Biking is a favorite pastime for many because it allows you to enjoy the outdoors while breaking a sweat. But as most city dwellers know, riding a bike in urban areas is dangerous and lacking in thrill. Buying the best bike rack makes seeking distant bicycling terrain easier and safe.
Many vehicles come with enough space to carry a couple of biking passengers. But most vehicles can only transport foldable bikes in their trunk. For somebody who loves hitting the tracks with friends and family, a quality bike rack will come in handy.
That said, many bikers don’t know what to look for in a bike rack. In these bike rack reviews, we show you everything you need to know about shopping for car bike racks.At the end of this piece, you will know the different types of bike racks. You will also be able to identify important features and specifications to look out for before buying. Let’s go!
Best Bike Rack Comparison Chart
Allen Sports DELUXE TRUNK MOUNTED BIKE RACK
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Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack
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BV 2-Bike Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier
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Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks
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Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack
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Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe 4-Bike Carrier Rack
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Best Bike Rack Reviews
1. Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
This Allen Sports Deluxe trunk mounted bike rack is designed to carry bikes safely. It features a proprietary individual tie-down system that protects and secures your mounted bicycles in transit. The design of the tie-downs allows the rack to accommodate a wide range of bicycle frame sizes and styles.
The unique design of this bike rack is compatible with sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and SUVs. It is also easy to set up, and the middle frame ensures that bikes don’t touch your vehicle.
This bike rack comes with sturdy top and bottom straps. And two side straps keep your bicycles stable when the vehicle is moving.
The carry arms are narrow set to accommodate a wide variety of bicycle frame sizes and styles. This means you can load men’s, women’s, children, and specialized bicycles on the rack with ease.
This bike rack is available in several options, including Deluxe and Premier 2-bike, 3-bike, and 4-bike configurations.
2. Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack
This ergonomic bike rack from Swagman provides an effective and safe way to transport your bicycles over long distances. Weighing only 32 pounds, the rack easily transports two bikes. It folds vertically for easy transport and storage, helping you save space.
The steel frame is sturdy and easily accommodates up to 35 pounds per bike. This rack also features an inbuilt anti-wobble hitch device that stabilizes your bicycles in transit.
Swagman’s XC2 hitch bike rack features improved frame grip arms that have a soft coating to protect the bike’s finish. The adjustable upright ratchet arms are designed to support a wide range of bike frame sizes and styles.
When not in use, you can fold the rack into a compact bundle that is easy to carry around in one hand. And because the center arms are adjustable, you need not remove the rack to have access to your vehicle’s rear.
3. BV Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier
Like Swagman’s rack, this product is also a 2-bike hitch mount model designed to provide safe and efficient bicycle transport. The tilt back design allows for easy access to your car’s rear gate without removing the rack. Being able to open the rear gate without tampering with the rack can save a lot of time and trouble.
This sturdy product also features a fold up design. When not in use, you simply fold the rack to save space.
There is one vertical arm on top and two tray-style arms at the bottom that hold each bike securely. This anti-wobble feature ensures your bike doesn’t sway in transit.
However, some customers complain that the anti-wobble mechanism is only good for short distances and paved roads.
This product also comes with a safety reflector, which lets other road users know your vehicle as a mounted bike rack. And the frame is padded to prevent it from scratching your bicycles.
4. Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Rack
It is easy to see why thousands of users love this 4-bike hitch-style rack from Allen Sports. It features a sturdy all-steel construction and has a lifetime warranty. And there is a wide range of buying options, including Deluxe, Premier, Deluxe Locking, and Premier Locking.
This bike rack requires a professionally installed Class III or IV 2-inch hitch. Like other products from the company, it comes with folding arms that make storing and transporting the rack effortless. The tilt-away main mast also provides easy access to your rear gates while the rack is installed.
Installing and dismantling the rack takes less than five minutes thanks to its intuitive design. The rack comes with a no-wobble bolt that secures it to the receiver hitch, preventing swaying during your trips.
This rack features Allen’s innovative individual tie-down system to secure and safeguard your bicycles in transit. The mechanism also allows you to carry different bike styles and sizes on the rack.
5. Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack
This premium 2-bike rack from Thule is sturdy, easy to use, and has a high load capacity. The foldable rack is easy to install and folds for quick storage. It features a tool-free Auto Attach system and a built-in lock cylinder that makes installation and removal easy.
This rack is deigned to transport your bikes with zero frame contact thanks to its frame-free ratcheting arm. The feature provides a distance of 12.5 inches between bikes, eliminating scratches and dents in transit.
The Thule TU Pro bike rack also has a tilt-away feature. This design allows you to gain access to your vehicle’s rear without removing the rack. It can support a 60-pound bike and has a maximum load capacity of 100 pounds.
Unlike most bike racks, this product can accommodate all types of bicycles. It can carry fat bikes with 20-29 inch wheels and five inch tires without adapters.
6. Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe 4-Bike Carrier Rack
If you have a family of bikers, this 4-bike carrier rack will make a solid investment. The solidly built hitch-style bike rack is compatible with all types of dual-arm bikes. It is ideal for vehicles that have a 1.25 or 2-inch hitch receiver.
Tyger Auto’s 4-bike rack is not only sturdy but also safe and easy to operate. Each of the four ratchets buckle, preventing wobbling while you are traveling. The company includes its proprietary cable lock and hitch lock and security strap to prevent unauthorized removal of your bikes.
This rack features a stylish black finish with e-coating to prevent rust. It tilts down for easy access to the rear gate and compactly folds when not in use for quick storage. The soft cradles and protection pad ensures bikes do not touch, eliminating accidental scratches and dings.
This rack only takes a few minutes to install. It comes with a No-Hassle Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Bike Rack Buying Guide
There are different types of bike rack designs for specific vehicles. And the frame style and size of your bicycles determines the rack you should buy. This makes it important to know the features and specifications of these products before buying.
In this guide, we provide vital information to help you make an informed buying choice.
7 Considerations When Buying a Bike Rack
Here are important factors to consider when shopping for a bike rack:
The Type of Mount
The most important consideration when buying a bike rack is the point you will mount it on your vehicle. For most vehicles, the common mount is the hitch, but not all vehicles have it. If your car lacks a hitch, consider installing one provided it won’t reduce the vehicle’s ground clearance.
Another point to call out is the hitch size. Most hitch racks attach to a 2-inch receiver. Apart from the hitch rack, you can also use trunk or roof racks, depending on your vehicle type. Sedans can use trunk or roof racks while SUVs can use a hitch or roof rack.
The Type of Bike
Because racks have weight limits, you can only carry specific types of bicycles on them. Before buying a bike rack, make sure it is compatible with the size and style of your bicycle’s frame.
Can the rack accommodate your bicycle’s tires? If you ride a specialized bicycle with an unconventional design, make sure it is compatible with the rack.
Some traditional bike racks require adapters to carry bicycles with oversized tires. Remember to factor the extra cost of the accessories before going to the market.
Number of Bikes
You also need to consider the number of bikes you want to carry. Most bike racks can support two to three, but some can stack up to five bicycles at a go.
If you intend to carry up to five bikes on a rack, you will most likely need a hitch carrier or combine a roof and truck rack.
If you use a trunk rack, it is not advisable to use it to carry four bikes or more. You will place excessive stress on the rack’s mount points with your vehicle.
Access to Vehicle’s Rear
Will you need to retrieve something in your trunk while the bike rack is loaded? Roof and hitch racks will be the best option for you. Obviously, roof racks don’t get in the way of your vehicle’s trunk or hatch lid.
Hitch racks often have a tilt-away feature that offers easy access to the rear gate. Most trunk racks also provide quick access to the rear gate. But you may need to remove some trunk mount racks to get into your car trunk.
Most bike racks have a lock mechanism, but these are often rudimentary. If theft is a concern, get a rack that comes with an integrated locking system to secure your bikes. Trunk racks are especially vulnerable to theft because the attachments are easy to defeat.
If you need to protect your mounted bikes from thieves, invest in a quality third-party bike lock that will make it difficult for them to purloin your bike.
In case you also need to protect your vehicle’s wheels, our wheel lock buying guide shows you affordable products to prevent people from removing your car’s wheels.
Most of the bike racks on this list cost less than $200. However, there are models that go for over $1,000 depending on the brand and features.
Racks that can carry four to five bicycles simultaneously tend to be more expensive. So plan your budget accordingly before shopping.
4 Important Bike Rack Features and Specifications
Here are essential features and specifications to check before buying a bike rack:
A rack’s weight is an important specification that can affect its utility and ease of use. Lightweight racks are easier to move around and mount. They are also easier to store and will probably require less storage space.
If the rack is heavier, transport may be difficult, especially if you can’t park your vehicle nearby. You might need to keep the equipment in your trunk, increasing the risk of damage to the rack and the car.
Easy Assembly and Installation
A rack should be easy to assemble and install. When choosing a bike rack, go for models with clear instructions and fewer assembly steps to save time and effort.
The installation should also be hassle-free. Where possible, choose brands that offer toolless installations and adjustments. Not only will this save time, it will also help you conserve energy for your rides.
The best brands of bike racks fold up easily into a compact bundle when not in use. Hitch and trunk-style racks usually feature foldable arms so they don’t take too much space behind the vehicle.
When shopping for bike racks, choose models that are easy to store. This style of racks will often fold flat and do not require disassembling. Some racks will even sit upright, eliminating the need for bracing and reducing the risk of falling over.
Types of Bike Racks for Cars
As we said earlier, there are different types and styles of racks for specific vehicles. Below, we look at the bike racks for cars and their pros and cons.
One of the most common type of rack is the hitch type. The hitch rack attaches to your vehicle’s receiver tube, which is usually 1.25 or 2 inches wide. It is the most convenient and offers an easy installation.
Modern hitch racks will fold up when not in use and tilt or swing away for easy access to your trunk. Many also come with integrated locks to secure your bike to the rack and prevent thieves from stealing them.
· Easy installation and simple assembly.
· Loading bikes is easy since you need not lift them over your head.
· Doesn’t affect navigation since bikes are at the rear and don’t block rearview mirrors.
· Most are affordable because they require no adapters if your vehicle has the receiver tube.
· Can reduce a vehicle’s ground clearance.
· Most can only carry a maximum of four bikes simultaneously.
· Can obstruct the number plates and lights board from view, making your car illegal.
· Can increase the risk of damage to bikes if not loaded properly.
· May reduce access to hatch or trunk.
· Is limited to vehicles with a hitch or that support the installation of a third-party hitch system.
· Extends the length of your vehicle, which can lead to accidents during parallel parking or backing up.
Trunk Bike Racks
Like the name suggests, these carriers are mounted on a vehicle’s trunk via hooks, straps, and stabilizing feet. They are lightweight and cheaper than hitch and roof racks, but also carry fewer bikes.
While they are affordable, trunk racks are fragile and easy to vandalize. If you intend to park your car in a theft-prone area with a loaded trunk rack, it’s better to store your bike in a safe place.
· Affordable and easy to install and remove
· Keeps the bikes clear of your vehicle
· Easy to load bikes
· Has minimal effect on fuel efficiency
· Fragile and susceptible to theft
· May reduce access to the trunk
· Can damage tires if the bikes are loaded next to the exhaust
· Most can only carry a maximum of two bikes
· May cause damage to the car paintwork
· May obstruct taillights and number plates
If you feel its unstable or hear it rambling at high speeds check this guide for the best license plate frame to ensure it doesn’t come loose!
Roof racks are also popular, especially for people who transport five or more bikes at once. Some roof racks attach to the factory-fitted crossbars or side tracks on your vehicle’s roof. Others require installation on top of the vehicle and another type uses suction cups to cling to surfaces.
With roof racks, you can either carry the bikes whole or remove the front wheel. These racks keep your bikes safe and eliminate accidentally damaging your bikes while backing up into something. However, they can increase drag and eat into your fuel mileage.
· Some are versatile enough to support several bikes and many other objects, including your outdoor gear and bags.
· Lifts bicycles clear of the bodywork, reducing the chances of damage.
· Provides secure and sway-free carriage for bikes.
· Keeps the rear of the vehicle free, allowing easy access to the trunk or hatch.
· Loading bikes can be difficult because of the height of the roof.
· Roof racks increase air resistance considerably, increasing fuel consumption.
· The loaded bikes may be too high to fit garages and road barriers.
If you own a pickup, you can also use a tailgate pad to transport your bikes. You just drape the pad over the tailgate and load the bicycles over it. The pad comes with looped straps to secure the bikes.
And if you’re travelling around with your trailer, check out our trailer hitch lock reviews for more security.
How a Bike Rack Can Make Your Life Easier
Bike racks are not just fashionable accessories for vehicles. They provide practical benefits for you, your vehicle, and of course, your bikes. Here are ways a bike rack can make your life easier:
- It makes bike riding more enjoyable. With most modern bike racks, you don’t have to disassemble your bicycles before loading them. That helps save time before and after your trips. Getting to your destination, you can quickly get down to the fun task of cycling instead of toiling over assembling the bikes.
- Bicycle racks make it possible to travel with your bikes without inconveniencing your friends and family. With a hitch, roof, or trunk bike rack, passengers don’t have to share their space with unwieldy tires and their dirty tires.
- Bicycles racks, especially the full roof rack types can increase the amount of load your vehicle can carry. When you are not hauling bicycles, roof racks allow you to pack outdoor equipment and luggage.
- Bike racks let you have the best of exercise and road trips. You can travel with your loved ones, picnic supplies, and also bring along your bikes for thrilling rides.
Installing Bike Racks
Installing bike racks is simple if you bought the correct one for your vehicle. As said earlier, SUVs and other vehicles with high ground clearance often come with a hitch receiver. So you can use a hitch bike rack with them. Vehicles with a lower profile like sedans use roof and trunk mounted racks.
The hitch rack slides easily into the receiver tube. Installation of a roof rack depends on the type you bought. You will probably need factory-installed crossbars for roof racks, except for the types that use suction cups. Thankfully, the installation of a roof rack is straightforward once you have the crossbars installed.
Trunk mount racks come with straps and hooks that hold them firmly to the trunk lid. After clipping all the straps in place, ensure everything is tight and secure.
You May Need Adapters
If you use a car like the RAV4 or other vehicle that carries a spare tire on the rear gate, you may need a hitch extender. As the name suggests, the hitch extender provides more room between your vehicle’s rear and the hitch rack. That way, you can load bicycles and still have access to your car’s rear.
If you own a specialized bike, you can go for bike racks designed to fit the peculiarities of your bicycles. Otherwise, a conversion bar can help you load bikes with unusual frame styles and sizes on your rack.
Remember Rack Locks
After installing your bike rack, protect it with a rack lock. Even if you lock your bikes, a determined thief can detach your poorly secured rack with the bikes. They can then dismantle the bike and sell for spares on the black market if it is not possible to sell it whole.
Most bike racks, even the most sophisticated are designed to be user installable. But sometimes, you may need professional help to get the best results. In that case, visit a mechanic shop for your bike rack installation.
How to Carry Bikes with Your Car Safely and Legally
What’s the best way to carry your bikes safely with your car without making it road illegal? Let’s examine some methods of transporting your bike with your vehicle:
Inside the Car
The cheapest and easiest way to transport bikes with your car is inside the vehicle. If your vehicle has a spacious trunk or large backseat, it is very easy to carry bikes on your travels. The only problem is finding enough space for the bikes and human passengers and their belongings.
Often, removing one tire drastically reduces the size of a bike. If you are transporting several bikes, placing a blanket or soft material between the frames can prevent scratches to the bodywork.
If you are traveling solo or with one other person, removing or collapsing the backseat can increase the floor estate to accommodate your bikes.
Whatever you do, make sure the bicycles do not obstruct your visibility while driving to remain street legal. Also, remember to restrain the bicycles properly if you keep them in your car to prevent accidents.
On Roof Racks
Roof racks are another popular way to transport bikes on your vehicle. Many car manufacturers install crossbars for fitting roof racks on their SUVs, station wagons and 4×4 vehicles. Depending on the roof rack, your bike can be loaded upright, upside down, whole, or with the front wheel removed.
Roof racks do not block visibility or obstruct taillights. However, they can be noisy on windy roads. Roof racks can also prevent you from entering places with a low height and also increase fuel consumption.
In the Rear
You can also carry bikes on the rear of your vehicle via a hitch rack or trunk mount bike rack. Vehicles with a high ground clearance often come with a hitch, which makes the hitch-style bike rack ideal. Sedans and hatchbacks are usually too low for hitch receiver tubes and use a trunk mount rack instead.
Loading a bike on the rear of your vehicle can obscure the taillights and registration plate, which makes the vehicle illegal. But you can solve this problem by installing a license plate frame.
Be Aware of Local Transport Laws
When transporting bikes on your vehicle, make sure you know the transport laws regarding carrying bikes. States have different limits for loads carried on the rear and roof of vehicles. You may need to have accessories and even marks to show other road users how far your bikes protrude from your vehicle.
In some states, you need to remove your bike rack when it is not in use. Familiarize yourself with these laws to enjoy a hassle-free biking trip.
FAQs and Answers
Here are commonly asked questions and answers related to bike racks:
- Q: What rack should I choose for my vehicle?
A: This depends on your vehicle type. Sedans and hatchbacks can use a trunk mount rack or roof rack. SUVs and vehicles with a high ground clearance can use hitch racks. Check the user reviews and your user manual for the rack options for your vehicle.
- Q: Can I use underground parking with a roof rack?
A: You might not be able to park in an underground garage with a loaded roof rack. Many people forget they are hauling bicycles on their vehicles while backing out of garages and restricted spaces, damaging the bikes and their car.
Before traveling with a loaded roof rack, determine the height of your vehicle and remember the figure when you get to a low passage.
- Q: Can a convertible use a bike rack?
A: Yes, a convertible will most likely be able to carry bikes with a hitch or trunk mount rack.
- Q: Do I need to drill holes on my vehicle’s roof to install a rack?
A: Not always. Most vehicles that offer roof rack options come with factory-installed crossbars to allow you to attach the rack. However, a few models might require drilling the roof for a permanent rack.
If you have a spacious car, the easiest way to haul your bicycles on road trips is right in the trunk or backseat. But most people don’t have that luxury.
Thankfully, the best bike rack provides a secure and efficient way to transport your bicycles. You only need to select the ideal bike rack for your car to enjoy the best of cycling and adventure.
Considering the huge number of bike racks on the market, you need to do due diligence before buying one for your car. That’s why it’s important to read bike rack reviews before going to the shop.
This article provides all the information you need to know about the different types of racks for transporting bikes. It also offers advice on how to safely and legally carry bikes on your vehicle.
We hope this piece helps you pursue your passion for cycling to the fullest.