Best Hitch Bike Rack Reviews 2021 & Buying Guide
Best Hitch Bike Rack Reviews 2021 & Buying Guide

If you want freedom, you need to start cycling. With the wind at your back, you can hit the open road and go wherever you want to go. But after some time, you will have to go somewhere far from your home. And getting your bike to the starting point of your adventure can be challenging.

That is why you should invest in a capable bike rack rather than maneuvering your bike around the folded back seats. And if you regularly take your bike out on trails, then bike racks are a must for you. While some may choose to mount their bikes on top of their cars, tow hitch bike racks are the best option.

You may think that getting the best bike rack is a simple job. However, thanks to the wide variety of bike racks out there, it is not as simple as you may think. That is why we have brought you a list of the best hitch bike racks.

And for your convenience, we have added a detailed buying guide at the end of this article. That way, you can make sure that you are getting the best hitch bike rack possible.

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Hanging Hitch Bike Rack

Let’s look at some of the best hanging hitch bike racks available in the market.

Yakima Ridgeback (5 Bike Hitch Bike Rack)

YAKIMA RidgeBack Tilt-Away Hitch Bike Rack for 5 bikesCHECK CURRENT PRICE

If you are looking for a convenient way to transport your bikes daily to local destinations, Yakima’s Ridgeback is a solid option for you. While the bike is lightweight, it is heavy-duty enough that you can take long distances for biking adventures.

The Ridgeback is incredibly easy to install and remove. So, you can easily take it off whenever you want to without any trouble. Moreover, its compact size makes it easy to store. Apart from its compact size, you can also fold it. So, once you take it off your vehicle, you will not have difficulty looking for places to store the unit.

Design & Quality

The Ridgeback has a lightweight design. However, that does not mean it is not sturdy. Yakima has constructed this unit with ease of access in mind. Thanks to its solid but lightweight foundation, you can easily take it off after every use.

The rack features an anti-sway cradle. This cradle ensures that there is adequate spacing between the bikes and eliminates any bike-to-bike contact. However, some users have stated that you can only load four bikes safely instead of the advertised five.

Features:

  • It weighs around 40 pounds
  • Has a dimension of 12.2 x 16.14 x 44.09 inches
  • It can fit with any passenger car
  • Can accommodate up to five bikes
  • It comes equipped with a Yakima signature bottle opener to enjoy the open road.
  • Weight capacity of hundred and fifty pounds

Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Fits most bikes
  • It comes equipped with the tilting feature
  • Features an anti-sway design
  • Foldable unit is easy to store
  • Lightweight design
  • Higher longevity

Cons:

  • Lengthy loading process with more than two bikes
  • Low spacing between bikes on the rack

Thule Helium Pro (2 or 3 Bike Hitch Bike Rack)

Thule Helium Pro Hitch Bike Rack 3 BikeCHECK CURRENT PRICE

With ample space between the bikes (seven inches), the Helium Pro eliminates any worries that you might have about your bikes’ safety. This unit is debatably the best lightweight bike rack in the market. So, if you are looking to provide the highest security for your bikes, you should opt for this unit.

As the Helium Pro is a lightweight unit, it is effortless to maneuver. Moreover, its HitchSwitch lever allows you to fold down your bike arms, adding more to the ease of access feature. The unit is transferable between hitch receivers of 2 inches and 1.25 inches.

Design & Quality

Thule has constructed the Helium Pro 3 with sturdy construction. However, unlike a typical bike rack that weighs a lot to provide safety, the Helium Pro can provide ample security without gaming a lot of weight, thanks to its high-quality build.

The rack contains the HitchSwitch feature that allows you to access your automotive’s rear cargo area without any trouble. This feature also allows you to compactly fold down the bike arms when the unit is not in use.

Features:

  • Weighs 20 pounds
  • Maximum weight capacity of 112.5 pounds
  • It has a dimension of 39 x 11 x 37.3 inches
  • Aluminum and plastic build
  • Can carry up to three bikes
  • Can fit hitch receivers of 1.25 inches and 2 inches

Pros:

  • Enhanced bike protection with seven inches spacing between bikes
  • Features the anti-sway feature that eliminates any bike-to-bike contact
  • It comes equipped with the HitchSwitch feature that allows you to tilt the rack down with ease
  • Provides bike security with the incorporated bike lock
  • Features a compact cradle design that can accommodate a wide variety of frame styles and bike sizes

Cons:

  • Most kids’ and women’s bikes need a top tube adapter that can increase the cost.
  • Difficult to load and configure

Thule Apex XT 4 (4 Bike Hitch Bike Rack)

Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack 4 BikeCHECK CURRENT PRICE

If you are looking for a hanging bike rack with excellent quality and an affordable price, look no further. The Thule Apex XT 4 is a combination of both. It has a compact cradle design that allows the rack to accommodate a wide variety of different frame styles and bike sizes.

If you are worried about your bike’s safety, don’t be. The Apex XT 4 has ample spacing between the bikes to prevent the cycles from colliding against each other. Moreover, it comes equipped with an anti-sway cradle extension that will offer enhanced bike stability. You can also fold it away when it is not in use.

Design & Quality

Thule has used high-quality material to construct this fantastic rack. This all-metal bike is for those who do not mind keeping the rack on their car regularly. Do not worry. It does not obstruct the rear window view.

Thule fits this unit with the HitchSwitch feature that allows the user to easily access the rear cargo space by tilting the bike rack. However, if you want to load and unload quickly, you should look for another unit. The Thule Apex XT 4 is not best known for its loading and unloading time.

Features:

  • Weighs 35 pounds
  • Maximum weight capacity of 150 pounds
  • All-metal construction
  • It has a dimension of 42.1 x 11 x 37 inches
  • Can carry up to 4 bikes
  • Can fit hitch receivers of two inches and 1.25 inches

Pros:

  • Provides enhanced bike safety with seven-inch spacing between the loaded bikes
  • Pliable ratcheting straps are easily moveable.
  • Can accommodate 20” bikes and kids’ bikes (16 inches)
  • Lightweight
  • Easy installation and removal procedure
  • Features an anti-sway cradle to eliminate bike contact

Cons:

  • Accommodating women’s and kids’ bikes need a top tube adapter that can jack up the cost.
  • Difficult loading procedure

Thule Camber 2 / Camber 4 (2 or 4 Bike Hitch Bike Rack)

Thule Camber Hitch Bike Rack 4 BikeCHECK CURRENT PRICE

Thule is a long-standing name in the bike rack industry. And one of their most popular mid-range options is the Thule Camber 4. It has two versions, the two bikes version and the four bikes version. Thule is famous in the industry for its all-around performance, and the Camber 4 unit is no different.

While the Camber 4 unit is not particularly featherweight, it is lightweight compared to the typical hanging bike rack. Moreover, it has a sturdy build that provides a sound transport system for bikes.

Thule has equipped the Camber 4 with an anti-sway strap system. Thanks to this feature, the Camber 4 can ensure safety for your bikes. And thanks to its tilt mechanism, you can have uninterrupted access to the rear cargo area.

Design & Quality

The Camber 4 has an all-metal construction that allows it to provide its users with a solid bike rack. The seven-inch spacing between the loaded bikes keeps the bike safe. And it has a unique build that allows it to load all types of frame sizes. However, if you want to load women’s and kids’ bikes, you will need a tube top adapter.

Features:

  • Weighs 34 pounds
  • Maximum weight capacity of 150 pounds
  • Has a dimension of 11 x 42.2 x 35.6 inches
  • All metal construction
  • Can carry up to 4 bikes
  • Can fit hitch receivers of 1.25 inches and 2 inches

Pros:

  • Features a compact cradle design that can accommodate various bike size and frame styles
  • Ensures bike safety with seven-inch spacing between the loaded bikes
  • It comes equipped with the HitchSwitch feature that allows you to fold away the rack when not in use
  • The anti-sway cradle extensions provide enhanced bike stability
  • It comes equipped with a HitchSwitch lever that offers greater access to the rear cargo space
  • Easy installation process

Cons:

  • There is an issue with the long-term durability of the bike rack.

Allen Sports Deluxe (Budget 4 Bike Hitch Mounted Rack)

Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks for 2 in. HitchCHECK CURRENT PRICE

Allen Sports is an established brand with a long-standing name for creating solid products at a low price. This product is one of the budget buys, and you will not be getting any top-of-the-line features. However, that does not mean that this is not an excellent rack to invest in.

Compared to its price, the four-bike version of Alien Sports Deluxe offers decent quality stuff. The unit has a low loading height. As a result, you do not have to raise your bikes too high off the ground to load your bikes. You will have no trouble loading any traditional bike with front triangles. However, if your bike has a non-traditional front triangle, the fit may not be perfect. It can even be impossible in some cases.

This wallet-friendly bike rack may not have the state-of-the-art features, but it will help you transport your bikes within budget.

Design & Quality

The Allen Sports Deluxe unit has an all-steel build. It uses plastic buckles to keep the bikes fastened to the racks. However, it lacks various security features that various high-priced bike racks have.

Features:

  • Compatible with fat bikes
  • Can carry ebike with removed battery
  • Weighs 23 pounds
  • It has a dimension of 25 x 13 x 3.5 inches
  • Uses steel as raw material
  • It has a weight capacity of 140 pounds
  • Can carry up to four bikes
  • Can fit into hitches of 2 inches

Pros:

  • Easy installation and removal procedure
  • Features a very compact design that takes up minimum space when not in use
  • High-quality material for a very reasonable price
  • Features Allen’s patented tie-down system that secures each loaded bicycle individually
  • Needs no removal of wheels
  • No faults in the structural integrity of the rack

Cons:

  • Not enough spacing between the bikes
  • Lengthy loading process with more than two bikes

Platform Hitch Bike Rack

In this section, we’ll talk about some of the best platform hitch bike racks available in the market.

Thule T2 Pro XT (2 Bike Hitch Rack)

Thule T2 Pro XT/XTR Hitch Bike RackCHECK CURRENT PRICE

There are not many cyclists who do not know the name of Thule. This globally recognized brand has been leading this industry for quite a while now, and the T2 Pro X2 is one of their most incredible offerings to the cycling world.

The T2 Pro XT has a combination of all the features that you may need in it. This thoughtfully designed package includes a built-in locking system that provides ample security to the loaded bikes. Thanks to its tilt lever, you can uninterruptedly access the trunk area of your vehicle.

Platform mounted bike racks are very easy to use, and the T2 Pro XT is a prime example. You can quickly load and unload bikes within ten seconds. While it may sound too good to be true, but it is valid, nonetheless.

Design & Quality

The T2 Pro XT is a bit on the pricey side. But there is a reason for that. Apart from all the beautiful features that it offers, the T2 Pro XT showcases a high-quality build. Thule used only the highest quality materials when building this unit.

It has a sturdy metal frame with burly plastic cradles. While it is relatively more expensive and heavier, there is no better bike rack to use.

Features:

  • Compatible with fat bikes
  • Can carry electric bike (max 60 lbs)
  • Weighs 52 pounds
  • It has dimensions of 54.7 x 22.5 x 33.8 inches
  • Can accommodate tire width of up to five inches
  • Maximum wheelbase spec of 1270 mm
  • Hass a maximum weight capacity of 120 pounds
  • Can accommodate up to two bikes (four bikes)

Pros:

  • It can accommodate almost all styles of bikes
  • Features an AutoAttach system that helps the user with the installation and removal procedure
  • It can fit up to 5” tires and 20-29” wheels, making it ideal for mountain, fat, downhill, and carbon frame bikes.
  • It comes equipped with an integrated cable lock and lock knob lock system to secure the receiver’s rack.
  • Ample spacing between the loaded bikes ensures zero collision between the cycles.

Cons:

  • A bit on the expensive side
  • It takes a lot of space

Saris Superclamp EX (4 Bike Hitch Rack)

Saris Superclamp Bike Hitch Car Rack, 2 to 4 Bike Sizing Option, Plus Cargo and Hd/Rv Compatible Options, Hatch Access, Easy Fold, Integrated Locks and ReflectorsCHECK CURRENT PRICE

The Saris Superclamp EX is a combination of unrivaled compactness and utility. If you need a bike rack that can carry up to four bikes but need a short profile, this is the product. Thanks to its low profile, you can keep it stored in the car because it does not block your rear window view.

The four-bike carrier can accommodate different types of bikes. These bikes include standard mountain or road bikes, hybrid adult bikes, and 24” kids’ bikes.

Design & Quality

The Superclamp EX features an eye-catching style with a robust build. The bike has two rods and carries two bikes on each rod. Thanks to its lightweight yet sturdy design, you can rest assured of your bikes’ and car’s safety.

One problem with platform mount racks is that it extends too far out of the vehicle. But with the Superclamp EX, that will not be a problem. It puts the bikes close to one another and, as a result, does not extend too far out.

Features:

  • Compatible with fat tire bikes with up to 4 inch tires out of the box. Additional adapter required for wider tires.
  • Can carry ebikes
  • Weighs 38 pounds
  • It has a dimension of 49.61 x 15.75 x 11.02 inches
  • It can fit a wheelbase of up to 50 inches
  • Can carry up to 4 bikes
  • Can accommodate bikes with a tire width of up to four inches

Pros:

  • A very compact design allows it to be folded away when not in use
  • Can accommodate 24-inch and adult bikes with ease
  • Very low profile
  • Easy installation and adjustment procedure
  • Features a high-quality build and is very durable

Cons:

  • The close spacing area between the bikes
  • One of the two tire trays is not highly adjustable

Kuat Sherpa 2.0 (2 Bike Hitch Rack)

Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0-2 Bike RackCHECK CURRENT PRICE

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a tray-style hitch mount bike rack that features a simple yet aesthetically pleasing design. It has a low loading height which makes loading and unloading bikes onto the platform very easy.

At 32 pounds, it is one of the lightest platform trailer hitch bike racks. Thanks to its lightweight foundation, it is comparatively easier to store the Sherpa 2.0 than some of its competitors.

However, if you are planning on carrying electric bikes on this rack, you cannot. The Sherpa 2.0 has a weight limit of 40 pounds per bike. So, while you should not have any problems with regular mountain or road bikes, you cannot use them to fat or electric bikes.

Design & Quality

The Sherpa 2.0 has an all-new design utterly different from its predecessor. Like its predecessor, the 2.0 version uses an expanding cam system to secure the rack to your car’s hitch. However, unlike the older model, the Sherpa 2.0 uses a streamlined grip.

Another new design on the 2.0 version is the foot-assisted pivot lock. In the previous version, lowering the tray was a hand job. But now, you can simply drop the tray with one hand while holding your bike (or anything else) in your other hand.

Features:

  • Not compatible with fat bikes because it can accommodate bikes with a tire width of up to 3 inches
  • Not a good fit for electric bikes because it has a maximum weight capacity of 40 pounds per bike
  • It weighs 32 pounds
  • It has a dimension of 45 x 15 x 11 inches
  • Can carry up to 2 bikes
  • It fits a hitch receiver of 2 inches
  • Can accommodate wheelbases of up to 47 inches

Pros:

  • Features a tilting lever that grants access to the rear cargo space, even when the rack is loaded with bikes
  • Easy installation and removal procedure
  • Provides enhanced security with a semi-integrated bike lock
  • It comes equipped with a folding front cradle that adds space between your car and the rack
  • Features an aesthetically pleasing low-profile arc design

Cons:

  • It is a bit on the more expensive side
  • Not compatible with heavier bikes because of its recommended weight limit per bike
  • Not compatible with fat tire bikes

Kuat NV 2.0 (2 Bike Hitch Rack)

ASIN: B01MAWC481

Product Link: Click Here

Details

Kuat’s NV 2.0 is a solidly built, refined bike that has a very smooth functional capability. Kuat has packed it with different kinds of features. Some of these features are the work stand, integrated lock, anti-rattle system. And to add to its ease-of-use feature, it has an additional Pivot system that can help you load large items.

Bike racks are becoming more and more expensive. And the Kuat NV 2.0 is no different. It is one of the costliest bike racks on the market. However, its price is worth the features and the advantages that it has to offer.

Design & Quality

If you are worried about investing a significant sum of money in the NV 2.0, don’t be. The Kuat NV 2.0 will not disappoint you. The rack features a high-quality build and an unrivaled sturdiness. The NV 2.0 has a mostly metal construction paired with a black powder coat finish that withstands years of abuse.

Features:

  • Weighs 52 pounds
  • Can carry up to 2 bikes
  • It has a dimension of 36 x 23 x 11 inches
  • It has a weight capacity of 60 pounds per bike
  • Can accommodate bikes with a tire width of up to 4.8 inches
  • Can accommodate wheelbases of up to 48 inches
  • Can fit hitch receiver of 1.25 and 2 inches

Pros:

  • Features a large lever at the pivot point that allows the user to raise and lower the rack with ease
  • Features a powder-coated finish that is abrasion resistant, retaining a brand-new look
  • It can accommodate almost any size of bike.
  • It has a high weight capacity allowing it to carry even the heaviest bikes
  • Features an adjustable front wheel tray that enables the user to avoid handlebar contact

Cons:

  • Lack of locking of the Trail Doc feature
  • Assembling takes a lot of time

Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack (Budget 2 Bike Hitch Mounted Rack)

ASIN: B0001VO1YY

Product Link: Click Here

Details

The Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack is an affordable tray rack option for a more budget-friendly buy. While it is far from being one of the top performers, it offers some great features that make it a decent choice for any infrequent bike riders.

The assembling procedure may take a bit of time. But it is simple enough to do it on your own. The bike features an anti-wobble bolt that will help you reduce but not eliminate the wobbling.

Design & Quality

While the XC2 has an affordable price, it has a solid foundation. It has two upright ratcheting arms that you can easily adjust to accommodate different bike frame sizes. They come equipped with a soft coating to protect the frames from scratches. It also features a powder-coated finish to prevent the metal from rusting.

You can fit the rack to any SUVs, cars, trucks, and vans. However, if you are looking to transport your bikes in trailers, RVs, or motor homes, this unit is not suitable for you.

Features:

  • Weighs 28 pounds
  • All-steel construction
  • It has a dimension of 34 x 16 x 8 inches
  • Can carry up to 2 bikes
  • Can fit wheel sizes of 20 inches to 29 inches
  • It has a maximum weight capacity of 35 pounds per bike

Pros:

  • Features an eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing design
  • Easy installation procedure
  • It comes equipped with an anti-wobble bolt that prevents the rack from wobbling.
  • Features a soft cushioning on the grip arms that protects the bike from damages
  • Availability of cradler for larger tires assists the rack in carrying larger bikes.

Cons:

  • Lengthy installation procedure
  • Loaded bikes may block the driver’s rearview

What Is the Difference Between Kuat NV 2.0 and Kuat Sherpa?

The Kuat NV 2.0 and the Kuat Sherpa are both platform mount bike racks with excellent features. They can both fit the two-inch models, and both include locks for bikes to the rack. They also include locks for the rack to the hitch. So, whichever one you end up investing in will be a great buy, and you will not have to worry about security issues.

That being said, there are some distinct differences between the NV 2.0 and the Sherpa.

Weight of the Racks

Between the two, the Kuat NV 2.0 is a bit more on the heavier side. The NV 2.0 weighs 52 pounds, whereas the SHerpa is a lot lighter and weighs only 32 pounds.

One of the reasons for the NV 2.0 being heavier than the Sherpa is because it comes equipped with a built-in repair stand. The repair stand allows you to perform any maintenance and repair your bikes on the go. If that is an essential factor to you, the NV 2.0 should be your choice.

Weight Capacity

Apart from their weight, their capacity to carry weights is different from each other as well. While the NV 2.0 unit weighs 52 pounds, it can carry up to 60-pound bikes. On the other hand, the lightweight Sherpa weighs only 32 pounds. But it can only handle bikes that weigh up to 40 pounds.

If you are looking to carry bikes that are not that heavy, you should opt for the Kuat Sherpa unit. Despite its lightweight construction, the Sherpa has a solid build and will provide you good service. It also has more reasonable pricing.

Tire Size

Another difference between the two platform mount bike racks is their generous tire width. The Sherpa unit can hold up tires that have a width of up to three inches. On the other hand, the heavier unit, the NV 2.0, can accommodate bikes with a tire width of 4.8 inches.

So, if you are looking to carry around fat-tire bikes, the NV 2.0 should be your go-to option. And if you are looking to accommodate regular mountain or road bikes, you should consider the Sherpa 2.0.

Hitch Bike Rack Buying Guide

There are several factors that you need to consider when purchasing a tow hitch bike rack. They are as follows.

Receiver Size

You must always check the receiver size of your hitch-mounted bike rack. Surely you do not want to buy one and then find out that it does not fit your vehicle.

Generally, most hitches have a receiver opening of 1-¼” x 1-¼” or 2” x 2” size. So, if your vehicle has a hitch with a gap of 2” x 2”, you will have to choose a bike rack with the same receiver size.

On the other hand, if your vehicle’s hitch is 1-¼” x 1-¼”, you will have to find out what class it belongs to before you can buy it. There are mainly two classes for this type of hitches, class I and class II. The difference is the load that they can carry. Class II hitches carry more weight compared to class I.

To make sure that the user does not overload a class I hitch, manufacturers design class I hitches in such a way so that class II accessories cannot fit them. So, whatever class hitch you have, you will have to pick the hitch that is compatible with it.

You can easily find out the class of your hitch based on its maximum weight capacity. Manufacturers generally put the information by stamping it on the hitch or put it on a sticker. Most class I hitches can carry a load of around 200 lbs.

In comparison, class II hitches can generally carry a weight of approximately 350 lbs. And if your car does not have a hitch, no need to panic. You can easily install a hitch with simple tools.

Rack Type

There are mainly two types of bike racks. Both the type has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us see what they have to offer.

Platform Racks

In a platform rack, your bike’s wheels rest on the cycle. One of the advantages that platform racks offer is their compatibility with a broader range of bikes. Platform racks sit closer to the ground. As a result, you will not have to raise your bike as much as when using a hanging rack.

Most platform racks come equipped with two attachment points. There is one ratcheting arm securing the front wheel while a strap holds the rear wheel in place. Thanks to this simple system, you can load and unload your bikes with ease.

So, if you are looking to load and unload your bike from the rack frequently, then a platform rack is the perfect choice for you. Moreover, since the platform racks come only in contact with the wheels, it is accessible on the bike’s body.

Platform racks are not an unmixed blessing. To get those beautiful advantages, you will have to compromise in some other areas. For example, the platform racks tend to be heavier than their hanging counterparts.

So, when you are not using a rack, it is difficult to store it. Moreover, the platform racks tend to extend farther out from the vehicle compared to the hanging rack. So, you will have to keep that in mind when buying one.

Hanging Racks

In a hanging rack, the bike’s frame rests on the rack. One place where the hanging rack has its platform counterparts beat is price. A quality hanging bike will cost you half of what a platform bike with the same capacity will do.

Moreover, hanging racks tend to be more on the lighter and more compact side. So, if you plan on removing the bike rack frequently, the hanging racks should be your choice.

Unlike the platform racks, the hanging racks do not extend as far out from the vehicle. So, it will be easier for you to maneuver your car when you’re using a hanging rack. And as they are more compact and lighter, you can store them anywhere without facing many difficulties.

One of the biggest reasons hanging racks are not popular amongst cyclists is the compatibility issue. Hanging racks cannot accommodate any bike with irregularly shaped frames. These bikes include kids’ bikes, step-through bikes, full-suspension bikes.

Another issue that comes up with hanging racks is how they secure bikes. Hanging racks hold on to a bike with plastic or rubber straps that attach themselves to the frame.

Unfortunately, these straps can damage your bike’s paint job over time. And if you are not using an anti-sway bar, your bikes will begin to sway and come into contact with each other. It can potentially damage your bike’s structure if the collision is too rough.

Number of Bikes

There are various sizes of hitch bike racks. A typical platform-style rack can sit one to four bikes if you use an extension. On the other hand, hanging racks can carry from two to five cycles. While there are outliers that can hold a more considerable number of bikes, these are the regular numbers.

Most riders use the two-bike design for ease of use. But if you have a growing family and are planning on going on a trip with them, it is better to invest in a model that can accommodate their bikes.

Extension or Add-on for Additional Bikes

If you are looking to increase your rack’s carrying capacity, extensions are the way to go. You may also know them as add-ons. A typical rack extension will double the carrying capacity of your trailer hitch bike rack. While a high-quality add-on will cost you, it will also provide you with more security. Moreover, you can use them with ease, and they are effortless to install and remove.

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity is an essential factor to consider when buying a bike rack. If you are looking to buy one of the lighter bike racks, you will have to sacrifice the carrying capacity. But if you plan to haul heavy bikes, you should check the weight capacity of the rack you are looking to invest in.

If you are looking for a point of reference, most road bikes weigh around 33 pounds. At the same time, e-bikes can weigh even more than fifty pounds. So, you should decide on the type of bike you are using. If the weight seems to be closer to the limit or over it, it is good to invest in another model with more weight capacity. That is if you do not want your bike rack to break down in the middle of the road.

Compatibility

You will have to make sure that the bike rack you are looking to invest in is compatible with your car’s hitch receiver size. Otherwise, you may end up with a rack that will not fit your vehicle.

No need to be worried about it. Most mountain and road bikes in the market will not have any trouble fitting on any of the racks mentioned in our list. The only problem can arise when you are using the outlier models.

These models include kids’ bikes and fat bikes. You can store a kids’ bike in your backseat without any trouble. All you have to do is make sure the hitch size is the same as your receiver, and you are good to go.

Frame Sizes and Types

If you are looking to buy a platform rack, you do not have to worry about the frame sizes. Platform racks secure the bikes via their wheels. So, issues like frame sizes are irrelevant. But if you are looking to buy a hanging style rack, you will need to consider the frame sizes that the particular bike rack can support.

Make sure to inspect the shape of the top tube of your bike’s frame. Unless it is a step-through bike, kids’ bikes, or full-suspension mountain bikes, you should be in the clear. Most mountain and road bikes have a triangular frame with a level-top tube. They fit great on hanging racks, so you do not have to worry about the fit.

Wheel Sizes

You do not want to invest in a bike rack that cannot hold your bike. So, you will have to make sure that your bike will fit in the rack. It is not an issue in the hanging style racks’ cases as they secure the bikes by their frame.

Platform racks secure the bikes via their tires. You must make sure that the bike’s wheel size is compatible with the rack’s parameter. You can check the rack’s technical specs from the brand’s website. Most companies usually list all the technical specs on their company website.

The wheel sizes would not be an issue for the majority of bikes. However, fat bike tires may not fit on your typical platform rack. So, if you are the owner of a fat bike, make sure that the rack you invest in can support it.

Tire Width

If you opt for a platform-style rack, you will need to verify whether your bikes fit the rack or not. For that, you will want to consider the rack’s supported tire width. Now tire width is not one of the primary considerations when you have a regular mountain or road bike. That is because most bikes come with a supportable tire width.

But if you are an owner of a fat bike, you will want to check the specifications of the rack you want to invest in. Make sure that the rack can support your fat bike’s tires. And if you are opting for a hanging rack, you do not need to worry about the tire width at all.

Wheelbases

Every generation has its trends. Currently, mountain bikes are trending towards longer designs. This recent trend has affected the length of the wheelbases. These longer wheelbases can cause compatibility issues.

While it does not affect most people, if you are an owner of larger mountain bikes with a modern, extensive, downhill-oriented design, you may face some problems. So, it is a good idea to check the information regarding the wheelbase compatibility before you make the buy.

The checking procedure is pretty straightforward. You can look your bike up online and check its specifications. Most manufacturing companies list their product’s specifications on their website. From there, you can check the length of your bike’s wheelbase.

You can physically check your bike’s wheelbase length. For that, you will need a tape measure. The distance between the center of the rear and front axles is the length of its wheelbase. Once you have checked your bike’s wheelbase length, compare it against the maximum wheelbase spec of the rack that you have your eye on. If it can accommodate your bike, you are good to go.

Fat Bikes

Thanks to their numerous benefits, fat bikes are becoming more and more popular in the cyclist community. Thanks to their growing popularity, many manufacturers now sell adapter parts so that they can accommodate fat bike tires.

If you are an owner of a fat bike, you will need to consider two critical factors. Fat bikes have wider tires, and they tend to be heavier than your average mountain bikes. So, whatever type of bike rack you want to buy, you will have to make sure that the rack has a weight capacity to accommodate your bikes.

Another name of fat bikes is fat-tire bikes. That is because they have wider tires to reduce the pressure by increasing the surface area. So, if you are looking to invest in a platform rack, you will need to check whether the rack’s tire width spec can accommodate your bike. And if you are looking to buy a hanging rack, you simply need to check its weight capacity.

Electric Bikes

Electric bikes come equipped with a motor to assist the rider by producing more power. As a result, they tend to be heavier than your regular non-electric bikes. As a rule of thumb, you can say electric bikes weigh twice as much as traditional non-electric bikes.

So, if you want a rack that can carry electric bikes, you will have to invest in a rack with a higher weight capacity. Do remember that racks with higher weight capacity tend to weigh more. An efficient way to carry electric or e-bikes is to remove the battery and carry it in the backseat of your car.

Vehicle Clearance

Vehicle clearance is one of the more puzzling considerations that you will have to tackle when buying a rack for your bike. Failing to consider this issue will lead to a bunch of technical problems.

For example, every time you press on the brakes, your bikes may swing into your rear door and leave a mark. Or you may not be able to open your car’s back door as the rack blocks your way.

One easy way to check for clearance is to contact the manufacturer. Most manufacturers often supply reliable information about these technical issues. You can also get the technical drawing of the rack in question. You can base your decision on that technical drawing that you can collect from the manufacturing company.

The easiest way to check clearance is by doing a test fit. However, that option is not always available.

Swing-Away Feature

Racks that come equipped with the swing-away feature take your accessibility to your vehicle to the next level. They come equipped with a pin. When you release the hook, you can move the entire bike rack to the side of the car.

The swing-away feature provides you with uninterrupted access to the rear area of your vehicle. And, you do not have to unload your bikes for that. However, the price of having this feature is added weight and cost.

To accommodate the complex design and the extra materials to build this feature, you will have to pay a bit more. And because of the added materials, the rack will be heavier than any traditional racks.

Tilting Feature

One of the biggest challenges of using a bike rack is having limited access to the rear cargo area of your automotive. However, there are a few solutions to it. And one such solution is the tilting feature.

Most cyclists tend to keep their rack on their cars for an extended period. To ensure that they have access to the vehicle’s rear area during that time, most cyclists use the tilting feature. You can pull over a tilting rack and lean it far enough to have adequate access to the rear hatch of your car.

This feature is available on both platform and hanging racks. However, most platform bikes can tilt while loaded with bikes. On the other hand, hanging racks need you to unload the bikes before you can tilt the rack.

Material

One of the biggest tips for buying a hitch-mounted bike rack is, do not cheap out. That is only if you are planning to use that rack for a long time. In the world of hitch bike racks, you get what you pay for.

If you plan on using your bike rack for a long time, it is a good idea to pay a bit more to get a high-quality one. Your bike rack will have to withstand different types of harsh weather. Besides, it will be on the road for a long time, so it will have to withstand many unfavorable conditions.

Racks that use high-quality metal as their construction material tend to have a longer lifespan than their counterparts. Bike racks with plastic or thin-metal construction tend to break down or gather rust over time.

Quality

It is not just the material of your rack that matters. The quality of the material used can determine the longevity of your bike rack. Just because a rack has an all-metal construction does not mean it will provide you with good service. Thin, cheap metal constructions will break down over time and are not worth the money.

On the other hand, you can get a high-quality rack even if it is all plastic. Racks that feature a high-quality build will last you for a long time no matter the material used. However, they will cost you more but are very cost-effective.

Weight

There are different types of bike racks with different weights. You will find racks that weigh so little as 15 pounds, and then there are some well above 80 pounds. The weight determines your ease of access and security. The lighter the rack, the easier it to load and remove it. However, you will be sacrificing security with a more lightweight bike.

On the other hand, heavier bikes tend to have a sturdier construction and, as a result, can provide more security. However, if you are looking to remove it frequently, that is not a viable option. One way to have the best of both worlds is to choose a rack that weighs around 45 to 52 pounds.

Locking

Most bike racks have similar feature sets. But as we said before, you get what you pay for. That saying is true even for the offered features. Low-range racks do not come with locks. But as you move up the price table, you will see that mid and high-range bikes feature locks.

One type of locking feature that racks offer is bike locks. You can use the flexible cable locks to secure your bike’s wheels or frame to the rack. While they are not state-of-the-art, and anyone can get rid of them with a set of bolt cutters, they provide a reasonable degree of security. Moreover, they will put your mind to ease when you park your vehicle on the side of the road for a short break.

Another type of accessory lock is for the receiver hitch. You can find it integrated into the bottom of the rack or on the hitch pin. That way, no one can remove the rack from your vehicle. Even if the rack you are buying does not come with a receiver lock, most manufacturers offer it as an accessory for your rack. On that note, according to users, the integrated lock is easier to use. So, it is a good idea to invest in an integrated receiver lock.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I choose a hitch bike rack?

When choosing a bike rack, it is always better to opt for a hitch-mounted bike rack. Even though hitch bike racks cost more than truck racks, they can also accommodate more bikes than their roof-mounted counterparts. Hitch bike racks are a good choice for those who need to carry more than two or three bikes.

Can bike racks damage my car?

While bike racks are handy for transporting bikes, they also have the potential to damage your car. But that can happen only due to improper installation, usage, or maintenance of the bike rack.

The truck-mounted bike racks have the highest possibility of causing damage to your car. As this type of rack is always in contact with your car’s chassis, it can rub against the surface and scrape the paint off of it. And if the mechanic has failed to install the bike rack properly, the damages can be even more severe.

In the case of hitch-mounted racks, they are comparatively the safest option for you. In a hitch bike rack, the bikes do not generally come into contact with the car. However, if the rack has not been correctly installed, the bike can sway, or the wheels can turn and damage the vehicle by hitting against it.

Can I open my rear door with a bike rack on it?

Simply put, yes, you can open the trunk door of your vehicle given that your bike rack has the tilting or the swaying-away feature. If your bike rack does not have that feature, you will have minimum access to your rear cargo area with the loaded rack.

However, even if you have those features installed in your bike rack, you shouldn’t open the rear door with a bike rack on it. That is because the manufacturers do not design the car door hinges to hold the extra weight of the bike rack and the loaded bikes. It is better to keep the rear door close when there is a bike rack and only open it for emergencies.

How much can I tilt the hitch bike rack?

You can only tilt the bike rack when your bike rack comes equipped with the tilting feature. Most hitch bike racks come equipped with a design to be tilted down to a thirty-degree angle. That should provide you with ample space t open your rear hatch.

What type of bike rack should I use for my horizontally opened rear door?

It is better to opt for a bike rack with a swaying-away feature for your horizontally opened rear door. That way, when you want to open the trunk door, you can simply remove the pin and move the bike rack out of the way. However, you should only do it in case of an emergency. That is because the hinges on your rear door cannot carry the bike’s weight and the bike racks. If you frequently open the door with a bike rack on it, it can damage your car door hinge.

How do I prevent the rack straps from damaging my bike’s paints and wheels?

No matter the type, bike racks use plastic or rubber straps to secure the bikes onto the rack. Platform racks use belts to secure the bikes’ wheel on the platform. And hanging racks fastens the bikes’ frames with straps. This situation can often lead to the scraping of paint or damage to the bike.

To make sure that does not happen, you need to clean the surfaces that will be in contact with the straps. Any unwanted particles can create excess friction between the frame or wheel and the belt. It may lead to scrapping in the long run.

You must also make sure that the bikes do not sway loose behind the car. If the bikes sway, they can hit your car or each other and cause damage to either or both vehicles. If you have correctly installed the bike rack, this should not be an issue.

Is it safe to use hitch bike racks?

Yes, you can safely use hitch bike racks. If you have correctly installed hitch bike racks, they will not contact your vehicle. Moreover, the bikes will not come in contact with each other, keeping them safe as well.

Most bike racks come with hitch locks and able locks that can ensure the safety of your bike and the bike rack.

Can I use hitch-mounted bike racks even if my vehicle does not have a hitch?

You can attach hitch bike racks to your car via a hitch. However, you can still use a hitch bike rack even if your vehicle does not have a hitch. You can have a hitch installed on your car if you want to. Or you can simply install it yourself.

A professional installation will cost you around fifty to two hundred dollars. But you can save yourself the extra buck by installing it yourself. Do not be intimidated. The installation procedure is quite simple, even and you can do it yourself with some essential tools. Do note that the size of the hitch will depend on your car’s size. That is because smaller vehicles tend to have a weight limitation.

How do I safely transport a carbon fiber bike on my bike rack?

Carbon fiber bikes are one of the most popular and pricey bike options. So, it is no wonder that riders will want to transport them safely. To keep your bike safe, you will have to select a design that does not allow your bike’s frame to come into contact with the rack.

So, it is a good idea to steer clear of any hanging models. You will want to choose a design that fastens the bike to the rack by strapping in the wheels. While this will cost you more, it will keep your carbon fiber bike safe.

Is it legal to use bike racks?

While it is legal to install and use bike racks, you should notify the local state’s road authority about your rack’s usage. Many states require the drivers to keep their license late visible, by law. So, make sure to check your local state’s law and prevent yourself from obstructing it.

Conclusion

Hitch mount bike racks are handy for every cyclist, even more so if you are looking to go on an adventure with your trusted bike. But to do that safely and efficiently, you will need to choose the best hitch bike rack for yourself.

The best hitch bike racks are easy to load and aerodynamic. Just as they will keep your bikes secure, they will also not hinder your driving experience while on the road. But you will need to consider several factors before you make a decision. You will have to find out how you plan to use your bike rack, and then you can make a purchase.

When you have decided on how you plan on using your bike rack, choose any of the above options, and you will not be disappointed.

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