Top 8 Best Bike Racks
By | Last updated: July 16, 2021
best bike racks for your vehicle

For as much as a person may try, there does come a time we can’t fit everything into our vehicles. This despite even the mastering of Jenga and Tetris as a youngster. Sometimes a person just has to accept reality, break down, and purchase some sort of carrier and lash it to the car.

This is especially true if said items that won’t fit are of an odd size, like bicycles. We have rounded up a few of our picks for carrying the things, knowing these Victorian-era devices are good for tackling trails diverse as the forests of Vermont or the shores of California … but the less said about clogging up turning lanes downtown, the better

Assembled here are eight bike racks of various size, price, and application. Choose wisely, and the games of Jenga and Tetris won’t even enter your mind.

1. Editor’s Pick: Saris Bones Trunk Bike Rack Carrier

Flying in the face of the unstoppable rising tide of crossovers and SUVs, a few die-hards still choose to drive a sedan (*raises hand*). If the Venn diagram of their interests also includes cycling, then this is a great option for carrying their bikes. It is able to be trunk-mounted, a design that is not overly common in this segment. It can fit over most spoilers while separating three bikes on different levels and, yes, it can work with a hatchback if you so choose.

A tilting feature allows easy access to the rear of a vehicle using this rack and the green crowd will appreciate knowing it is built with recyclable, non-rusting materials. Articulated rubber feet protect the car’s paint and the whole thing, not including bicycles, weighs just over 12 pounds. The seller says its injection-molded arms and legs (the rack’s, not the seller’s) will keep the rack solid for years.

Pros/Slick styling for a bike rack, available in colors, lightweight
Cons/Not cheap, no one drives sedans anymore
Bottom Line/Editor's Pick for best Bike Rack for your vehicle

2. Cheap Solution: Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack

If all you seek is a simple way to haul around a single bike, then this could be the rack for you. This lockable upright unit mounts to a vehicle’s existing roof rack, fitting square or round bars up to three inches wide. Unlike some other roof-mounted solutions, this one does not require an annoying removal of the bike’s front wheel during transport.

Cheap and light, the works of it folds flat when not in use, thereby saving drivers the indignity of getting snagged on a low hanging pipe in the condo’s underground parking garage. Brackets and hardware are included for installation, though some buyers reported a difficult install if the car’s factory roof rack rails are mounted close to the top of the vehicle.

Pros/Affordable, lightweight, lockable, it’s called a Swagman
Cons/Only accepts one bike, requires an existing roof rack
Bottom Line/If you don't want to spend a lot and need something that just works

3. Great for Off-Road: Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack

This option utilizes a rugged strap paired with a couple of metal arms in order to rest itself on a vehicle’s spare tire. It’s a shockingly simple mounting system that uses the forces of gravity and leverage to stay secure. Given that it is directly attached to the spare tire, it will easily swing out of the way without any modifications.

It’s a great solution for the adventure crowd who likes to jump in their Wrangler, drive to the trailhead, and hit the trail on bikes instead of a 4×4. That’s not the scene for me but, hey, to each their own. Note a specific unit is required for modern Wranglers (because Jeep).

Pros/Uses the spare tire as a mount, doesn’t actually touch your vehicle
Cons/Puts a lot more weight directly on the vehicle’s back gate
Bottom Line/Top pick for off-road enthusiasts

4. Kuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike Rack

Building on the company’s previous efforts in this area, the NV 2.0 hitch rack has a pivot system featuring a foot assist, so a person can lower the rack without having to lean the bike up against anything. An adjustable cradle allows for fat bikes wearing tires measuring about 5 inches. Or, users can accommodate bicycles with longer-then-standard wheelbases. The bike cable locks keep your Victorian antiquity very secure.

A workstand makes it easy to perform trail- or roadside repairs without hassle. Its ratchet design for the front tire is said to have an intuitive release which is more than can be said for most other ratchet straps out there. The rear tire strap features a specially designed band to protect wheels. Another bonus? It’s a no-tool install.

Pros/Innovative features, holds 60 lb bikes, excellent online reviews
Cons/Heavy, eye-wateringly expensive
Bottom Line/One fantastic bike rack but boy will it cost you money

5. MaxxHaul 4-Bike Deluxe Hitch Mount Rack

Making good use of that towing hitch loitering on the back of your SUV, this rack holds four bikes with a swing down feature to allow easy access to the rear of your car. Note this style of rack adds 25 pounds (plus the bikes) far out behind a vehicle; it shouldn’t be enough to alter handling characteristics in any major way but you will need to be careful when reversing in a crowded parking lot

The seller says this bike rack is designed to handle bikes with a frame that has a horizontal top bar since this is the location from which the bike is mounted on the rack. If you’re rocking a different style bike frame, be sure to add or install a horizontal cross bar (not included, of course). It all fits into a standard 2-inch hitch receiver, with some real-world customers reporting a loose fit that needed a bit of fandangling before hitting the road.

Pros/Carries up to four bicycles, easy installation
Cons/Sticks extremely far off the back of a vehicle
Bottom Line/An option if you need to carry a buncha bikes

6. Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack

This is a plain-jane version of the snazzy Editor’s Pick at the top of this post. Mounting to a sedan’s trunklid, this particular unit employs a series of straps and metal hooks in a bid to stay secure and not fly off into traffic behind you. The manufacturer says this thing will work with minivans and SUVs but it may require some creative thinking to mount it on one of those machines. Read the instructions.

It does come fully assembled and 12-inch long carry arms should easily accommodate a wide range of bicycle styles. Those hooks which secure the side straps onto the trunk lid look as if they’d chew up the paintwork but patient reviewers of this product claim that no such thing happens. As for bike transport, tie-downs are fixed in position on the carry arm but rotate so that they can handle a wide range of bicycle frame sizes.

Pros/Inexpensive, easy to install, featherweight
Cons/Hooks that make direct contact with car body
Bottom Line/Basic, yet fully functional

7. XCAR 2-Bike Hitch Mounted Bike Carrier

Available in configurations to carry two or four bikes, this carrier unfortunately shares its name with a little-loved compact car of early-’80s GM malaise. There’s a very good chance this thing is constructed with more care, however. It boasts of heavy-duty steel, with its carry arm tubes good for a max load of 80 pounds. Given the lightweight nature of most modern bikes, this should be more than ample.

Like other hitch-mounted racks on this list, you’ll need a 2-inch receiver to make this carrier work properly. It has adjustable mounting saddles for carrying your bicycles, suggesting it is good for velos of varying sizes. The seller exhorts that users will need to ensure the mounting saddles are tightened sufficiently before setting out on the highway. An easy-to-use tilt-down feature gives convenient access to the rear of your car.

Pros/Affordable, tidy, no gratuitous clutter
Cons/Your vehicle will require a hitch
Bottom Line/Better than an actual X car

8. Kuat Transfer 2 Bike Rack Black

This brand appeared earlier in our list but shows up this time as a hitch-mounted two-bike carrier. The Transfer 2 utilizes tray-style mounts and a locking system that doesn’t touch the frame. A rear-wheel strap and a front ratcheting arm hold bikes securely in place without needing to put pressure on the frame’s tubes or cable guides while an adjustment system also lets you fine-tune the front wheel cradles to avoid any potential contact between bikes.

The unit folds cleanly up and out of the way when not in use by way of a spring-mounted foot pedal. It features a third locking position that angles the rack down so you can add a last-minute cooler of tasty snacks and beverages to the trunk before embarking on a trail-slaying or pavement-cruising adventure.

Pros/Well-known brand, robust construction, easy-tilt function
Cons/Locking pins for the bikes sold separately
Bottom Line/Well-rounded option that does it all

Bike Rack FAQs

Is any prep required for a bike rack?

It is an exceptionally good idea to test fit your bikes on whatever rack you’ve chosen before hitting the road. A few minutes spent in the days before your trip learning how your bikes are to be situated will result in a lot less frustration on the day you pack up to go.

Will all bicycles fit the same bike rack?

Carefully weigh your needs (and your bikes!). Are you carrying more than two bicycles? Are they fat bikes? Are they old bikes from your youth that were seemingly made from repurposed bridge girders or are they modern units that weigh less than a sparrow’s feather? Your answer to each of these will dictate the type of rack that’s right for you.

Are extra accessories required for a bike rack?

And don’t forget, some styles (roof, hitch-mounted) require other accessories installed on your vehicle as part of their support system. In this case, that’s an existing roof rack and trailer hitch receiver, respectively.

Any further bike rack advice?

Whatever you select, be sure to read the manual and take your time – both with the rack install and the securing of the bikes. A rush job can lead to a scratched bike at best and a lost bike at worst. One more thing: Always spring for the extra locks.

Updates:

  • Replaced BV 2-Bike with MaxxHaul 4-Bike at #5 due to availability
  • Replaced Leader Accessories with XCAR at #7 due to availability
  • Revised introduction and FAQ
  • Updated active links

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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