Riding a bicycle from Point A to Point B is easy and a lot of fun. Getting a bike from Point A to Point B without riding it? That's trickier. If you like to ride on vacation or if you prefer a path that's a bit far from home, then you know how valuable the right bike rack can be.
The issue is that there are as many bike racks as there are bicycles. Finding the one that's right for you means sifting through a deluge of models with different mounting styles, different holding capacities and different price points. It's critical to be pointed in the right direction at the start of your journey.
That's precisely why we created this list, which features the best bike racks available in a variety of categories, based on expert opinion and customer satisfaction. After our picks, read on for more information about selecting and using the bike rack that's right for you.
The best overall bike rack needs to be sturdy, easy to use and able to support the weight of at least two bicycles. The Thule T2 Pro XTR does all that and more. It folds up when not in use, has wheels that allow for easy attachment and detachment and -- when used in coordination with the Thule T2 Pro XTR Add-On (sold separately) -- can carry up to four bicycles at once.
The Thule T2 Pro XTR is a platform hitch bike rack, which means it attaches to the back of a vehicle and provides a platform on which bicycles can sit. This platform construction -- and the fact that the bike mounts are spaced relatively far apart from one another -- means that the rack can accommodate most types of bikes.
Thule's T2 Pro XTR bike rack currently has 4.5 stars out of five on REI's website based on over 120 customer ratings. Satisfied users praise the rack's sturdiness and the safety that it affords.
Not to be outdone, Kuat also has a contender for the best overall bike rack (though it's one with a problematic name). It's also a platform rack, which means that -- like the Thule T2 -- it's more pricey than some of the other choices on this list, but it's also easy to use and accommodating to a wide variety of bicycles.
Kuat's rack holds two bikes with a maximum weight capacity of 40 pounds apiece. It has a semi-integrated bike lock and an easy-to-install tool-free setup process and it comes in two models -- a 1.25-inch hitch model and a 2-inch hitch model. Finally, there's a co-molded strap on the rear tire cradle to protect bike wheels.
This Kuat Racks' model currently has 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon with more than 1,100 customer ratings. Satisfied users praise the lightweight design and the ease of trunk accessibility while the rack is attached.
You don't need to break the bank to get a reliable bike rack. While platform racks tend to be the most expensive type of bike rack you can buy, others -- like trunk-mounted bike racks -- are much cheaper. One of these is our pick for the best cheap (and easy-to-use) bike rack, the Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack.
The Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack, like all trunk-mounted bike racks, attaches to your vehicle's trunk and uses a system of straps for support. The lower frame is padded to keep bikes from hitting your car and scratching the paint. Despite the cheap price, it can carry two bicycles at a time -- provided they add up to less than 70 pounds in total weight.
Allen Sports' Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack currently has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 34,000 customer ratings. It is currently the site's best selling item in the "Bicycle Car Racks" category.
As the first two items on our list show, platform hitch bike racks can be costly. If you want to save some money, there are plenty of less expensive options coming up. If money is no object, though, there's the Thule EasyFold XT.
The Thule EasyFold XT boasts a tool-free install and removal, integrated bike locks and the capacity to fit 1.25-inch and 2-inch receivers. It also has a slightly larger weight capacity than the Thule T2 -- 65 pounds per bike as opposed to 60. This high capacity makes it an ideal choice for e-bikes and heavy mountain bikes.
The Thule EasyFold XT currently has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon with more than 650 customer ratings. It has an "Amazon's Choice" designation reserved for products the site's editors deem exceptional in the "Bicycle Car Racks" category.
Trunk-mounted bike racks are good alternatives to other types of bike racks if you're looking to spend a little less money. That said, one trunk-mounted rack isn't necessarily as good as another. Our pick for the best trunk-mounted bike rack is the Saris Bones EX Car Trunk Bike Rack.
The Saris Bones EX comes in two-, three-, and four-bike models and is designed to fit 90% of vehicles on the road right now. It's built steady and strong despite its relatively low weight and the injection-molded arms and legs are designed to stay rust-free.
Saris' Bones EX bike rack has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 170 customer ratings.
If the Saris Bones EX Car Trunk Bike Rack isn't your style for whatever reason, it's not our only pick for a great trunk-mounted bike rack. Allen Sports has another outstanding entry in the category with the Premier, a two-bike rack that only costs $109.
The Allen Sports Premier bike rack is designed to fit sedans, hatchbacks, minivans and SUVs with 12-inch arms that can carry two bicycles at a time. Two side straps attach to the vehicle's trunk to ensure lateral stability, while the rack's tie-down system keeps each bike secure and stable.
Allen Sports' Premier bike rack has 4.4 stars out of five on Amazon with over 2,100 customer ratings. Satisfied customers praise the rack's solid design and the tightness with which it attaches to a vehicle.
Roof bike racks are entirely different from any kind of bike rack that attaches to a trunk. While they are more difficult to use simply because they require lifting bicycles quite high, they also allow for unimpeded access to a car's trunk or rear, which can be an invaluable asset.
Our selection for the best roof-mounted rack is Yakima's HighRoad bike rack, a steel rack that holds a single bicycle, but is compatible with most road and mountain bikes. The fork-mount style makes loading and unloading your bike a quick and easy process. Please note that the HighRoad must be attached to an existing roof rack on your vehicle.
The Yakima HighRoad has 4.7 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 320 customer ratings. Satisfied users praise the ease of installation, as well as the rack's sturdiness and value for its price.
Not to be outdone, Thule also has an entry into the roof-mounted bike rack category -- the Thule UpRide, an aluminum single-bike rack that, like the Yakima HighRoad, must be attached to an existing roof rack. Compatibility isn't an issue, though, as the UpRide fits all Thule racks and most factory roof racks.
The Thule UpRide holds your bicycle by the wheels, offering maximum bike protection by avoiding contact with the frame. The rack has a load capacity of up to 44 pounds and it fits most bicycles with wheels between 20-inches and 29-inches in diameter. It also accommodates tires up to 3-inches wide with a separate attachment available that raises that compatibility to 5-inches.
Thule's UpRide bike rack has 4.4 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 230 customer ratings. It has also been given an "Amazon's Choice" designation in the "Rooftop Bike Rack" category.
Like a platform hitch bike rack, a hanging hitch bike rack stores bikes by the rear of a vehicle. However, instead of providing a platform on which the bikes can rest, they have hooks on which the bikes can be hung by their frames.
Thule's Camber is our pick for the top hanging hitch bike rack and it's available in two-bike and four-bike models. It provides 7-inches of space between each bike, as well as an anti-sway cradle that keeps bikes from bumping into each other.
The Thule Camber bike rack has a rating of 4.4 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 240 customer ratings. Satisfied users praise the way that the rack accommodates multiple bikes, as well as the sturdiness of the straps.
Vertical hanging hitch bike racks are like regular hanging hitch bike racks, but as the name suggests, they hold bicycles in a vertical position. This may require extra maneuvering in order to hang the bikes, but, like regular hanging bike racks, the configuration actually allows for more bikes to be stored at once.
Yakima's HangTight is a great example of a sturdy, well-constructed vertical hanging hitch bike rack that can also accommodate a huge number of bikes -- four, to be precise. This makes it an ideal choice for a group camping trip, or even a bike race with multiple participants.
Like the Camber, the Yakima HangTight has a retention system designed to stabilize each bike and protect bikes from banging into one another. It also includes a foot-tilt mechanism that allows for trunk access while bikes are mounted.
Pick-up truck bed bike carriers work much the same way roof-mounted racks do: bicycles are held horizontally on a flat surface and must be loaded and unloaded with care. If you've got a pickup truck bed carrier, though, you won't have to lift your bike quite as high to store it.
Thule's Insta-Gater Pro is an exceptional pick-up truck bed bike carrier, able to hold a single bicycle weighing up to 50 pounds. It fits wheels ranging from 20-inches to 29-inches in diameter and comes with a lock for securing your bike. It also attaches to your truck bed easily by making use of a ratcheting arm.
The Thule Insta-Gater bike rack has 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 150 customer ratings. The rack also has an "Amazon's Choice" designation in the "Bicycle Car Racks" category.
While it's always a good idea to travel with a spare tire, some vehicles -- like Jeeps, for instance -- keep their spare tires mounted on their rear doors or trunks. For vehicles like these, regular trunk-mounted bike racks won't do.
Luckily, there are racks that attach directly to external spare tires and hold bikes safely and securely. Our top choice of these racks is the Allen Sports Deluxe Spare Tire Rack, a modestly-priced steel rack with 15-inch arms that can carry two bicycles at a time. It's available in two separate fit styles. Allen Sports recommends consulting them for specific fit information.
The Allen Sports Deluxe Spare Tire Rack has 4.4 stars out of five on Amazon based on over 2,150 customer ratings. Satisfied users mention the bike rack's easy installation process and the security it provides.
Comparison of the best bike racks for 2022
||Bike rack||Mount style||Weight capacity (per bike)||Price|
|Best bike rack overall/Best platform hitch bike rack||Thule T2 Pro XTR Bike Rack||Platform||60 pounds||$900|
|Best bike rack overall runner-up||Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0 Bike Rack||Platform||40 pounds||$630|
|Best cheap and easy-to-use bike rack||Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack||Trunk||35 pounds||$33|
|Best bike rack if money is no object||Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack||Platform||65 pounds||$1,000|
|Best trunk bike rack||Saris Bones EX Car Trunk Bike Rack||Trunk||35 pounds||$230|
|Best trunk bike rack runner-up||Allen Sports Premier Trunk Rack||Trunk||35 pounds||$109|
|Best roof bike rack||Yakima HighRoad Rooftop Bike Mount||Roof||45 pounds||$279|
|Best roof bike rack runner-up||Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack||Roof||44 pounds||$330|
|Best hanging hitch bike rack||Thule Camber Hitch Bike Rack||Hanging hitch||37.5 pounds||$341|
|Best vertical hanging hitch bike rack/Best bike rack for carrying a lot of bikes||Yakima HangTight 4-Bike Hitch Rack||Vertical hanging||37.5 pounds||$899|
|Best pickup truck bed bike carrier||Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack||Truck bed||50 pounds||$310|
|Best spare tire bike rack||Allen Sports Deluxe Spare Tire Rack||Spare tire||35 pounds||$70|
What are the different types of car bike racks?
Bicycle racks for cars differ in a number of ways including weight capacity, price and construction material. That said, the way they're usually split up is based on their shape and the way they attach to vehicles. A trunk-mounted bike rack attaches to a car's trunk and is held in place by straps. Roof and truck bed racks attach to those respective areas of vehicles and hold bikes in a horizontal configuration. Finally, spare tire racks attach to the backs of vehicles that have external spare tire storage (like Jeeps)., for instance, attaches to the back of a car and provides an actual platform where bikes can rest, wheels down. A hanging rack also attaches to the back of a car, but it holds the bicycles by their frames (vertical hanging racks also do this, but the bikes are hanging in a vertical position). A
Each type of rack has its own benefits and drawbacks. For instance, platform racks are the easiest to load as bikes don't need to be lifted very high to be mounted -- but platform racks are also typically the most expensive choice. They're alsowhen not in use. Hanging racks are cheaper and easier to store, but loading requires lifting bikes higher. Bikes also have to be shaped in a way that accommodates the rack in order to use it, while platform racks are simply stands that any bike can rest on. Both kinds of racks add length to a vehicle.
Trunk-mounted bike racks are typically the cheapest option and are easy to install, but they tend to have the lowest weight capacities. They also block access to your trunk when they're in use. Both roof and truck bed racks keep bikes away from car access points, but they also require a good deal of lifting and they add additional height to vehicles, which may ultimately be inconvenient. Finally, spare tire racks tend to be easy to install, but they only work with select vehicles. They also add length to a vehicle and can't hold more than two bikes at a time.
Safety shouldn't be a concern, as any kind of rack -- rear-mounted or otherwise -- made by a reputable manufacturer will be tested and quality-ensured. "Short of a blanket statement for all rear-mounted bike racks, at Yakima all of our racks go through a very rigorous testing process before they are released into the market," says Taylor Thompson. Thompson is product marketing manager at Yakima. "This includes lifecycle testing, crash test simulation and real-world driving circuits. Safety and the consumer experience are top of mind as we develop all of our products, so consumers can carry their bike(s) confidently. While top-of-car bike racks are very popular as well, another safety benefit of rear-mounted bike racks is not needing to lift your bike over your head up onto your car roof. Rear-of-car loading is typically a safer, much easier experience."
Choosing the right bike rack for you
Since each type of bike rack has its own pluses and minuses, the kind that you end up choosing will depend on both the type of vehicle you have and the qualities you deem important in a bike transportation solution. Once you pick a style of rack that works for you, though, you'll still have more work to do, as even in-category, bike racks vary greatly.
All of your decisions, from the broad type to the specific model, will be influenced by your personal situation. If you don't want to or aren't able to lift your bicycles up high, a platform rack will probably be the best choice for you. A roof rack would be out of the question. If you want to carry multiple bikes, you'll need a rack built for it, as well -- most types of racks have models that can store three-to-four bikes, but spare tire racks and trunk-mounted racks are the exception, as they typically can't accommodate more than two-to-three bikes at time.
Of course, your budget will play a major role in determining which bike rack you get. Platform racks routinely run into the high three figures with some models (the kind that hold three or four bikes at once, typically) even costing over $1,000. By contrast, trunk-mounted racks are much cheaper, with reliable models available for less than $200 (or even less than $100).
The distance that you want to transport your bikes will also affect your choice. Roof racks, in particular, are not suited for long-distance drives. Putting bicycles on top of your vehicle makes it less aerodynamic, which affects your gas mileage in ways you might not notice, but which still have a financial impact. Also, while any external bike storage exposes your bicycles to the elements, roof racks are especially hazardous in this way, with everything from precipitation to insects hitting your bikes just as much as they hit your car.
If you'll be leaving your bikes attached to your vehicle while you're not driving, bike security may also be a concern. Most bike racks come with some sort of lock or security measure to prevent theft, so this isn't so much an issue of bike type. That said, some models will have more protective measures than others, so that might ultimately influence your final decision.
Finally, your bike will also dictate which racks are available to you. Some bikes are only compatible with certain racks, whether it's a weight capacity issue or a shape issue. Platform racks are particularly accommodating for all shapes of bicycles, as they just sit flat on the rack. Other types of racks may either have lower weight capacities, or may be limited by special constraints.
"We work really hard to fit as many types of bikes [as] we can and look to stay ahead of trends," says Thompson. "We also do a lot of work to vet bike compatibility so that we can communicate fit information properly. Fat bikes became very popular seven-to-eight years ago and we had to develop newer solutions that accommodated these fatter tires, which is why we now list out compatible tire sizes with every rack we sell. E-bikes are growing like crazy and they present the challenge of overloading weight capacity of our racks. We have launched new bike racks in the past year and a half that can accommodate bikes up to 66 pounds (OnRamp) and 60 pounds (StageTwo) and [make] e-bike transport a possibility."
"Bike racks for cars can typically accommodate bikes with 20-to-29-inch wheels, which encompasses most adult bikes and some kids' bikes," adds Ely Khakshouri, founder and CEO of. Retrospec is an outdoor equipment company offering bikes, paddleboards, skateboards and more. "Kids' bikes with wheels smaller than 20-inches might require an adapter. It's very important to consider bicycle weight when choosing a rack. Every rack has a total weight limit and a per bike limit. Do not use a standard bike rack for electric bikes or other heavy-duty bikes, like fat-tire bikes, which exceed your rack's weight limit."
How to use bike racks safely
When it comes to using bike racks safely, there are a lot of different factors, which means there are a lot of things that can potentially go wrong. Any potential problems can lead to damage to your bike or your vehicle -- and mishaps while your vehicle is in motion can be hazardous to you or other drivers.
Each bike rack will have its own instructions that should be followed carefully in order to ensure maximum safety. Needless to say, a roof rack will have very different instructions than a platform rack, both when it comes to attaching the rack to your vehicle and when it comes to placing your bicycles in the rack. Just make sure that you follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter (this includes researching a particular bike rack before buying it in order to make sure that it's compatible with your vehicle).
That all said, there are still some rules that apply universally. You'll want to make sure that your bikes aren't in the way of your car's exhaust pipe, as that can damage them. You'll also want to ensure that you have enough space, either on top of your vehicle or behind it, to accommodate your bike rack and bikes. You'll also want to make sure that your pedals are in a safe configuration so they don't move and scrape the rack or your vehicle.
When it comes to placing bikes on a hanging rack, there are specific rules to follow: "The best way [to hang a bike] is to grab your bike and lift it by the bottom of the fork and the seat-stay," says Thompson. "Stand on the drivetrain side of the bike for [the] HangOver, or the non-drive side for [Yakima model] HangTight. Don't lift with your back and make sure you load your bike moving from the passenger side to the driver side."
If you're worried about damaging your vehicle, all you need to do is make sure that it's compatible with your rack and then follow instructions. "In short, if used properly a bike rack should not damage your vehicle," says Thompson. "With strap-style racks like our FullBack, we provide fit guidance to make sure that the rack is properly fit to your vehicle before you even purchase. Customers can look up their vehicle on our website to make sure that their vehicle is approved for use with any specific product, as well as instructions as to where and how it needs to be installed."
Written by Scott Fried for CNET Cars.
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Bike rack FAQs
What are the different types of bike racks?
Bicycle racks come in many styles, but there are a few major categories into which most of them fall. Platform bike racks attach to the backs of cars and provide platforms on which most bicycles can sit. Hanging bike racks also attach to the backs of cars, but they use metal poles or hooks to hold bikes by their frames (vertical hanging bike racks do this as well, but they hold bikes in a vertical position). Trunk-mounted racks attach to car trunks and hold bikes behind cars, and spare tire racks do the same, but for cars that have spare tires mounted to their rears. Finally, roof racks hold bikes right-side up on their roofs, while truck bed racks do the same, but in the flatbeds of pickup trucks.
How do I choose a bike rack?
To choose a bike rack that's right for you, you need to start by evaluating your needs, your preferences, your car and your budget. Certain types of racks -- like roof racks and hanging racks -- require users to lift their bikes high up to get them into position, while platform racks require much less lifting. There are racks -- like spare tire racks and truck bed racks -- that only work with certain vehicles, depending on their configurations. In terms of budget, trunk-mounted racks are usually the least-expensive option, while platform racks tend to be the most expensive.
What is a good bike rack brand?
There are many brands that make reliable bike racks and we've featured many different brands on this list. Even beyond what we've detailed here, there are many brands that make bike racks worth buying. That said, we've featured multiple models from Allen Sports, Yakima and Thule. These are some of the most trusted brands in bike racks and for good reason.
How much do bike racks cost?
Bike racks cover a wide price range and their individual costs depend on their style. Platform racks are typically the most expensive, especially platform racks designed to hold many bikes. They can bear price tags up to and over $1,000 apiece. The most costly model on this list is the Thule EasyFold XT, which holds two bikes and costs $900. By contrast, trunk-mounted racks are usually the least expensive, with some even costing less than $100. The Allen Sports Deluxe Truck Mounted Bike Rack is one of these coming in at only $33.
What is better, a hanging or platform hitch bike rack?
Hanging and platform hitch bike racks have a lot in common, but they also have some key differences that may make one a better choice for you. Both hold bikes behind cars and both styles have deluxe models that can hold multiple bikes. One way they differ is in terms of loading -- platform racks support bikes from below, so setting them in the rack doesn't require much lifting. Hanging racks support bikes from their frames, so users have to lift the bikes higher in order to secure them. Platform racks also tend to be more expensive than hanging racks.
There is no "better" choice between hanging racks and platform racks -- just a choice that's best for your individual situation.