Nov 18, 2023
18 Best Bike Racks for Cars & Trucks, Picked by Experts
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Whether you ride a bike frequently or occasionally, a sturdy bike rack on your car or truck is essential. Here are the best of the best.
Whether you're a cycling enthusiast or just packing for a family vacation, loading and unloading bicycles from your car or truck is always a pain. Bike racks or carriers provide an elegant and simple solution to this problem and can even increase your bike-carrying capacity.
There is a huge selection of bike carriers to choose from. The type of mount, the type of bike, the size of your bike's tires, the number of bikes you wish to carry, and your budget will all determine which carrier is best for you. With such a wide variety of carriers on the market, you can choose the one that best suits your practical and aesthetic needs.
With so many options and volumes of information to know when purchasing a rack, the Gear Team has stepped up to help you out. We've assembled a list not only of some of the best bike racks on the market but also some of the most crucial knowledge you'll need for purchasing and owning your perfect bike rack.
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So which type of car bike rack is perfect for you, your bikes, your vehicle, and your lifestyle? Here are some of our favorite picks.
The most popular—and most affordable—type of car bike rack, trunk-mounted carriers use a combination of straps, weight, and leverage to carry your bikes. They come in a variety of styles and shapes to carry (usually) up to four bikes.
Allen Sport's S-102 trunk-mounted two-bike rack offers a secure lightweight option for transporting your bikes. It features Allen's patented Sure Strap lower straps which keep the bottom hooks in place during use, as well as large pads to help distribute weight. It can hold up to two bikes or a total of 70 pounds.
From the leader in car cargo solutions, this trunk-mounted bike carrier also comes in a three-bike version. Your bikes hang, which may result in them clanking around. But those bars fold down when they're not in use, which is a handy perk. If you're looking for a trusted brand name, you can't go wrong with Thule.
What makes this trunk-mounted offering from Allen Sports different from the rest is its incredibly compact size when not in use. It fits neatly into a carrying bag or backpack so it can easily be stowed in your vehicle's cargo area. It comes pre-assembled and ready for use and features a padded spine to protect both bike and vehicle.
The Bones EX three-bike rack from Saris is made from a lightweight molded plastic which makes it simple to attach and store. It's rust-resistant thanks to its plastic construction and is designed to work with most vehicles, even those with large spoilers. It uses ratchet straps to attach up to three bikes, and its arc-shaped design separates bikes to minimize contact.
Hitch bike carriers are generally designed to slip into 1.25- or 2-inch hitch receivers. They come in two general types. Hanging carriers are lighter, more affordable, and usually provide more ground clearance than platform styles. The negative is that the bikes can swing and bump into one another while you're driving. Platform mounts are the simplest and safest way to load and secure your bikes. However, they are often more expensive and can be tricky to mount, remove, and store when not in use.
A U.S.-based company, 1UP has a dedicated following of hardcore cyclists. The Recon Rack 6 from 1UP is a solid option for those looking to carry multiple bikes for group rides or if you just want to increase your carrying capacity. The front wheel is held up while the rest of the bike hangs below. This vertical hanging position keeps the bikes close to the back of your vehicle and fairly stable. The main benefit of the Recon's design is the ability to transport up to six bikes at once, with a carrying capacity of up to 270 pounds.
Thule's Helium Pro hitch-mounted rack is made from super-lightweight aluminum, making it much lighter than most similar systems. It folds down for easy access to your cargo area and has a number of cool features including a three-bike (112-pound) capacity, integrated cable locks, compatibility with 1.25- or 2-inch receivers, and integrated anti-sway tech that prevents bike-to-bike contact.
Another offering from 1UP, the Heavy Duty Double is constructed from aluminum and carries up to two bikes. The attention to detail in this piece is evident and is reflected in its price despite its lack of standard features when compared to its competitors. It does still offer lots of necessary features like a tilting mechanism, a 200-pound capacity, a built-in anti-wobble mechanism, and rack arms that won't touch the frame of your bike.
North Shore Racks is known among avid cyclists for being one of the first companies to offer high-capacity hanging carriers built to withstand relatively hard off-roading. This makes their carriers ideal for mountain bikers, and the 2023 NSR 4-Bike is built with that in mind. It can hold up to four bikes at a time and features a specially designed frame for oversize bikes. It's made from steel that has been treated to a three-stage finishing process to improve durability and corrosion resistance.
MaxxHaul is another well-known brand name in car cargo carriers and haulers, and its 50025 bike carrier has a ton of features at a great price. It has a padded column to prevent scratching and improved cradles and buckle straps to secure and transport up to two bikes (maximum capacity is 50 pounds per bike). A built-in locking knob keeps your bikes steady, and the entire unit tilts to provide easy access to trunks and rear hatches.
The Sherpa 2.0 from Kuat is on the pricier side, but it is one of the most solid hitch-mounted carriers that we came across. It's made from lightweight aluminum, requires no tools for installation, holds up to two bikes, and can be folded away for easy cargo-area access. It also sits lower than some of its competitors, reducing the height you must lift your bike and making it easier to mount.
The T2 Pro XTR is another serious offering from the folks at Thule. It offers all of the same features as the more lightweight Helium (above) but adds an overall more rigid build. It has a 120-pound, two-bike capacity that can be expanded to four with the addition of the Thule T2 Pro XT Add-On. It has large 12.5-inch spacing between each bike and fits 20–29-inch wheels and up to 5-inch tires without adapters, making it great for all types of bikes.
This hitch-style carrier is a solid option for those who want to haul today's heavier e-bikes. Its 132-pound capacity makes it ideal for electric bikes, and it features a patented Anti-Wobble System to keep things tight. It tilts down for easy trunk/hatch access and folds up out of the way when it's not in use.
Roof-mounted bike carriers get your bikes up and out of the way, opening up sightlines and providing easy access to trunks and rear hatches. They most often mount to roof racks and rails, so they're ideal for SUVs and CUVs with roof racks already installed. Yes, lifting your bike up to the roof may be a hefty task for some. And they're not exactly subtle! But for security and peace of mind, rooftop bike carriers provide the sturdiest form of bicycle transport.
Here's a simple, affordable solution to getting your bike onto the roof of your car or truck. The Erkul fits a variety of wheel and tire sizes without adjustment (or removing your wheels) and features an integrated TorqueRight tightening knob that makes it easy to secure your bikes. An existing roof rack is required; optional crossbars and accessories add versatility.
Rhino Rack's roof-mounted bike carrier is built to hold your bike tight. It is designed to hold road, mountain, kid, and fat-tire bikes with the front wheel removed. It's up for the job thanks to a dual-locking system that holds both the bike and the carrier secure. It also has a rear-wheel strap and works with most roof rack crossbars.
The HighRoad makes transporting your bike a breeze. The TorqueRight tightening knob fits almost any bike with tires up to 4 inches. It requires no wheel removal and doesn't make contact with the bike frame, making it a great option for carbon-fiber bikes and custom paint jobs. The universal mounting hardware fits most roof racks, and it can be converted to integrate with T-slot crossbars with the SmarT-Slot Kit (sold separately).
This is perhaps the most portable and versatile way to mount your bike to your roof; they're ideal for use with rental cars while traveling. These suction-cup mounts use a vacuum seal to attach to the roof of your car, meaning there's no need for a rack or roof rails. Installation involves simply wiping the area clean, placing the cups on the roof, and repeatedly depressing the plunger until the cup is firmly sealed. Better still, Kupper Mounts look far more sleek than traditional bike carriers.
An excellent option for sport-utility or off-road vehicles, spare-tire bike carriers are ideal for Jeeps—or any vehicle with an externally mounted spare. Similar to a trunk-mounted rack, they attach via straps to the tire mount or rest directly on the tire.
Justin Helton is an avid automobile collector and gearhead from New York City.
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