BIKING

Best Bike Rack: Don’t Leave Your Bike at Home

Best bike rack
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Bicycles are a healthy and economical way to move around, as well as enjoying the outdoors. However, whenever you want to take it on a camping trip or on the outdoors, you need to put it somehow in your vehicle, and that gets hard, right? So, the solution can only be the best bike rack you can find.

With a bike rack you don’t have to bust your head trying to figure how to fit it in the trunk of your car, or how to fit more than one. Simple, you mount the bike or the bikes in the rack and drive to wherever you plan to cycle. Now, the only last issue is picking the appropriate bike rack, since not all of them are the same and not all of them fit every bike. Don’t worry, this is where we jump in.

In this article we will help you choose the correct bike rack. We will give you the features to consider before buying, as well as a detailed list of the best bike racks in the market. That way, by the end of the read, you will have a good idea of which bike rack to buy.

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightLoad CapacitySpecific FeaturesPrice
Thule T2 Pro XT51 lbs120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)Tool-free installation, HitchSwitch lever, integrated cable lock and receiver lock, one-key systemCheck price on Amazon
Kuat Racks NV 2.063 lbs120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)Adjustable front tire cradle system, with optional foot assistanceCheck price on Amazon
Kuat Trio7 lbs45 lbsIntegrated cable lock, optional adapter, features 3-way fork mount systemCheck price on Amazon
Yakima Hold Up Tray Style49 lbs120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)StrongArm design, beefed-up arm pivot for strength, side-to-side adjustability.Check price on Amazon
Rockymounts Jetline6.1 lbs35 lbsSecured lock system, compatible with disc and standard brake systems.Check price on Amazon
Yakima Forklift9.45 lbs35 lbsEasy-to-adjust sliding wheel tray that fits a wide range of bike lengthsCheck price on Amazon
Thule Thruride6.2 lbs35 lbsFits 12mm to 20mm thru-axles and 9mm quick release hubs, ergonomic precision dialCheck price on Amazon
Saris Freedom 255.1 lbs120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)Ratcheting anti-sway straps, carries up to two bikes, protective rubber holders.Check price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying 

There are a few different kinds of bike racks to choose from, depending on the make of your vehicle. Whether it’s for the trunk or hatchback, it is different. That is why knowing the correct feature is fundamental to pick the adequate rack.

Types of Racks

There are three different types of racks, and you need to be more familiar with them so that you know which one will suit your bike.

  • Hitch-mounted: This type of bike rack is more on the pricey side because it’s well designed, has easy to load and unload specs, and it is a popular choice for most bike enthusiasts. It allows one-handed fitting and is usually very sturdy. It’s tied behind the vehicle so there are no negative effects on the fuel consumption.
  • Roof-mounted: Roof-mounted bike racks can be attached to the roof of your car with accessories. Some may need the removal of the front wheel of your bike for it to fit, while some require both wheels to be removed. If you drive an SUV, you may consider a roof-mounted bike rack that can easily transport your bike, as it is easy to lock the bike safely to your vehicle, and it’s usually very sturdy to be able to support the weight of the bike.
  • Trunk-mounted: This can be the priciest choice and also the least secure. This option requires the use of a lot of straps to tie around the bike on the rack and attach it on your vehicle’s trunk or bumper or hatchback. Most trunk-mounted bike racks are adjustable, but a disadvantage here would be that they’re also easily stolen because they’re the least secure.

Car with a bike carrier

Bike Frame

Bicycles aren’t all built the same, with various frames and shapes that make it important to determine the kind of rack that you get. Look for racks that are more universal and capable of handling a wider variety of bike frames. That way you will be able to mount yours or those from others.

Otherwise, you can buy very specific bike racks for only certain types of frames. However, that is not ideal. You might want to prefer to buy racks that will fit universal bike frames.

Security

Because of how expensive bikes can be, mounting them on the exterior of your car is just asking for a theft to take place. You want a bike rack with some security feature included. Locks might not be enough, just think how easy it can be to break one in order to store a valuable bike.

Bikes on a car

What you want to get is a top of the line security system, such as foolproof one. A bike rack that has foolproof security provides you with the peace of mind you need to go about your day without having to worry about whether your bike is still there or not. Trust us when we say this is probably the most important feature.

Weight

As in many things, weight matters. A bike rack cannot be extremely heavy if you have a small hatchback car. It can destabilize the whole car whenever you put the bikes on top of it.

You want to make sure you buy a bike rack that makes sense with the size and weight of your car. You will be able to pretty much buy any rack if you own a large vehicle. However, for small cars or SUVs, the lighter the rack, the better.

Dimensions

Dimensions are a feature that goes hand in hand with weight. If the size of your car isn’t great, you will not want a bike rack that is too wide, or too big for your car. You will want the appropriate one.

Car carrying bikes

Therefore, it is key that you first measure the length, width and height of your car. Then, do the same with the racks as to know if they will fit easily in your vehicle’s back. Then, also pick a rack that has good dimensions to fit your bikes in it.

Best Products on Today’s Market

With years of experience, we overhauled the features of the different bike racks and for outdoor enthusiasts and fellow bikers, we hope these product reviews will be helpful in helping to choose a great bike rack for your outdoor activities. The products we’ve chosen for review are some of the best products that we think may be suitable for your trips. For safety and security reasons, we have found a few bike racks that we think are good choices.

Thule T2 Pro XT Bike RackThule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack

Price: Approx. $600

Weight: 51 lbs

Load capacity: 120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)

Dimensions: 53 x 13 x 15 in

Specific features: Tool-free installation, HitchSwitch lever, integrated cable lock and receiver lock, one-key system, suits wheels that are 20-29 inches in diameter, fits 5 inch-thick wheels without adapters.

Best use: Any type of drive on any car.

Description: The premium bike rack Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack is great for cycling uphill and downhill. It is easy to install as it has a tool-free AutoAttach system. Bikers can fold it up easily when not using the bike for storage.

It can be secured with an integrated cable lock and a lock knob. Users can adjust the spacing to their level of comfort. We recommend this premium bike rack for those who are going mountain biking as it comes with 20-29” wheels that are fit for the purpose.

This bike rack extend is great as it is easy to use and bikers would love the integrity of function as it is able to hold securely to prevent the bike from falling off and its built-in security to deter theft.

It has an amazing design that we think most bikers would love, advance and consists of an anti-wobble mechanism. For bikers who are thinking of upgrading their bike racks, the easy-to-use Thule T2 Pro XT Bike Rack would be a good choice.

PROS:

  • Excellent security features
  • Very easy to mount and dismount the bikes
  • Installation is very simple

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: The CURT Rubber Hitch Tube Cover is commonly bought alongside this rack. It will cover the space left when you aren’t using the racks anymore; preventing dust or creatures from going in.

Check the price on Amazon

Kuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike RackKuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike Rack

Price: $600 – $1,300

Weight: 63 lbs

Load capacity: 120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)

Dimensions: 37 x 10 x 23 in

Specific features: Adjustable front tire cradle system, with optional foot assistance, fully integrated cable locks along with a Trail Doc included, available in both 2-inch and 1.25-inch hitch sizes. Also fits 20 to 29-inch tires.

Best use: Any bike, almost any vehicle.

Description: Some say that it’s quite impossible to find the perfect bike rack, but Kuat Racks NV 2.0 Bike Rack will prove you wrong. This amazing bike rack features an all-new pivot system that provides assistance to the feet, so bikers can lower the rack without having to lean the bike against anything.

It has front tire ratchet design with intuitive release and also a rear tire strap that features co-molded strap for the protection of the wheels. It has a hitch lock included. It holds wheelbases up to 48 inches and tires as large as 4.8 inches with the use of the bike kit (sold separately).

It also comes with an adjustable cradle that would be great for your longer wheel bikers or fat bikes. It has an advanced design that has an easy-to-grip handle. All you have to do is pull the handle and then swing the arm up and down. It also takes less time to install because it uses a side locking pin that is self-guiding.

In terms of security, it uses a locking hitch pin that goes all the way through the receiver so it is better and more convenient to slide in and just lock. It’s very versatile, you can adjust the height of the front tire cup. The overall finish and appearance is eye-catching with an anodized gray and copper colored finish.

PROS:

  • Protects the wheels of the bike like no other rack
  • Lowering it is extremely easy
  • Very versatile

CONS:

  • Extremely expensive

Related: The Kuat Phat Bike Kit is normally bought with this or other Kuat products. It is an adjustable strap to better tie the bike or the rack.

Check the price on Amazon

Kuat Trio RackKuat Trio Rack

Price: Approx. $190

Weight: 7 lbs

Load capacity: 45 lbs (one bike)

Dimensions: 4 x 10 x 59 in

Specific features: Integrated cable lock, optional adapter, features 3-way fork mount system and comes with sliding rear tire strap. The forks are sold separately (QR, Thru-Axle, Boost Thru-Axle).

Best use: Smaller vehicles, smaller bikes.

Description: The Kuat Trio Rack will be able to handle your bikes like no other bike rack could. It features a 3-way fork mount system and an advanced security system and design with rugged good looks. It also features a black and polished chrome finish.

It mounts to most factory- and all aftermarket-cross bars. It has a sliding rear tire strap and measures up to 4 feet between cross bars.

This rack works with quick release axles and it’s the best solution for your fork mounting if you prefer to have the front wheel off. While driving on the highway, you would want stability, this rack will be able to carry your downhill bikes, which are properly secured to its features, and users can easily remove the rear wheel strap.

It is well made and the lock cable in the rear of the tray is a nice touch, a great minimalist approach to taking your bike along with you on your trips!

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Very small
  • Innovative and good security system
  • Fits smaller bikes and vehicles

CONS:

  • Not enough to protect the bikes long term

Related: The Kuat Racks Trio Fork Adapter is the ideal product to buy with this rack. It will adapt the rack, boost it for using any axle bike.

Check the price on Amazon

Yakima Hold Up Tray Style Bike RackYakima Products Hold Up Tray Style Bike Rack

Price: $350 – $550

Weight: 49 lbs

Load capacity: 120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)

Dimensions: 45 x 14 x 15 in

Specific features: StrongArm design, beefed-up arm pivot for strength, side-to-side adjustability. Holds up to two bikes and accommodates carbon road bikes.

Best use: Any vehicle

Description: This Yakima Hold Up Tray Style Bike Rack will be your road trip companion for life. The Tray Style Bike Rack features a StrongArm design and a beefed-up arm pivot for strength and side-to-side adjustability. It holds as well as disc brakes, thru axles and full suspension bikes.

It’s the fastest and easiest way for you to load your bikes as it comes with an integrated system, well built and fits any bike securely without any movement. You can just slip the bike in and lock the pin and hand-tighten the ball with a knob to secure it and keep the bike from moving around.

Furthermore, this rack is easy to assemble and its strong advantage here is its adjustability, which eliminates conflicts between the handlebars and the seats. It is very easy to load and unload, whether they’re road bikes or mountain bikes with full suspension.

The rack folds up closer to the back of the vehicle when not in use and also folds down to gain access to the hatch door when the bikes are on the rack. The hitch connection is great and builds nicely to secure the bike.

PROS:

  • Probably the fastest and easiest rack to mount bikes into
  • Folds down for incredibly easy access
  • Very strong

CONS:

  • Integral locking cables are too short
  • Tightening the bolt can be a bit of an issue, some of the models have this problem

Related: The Yakima Hitchlock Locking Hitch is the ideal product to buy with any Yakima rack. It will add an extra safety feature to your rack.

Check the price on Amazon

Rockymounts Jetline Bike RackRockyMounts JetLine

Price: Approx. $140

Weight: 6.1 lbs

Load capacity: 35 lbs

Dimensions: 3 x 4.5 x 51 in

Specific features: Secured lock system, compatible with disc and standard brake systems. It holds skinny road tires to 2.7-inch mountain bike tires.

Best use: Any car and any bike

Description: The RockyMounts Jetline Bike Rack is sleek and sturdy, very low profile and does not add any extra noise when traveling on low or highway speeds. With this rack, your bikes are very secure with no wobble.

It is simple to use and it is constructed with great quality materials that are sure to last. It is able to hold just any bike, but you will have to remove the front wheel. This is of course a huge downside as it makes everything lengthier and more complicated.

Furthermore, this model offers secure attachment and is able to hold bikes that measure at a standard 9 mm. You can easily install it, load or unload it. It is one of the easiest racks to use.

It is durable and versatile. Its lever action is smooth and secure, and takes just minutes to set up! It is also available in a wide selection of contemporary colors so you can choose the color you like to go with your car.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Small

CONS:

  • Front wheel of bikes must be taken off in order to use it

Related: The RockyMounts Lock Core will add an extra layer of security to your racks. This way you know your bike will be safe.

Check the price on Amazon

Yakima Forklift Bike RackYakima Fork Lift Bike Carrier

Price: Approx. $160

Weight: 9.45 lbs

Load capacity: 35 lbs

Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 54 in

Specific features: Easy-to-adjust sliding wheel tray that fits a wide range of bike lengths and comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Best use: Goes on the roof of the car, so for 4WD

Description: The Yakima Forklift Bike Rack is the best fork mount style rooftop rack as it mounts to factory cross bars and features a skewer mechanism that is easily tightened and locked with just one hand, while you can just leave your other hand free to hold the bike steady.

Its Yakima SKS locks are sold separately. It features a simple tool-free installation and removal. The Yakima Forklift Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Rack features a simple tool-free installation and ease of removal.

This rack represents a more secured way to mount the bike as the rack can hold the bike very well. It does not take long to install and it has great adjustability. The stability is usually dependent on the quality of the fork clamp and the rear wheel tied down, however, Yakima Forklift Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Rack is considerably easy to use and it can support the rear wheel of the bike very well.

If you’re looking for a safe and secure bike rack, do add this to your list of choices. It keeps your bike pristine, not touching any painted surface while holding your bike with full support.

PROS:

  • Safer than most of the other models
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Complicated to install
  • Complicated to mount the bikes

Related: The Yakima Jetstream Crossbar is the ideal product to buy alongside this rack. It will allow you to mount the rack on the roof of your car.

Check the price on Amazon

Thule Thruride Fork Mount CarrierThule ThruRide Fork

Price: Approx. $230

Weight: 6.2 lbs

Load capacity: 35 lbs

Dimensions: 3.5 x 6 x 53 in

Specific features: Fits 12 mm to 20 mm thru-axles and 9 mm quick release hubs, ergonomic precision dial, fits roof racks with 20 x 20 mm T-tracks and 23 x 30 mm T-tracks. It also fits SquareBar and Factory Racks.

Best use: Ideal for 4WD.

Description: The Thule ThuRide Fork Mount Carrier fits a wide range of thru-axle diameters with its low profile tray design that fits just any bike perfectly. The Thule ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier features a one-handed throw-hood design.

Besides that, it also features an advanced D-shape tray design. It’s a great bike rack that is easy to install and is both easy to load and unload your bikes from.

The bikes stay in place during travel. Users can easily lock their bike without having to worry about the stability and whether it would fall off as it has a secured lock system that will provide good support for holding the bike.

It is a nice and solid looking bike carrier and it does not create air noise. It’s a perfect fit for a 15mm thru axle bike, and you definitely won’t make a bad choice if you decide to buy it.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Fits any bike

CONS:

  • Goes on the roof of the vehicle, making it complicated to mount the bike and the rack itself

Related: The Thule Aeroblade Roof Rack Bar is the ideal item to buy with this bike rack. As a matter of fact, it is needed to mount the bike rack on the roof of your vehicle.

Check the price on Amazon

Saris Freedom 2 Bike RackSaris Freedom 2 Bike Tray Hitch Rack

Price: Approx. $270

Weight: 55.1 lbs

Load capacity: 120 lbs (two bikes, 60 lbs each)

Dimensions: 48 x 11.5 x 8.8 in

Specific features: Ratcheting anti-sway straps, carries up to two bikes, protective rubber holders. The hitch lock is sold separately.

Best use: Higher vehicles, but fits almost any vehicle and bike

Description: The Saris Freedom 2 Bike Rack is a well-designed rack that makes loading and transporting bikes easy. The Saris Freedom 2 Bike Tray Hitch Rack features a revolutionary bar design. It secures the bike perfectly and fits a wheelbase up to 48” right out of the box.

The ratcheting straps will keep your bike secured and fit without sliding off so you can easily transport it with no worries.

For those who own bikes with longer wheel base, we suggest that you purchase a long wheelbase bar which is sold separately. The receiver adapter works fantastic and have no play in it at all. It is easy to screw the pin into it.

Once tightened down with a box wrench, it becomes snug and will stay in place. Whether you’ll be needing a rack for a mountain bike or to transport your bikes with cars, if you’re looking for a durable, easy to install, easy to use, lightweight and stable, affordable rack, the Saris Freedom 2 Bike Tray Hitch Rack is the ideal choice.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Durability is excellent
  • Easy to install and mount the bikes

CONS:

  • Wrap is not long enough to go around electric bikes, if you want to mount them

Related: The Saris Locking Cable & Hitch is very commonly bought with this rack. Not only does it attach everything better, but it adds a level of safety to the racks.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Finding a bike rack that suits your needs doesn’t have to be a difficult endeavor. Knowing your bike’s specifics, as well as how you want to mount it on your vehicle, can help you to make the decision much easier. Once you have the bike rack, every biking trip will be easier and better.

This article has provided you with the right features to look for when buying one. For example, don’t forget to consider the frame of your bicycle to see if it will fit the racks. If you’re still in doubt after reading this article, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in helping you to choose the right one. It will save you a lot of hassle in the future.

We hope that after reading this article, you will be able to decide on which bike rack to purchase. If you have any questions, or ideas that you’d like to share with us, comment below! We’ll love to hear your thoughts!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.