Overview Of Hitch Bike Racks. Which One Is For You?

Hitch bike racks are a good option if you are on a limited budget as they are generally much cheaper than a full scaled roof carrier system. One major (and quite obvious) point to consider is that you need a receiver for hitch bike racks. If your car does not have a hitch already those carriers are probably not the ideal way to go since adding a hitch to your car is quite expensive. Of course a hitch brings more advantages than just the ability to tie your bikes down but if you really don’t need to tow anything besides them it is probably not worth the investment.

However, if your car comes with a hitch already bike racks for hitches are a good way to go. You just need to figure out what size hitch receiver you have (2” or 1 ¼”) and make sure that the rack of your choice fits that size.

As with any other system there are plenty of manufactures with different solutions on the market. They following lines will give you a compelling overview about the different types of carriers so that you can choose the best hitch bike rack for your individual needs.

Before Diving Into The Different Types Let Us Have a Look At Some Pros And Cons That Apply To AllHhitch Carriers:


  • The carriers are quickly installed, simply plug onto the hitch and you are good to go.
  • Easy to handle, no need to stand on your tippy toes and hoist your bikes all the way up to the roof. Bikes are close to the ground so loading and unloading should not be a problem, even for smaller individuals.
  • Because of the simple installation and the ease of use those carriers are a good solution for frequent use.


  • Versatility. Mostly you can carry nothing besides your bicycles. Some carries offer adapters (at additional cost) that allow you to attach skies and snow boards. If you want to carry additional stuff like kayaks and so on you should take a look at roof rack systems.
  • Bike rack hitch mounts often block access to the trunk / the back of your vehicle, even with no bikes mounted. Some systems offer swing away solutions though that grant access even with bikes mounted to the rack.
  • The bikes are often spaced pretty closer together, resulting in bike-to-bike contact. During your drive the bikes will always move slightly, especially when you are travelling on bad roads or dirt roads. You have to carefully arrange your bikes to minimize contact, otherwise you might be looking at some scratches and ruined paint jobs.
  • Ground clearance. If your vehicle does not have a lot it and you intend to use longer carriers, like wheel tray systems for four bikes, there is a pretty good chance that you will ground the rack sometimes, especially on bad roads. This isn’t a huge problem most of the times but it certainly does not do any favors to your rack and your bikes. Some really advanced systems, like the “Thule Apex Swing”, offer road dampening features to fight that issue by absorbing the shock of the road.

Security. Locking your bikes on tow hitch bike racks is not as easy as it is with roof carriers. Most systems rely on a cable that runs through all the bikes and is then locked. This might scare away the average thief but serious ones are known to own bolt cutters. A simple 1 or 2cm thick cable isn’t really a concern for those so it might be wise to add additional layers of security.

Now that we have learned about the pros and cons let us cover the different solutions available on the market.

Parallel Bars Style, Or Mast Mount Style:

Best bike racks hitch mounted

A very common type of hitch bike racks are those with parallel bars. Your bicycles can be attached to those bars usually by zero hassle zip-strips. Simply attach your bike, tie the strips and you are good to go. Those carriers can handle up to five bikes, which is a great plus. The main downside is limited access to the back of your car when deciding to go with a rather cheap carrier. Most advanced carriers can easer be turned down, tilted forward, or swung away to the side to grant trunk access.

Wheel Tray Style, Or Platform Style Mounts:

Wheel Tray Style Hitch-Mount

Wheel tray style hitch mounts are also very common. They are by far the most easiest and quickest to handle bike carries on the market. Attaching and strapping down a bike can often be done in 30 seconds or less. These systems have the lowest loading level on the market and are thus the perfect choice for smaller persons. Again, when going with a cheaper option you might have trouble accessing the back of your car while more advanced carriers can be folded down and allow access that way (with no bikes attached only). These carriers can carry up to four bikes. Otherwise they have the same benefits and drawbacks as the wheels on roof racks, but, as mentioned already, with the added bonus of being close to the ground.

Hanging Fork, Or Handle Bar Style Mounts:

Hanging Fork Style Hitch-Mount

Those racks are fairly new to the market but have the potential to be a real game changer since they eliminate a lot of the problems that established system come with. Though it is not surprising that these new kind of racks are gaining market share rapidly. Unlike classic carriers those hanging style racks carry your bike vertically and not horizontally. They do that by holding the bicycles by their handle bars and additional straps to their rear wheels. The main advantage of those systems is that there is no contact between the bikes at all which entirely eliminates the risk of scratches that most of the classic carries come with. Mounting your bike is really easy too and depending on your car, carrier and bikes you can carry up to six at once. The main downside is that those carriers are still quite expensive.

Still not sure which is the best hitch back rack for you? Then you should stay in touch as we are working on several hitch bike rack reviews right now that will be published as soon as they are done.

Best Truck Bed Bike Racks And Tailgate Pads

Truck bed bike racks are probably the easiest way to carry a bunch of bikes. Pickup trucks are made for purposes like that, they are made to carry stuff. Not only can you carry your bicycles, but also your skis, kayaks, pets, friends – all at the same time if that’s what you are up to. If you need to really carry a lot of bike and the truck bed alone is not doing the job you can still put a roof and/or hitch rack on your truck. This way should be able to carry around 10-14 bikes, depending on make and model of your truck and your equipment.

There are quite a few manufactures that are designing bike-carrying accessories specifically for pickup trucks. Also there are different systems available on the market. The following article will give you an overview about the different solutions so you can easily determine what works best for you and your pickup truck.

The Easiest And Most Affordable Solution In Terms Of Bike Racks For Truck Beds Are So-Called Tailgate Pads.

Pickup Truck with tailgate pad

They consist of ultra-durable heavy vinyl with foam padding that protects both, your truck and your bike. Simply sling your bicycles over the tailgate, scratches will never be an issue if you use a good tailgate pad that comes with integrated knock-blockers to prevent you bikes from sliding off the edge of the tailgate. Simply tie the bicycles down with the strap anchors and you are ready to go. With a full sites truck you can easily transport six or more bikes this way. You can of course also use tailgate pads to transport other loads besides bikes. One thing to note though is that the strap anchors usually don’t work with kids’ or cross-country bikes. If your bikes have thin down-tubes the tailgate system is not the best option to go for since, despite the padding, your bikes may get dents. If you are thinking about buying a pad we encourage you to take a look at the Thule “GateMate”. It has excellent customer reviews, all the features you would expect and is priced reasonably.

Another Option Besides Roof And Hitch Carriers Are Truck Bed Bike Racks

There are many different options available to choose from. Some are more convenient than others and some even require you to drill holes into your truck. Since we love our trucks and would never do something even remotely as brutal as drilling holes into them we will not cover those systems here. The good news is, there are plenty of bike racks for truck beds that do not require drilling. As with the roof racks you have basically three options when it comes to tearing down bikes to your truck bed: fork, frame, and tyre holders.

In case you read our article on roof carriers feel free to skip this paragraph, as we coverd the pros and cons of those systems there already. If you did not read it stick around for two more minutes and discover what rack suits you best.

Fork holders tie you bicycles down by the front for and the rear wheel. The front wheel needs to be removed to make this work, which is a major disadvantage of this system. However, fork holders will security for your bike as they are easy to lock and tie it down real good.

Frame holders tie your bike down at the down-pipe and on both wheels. You do not need to remove wheels here, which make them easier to use than the fork holders. Not all frames can be fitted into the frame holders though. So is your bikes have an somewhat awkward-shaped frame those racks might not work for you.

Tyre holders are really easy to use too. Both wheels are strapped down firmly by them, no wheel removal needed. For pickup trucks there are even easier system where only one wheel is tied down, like the Advantage SportsRack bike rack for pickup beds.

Advantage Sports Rack for truck beds

Another Option To Safely Transport Your Bikes With Your Truck Are Bars That Clamp To Your Truck Bead Rails. Those Come With Quick-Release Levers, So Neither Drilling Nor Tools Are Required.

Bike Bar for pickup trucks

The installation process is straightforward and does not require any technical skills. Those bars come with fork-mounts and can secure up to four bikes depending on your truck. Most of the bars come with two locking beds only though. If you want to carry more than two bike you would need to purchase additional locking beds. Your bikes are tied to the bar so there is absolutely no risk of them bouncing around and scratching your truck or each other. Those bars are great bike racks for trucks. The only downside is, that they come with fork holders. You have to remove the front wheels of your bikes every time you want to transport them. So these carries are mostly interesting for those whose bikes have a quick-release front wheel that can be de- and attached without any hassle.

Finally We Would Like To Introduce One Last Option For Mounting Your Bike In Your Truck Beds, The Inno Velo Gripper. It Is A Unique System Invented By Inno Bike Racks, Japan’s Market Leader.

Inno Griper for trucks

It is designed to mount to the outer walls of the truck bed. No need for tools or drilling. This bike carrier has four major advantages:

1) It fits both standard beds and C-channel track systems.

2) Since the bike is tied closely to the side of your truck bed it preserves up to 90% for your trucks’ bed space.

3) It fits all sorts of bikes, mountain bikes, racers, cruisers – doesn’t matter.

4) It is prices very reasonably.

The only disadvantage is that you cannot use more than two of those on your truck because they need to be fitted on the sides and there will only be room for two bike that way. But besides that for us the Velo Gripper is the perfect solution and probably one of the best truck bed bike racks on the market. If you need to transport more bike you can always combine the Gripper with one of the other solutions mentioned above.

Bike Racks For SUVs, Vans And Minivans – Which Are Good?

What is the best bike rack for SUVs is a question we are being asked frequently. In order to answer that question it is important to understand that SUVs need to be treated slightly different when it comes to bike carries. Most of the rack systems that are available for normal cars are also available for SUVs. The only thing that we need to pay special attention to when looking for bike racks for SUVs is that most off-road type vehicles come with a spare wheel attached to their back. Because of that some carriers might not be available at all, others might have a decreased capacity as opposed to being used with a normal car (that spare wheel takes some space after all). With that being said, answering the question is not that easy since it’s a preference thing. Some of us prefer roof mounted solutions, some of us like to go with hitch racks whilst others fancy strap- and clip-on racks or spare wheel carriers. Those are all available for almost any SUV.

Since spare wheel carriers are exclusive to SUVs and have not been dealt with in our other bike rack articles let’s take a closer look at them.

Two bikes mounted to spare wheel rack

Those carriers mostly rely on strap on systems, often coming with six tensioning straps that are used to attach the carrier to your spare wheel. They can be adjusted to offset your tire on either the right or left hand side of the vehicle and most of the racks can be folded down flat when not in use. Most of them come with protective foam to protect vehicle’s paint work. Your bikes are often held on by soft rubber cradles and secured by thick rubber straps plus two additional tie down straps to secure it to the tire and to prevent the bikes from swinging. Most of them are able to carry two bikes. With some racks there will be bike to bike contact that can potentially scratch and ruin your bikes paintjob. In case you are looking for an alternative to tow ball / hitch style solutions and / or roof mounted systems, a spare wheel bike carrier could be what you are looking for.

Besides spare wheel racks all the other systems are available too. Hitch mounted solutions might be worth looking into, since many SUVs come with a hitch. Roof racks might also be a good choice since SUVs often already have roof bars to fit them too. One thing to keep in mind is that SUVs are generally higher than your normal car so loading roof mounted carriers can be quite difficult.

Now that we have learned about the different options for our SUVs let us take a look at some specific models, to see what is available on the market.

Bike Rack For Jeep Wrangler:

The Thule Parkway hitch bike carrier is a popular choice amongst Wrangler owners.

Thule Parkway 4 bike rack

It is a high-strength steel construction that tilts away from your hatch and comes with soft rubber cradles protect your bike frame while securely holding it. There are three different versions available. If your Jeep has a 2 inch hitch receiver you can either go with the 956 that will carry up to four bikes or the 956, which will allow you to comfortably transport up to two bikes. For 1¼ inch receivers Thule offers the 957 (up to two bikes). Please note that in case you have oversized tires on the back of your Wrangler you will need to order an additional hitch extension. These carriers are great all around bike racks for your Jeep.

Bike Rack For Honda CRV:

As well as the Wrangler owners, CRV owners also favor a hitch mounted solution to securely transport their bicycles. The Swagman XTC-2 is the solution many of them are really happy with.

Swagman XTC-2 Bicycle Carrier

It is available for both 2” and 1¼” receivers. Loading the carrier is really comfortable. Simply rest the bike’s wheels in the well, ratchet down the frame hooks, and you are good to go, no more dread lifting your bike up into the frame cradles. The rack can handle up to two bikes and secures them at 3 different positions. Wheel hoops, bike hooks and wheel rubber straps tie your bikes down really good. This carrier also works great with smaller bikes (kid’s bikes for example) which is probably one of the reasons for it being so popular.

Bike Rack For Toyota RAV4:

RAV4 owners seem to like making use of their spare tire, since one of the most popular carriers amongst them is the Thule Spare Me – a spare wheel mounted system.

Thule Spare Me Carrier System

The rack comes with dual arms with anti-sway cradles for superior bicycle stability and a locking knob that secures the rack to your vehicle. You can carry up to two of your bikes with this rack. It has lots of great features you find with many Thule carriers, such as (but not limited to) Stay-Put anti-sway cradles with rubber straps to firmly hold your bikes in place on the carrier and No-Sway Cage accessories to eliminate bike to bike contact during transport. Especially the last one is a nice to have feature, since you will not risk ruining your bike’s paintjob due to scratches caused by bike to bike contact. When the rack is not in use you can conveniently fold it down. It fits to all spare tires with up to 10″ width and 32” diameter.

Bike Rack For Subaru Outback:

Outback owners sure love their Swagman XTC-2’s, as do the CRV owners. Since we already dealt with that one above let’s take a look at another carrier that is also fairly popular among the Outback community, the Thule Vertex.

Thule Vertex 4

This rack is a hitch mounted solution that can carry up to four bikes and is available for both, 1¼” and 2” hitch receivers. Not only does this rack tie your bikes down good and secure, it also looks rather sleek and stylish. Your bikes are carried on dual arched arms that provide perfect bike spacing and let you mount bikes at different heights. It also provides more space between bikes than standard dual-arm racks, minimizing the risk of scratches due to bike to bike contact. The carrier also has cushioned anti-sway cradles and a tilting mast for rear cargo area access, which is really a nice feature. Simply tilt the rack body forward to easily access to your vehicle’s rear cargo area. Tall, arching, upright mast improves both ground clearance and clearance from the rear of your vehicle.

Bike Rack For (Mini)Vans:

Don’t own a SUV, but a van or minivan? Don’t worry, we won’t let you down. Here are our suggestions on carriers for your ride: A highly popular rack amongst van owners is the Thule Parkway. We already dealt with this one during the Jeep Wrangler paragraph of this article, so let’s have a look at another one. The Pro Series Eclipse hitch mounted rack is also a good solution for minivan owners and it is significantly cheaper than the Parkway.

Pro Series Eclipse Bike Carrier For Up To 4 Bikes

It comes with a single-arm bike carrier and lets you access the rear of your vehicle by simply pulling a pin to tilt the rack down. Heavy-duty straps as well as rubber-padded cradles are taking care of the security of your bikes whilst an anti-rattle hitch pin holds the rack steady. The rack can carry up to four bikes and is available for both, 2” and 1¼” hitch receivers. The single arm works with most bikes, also with those that have somewhat awkward shaped frames. Smaller bikes, like women’s and children’s bikes, may require a bike adapter bar though. It is not included and has to be purchased separately. Another downside is that the hitch lock is also sold separately.

Find The Best Rear Bike Racks For Cars

To get things right from the very beginning: This article does not deal with rear racks that you can mount upon the back of your bike. It deals with a certain system of bike carriers for cars, that is often referred to as “rear bike racks”. In particular we will take a look at a special kind of bike carrier, so called “strap on racks”.

VW Golf With Attached Strap On Rack

If your budget is really limited those would probably be the best fit for you. They are significantly cheaper than roof and hitch racks, you can get a whole system for up to four bikes for less than 100 bucks. You might wonder how to use rear bike racks that are not fitting on a hitch? Well, usually you will use six straps to fix the rack at the back of your car. Two straps go to the top of your car’s rear door, two hook onto either side of the rear door and the final two straps hook onto the bottom of the rear door. All that stuff is usually plastic coated to protect your vehicle from scratches. The rubber pressure pads provided are also there as a safeguard.

Let’s Have A Look At The Up- And Downsides Of These Systems To Help You Find Out If They Are For You. Some Major Downsides Are:

The whole process of first fitting the rack to the back of your car and then attaching and fitting the bicycles takes quite a bit of time. It’s not exactly easy to fit your bikes on most strap on racks in a way that they will neither scratch each other, nor your car. Additional padding might be necessary. The low price has to be justified somehow, that is why most rear bike racks come with hardly any features. This is also true in terms of security. Most carriers rely on a cable that goes through all bikes plus a part of the car and is then locked. Since you most likely do not have a hitch available (if you do, you are probably better off with getting a hitch carrier) the locking process will likely involve you on your knees, trying to find some place under your car to loop the cable through. Most of those carriers also block access to the back of your care entirely. Some of them make your bikes fit in a way so that the front wheel is next to the exhaust pipe of your car which is a certain way to melt your tire. Of course it depends on make and model of your car and the carrier if this is going to be a problem or not. So it might be wise to do a fitting test before buying a rack like that. Because of all these aspects strap on carriers do not score high ease of use metrics. Another point to consider is that those carriers are a no-go if your car has a fancy spoiler or a spare wheel mounted to the back. It just won’t fit.

With All These Downsides Mentioned You Might Wonder If There Are Any Upsides To Those Carriers At All? Well, There Are A Few, For Example:

The price. As mentioned before, it’s unbeatable. Unless you grab your welding equipment and go down the DIY-road you won’t find cheaper rear bike racks for your car. They can also be used with almost any bike. Does not matter if it’s a small or a bike, has a standard or a somewhat awkward shaped frame, you will be able to tie it down (eventually). Another plus is that they fit to almost any car, regardless what make and model (as long as there are no spoilers and spare wheels at the back). So if you happen to change your car often those carriers would be a smart choice. Fitting the bikes to the rack can be quite tricky in terms of avoiding scratches and all that but you can’t argue the fact that attaching your bikes to the rack in the first place is much more convenient than with a roof rack. So for small persons, who do not want to go with a hitch mounted solution, strap on racks are a considerable alternative.

So are those carriers any good? Well, they have their upsides, as mentioned above, but the upsides have to face a lot of downsides. Probably the most important factor is the risk of scuffing since any of those racks have to touch your car’s paintwork at some point. There also is bike to bike contact which holds the risk of ruining the paintwork of those. To get around that issue you would need to purchase a strap on rack that holds the bicycles separately in individual wheel fittings. Those racks, like the Pendle Strap On Wheel Support Rack for example, are much more expensive (around 200 bucks). For that kind of money you might as well get a roof rack in the first place.

If you neither want a roof, nor a hitch rack and, because of their many downsides, the strap ons are also not an option for you, don’t be frustrated – there is light at the end of the tunnel. More and more manufactures start to produce more sophisticated rear mounted carriers that are now being put on the market. The latest one is the Thule RaceWay 991 / 992. It’s not a strap on, but a clip on carrier. Those are a lot easier to attach to the back of your car, plus the Thule comes with their patented FitDial system which guarantees perfect fit to the back of your car with ease.

The carrier is available in two different versions, either for two (991) or for three bikes (992). It offers a lot of great features, including premium cradles with road dampening technology to secure your bikes to the rack while absorbing road shock. With all that advanced stuff it is not surprising that the carriers aren’t exactly cheap. The two bike version is a mid to high range item, whilst the three bike version is a little more expensive. Rest assured that you will get one of the best rear bike racks currently available in exchange for your money.

Discover The Best Roof Bike Rack Systems

A roof bike rack is an excellent way to carry your bikes. They allow you to carry up to six bikes, dependent on bike weight on the roof of your car. They do require a base rack system though, if your car does not have factory issued roof rack for mounting. Compared to other solutions, like rear bike racks for example, roof racks are often much more expensive if purchased for multiple bikes. There are multiple manufactures available on the market, like Thule roof bike racks, Yakima roof bike racks or Japan’s market leader Inno bike racks. In addition to that three different options (fork holders, frame holders, wheel holders) to choose from. This article will outline the different systems as well as their advantages and disadvantages in order to help you find the best bike roof rack system.

One of their main benefits is that those carriers are often sold as separate components, allowing you to start with 1 or 2 bikes and then scale up if needed. So the price will vary, depending on how many bicycles you need to fit to your cars roof. Another major benefit that none of the other solutions offer is the versatility of roof racks. If you want to carry other stuff like skis, ski-boxes, kayaks, etc. besides your bikes those systems are really the only option you got.

A downside of those carriers is, that the bikes are on your roof wide out in the open. They are completely exposed to everything that is in the air and crosses their way, like insects, highway debris and so on. After a long drive there usually is some cleanup work required to make your bikes shine again. Another thing you should consider is that you are dragging quite some stuff through the air. That surely messes with your cars aerodynamics and can result in a lower gas mileage and, as if that wasn’t enough already, in some cases in an annoying noise increase. If increased noise is a problem for you can attach a fairing to your rack. That should bring the noise down a bit. Before deciding to go with a system like this you should also consider that the bicycles need to get onto the roof somehow. Sadly they don’t get there on their own (yet), meaning somebody has to put them there. If you are a rather small person with a rather big car and a pretty heavy bike those carriers are probably not the best choice for you. If you are the kind of person that likes to switch cars often then roof racks are probably not for you either. Compatibility between different cars is often a no-go. Some systems can be interchanged between certain makes and models but it often a quite a bit of work and nothing you want to do too often. Last but not least, if you are a forgetful kind of person those systems have the potential to become your worst nightmare. A low bridge, a parking deck, a drive through or your garage – all potential crash sites if you forget that you got something on your roof.

With That Being Said Let Us Do A Quick Recap Of The Pros And Cons Of Roof Bike Racks:


  • Capacity, up to six bikes
  • Sold in separate components
  • Cheap if you only need to carry one or two bikes
  • Easily scalable
  • Can carry other stuff besides bicycles


  • Bike are completely exposed on your car’s roof
  • Can be disadvantageous in terms of aerodynamics, noise and mileage
  • Hard to use for smaller persons and/or with big cars and heavy bikes
  • Poor compatibility between different makes and models
  • Risk of potential accidents

Now that we have learned about the up- and downsides, let us take a closer look at the different types of carriers that are available on the market in order to discover the best bike roof rack system for you.

Fork Mounted Racks, Or Fork Holders:

Fork Mounted Roof Rack
When using a system like that you have to remove the front wheel because the rack will be fixed on the bike’s front-fork. Those carriers hold the bike securely and are easily lockable. Mounting the bike on the roof is also easier since there is no front wheel as thus less weight to lift up. The downside is of course that you have to remove and reattach the front wheel each time you go for a ride. This is truly painful if your bike has a thru axle. Another point to consider is that you need space to store the front wheels for up to 6 bikes in your car. Depending on your make and model there might not be much room left for anything else then. If you want to go with a fork holder the Yakima roof bike rack “ForkLift” is a good choice in terms of both, quality and pricing.

Frame Holders, Or Wheels On Rack:

Frame Holder Roof
Those systems usually hold your bikes by the down tube and in addition both wheels are tied down too. No need to remove a wheel here. They basically all have the same geometry but some hold awkward-shaped frames butter than others. For example the Thule roof bike rack “ProRide 591” is capable of holding oval tube frames to 80mm x 100mm and round tubes from 22mm to 80mm. It is considered to be one (if not the) best roof mounting bicycle carrier on the market.

Tire Holders:

Tire Holder Roof Rack
Those carriers hold your bike down very firmly by the front and the back wheel. No need to remove wheels for transport. This kind of rack is especially desirable if you have a high end bike with a full carbon frame. You probably neither want those to be held down by a fork, nor a frame holder so the tire holder will quickly become your best friend. Tire holders are also the best option for bikes with non-standard shaped frames that won’t fit any of the frame holders on the market. One thing to keep in mind though is that these systems usually do not work for wheels smaller than 20”. When looking to buy to tire holder the Inno bike rack “INA388” is an excellent choice.