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Bike Racks: Which One is the Greatest Alternative?

Jeep Grand Cherokee and Pivot Firebird Mountain Bike

With bike racks for automobiles obtainable in 5 differing kinds, it’s arduous to think about which kind you want. Choices embrace hitch racks, roof racks, trunk racks, truck mattress racks, and spare tire racks. Usually, two or three sorts of motorbike racks will match a bicycle owner’s car, with roof and hitch being the most typical.

The type of bike you trip might impression the kind of racks your automobile can deal with. For example, trunk and hitch bike racks that mount to the body might have interference points on full-suspension mountain bikes. Highway bikes and hardtail mountain bikes supply extra room contained in the body and may match on any bike rack.

Bike racks can value lower than $100 and exceed $1,000 for a top-of-the-line model with area for 4. Some bike racks supply built-in locks that shield your bike from thieves if you park your car. Whilst you can lock your bike to a trunk bike rack, there isn’t any good method to lock the bike rack to the automobile. A pair of scissors or a knife may make quick work of the bike rack mounting straps if a nefarious character decides they need a brand new bicycle.

On this story, Kelley Blue E book will cowl all choices for hauling your bikes, present skilled ideas, and extra. Learn on to know which one will work finest on your wants.

Bike Racks Defined:

However First, Some Background

Jeep Grand Cherokee With Trailer Bike Rack

Many people turned taken with BMX biking early, lengthy earlier than we began mountain biking. Fortunately, BMX bikes are significantly smaller than mountain bikes and may simply be transported inside a hatchback or sedan. Becoming a mountain bike inside a automobile, nonetheless, normally entails eradicating the wheels and punctiliously inserting every part inside a transferring blanket to maintain any grease or components from staining or tearing the inside. After some time, the automobile’s inside might get broken, otherwise you may develop uninterested in disassembling the bike and punctiliously loading and unloading every time you wish to trip.

Mountain Bike Accessories

As soon as the seemingly inevitable occurs, it’s possible you’ll end up out there for a motorcycle rack. The expertise gained utilizing completely different kinds of motorbike racks all through the years and talking with Vermont Mountain Bike Affiliation members has given us useful perception into what makes a fantastic bike rack.

Kinds of Bike Racks

There are 5 completely different bike rack sorts obtainable, and every one provides benefits and downsides. What stays true throughout all sorts of bike racks is that carrying greater than two bikes can get costly. The fee so as to add extra bike mounts to a preferred hitch bike rack is $239 per mount and $40 for 2 wheel locks. Carrying 4 bikes on a trailer-mounted bike rack can simply exceed $1,000. Though this looks as if some huge cash to spend on a motorcycle rack, it’s important to contemplate the worth of bikes and that some mountain bikes can value greater than a used automobile.

Hitch Bike Rack
Yellow SUV with bikes on a rack by SaiKrishna Saketh Yellapragada on Unsplash

Hitch Bike Racks

If you happen to’re an avid bicycle owner and plan to take frequent rides, most discover {that a} hitch bike rack works finest. Hitch-mounted bike racks permit for the simplest loading and unloading of bikes. They arrive in two varieties that help the bicycle by the wheels or the body. One can find hitch-mount bike racks that help the tires, hold your tools extra steady, received’t scratch the bike body, and work compatibly with full-suspension mountain bikes.


  • Simple loading and unloading of bikes
  • Might be swapped from car to car
  • Some fashions help the bike by the wheels


  • Can block entry to the trunk when bikes are loaded
  • Extends the size of the car when in use
  • Excessive-end fashions are costly
Roof Bike Rack
Volkswagen with rack” by SenebDesign is licensed below CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Roof Bike Racks

Roof-mount bike racks supply an excessive amount of flexibility and are a wonderful alternative for an out of doors fanatic that should transport numerous sorts of gear. In case your automobile comes geared up with roof crossbars, including a motorcycle rack on high could be a comparatively cost-effective possibility. The crossbars may mount kayaks, skis, snowboards, and cargo carries. It may be a bit more difficult to load and unload bikes from the rack on tall automobiles when in comparison with a hitch bike rack.


  • Versatile system that can be utilized to hold different tools
  • Fashions that mount to the bike fork keep safe
  • Doesn’t impression the flexibility to entry the trunk


  • Extends the peak of the car by a number of ft
  • Mounting a full-suspension mountain bike (30 kilos or extra) will be troublesome
  • Elevated wind noise and resistance
Trunk Bike Rack
Mini Cooper Bike Rack” by John Mizel is licensed below CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Trunk Bike Racks

Usually, essentially the most inexpensive and compact bike racks are trunk mounted. Trunk-mount bike racks are finest fitted to sedans, they usually can work on some hatchbacks. Be cautious of utilizing a trunk bike rack on hatchbacks with spoilers since they aren’t normally designed to help any weight.

Skilled Tip: You should definitely add scratch safety on the mounting clips to forestall paint scratches. If the scratches turn out to be too extreme, you possibly can restore the injury by performing a paint correction. Making use of a bit of paint safety movie to the bottom of the mounting hooks will assist stop paint scratches, scuffs and scrapes. PPF is a vinyl movie usually utilized to automobile paint. Utilizing the PPF will yield the identical outcomes with out overlaying the whole trunk with protecting movie. It’s also possible to buy fairly a number of specialty merchandise on-line by looking for “trunk bike-rack protectors.”


  • Price is normally the bottom of all rack sorts
  • Light-weight and simple to mount to the car
  • Might be swapped from car to car


  • Blocks entry to the trunk whatever the bikes mounted
  • Minimal built-in security measures
  • Can simply scratch or take away paint from the car
Truck Bed Bike Rack
A truck mattress cowl and bike on a rack on a Dodge Ram” by DiamondBack Truck Covers is licensed below CC BY-SA 2.0

Truck Mattress Racks

You possibly can mount bikes to pickup truck beds in two methods. You possibly can safe some racks to the truck’s mattress, and there are tailgate pads that the bikes relaxation on for simple elimination. Truck-bed mounts value extra, however they provide extra safety when transporting the bikes or if you must go away them unattended. Tailgate pads, or thick materials that folds over the again of the car and retains it protected, will be useful in the event you use the truck to shuttle bikes to the highest of the path due to the straightforward loading and unloading.


  • Fast loading and unloading of bikes
  • Mattress mounts don’t drastically enhance the car footprint
  • Tailgate pads permit for carrying 5 or extra bikes


  • Some fashions aren’t appropriate with tonneau covers (or what covers the mattress of a pickup)
  • Massive bikes might not slot in truck beds shorter than six ft.
  • Tailgate pads can scratch or take away paint from the car
Spare Tire Bike Rack
Allen 303 DB 3-Bike spare tire rack” by Vanib from Rav4World

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Not many automobiles characteristic spare tires mounted on the again. If you happen to personal a Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, or Toyota FJ Cruiser, then a spare-tire bike rack is an possibility to contemplate. Most spare-tire mounts help the bike by the body, however a choose few help the bike by the wheels. The racks that help the wheels solely are likely to have a restricted wheelbase of 48 inches, and a few mountain bikes can exceed a 50-inch wheelbase. A spare-tire bike mount might be the proper alternative in the event you use a trailer hitch to tow a trailer or maintain a cargo service.


  • Price is normally cheaper than hitch bike racks
  • Most fashions don’t impression trunk entry
  • Frees up the trailer hitch for towing or hauling


  • Not as safe as a hitch or roof bike rack
  • Mounting straps might come free on longer and rougher drives
  • Might not be appropriate with bigger wheels and tires

What Bike Rack Matches My Automobile?

The kind of car you drive might impression the bike rack you purchase. Hitch- and roof-mount bike racks would be the most versatile as they’re appropriate with the broadest vary of car physique kinds. In case your car doesn’t boast roof crossbars or a trailer hitch, then the price to put in particular bike racks will enhance fairly a bit.


Vehicles supply a number of bike rack choices and normally require the set up of a trailer hitch or roof bars, which will increase the price considerably. A trunk bike rack could be the best choice in the event you’re on a good funds. Nevertheless, in case your car and funds permit for a hitch or roof bike rack, they’re the superior possibility for transporting bikes.

  • Hitch bike racks
  • Roof bike racks
  • Trunk bike racks


Many SUVs profit from roof bars and trailer hitches put in on the manufacturing facility, lowering the set up value of a hitch or roof bike rack. Roof-mount racks are usually extra inexpensive than hitch-mounted racks, particularly if the car comes with roof bars. Do not forget that a step ladder could be essential to mount bikes on tall SUVs.

  • Hitch bike racks
  • Roof bike racks
  • Trunk bike racks
  • Spare-tire bike racks


Pickup vehicles are nicely fitted to carrying a lot of bikes because of the number of mounting choices you can make the most of without delay. A truck can carry bikes on the roof, within the mattress, and from the hitch. Truck tailgate pads are the most typical kind of bed-mount bike rack and occur to be one of the inexpensive.

  • Hitch bike racks
  • Roof bike racks
  • Tailgate bike racks
  • Truck mattress racks

What’s the Greatest Bike Rack?

A hitch-mounted bike rack that helps the bikes by the tires is the general finest rack if the car and funds allow. Hitch bike racks that contact the bike’s tires supply improved stability, security, and compatibility. It’s arduous to beat the straightforward loading and unloading top that bike racks mounted to the trailer hitch present. As well as, if you don’t must take away the bike’s entrance tire for mounting, it saves time and retains you from holding up your biking buddies on the trailhead. After loading a mountain bike in a Volkswagen Golf GTI quite a few occasions, the inconvenience of assembling and dissembling a motorcycle subtracts from a day of using.

In 2020, many people determined to leap again into mountain biking. We discovered that initially, an previous hitch-mounted rack supporting the bikes by the body’s high tube appeared to work nicely. Nevertheless, the rubber straps securing the bike to the rack misplaced elasticity and power through the years, similar to any rubber uncovered to the weather. After a number of months of utilizing the previous bike rack, securing the entrance wheels and handlebars turned tiring. They wanted to be mounted to the car in order that they’d not are available in contact with the automobile or one other bike. We wanted a cable lock to safe the bikes to the rack for the reason that rack didn’t embrace any built-in security measures.

After researching a number of bike racks, speaking with MTB lovers, and searching across the car parking zone of Vermont’s many path networks, one firm appeared at all times to be current, 1Up. If the product’s major and seemingly solely draw back is its value, then likelihood is good it provides all of the bells and whistles that you could be want in a motorcycle rack. If you happen to sometimes want to depart bikes unattended whereas going right into a fuel station or grocery retailer, the 1Up bike rack locks turn out to be essential add-on.

1Up Heavy Responsibility Double Bike Rack Evaluate

Hyundai Tucson With Yeti SB165 and Specialized Stumpjumper EvoWorth: $635
Bikes: 2 (as much as 4 bikes with add-ons)
Rack Weight: 46 kilos
Weight Capability: 200 kilos (50 kilos per bike)

After the 1Up 2-inch Heavy Responsibility Double bike rack received put in on a 2017 Hyundai Tucson, it received used dozens of occasions. The Tucson got here with a 1.25-inch trailer hitch from the manufacturing facility, and a 1.25-inch-to-2-inch hitch expander was wanted to make the 1Up bike rack appropriate. Along with the hitch expander, we bought wheel locks and a cable lock from the identical firm. The overall value of 4 wheel locks and one cable lock got here to $132.

1Up sells a 1.25-inch hitch mount bike rack, nevertheless it solely carries one bike within the inventory configuration and has a three-bike capability in comparison with the 4 bike capability of the heavy-duty model. The heavy-duty model made sense because it may carry a minimum of two bikes, and the worth distinction was solely $137 extra, together with the trailer hitch adaptor. If you happen to don’t must buy a trailer hitch adaptor, the worth distinction is simply $61. The HD model can also be rated for off-road use and may stand up to the elevated forces the bike rack is uncovered to by driving over uneven terrain.

Hyundai Tucson With Hitch Bike Rack Loaded Sideview Hyundai Tucson With Hitch Bike Rack Loaded Sideview

1Up bike racks work modularly, and any purchaser can add extra bike capability afterward if wanted. The modular design is useful if it’s essential transport fewer bikes as a result of you possibly can take away the additional areas.

1Up Hitch Bike Rack Folded Down

Every extra bike provides nearly 10 inches to the size of the bike rack, so care must be taken when maneuvering in tight areas.

1Up Hitch Bike Rack Folded Down Sideview

One other nice characteristic that may be a bit cumbersome to make use of however significantly appreciated is the a number of positions of the rack. For instance, when loading up your bikes, if it’s essential open the trunk, you possibly can decrease the 1Up bike rack into the down place, which permits for nearly wide-open entry to the cargo space. You’ll both should be fairly robust or have a serving to hand to boost and decrease the 65-pound-to-250-pound bike rack.

If you happen to’re on the taller facet and wish a big or extra-large bike body, it’s possible you’ll wish to think about the utmost wheelbase of the bike rack. Some hitch bike racks supply a most wheelbase of 48 inches, which doesn’t minimize it for transporting long-travel, full-suspension mountain bikes just like the Yeti SB165. The XL-sized SB165 bike has a 50.6-inch wheelbase.

Bike Rack Whole Price: $843
1Up HD Bike Rack: $635
4 Wheel Locks: $78
12-foot Cable Lock: $54
1.25-inch to 2-inch Hitch Expander: $76

Methods to Load Bikes on a 1Up Bike Rack

Loading a 1Up hitch bike rack is simple and solely takes a couple of minutes to finish. Having a high-quality bike hitch helps to guard your bike from injury and permits you to spend extra time biking. If doable, take away your bike racks to forestall additional put on and tear when not in use.

Skilled Tip: Guarantee that the place of the pedals received’t hit the opposite bike’s body when loading and unloading. The bikes stay steady when you safe them on the rack, and also you’ll get an inch of clearance even with a number of the largest MTB flat pedals obtainable.

Load your bikes in an alternating sample to keep away from handlebar interference, and modify the seat top for the most effective match. Adjusting the seat top on many mountain bikes solely takes a number of seconds, because of the fantastic invention of the dropper seat put up.

Steps for Loading the Bicycles

  • Unfold bike rack arms
  • Load bike closest to car
  • Load bikes in alternating order
  • Insert wheel locks
  • Safe bike frames with a cable lock

Hyundai Tucson With Hitch Bike Rack Ready To LoadUnfold the bike rack arms.

Hyundai Tucson With Hitch Bike Rack Loaded With Mountain Bikes Load the primary bicycle closest to the car and decrease the arms till they safe the tires. You possibly can load extra bikes in an alternating seat-to-handlebar to keep away from interference.

1Up Bike Rack Wheel LockInsert wheel locks by way of the bike rack arms and wheel spokes.

1Up Bike Rack Cable LockLock the bike frames to the bike rack utilizing the cable lock.

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