18 Best Bike Racks for Cars & Trucks, Picked by Experts


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Apr 10, 2023

18 Best Bike Racks for Cars & Trucks, Picked by Experts

Our car experts choose every product we feature. We may earn money from the

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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, as well as 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 2-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.

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.

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 3-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.

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 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 2-bike, 120-pound capacity which 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, kids, 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.

Hopefully, your spare tire doesn't see much use—which makes it a great place to set-and-forget your bike carrier. The SR1 has a 2-bike 35-pound capacity, is very lightweight (only 10 pounds), and is easy to install. Adjustable to fit most spare tires, the support arms can be centered for side-mounted tires and folds away when not in use.

If you like the idea of a spare-mounted bike carrier, Apex Legends' BC-8407-2 offers superior rigidity. It's made from duty steel and mounts to your hatch rear-spare hub mount rather than the tire itself. It can hold up to two bikes, is key-lockable, and includes tie-down straps, a rear reflector, and two keys.

Justin Helton is an avid automobile collector and gearhead from New York City.

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Trunk Mount: Hitch Mount: Roof Mount: Spare Tire Mount: Spare Tire Mount: Truck Bed Racks: Tailgate Pads: Hanging Platform