2022’s Best Bike Racks: Trunk or Hitch Options for Car or SUV Reviewed

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Are you tired of biking the same route every weekend? Ready to take on a new park that opened, but it is too far away to peddle over before even starting the trails? We have the perfect solution – The best bike racks only for you.

To avoid the overwhelming number of options online and bypass condescending looks from the local bike dealership, check out our perfect guide to everything you need to know about choosing the right rack.

In a hurry? The test winner after 16 hours of research:

editors pick
Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack

Thule Easy-Fold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack

Why is it better?

  • Stable, won't scratch your bike
  • Safest anti-theft system in test
  • Tiltable Hitch-switch System

95/100
our score


researched sources

16

Researched sources

reviews considered

109

REviews considered

hours researched

23

hours researching

products compared

20

products compared

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding bike racks available for those who are interested in combining cycling and technology. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best bike computers currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS 
Thule T2 Pro XT 2-Bike Black 2THULE T2 PRO XTRating: 95/100View Latest Deal →
 Kuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike Rack, Gray Metallic, 2Kuat Racks NV 2.0Rating: 93/100View Latest Deal →
Yakima - FrontLoader Bike Mounting SystemYakima - FrontLoader Rating: 88/100View Latest Deal →
 SeaSucker Talon Bike Rack, 1-BikeSeaSucker TalonRating: 86/100View Latest Deal →
Allen Sports Premier 2-Bike Trunk RackAllen Sports Premier 2-Bike Trunk RackRating: 84/100View Latest Deal →
Kuat Trio RackKuat Trio RackRating: 84/100View Latest Deal →
Saris Bones 805 2 Bike TrunkSaris Bones 805 2 Bike TrunkRating: 84/100View Latest Deal →

Now you can start planning a road trip that includes trails and experiences not accessible by a vehicle by taking the bike along to enhance the adventure.

Best In Class Bike Racks - Reviewed

We understand no bike carrier is universal. Factors such as your type of vehicle, the number of bikes to transport, and physical limitations on space and budget require consideration. If you have a second-hand bicycle that has seen better days, maybe spending $500 on a rack isn't worth it.

To keep you from spending hours digging through specialized cycling magazines or getting overwhelmed at the local bike shop, we have taken things a step beyond just a breakdown of the best racks out there. The hard work is done, and you can rest easy with the knowledge that our recommendations are research-based because we love cycling too.

Best Hitch bike Racks

If you want stability and not worry about clearance or reach above your head to get the bikes free, a hitch mount may be for you. Designed for frequent use, installation and removal of a hitch mount is probably the easiest choice.

They work for trucks, SUVs, anything with a hitch. Make sure to know the hitch size on your vehicle before buying a kit, as you may need to include an adapter.

Hitch racks are higher priced, but patrons continuously tout that it is worth the extra money to feel secure.

Top Pick: Thule Easy-Fold Pro XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack

Thule Easy-Fold Pro XT 2 - Best Bike Rack

Thule Easy-Fold Pro XT 2

  • Versatile design fits nearly all styles of bikes up to 60 lbs
  • Integrated wheels
  • Ideal for carbon frames, mountain, downhill, or fat bikes
  • The HitchSwitch lever allows you to tilt the rack down for rear vehicle access or tilt it up when not in use

The Thule bike rack utilizes a ratcheting arm and secures your bike without touching the frame. By adjusting the side-to-side distance between cycles, you can avoid crashing together while driving.

This hitch rack is both pricey and heavy. It is a safe and solid piece of equipment but getting the hitch on and off may be difficult for smaller individuals to handle safely.

Features Of Thule Easyfold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack

  • The one-key system lets you lock the bike into place, the rack to the hitch, and keep bikes safe and secure without fumbling with different keys.
  • It is safe for bikes with carbon frames, powder coats, or custom paint jobs because it won't lead to scratches.
  • The HitchSwitch lever allows the entire assembly to tilt, with bikes loaded, so you still have access to hatchbacks, tailgates, and trunks without issue.
  • No need for tools during installation or removal, thanks to the AutoAttach system.
  • This Thule bike rack can also handle fat tires, up to 5" inches, without an adapter.
  • The system folds up when not in use, so you don't have to take it off just because a bike is not mounted.
  • The kit includes the bike lock to avoid theft and the receiver lock for safety.

Specifications

  • Item Dimensions - 48.4 x 25 x 26.75 inches
  • Item Weight - 45 Pounds
  • Load Capacity - 130 Pounds
  • Hitch Receiver (in.): Fits 1.25 or 2 inches

Functionality

This bike rack is helpful for bike mounting whether you wish to load up an e-bike or a heavy mountain bike. It also assists you in easy mounting with a secure fit that renders an anti-theft design. 

The best feature of this bike rack is its ability to tilt so that you can access your trunk even with the bike mounted at the back of your car. 

Pros

  • It can handle heavy bikes.
  • It is foldable. Therefore, it is easy to move and store. 
  • Allows easy trunk access.
  • Compact storage size. 

Cons

  • It is somewhat expensive.
  • The loading process can be tedious.

Verdict 

To carry four bikes instead of two, you must purchase an add-on and make sure you have a 2-inch receiver. If you have a hitch extender to compensate for a spare tire mounted on the rear of a vehicle, note that the security cable might be too short.

The Thule T2 Pro XT can even handle e-bikes!

Make sure you know the vehicle's hitch size before making a purchase. Depending on the model, it may fit only the 1.25-inch or 2-inch hitch receiver but will not fit both.

Runner-Up: Kuat Racks NV 2.0

Kuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike Rack

Kuat Racks NV 2.0

  • 2 Bike capacity up to 60 lbs. each
  • Holds wheelbases up to 48” and tires as large as 4.8”
  • Adjustable front tire cradle system
  • Fully integrated cable locks
  • No-tool install with hand tight hitch cam system

Depending on the type of bike, you may need some extra purchases. For larger tires, the Phat Bike Kit is required. While the system is designed to fit 20-29-inch tires, you need to purchase a Wheel Adapter for the 20-24-inch end of the spectrum.

Features Of Kuat Racks NV 2.0

  • The adjustable front-tire cradle system lets you hold up to 48-inch wheelbases.
  • The two-bike system has fully integrated cable locks, and the intuitive ratchet arms provide more stability and retention.
  • The Trail Doc work stand allows for easier roadside repairs too.
  • The Kuat NV 2.0 has a pivot feature, allowing access to your rear doors or hatch. The optional foot assist helps move the assembly with ease.
  • Being able to tighten the rack to the hitch receiver by hand keeps the rack from swaying while making turns on the road.
  • This rack is also just as heavy as the Thule T2, coming in at 52 pounds.
  • The rack may partially block your license plate, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, so pay attention to long road trips as an obstructed plate may draw unwanted attention from local authorities.
  • You have color choices! Instead of just straight-up black, go for a fun gray metallic and orange gloss powder coat or keep it more traditional with a black metallic with gray anodizing.
  • This Kuat rack also has two locks for extra security, but you still only need one key to open both.

Specifications

  • Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 36 x 23 x 8.5 inches
  • Item Weight: 62.13 Pounds
  • Mounting Type: Easy Snap

Functionality

Its standout and quality features allow you to use it in a wet and muddy area. Thanks to the durable and hard-wearing materials used in the construction, you can either drive fast on highways or down on bumpy back-country roads; it can never do injustice to you or your bike. 

Pros

  • High-end material and premium quality are involved.
  • Renders a sleek look.
  • Easy-to-use.

Cons

  • Pretty expensive.
  • The add-on can be too much for some people to install.

Verdict 

Make sure you know what you need before making a purchase. If you run with a heavier bike, make sure the capacity is sufficient. Purchase any add-ons all at once to avoid rigging the assembly together and possibly causing damage.

Best Trunk Mount Bike Racks

When looking for the most cost-effective bike carriers on the market, a trunk mount rack or two is going to make your list. For occasional use and easy installation, trunk racks are the best option, and you can use them on different vehicles.

Top Pick: Allen Sports Premier 2

Allen Sports Premier 2

Allen Sports Premier 2

  • Design fits sedans, hatchbacks, minivans and SUV's
  • Extra-large car pads help to distribute bicycles load
  • 12 inch long carry arms easily accommodate up to 2 bicycles (max. 70 lbs)

This Allen Sports bike rack folds down easily and comes fully assembled right out of the box! The large contact pads distribute pressure while protecting your vehicle from scratches and dents.

You really can't beat the price in comparison to other mounts. Swap the Allen Sports deluxe or premier models to different vehicles with ease.

There is no need to take the front wheel off your bikes unless you want to do so!

Suitable for vans, sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs, the Allen Sports rack has 21-inch long carry arms that keep the bikes away from your vehicle and secure at the same time.

You can secure each cycle independently with individual straps.

Features Of Allen Sports Premier 2

  • This rack can handle different-sized bikes without a problem, including children's bicycles.
  • Trunk-mounted racks are not designed for constant use. If you are loading it up every weekend, you may want to invest in a roof or hitch mount.
  • Patented side straps give the assembly extra lateral stability to keep your stuff safe while driving and taking quick turns or heading over bumpy trails.
  • Proper installation is key to avoiding scratching the bike and your vehicle. While the straps may seem complicated at first glance, take the time to watch the installation video.

Specifications

  • Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 23.62 x 13.58 x 4.72 inches
  • Item Weight: 11 Pounds
  • Design: Lightweight construction
  • Mounting Type: Strap

Functionality

Among various benefits, the Allen racks can rotate each cradle, allowing more flexibility than any other racks when you mount your bikes. The Premier is your best bet if you are looking for a rack that can carry three to four cycles. The Allen Sports Premier 2 can offer more functionality than those expensive racks that render the exact features. So, overall it's a win-win situation. 

Pros

  • Available at an affordable price.
  • The size makes it easy to handle the equipment.
  • It has strong, durable, and adjustable straps.

Cons

  • Time-consuming when it comes to installing and loading up the bikes.
  • You won't be able to open the hatchback or trunk while the rack is in place.

Verdict

Take the time to check the vehicle fit list to ensure you purchase the correct model.

The rack is rated for up to four bikes. However, watch the weight and size of your vehicle, as too many bikes on a low car may damage.

If you are concerned about damage to your vehicle or bikes, take five minutes during installation and maybe wrap the extra tape around contact areas. Just because this rack fits most vehicles doesn't mean it fits them all perfectly.

Runner-Up: Saris Bones 805 2 Bike Trunk Mount Rack

Saris Bones 805 2 Bike Trunk

Saris Bones 805 2 Bike Trunk

  • Injection -molded arms and legs are the strongest
  • Built with 100% recyclable, non-rusting materials
  • Ratcheting hold downs are easy to adjust
  • Arc-based design fits over most spoilers, and separates bikes on different levels
  • Built with 100% recyclable, non-rusting materials

A portion of each product sold is donated to a non-profit organization. Donations are determined by colors, such as pink for breast cancer research or orange for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Know that purchasing a Saris rack means you support a company proudly bearing the Made in the U.S.A. stamp.

The Saris Bones rack's curved features allow it to hold up to three bikes at slightly different heights, making it easier to mount or remove them without interference.

Features Of Saris Bones 805 2-Bike Trunk Mount Rack

  • Coated straps and rubberized rack feet ensure your vehicle isn't marred or damaged.
  • Ratcheting straps provide a secure hold with the sway.
  • The arched design should allow the rack to fit over most spoilers.
  • The injection-molded plastic makes this rack a strong but lightweight option at only eleven pounds.
  • Yay for color! The Saris Bones products come in the widest variety of colors so that you can match it to your vehicle or your personality with ease!
  • The rack is designed for standard bike frames only.

Specifications

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Item Dimensions: 30 x 6 x 30 inches
  • Load Capacity: 35 Pounds
  • Item Weight: 10 Pounds
  • Mounting Type: Strap

Functionality

We know that the Saris Bones Trunk Mount Rack is very useful since it fits most cars out there. The arched arms of the Saris Bones make it easy to mount the bikes without much hassle. To render the most functions, they are best for people looking for a lightweight rack, families who don't have a hitch or roof rack system, people who need to load up 20" bikes and above. They are the most useful due to their anti-sway cradles, making them stand out from other brands.

Pros

  • It is lightweight, which makes it easy to attach it to the car and remove it simultaneously. 
  • You get the whole thing fully assembled out of the box.
  • Provides 6.5 inches of space between each bike.

Cons

  • Don't expect to open your trunk or hatchback when sporting the Bones rack.
  • Not a suitable rack to carry more than three bikes.

Verdict

You must have a bumper on the vehicle for the rack to be secure. (But honestly, if you don't have a bumper, maybe check that out before going out on the trails in the first place.)

Saris claims the materials are all recyclable and resistant to corrosion.

Visit the manufacturer's website and look at the fit guide before making a final purchase.

Best Roof Mount Bike Racks

If the price is an essential factor for you, the roof mount rack is a middle-of-the-road option for hauling your bike. While roof mounts are considered both secure and safe, they also leave your vehicle's interior free and don't block the rear view or access to the trunk.

Top Pick: Yakima Front-loader Bike Mount

Yakima Frontloader Bike Mount

Yakima Front-loader Bike Mount

  • Fits virtually any type of bike, including disc brakes, thru axles, and full suspension bikes.
  • Load your bike fully assembled on this wheel-on mount
  • Fully assembled out of the box and easy, tool-free installation
  • No frame contact

This Yakima bike rack features a zero-frame contact assembly, so your custom paint job won't suffer a scratch. While good for road or mountain bikes, the Yakima bike rack can only secure tire widths up to three inches, so your fat boy will need a different mount.

Feature Of Yakima Front-loader Bike Mount

  • It fits all sorts of crossbars, from factory builds to aerodynamic ones.
  • Tool-free installation takes about five minutes, and the rack itself is fully assembled the moment you pull it out of the box.
  • Bike features including full suspension, disc brakes, and full axles are no problem with the Front-loader.
  • Don't even bother taking off the front wheel. The curved front bracket allows you to put a fully assembled bicycle right on top of the car, ready to go when you are.
  • No tools are needed for installation! Okay, we already mentioned that, but it's worth noting twice.
  • The kit does not include anti-theft measures, so be prepared to purchase separate locking straps before leaving your bike up top.

Specification

  • Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 56.5 x 8.5 x 10 inches
  • Item Weight: 18 Pounds
  • Material: Carbon fiber

Functionality

They are mainly helpful because removing the bike's front wheel isn't necessary. It can still be an ideal choice, given its attributes, apart from the few cons. 

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly.
  • It allows full access to the trunk.
  • It fits all the bikes of varied materials, designs, and types.

Cons

  • Extensive research on reviews brought up two potential issues – life expectancy and difficulty getting replacement parts as needed.
  • No anti-theft measures were included. 
  • It will make it hard to get on top of tall vehicles.
  • It will be a problem in the case of heavy bikes.

Verdict

If you opt-out of the professional installation, use the free installation video provided by Yakima.

Add the cost of locks into the expected cost for this rack. Surprise expenses can lead to a negative experience even when it has nothing to do with the product, so let yourself enjoy the purchase.

Runner-Up: Kuat Trio Rack

Yakima Frontloader Bike Mount

Kuat Trio Rack

  • An easy adapter for Boosting your Trio bike rack
  • Slides in on driver's side easily to adapt axle
  • Secures 15 x 110mm axles into place for a slip-free ride
  • Cross-compatibility from older components

The Kuat Trio is a great single bike rack. A 3-Way fork mount system can handle 9 mm, 15 mm, or 20 mm forks with no adapters.

It comes in gunmetal gray or black and chrome for a rugged look that compliments your vehicle instead of sticking out like an awkward add-on.

The Trio works with most factory crossbars and any aftermarket crossbar.

Features Of Kuat Trio Rack

  • An integrated cable lock system on both tires is secure, and the sliding rear wheel strap gives you the flexibility needed to secure frames of a different length.
  • One of the lighter rooftop racks at a mere seven pounds, you don't have to worry about too much extra weight up top.
  • The slim-line design keeps a low profile and maintains your vehicle's aerodynamic silhouette.
  • A partial bike mounted on the roof of your car or SUV is less appealing to thieves.
  • Roof racks often require the front wheel to be removed to stow the bike. The Trio is no different. (Guess we are just spoiled by the Frontloader.)
  • When mounting the bike, be careful to set the fork in the cradle properly, lest you accidentally end up dinging the roof or denting the fork.
  • Optional adapter kits can make the rack a perfect fit for your bike. 

Specifications

  • Fits up to 4 ft. between crossbars
  • Item Dimensions (LxWxH): 59 x 10 x 4 inches
  • Max Weight Per Bike (lbs): 45 pounds
  • Item Weight: 7 Pounds

Functionality

It renders the most functionality since it allows you to leave the rack on top of the vehicle for a prolonged period without harming the car. And they are most useful when it comes to a piece of easy-to-use equipment and an almost compatible option that is also lightweight. 

Pros

  • Additional fork sizes, fat bike adapters for wider tires and a variety of thru-axle options.
  • High-end construction that provides support and durability.
  • It comes with an integrated cable lock for security.
  • No contact with bike frames.

Cons

  • The assembly could have been a little easier and quicker.
  • It requires you to spend extra on adapters.

Verdict

Be sure you feel comfortable loading and unloading a bike with no front wheel above your head. Loading on a sedan is probably easier than atop an SUV, so factor in your physical comfort zone when choosing a roof rack. It may be no problem mounting before biking, but how exhausted are you afterward? Don't ruin a great ride by damaging your car right before heading home.

Best Suction Cup Bike Rack

Found yourself in a borrowed vehicle or rental car and still want to hit the trails? Then you might want to check out a single-bike option that won't leave a mark.

Top Pick: SeaSucker Talon Bike Rack

SeaSucker Talon Single Bike Rack

SeaSucker Talon Single Bike Rack

  • The Vacuum Mounts never damage the car.
  • Tested at the toughest races and most physically grueling courses.
  • Durable and Safer than any other rack.
  • Can fit in a backpack, carry-on, or bike bag.
  • Handmade rack design with 110% satisfaction guarantee.

SeaSucker's bike rack stands alone in this category.

A suction cup bike rack works for everything from vans to sedans. The SeaSucker bike rack is the lightest option out there, weighing in at only six pounds. The compact size gives you the chance to pack it in a suitcase or keep it in the trunk for quick access.

Features Of SeaSucker Talon Bike Rack

  • The single, heavy-duty front mount secures the bike's fork while the rear suction cup straps down the rear wheel.
  • It works for any bike with a quick-release on the front wheel and securely installs on the roof, hatchback, or truck bed.
  • The suction cups don't leave a mark or require any tools for installation.
  • Since the units include rubber parts, some care and maintenance are required. 
  • They are not meant to stay on when not in use, and the suction cups and spots on the vehicle must be clean and dry before installation.

Specification

  • Secures up to 45 pounds
  • Attaches to the hatchback, roof, trunk, or truck bed.
  • Material: Metal
  • Weight: Approx. 6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15” x 13”

Functionality 

The usability of this rack is higher if you are looking for equipment that holds a variety of bikes and can be taken off and on the vehicle efficiently. Its attractive features and versatile attribute makes it a better choice than most bike racks. 

Pros

  • It is lightweight.
  • It fits a variety of vehicles.
  • It is easy to install and remove. 

Cons

  • No anti-theft measures were included. 
  • It requires front wheel removal.

Verdict

We don't recommend storing the unit long-term in spaces that lack temperature control. If you plan on transporting more than one bike, check out a two-bike system like the Mini Bomber instead.

Also, this system does not include anti-theft measures, so consider investing in a trunk-lock combo.

How Can You Transport Your Bike?

Deciding how to transport your bike depends on a few questions. What type of vehicle do you drive or plan to use for transportation? Do you need to keep the interior space free or clean? Are you hauling more than one bike? Do you have physical limitations, like a shoulder injury that may alter how you load and unload the bicycle?

While racks are commonly used for safe transportation, you may decide to put them inside the trunk or vehicle's interior that is best for you.

Disasembing bike for transport bike rack

Disassembling the Bike

Hauling your machine usually involves disassembling it to some extent. Since many racks require front tire removal, higher-quality bikes – no offense to beach cruisers – have a quick-release lever or skewer. This is helpful for more than mounting it on a rack or stowing it in the trunk; it also is helpful when fixing a flat or to avoid theft (provided you have a way to store the wheel or decide to carry it around).

To remove wheels with a quick release, follow these easy steps:

  • Note the position of the lever. If the curved interior is facing you, the lever is open, and the bike is unsafe to ride. Some levers have "open" and "closed" on them.
  • When open, the wheel assembly should come out fairly quickly.

If you need to adjust the tension:

  • Loosen the quick release by unscrewing the lever. Turn it to the left or counter-clockwise to loosen the skewer. Do NOT completely unscrew the lever! As soon as it is loose enough to remove the entire wheel, that is far enough.
  • Tighten the lever by rotating the skewer clockwise or to the right. Stop every half turn and check the resistance by closing the lever halfway.
  • To close the lever, swing it 180˚ like shutting a door – do not twist. You should feel resistance when the lever is at 90˚ or perpendicular to the wheel – i.e., sticking straight out.
  • How much resistance? While closing the lever, it should leave an impression on your hand but not be hard enough to bruise.
disassembled bike ready to travel

Whether breaking down a bicycle to go in a box for shipping or moving or partially disassembling it for short-term travel, knowing how to put it back together. If you choose to do it yourself, keep track of your steps.

  • Deflate the tires and remove all exterior accessories, such as bottle holders or additional lights.
  • Shift the chain onto the largest rear cog and smallest chain ring before removing the pedals.
  • Remove the seat (or saddle) and seat post. Some of these have quick-release options too.
  • Put slack in the brake cables and release them to remove all tension before removing the brakes. Be sure to put the bolts in a bag and zip tie them to the cable for easy re-installation.
  • Remove the handlebars and stem as one piece.
  • Remove the wheels. If you are storing the bike or boxing it up, you may want something to support the wheel forks so they don't get bent up and ruin your bike frame.

Carrying Your Bike in a Truck

Transporting a bike in a truck bed is more than just tossing it in and letting the bike bang around. To avoid damaging the cycle and the truck bed, you need a way to secure the bike, and the best option is still a rack.

Sometimes people choose to custom build racks for their truck, and as long as the rack is secured, the bike can be secured to the rack. Different methods involve tailgate pads or crossbars to bolted fork mounts on the rails or in the truck bed.

Bikes in a truck ready for transport

Watch Out

You don't want to slam on the brakes to avoid an animal or accident just to launch your bike out of the truck bed or, worse – into the back window.

If you don't have a solid locking mechanism, the bike could walk away with the assistance of a stranger.

While some racks can bolt into the existing holes for a mounted toolbox, many require new holes drilled into the bed or rails. Also, when hauling other cargo, you may want to remove the rack to avoid damage to the rack or items in the payload.

Bike Racks 101

By definition: what is a bicycle cargo rack? Some interchangeable terms for a device that mounts to a vehicle for transporting a bicycle are:

  • Bike Rack / Bicycle Rack
  • Bicycle Carrier
  • Bike / Cycle Cargo Rack

Benefits of a Bike Rack

A good rack includes locking mechanisms that secure the bike to a vehicle safely without damaging either the cycle or the automobile. You also want to keep your bike, as in, avoid theft, so make sure to add a measure of personal security if the rack did not come with one.

Types of Bike Racks

Let's give a quick synopsis of the major types of bike carriers available. For instance, if you have used a certain brand in the past with success, like the Yakima hitch mount bike rack, it is worth exploring the other rack options with Yakima.

The Roof Mount

Mounting your bike to the roof of a vehicle most definitely brands you as an outdoor enthusiast, but it also keeps your bike stable without compromising convenience or safety. If you plan to haul multiple items, such as a surfboard and a bike, then a roof rack is the way to go.

Benefits

This is the most stable method of transportation while leaving space inside your vehicle available for passengers or gear. Not removing the front wheel is nice (but not always an option), and you retain access to the trunk, and all doors can open easily.

Roof Mounted Bikes

Best for Use On:

Shorter cars, like sedans, are best. If you are short or your vehicle particularly tall, bringing the bike down could lead to scratches or dings and or cause a back injury if not removed properly.

Which Bikes Work Best?

You probably want to have a quick release front wheel, as many roof racks require removal of the front tire before mounting the bike.

The Hitch Mount

There are a variety of styles available for hitch mount bicycle carriers including:

  • Hanging hitch mount
  • Platform hitch mount
  • Swing away hitch mount
  • Tilt hitch

A receiver hitch is a welded steel structure bolted to the vehicle's frame. The ratings for a receiver hitch range from Class 1 – 4, depending on the planned weight of the load. Receivers are generally 2-inch or one ¼-inch, with the former being larger and able to handle more weight.

The Hitch Mounted Bikes

For an abbreviated lesson, the classes break down as follows:

  • Class 1: 200-lbs
  • Class 2: 300-lbs
  • Class 3: 500-lbs
  • Class 4: 1000-lbs

For example, when hauling two bikes, for a total of 120 pounds, use a receiver hitch of Class 2 or higher.

Benefits

Tow hitch mounts don't require wheel removal and can usually be adapted to carry more than one bike. Since the carrier mounts directly on the hitch, installing the rack is straightforward and quick; loading cycles are also fast.

Additional features that provide conveniences such as tilting, so you can open the hatchback or trunk, or platform stabilization keeps the bikes from swaying and knocking into each other.

Hitch racks are ideal for frequent use and can handle the strain of long-distance trips.

Best for Use On

You've got to have a hitch mount, and this may require getting one installed, so factor that into your budget for the rack.

Which Bikes Work Best?

If the attached points for the bike are wide, its intended use is for larger bikes only. A hanging hitch mount with a narrow space between the arms is good for all cycles, even kid's bikes. A platform hitch mount is usually adjustable and works for any bike.

Trunk Mount

For a lightweight, economical bike rack, trunk mounts are quite popular. Trunk mounts strap on to the rear deck of your car, and installation is quick. The mount's stability does rely upon the care and skill of the person mounting the rack, so pay attention during installation until you can go through the process like clockwork.

Benefits

The trunk-mount rack allows you to use the carrier on a different vehicle when desired. Bikes are easier to load, particularly for short individuals or those with back problems, and you can watch the bike during travel. Plus, you don't have to worry about driving into a parking garage because there is no added height.

Trunk Mount Bike Rack

Best for Use On

The trunk mount is ideal for sedans, hatchbacks, and standard sport utility vehicles.

Which Bikes Work Best?

Any bike can go on a trunk mount, but some mounts are only designed for standard frames.

Truck Bed Solutions

Whether you stick with bungee cords and straps or want to go more stable with a commercial bed rack, a “truck bed solution” refers to a system that secures a bicycle in place without the risk of damage to it or the truck.

Truck Bed Bike Mounts

Benefits

Easy to load and unload, placing your bike in the truck bed also allows you to watch the bike during transport. For those who like camping, trucks are ideal for hauling additional gear, and you can still do so with a bike in the back.

The Vacuum Mount (Suction Bike Rack)

For installation on a smooth or glass surface, large suction cups are a valid option. SeaSucker is the best game in town for a vacuum mounted bike carrier.

Because potential buyers may be apprehensive to trust a suction cup, the company dared to put it on a NASCAR race track to prove its stability.

Suction Bike Rack on a car

Benefits

Point blank, suction cups are universal and will work on any vehicle with a smooth surface from small coupes to SUVs.

Removing the rack is easy and storage much simpler since the kit is small compared to a trunk rack.

Things to Consider Before Mounting Your Bike to the Car

You probably don’t need to have a water bottle sitting in the holder on your bike when it is mounted to the rack. Taking the time to check over the rack and bike will help avoid problems later.

Shake it Up

For hitch and trunk racks, don't be afraid to check the rack's stability before mounting a bike by shaking the entire assembly. Think about the vibrations and basic stresses driving will put on the rack, like side to side inertia during turns or going over potholes and pull on the rack in those directions.

The Pre-flight

You should also check the assembly over for major rust or broken parts that may need to be covered or replaced. Do a hardware check for both presence and tightness before loading up.

No Strappy Flappy

After getting the bike(s) secure, take the extra time to make sure all straps and buckles won’t be flapping wildly during the drive.

Step by Step Guide for Installing a Bike Rack

Any rack you purchase will come with an instruction manual filled with pictures. If you have a history with rack installation, you may not need the instructions at all, but it never hurts to take a look.

Basic Hitch Rack Installation

After assembling the hitch rack separately,

  • Slide the arm into the hitch receiver and insert the provided receiver bolt once the holes are lined up. (Do not use the bolt to force the holes together as that will destroy the threads and possibly bend the bolt.)
  • Tighten the bolt by hand to avoid cross-threading, and when it no longer turns easily, use the provided wrench (included in the kit) or a small socket.
  • Once tight, give the rack assembly a good shake to ensure safety.

Basic Trunk Mount Installation

  • Place the rack on the trunk, with the upper supports resting on the lid and the lower foot pads above the license plate. (Check the instruction manual for the sweet spot on placement.)
  • Attach the top hooks to the trunk lid. If you are worried about the hooks scratching, add some electrical tape before hooking. Hold the rack or lean against it gently to keep it in place while tightening the top straps.
  • Attach the lower strap hooks on the bottom edge of the trunk lid. Tighten it down and make sure the rack doesn't slide up or down.
  • Attach the side strap hooks to each side of the trunk lid. After tightening these down, the rack should not move in any direction.

Tips and Tricks

Be aware of a few accessories you may need to consider before installing the rack. You may need a hitch extender for vehicles with a spare tire mounted on the back. The extender can reduce stability, leading to a rattle, requiring a hitch stabilizer.

Hitch Extenders on Bike Racks

Using a crossbar converter when bikes do not fit well onto a hitch rack. This accessory is especially useful to stabilize mountain bikes that do not have a traditional frame.

If your carrier is difficult to install, you might choose to leave it on all the time, which could deteriorate the rack faster depending on elemental conditions. Sparing a platform or truck bed solution that extra time in extreme summer heat or northern winter cold will help it stay in better condition and increase the lifespan.

The Facts on Fuel Efficiency

Based on a study by Consumer Reports, mounting a bike on the roof of your car can decrease fuel efficiency by up to fifteen mpg.

But aerodynamics is not the only factor – added weight can also negatively impact your mpg. Heavy hitch racks can add fifty or sixty pounds, not including the bikes, to the vehicle and keeping them mounted when not needed forces your engine to do extra work for no reason.

Bike Racks Fuel Efficency

Since trunk racks are lightweight and mounted at the rear of your vehicle, they are considered the best rack to use regarding fuel efficiency.

On a side note, one misconception about bike racks and fuel efficiency is how a wind deflector may help offset the loss of mpg. Wind deflectors do not help gas mileage improve but reduce noise inside the cabin.

Aerodynamics and Efficiency

Roof racks are the most secure but affect gas mileage the most as they break up the natural silhouette when the bike is up top.

Mounting the bike on the rear in a way that does not interrupt the flow of air off the car's back is ideal. You may choose to remove the wheel when driving long distances to improve aerodynamics.

How Do I Secure My Bike Onto My Rack?

Securing your bike to the rack should be outlined in the instructions provided, but if you don't have those on hand, we've got some tips for you.

Open the rack carefully. Don't force it open as you don't want to bend any parts and end up reducing stability.

Strap it to the car or SUV. Be sure to use all the provided straps, including the lateral ones (this provides tension that keeps the bike from sliding off sideways when driving through turns).

Place the bike on the rack, ensuring it doesn't cover your license plate or touch the exhaust pipe.

For long trips, be sure to pad the bike appropriately. Sensitive pieces such as the fork or tusk (if the wheel was removed) and pedals should not contact your vehicle, especially metal.

Tighten the top straps around the bike first, then the lower straps. Make sure there are no long strap ends flapping in the wind, as these can scratch the paint and be a dangerous distraction in your rear view mirror.

The DIY Bike Rack

You have stuck with us this far, so we wanted to shout out to those Do-It-Yourself aficionados with some great DIY bike rack ideas! Bick racks are not just for vehicles, and storing your machines safely when not in route to the trailhead should not be ignored.

Some easy materials for creating bike racks that work both in the garage or in the truck bed are PVC or wood. Designs vary, and your skillset determines how complex a rack to build. Pallets make a great framework for storing bikes upright without removing tires or putting down kickstands that can get tangled when bikes are stored side by side.

If you prefer to hang your bike, try using an old curved handlebar to hook under the frame. Just mount the handlebar onto a piece of wood with a hose ring, and then place the wooden plaque at the appropriate height for a unique and fun wall rack.

PVC Bike Rack

To hang your bikes from the garage ceiling or a sturdy shelving unit, just grab some large hooks from the local hardware store along with a few large carabiners. Put a strip of webbing through the hook and tie a loop for the carabiner to slide through. Quick-release clips on a carabiner make hanging your bike vertically by the front tire a snap.

If you are dying to make a rack for the bed of your truck, we suggest keeping cost and weight low with a PVC frame and a few securing straps.

Materials

  • Saw
  • PVC glue
  • Mallet or rubber hammer
  • ¾” PVC elbow joints (6)
  • ¾” PVC t-shaped joints (18)
  • 3.4” PVC pipe (4, 10-foot pipes)

Instructions for a 3-bike rack

  • Cut the following pieces from the pipe
  • Assemble three frame sections using this formula:
  • Elbow + 2-inch pipe + 10-inch pipe + tee + 2-inch pipe + tee + 10-inch pipe + tee + 2-inch pipe + elbow
  • Assemble six vertical pieces (to hold the tires)
  • 12-inch pipe + tee + 10-inch pipe
  • Assemble two of the pieces from step 2 with all six vertical pieces from step 3.
  • Place the six remaining 10-inch pipes into the open tee joints (located in the center of the vertical sections from step 3)
  • Attach the final frame section to the 10-inch pipes.
  • Make sure the entire rack fits snugly in the truck bed.
  • Disassemble the rack in sections and glue it back together with PVC glue.

And you are all set with a personal truck bed rack for about $50.

Common FAQs

Which bike racks are best?

Thule Easy-fold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack.
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Rack Deluxe.
SeaSucker Talon
Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack.
Kuat Racks NV 2.0
Allen Sports Deluxe Four-Bike Trunk-Mount Rack.
BV Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier.

 

What is the best 4 bike hitch rack?

Venzo 4 Bike Bicycle Platform Style Carrier.
BV 4-Bike Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier.
Saris Superclamp Hitch 4-Bike Rack.
Leader Accessories Hitch Mounted 4 Bike Rack Bicycle Carrier.
Retrospec Bike Hitch Mount Rack.
XCAR 4-Bike Bicycle Carrier.
Rage Powersports Elevate BC-08581-2A-2EXT.

What is the easiest bike rack to use?

Of the 70 bike racks we've tested, the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 tray-style hitch rack is the best overall for transporting one or two bikes. As long as your vehicle has a trailer hitch, this lightweight model is one of the easiest to mount on your vehicle and is simple to load bikes onto.

Do bike racks fit all cars?

As you can see, it's easy to mount a bike rack on almost any car, truck, or SUV.

Conclusion

When biking becomes your passion, we make it our business to elevate and enhance every biking moment of yours. Even for a beginner, the right cycle gears such as a bike rack can help in saving you the energy exclusively for biking. 

BikesReviewed finds it crucial for the biking community to understand the basics of a bike or at least the attributes to a suitable one. We understand and believe that every individual is unique, and their biking needs and interests are different as well. Therefore, we strive to provide you with the essential information in our reviews and incredible buying guides related to bikes and other cycling gears to render an effortless shopping experience.

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