (2) It can hold a roll of masking tape so that you actually tape over the built-in garage-door opener button in your dashboard.

  15. Chris

    Yes…I have been there. The carbon fork was ripped in half. Fortunately no vehicle damage. I did end up getting a new road bike though:)

  16. MCWoody1

    Yakima used to sell a small spring loaded sign with a magnetic base that would attach out on the car’s hood. At speed, the wind would keep the sign down but when stopped, it would pop up a small red and white “ROOF RACK ABOVE” warning.

    It was an easy way to alert everyone else stopped at red lights that the driver liked to waste money on gadgets.

  17. Having done that… I now have the same method – I put the garage door opener in the glove box. Expensive lesson!

  18. Hilarious! With my hitch-mounted rack, I haven’t had to deal with this yet. Good thing to remember though as I almost certainly would do this.

  19. I used to have a car with the built in door opener,I would lower the sunglasses holder to block the button, when I looked up to close the sunglasses thing, I would see the bike on the roof through the sunroof – problem solved. Well, actually it was solved when the lease expired on that car and I bought an element. Thing is ugly, but bikes inside, upright, clean on arrival, and I can pull in the garage no worries.

  20. Baptiste


    I am sure this kind exists in the US.
    As an example:
    link to decathlon.fr

    Or you can buy it next winter during your ski trip ;-)
    It is the definitive solution!


  21. Repairment of the garage door is not an easy it really hard to do. i am working Alexandria Garage door repair

  22. Christoph

    ….just came accross your article earlier and an hour later I see this pop up in the mtbr feed – The High-Tech-solution to the aforementioned problem:
    link to reviews.mtbr.com


  23. Terry

    I saw people drove into shopping mall under roof car park. Bike and roof rack both got torn down >;<

  24. David Levasseur

    I had to go one step further. I actually put the remote into a ziploc baggie with a note inside it that says, “Bike on roof.” Seems like overkill but ramming the bike into the garage is just, well, kill…

  25. Anthony

    Works great at home; it just doesn’t remind you not to pull into a parking garage…

    I did this with my mountain bike. The handle bars got caught on the yellow rod that hangs down and says 7 feet. My thought was that my car is under 7 feet but something told me it didn’t seem right but it didn’t bother me enough to not proceed forward. I proceeded and ripped the bike and rack right off the car. I slammed on the brakes as soon as I heard this and said OH S***, the bike and rack swung back and forth on the hanging pole and broke the back window, and put some serious gouges in the roof and trunk. None the less this was on a serious incline in a tight garage and I did my best to drive away but a stick car on the only hill I’ve ever ben on in Florida wasn’t on my side. Bike made it out unscathed though!

  26. Thomasbien

    The original idea of throwing the opener into the passenger foot well is not very helpful to me. Most of the time I come home the garage door is already open because my spouse is home.

    The better idea for me is commented above: drag an object into your spot in the garage to prevent pulling in. I’m thinking about a pivoting or telescoping arm attached the side garage wall that I can swing or pull into place when I leave with a bike on the roof. From this pole a red flag or sign would hang. It would be an obvious reminder not to pull in.

  27. Eric Malinowski

    Don’t forget tree limbs.
    At Colonial Lake, I was so worried about hitting a fellow triathlete in the parking area that I forgot about the low hanging limbs. Going slow helped, but it still cost me a new, rather expensive, front fork.

  28. I select my car based on one criterion: I must be able to throw my bike in the back of the car, preferably without having to remove the wheels. No roof rack needed.

  29. K turek

    Easy solution. My girl friend has crunch her bikes before. So now she puts a folding chair in the middle of the garage to remind her about the roof rack. *THEN* she put a mirror on the back wall of the garage to SEE if she has bikes on the roof rack!

  30. Jordi

    Tie the opener remote to the bike itself of place it in the saddle bag. ;-)

  31. Frenchman

    Two of my girlfriends have done this to my car, but in public garages. The last one thought parking across the street from Redmond’s REI (you know where that is) was going to be faster than parking in their back open air parking like I had told her to. Grrrrr. And every time it’s my car insurance that takes the hit. Solution: no girlfriends or only biker ones?

  32. Frenchman

    I am going to try the “obnoxious sign hanging off the rear view mirror” strategy. But I already I’ll forget to put it up.

  33. MaximoBongo

    I have a different approach:

    I keep my garage filled with so many bicycles that the car can never enter…

  34. Bill

    I recall another option for parking garages or the drive-through. It was a magnetic backed spring hinged reflector that you would place on your hood; when the wind pressure from driving decreased, the reflector would pop up as a warning.

  35. Orest

    There’s an app for that! Seriously, there are apps that will alert you as you approach your home- and remind you that you have a bike on the roof of your car.

  36. Jennifer

    My friend use rope to tie on garage hand handle. When garage door roll up, he will see rope hang on garage so that way he will see it and it remind him to remove his bike before enter. His friend add small brick on rope so he don’t want brick hit his windshield. He have to get out of car to remove it then he will see his bike on top his car then he remove it. That is their way to remember to remove bike before enter the garage.

  37. alan mushnick

    I put one of my bicycle gloves on my steering wheel to remind me I have bikes up there. Parking garages, and A&W Rootbeer stands have led to some nasty crunches!! So it’s not just about your home garage.

  38. RJson

    As someone that has done this there are three solutions i have in place;
    1. Buy a “Bike on Board” yellow hard that you can hang on the garage door with loose ropes and will lift up to be visible when you open the door. (got this from Nashbar.
    2. Buy a cone and put in front of the garage door when you leave – you cant just drive back in and you’ll have to get out of the car –
    3. More expensive is buy a Alarm system called Heads Up that has a sensor on the bike (or anything else on the roof) and an alarm in the car. Once the sensor gets to a close distance to the garage it alarms in the car and there is also a flashing box in the garage as well.

  39. dende

    Since you’re more likely to do this at home due to coming back and relaxing, just hang a big angled mirror above garage door.

  40. dende

    Holy shechomets, am i late to the party

  41. Mike

    I am REALLY REALLY late to this party! Great suggestions.

    My wife did this with her car/bike. New Felt AR. She didn’t tell me for a while that it happened. LUCKILY we have a Chevy Volt that really doesn’t have a good roof rack solution to it so we use the suction cup bike mount from Sea Sucker. Can’t say I am still comfortable putting my bike on the bike rack but not a lot of other options with that car. The suction cups just released and put a few dents in the top but otherwise the bike was mostly unharmed.

    Needless to say I will be employing some of the suggestions here. It is just a matter of time before I do it because we put our bikes on the roof of both of our vehicles.

  42. Jason

    Uh, too late.

    I did some serious damage to my car roof when I backed into the garage as I always do.

    You see, I sat in the driveway just long enough while thinking of something else and then began
    to SLOWLY back in. Not slow enough. I heard a bump. I braked. In a fraction of a second, I realized what
    was happening as I heard a slow-motion banging and watched through squinted eyes with my head bowed down.. the entire roof rack with bike slide sideways off and down onto the pavement. OUCH. That HURT.

    I got out to examine the damage. The roof rack wasn’t damaged as it sat there on the pavement. The bump merely popped off the four arms that attach to the car rail. The bike wasn’t damaged as it sat there, intact, and still attached to the roof rack. BUT….. as I looked back at my roof…. whoa….. whoa… whoa…. Four major dents and huge scratches in the paint. The ONLY thing good about this event was my sun-roof was not shattered in the process. Well, my bike was okay, too.

    Now, that $500 rack cannot be used on that car again. I’ve got rack that fits mostly, uh, just my model. Craigslist, I guess. And with that comes the freaks. “Heeeey. Are you available tonight?” Uh, no. I’m trying to SELL something. Go away….

    My damage to the roof is, if I want it fully repaired.. about $8,000. If I simply want to have the dents bondo-ed and painted… about $2,000 for the drivers side only. My car is 8 years old. I guess the damage stays.

    Well, my neighbor down the street destroyed TWO carbon bikes that way. And the rack dealer tells me that “it happens all the time. We just got another call besides yours.”

    I no longer like the idea of roof racks.