The Best Bike Racks for Your Vehicle

By Jordan Maxwell

February 18, 2021

If you often go riding and don’t currently own a bike rack, there’s a good chance you’ve been frustrated at least once or twice trying to get your bike securely in your vehicle. Even if you own a pickup truck, a bike rack can be a blessing, saving you time and effort so you can focus on the trails ahead. Shopping for the right bike rack can be a daunting task however, and choosing the right one will largely depend on your vehicle and the bike you’re transporting.

In this article, we’ll go over our picks for the best bike racks out there, recommending a wide range of options to accommodate for vehicles and bikes of all sizes. After our picks, you’ll find some advice on features to look for and how to narrow down your pick to the right bike rack for your needs.

1. Editor’s Pick: Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0

ProsCons
  • Folding tire cradle
  • Adjustable ratchet arm
  • Foot-assisted pivot system
  • Lightweight, aluminum design
  • Innovative front tire hook design
  • Hitch locking pin could be better
  • Rack may hang a little low to the ground for some

Key Specs

Brand: Kuat Racks
Model: Sherpa 2.0
Capacity: 2 Bikes
Rack Type: Hitch Mount (1.25” and 2”)
Weight: 14.5 kg

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When it comes to bike racks for your vehicle, one of the main factors you should consider is how user-friendly a certain rack is to use. After all, each rack is designed to transport your bike—the question is, how easy is it to use? To answer that question, we turn to our Editor’s Pick, the Sherpa 2.0 from Kuat Racks.

Constructed entirely from aluminum, this lightweight bike rack features a front tire hook design with an intuitive release and is equipped with a folding tire cradle so you’ll have plenty of clearance. For security, there’s an external cable with a semi-integrated lock so you have peace of mind when stepping away from your bike. A foot-assisted pivot system means you can drop the rack using your foot, which comes in handy when your hands are full with your bike. Lastly, there’s an adjustable ratchet arm you can release and secure with just one hand.

This bike rack accommodates two bikes up to 18.1 kilograms each and holds wheelbases up to 47 inches and tires as large as 3 inches. It’s a hitch-mounted bike rack and you can choose between 1.25 inch and 2 inch, based on your hitch size.

2. Best for Heavy Bikes: Thule EasyFold XT 2

ProsCons
  • Includes locks
  • Smart foot pedal tilt
  • Heavy load capacity
  • Foldable loading ramp
  • Detachable bike arms with torque limiter knobs
  • Built-in carrying handle and wheels for easy transport
  • May not fit e-bikes with fat tires
  • Longer straps are sold separately
  • Ramp can be frustrating to use depending on your bikes

Key Specs

Brand: Thule
Model: EasyFold XT 2
Capacity: 2 Bikes
Rack Type: Hitch Mount (1.25” and 2”)
Weight: 20.4 kg

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Just like cars, bikes vary in size and weight, which means no bike rack really fits all. If you own e-bikes or heavy mountain bikes, you’ll need a rack with heavy load capacity and our recommendation is the EasyFold XT 2 from well-known manufacturer Thule. This rack has a load capacity of almost 59 kilograms and is able to accommodate up to two bikes with maximum tire width of 4.7 inches. It’ll fit 1.25- and 2-inch receivers.

This bike rack has a few standout features, including detachable bike arms equipped with Thule AcuTight torque limiter knobs for a secure fit. A foldable loading ramp is also integrated into the rack for convenient storage, while a smart foot pedal tilt lets you access your trunk, even with the bikes mounted. For security, you can lock your bikes to the rack and the rack to the receiver, and Thule includes locks.

This option is also ideal for car owners who don’t intend to keep their bike rack installed on their vehicle all the time. The rack is fully foldable with a built-in carrying handle and wheels, so you can easily transport it when it’s off your vehicle.

3. Best Rooftop Mount: Yakima HighRoad Upright Bike Mount

ProsCons
  • Simple to use roof rack
  • Requires no wheel removal
  • Doesn’t make contact with bike frame
  • Locks sold separately
  • Only accommodates one bike
  • Not the best solution for heavier bikes or crossover/SUV owners

Key Specs

Brand: Yakima
Model: HighRoad Upright Bike Mount
Capacity: 1 Bike
Rack Type: Rooftop Mount
Weight: 8.2 kg

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Not everyone has a vehicle that can accommodate a hitch-mounted bike rack, and for those, we recommend this rooftop mount from Yakima. The HighRoad Upright Bike Mount is a simple and straightforward solution for those who ride solo, as it only supports one bike up to 20 kilograms. Designed to fit wheels sized 26 inches to 29 inches and tires up to 4 inches, this recommendation will fit most roof racks, although a separate kit is necessary for T-Slot cross bars.

With this rack, you’ll get an adjustment-free hoop with a TorqueRight tightening knob to secure the front wheel, while the rear wheel uses a ZipStrip to make things quick and easy. Although it’s not included, a pair of SKS locks can be added to lock your bike to the mount, and the mount to the base rack. What makes this option a favorite among its owners is that it requires no wheel removal and will make no contact with the bike frame. This is especially important if you’ve got a carbon fiber frame or a custom painted bike.

4. Best for Pickup Trucks: Inno Velo Gripper

ProsCons
  • Extremely simple and efficient solution
  • No drilling or tools required for installation
  • Doesn’t take up much space in your truck bed
  • Can leave it installed even when not being used
  • Each ‘rack’ only accommodates one bike
  • Due to its design, you’ll only be able to carry two bikes with this system (one on each side)

Key Specs

Brand: Inno
Model: Velo Gripper
Capacity: 1 Bike
Rack Type: Truck Bed
Weight: 1.8 kg

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Those who own pickup trucks likely have an easier time transporting their bikes than sedan or coupe owners, but there are bike racks that can make it even easier and more convenient. If you own a pickup truck and often go riding, there are numerous options for truck bed bike racks, but our top choice goes to the Inno Velo Gripper.

This innovative solution takes up very little space in your truck bed, which means you won’t have to constantly disassemble and reassemble it if you need truck bed space. It’s a ‘set it and forget it’ bike rack that is there when you need it, and doesn’t bother you when you don’t.

Before we dive into the features of this truck bed bike rack, it’s worth mentioning that it’s available in two variants. One is designed for standard trucks, while another is for trucks with C-channel track systems—so make sure you’re getting the correct one for your truck. This kit features clamps that go straight onto the frame or the forks of your bike, and since they’re relatively small, they likely won’t interfere with the rest of your truck bed. The included mounts attach to your truck bed side rail and are used to secure your bike’s front fork. In addition, a D-ring is included on both mounts if you want to use tie-down straps.

The beauty of this kit is that no tools or drilling is required to install, giving you a quick and easy solution to transport your bikes in your pickup truck. Unfortunately, each kit only holds one bike and it isn’t designed to link up for additional bikes. If you need to transport two bikes, you’ll need one kit for each side of your truck.

5. Best for Trunk Mount: Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Bike Rack

ProsCons
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Patented individual tie-down system
  • Easy to install, comes fully assembled
  • Affordable and versatile trunk-mounted bike rack
  • Tight fit for two bikes
  • No security features for the rack itself

Key Specs

Brand: Allen Sports
Model: Deluxe
Capacity: 2 Bikes
Rack Type: Trunk Mount
Weight: 4 kg

See Price

Our final recommendation is a trunk-mounted bike rack from Allen Sports. This simple, yet sturdy design accommodates up to two bikes and will fit most vehicle types from sedans to hatchbacks, minivans to SUVs. Due to its simplistic design, it only has a single configuration, but that also makes it easier to install and setup. A patented individual tie-down system is used to keep your bikes protected and secured for your trip. Protecting your vehicle is a padded lower frame, while left and right-side straps add lateral stability.

Designed to fit a wide range of bicycle frame styles and sizes, expect this rack to work on most traditional adult-size bicycles as well as most women’s and children’s bikes. This rack comes fully assembled, so you’ll just have to install it onto your trunk when you’re ready to go riding. It has a two-bike capacity up to about 31.75 kilograms. Best of all, it’s backed by Allen Sports’ lifetime warranty.

How to Choose the Best Bike Rack

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right bike rack for you. First, you need to decide how many bikes you’ll need to transport, which will narrow down your choices based on capacity. From there, you’ll want to determine which type of bike rack you want, whether it’s trunk mounted, hitch mounted, roof mounted or something that will live in your truck bed. Once you’ve settled on the type of bike rack you need, make sure that it’s capable of carrying the weight of your bike(s).

Going through those considerations should narrow down your options, which means you can now dig deeper into each bike rack’s features. How easy is it to secure your bike onto the rack? Do you have to take the front wheel off before mounting the bike? Are you comfortable if the bike rack touches your bike frame? These are all things you need to consider before finalizing your choice. If you don’t plan on using the bike rack that often, make sure you select an option that is easy to install and uninstall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Many bike owners will say a bike rack is a necessity if you often go riding. After all, it shouldn’t be a frustrating process to get your bike into your vehicle for transport. As you can tell, there are plenty of options out there on the market, and hopefully we’ve managed to narrow down your choices to make your purchasing decision easier and more informed. If you still need some convincing, check out these frequently asked questions from our readers.

What are the different types of bike racks?

There are four main categories of bike racks: hitch mounted, trunk mounted, roof mounted and truck bed bike racks. The best one for you largely depends on the type of vehicle you drive and what’s most convenient for you.

Do I need a trailer hitch for a bike rack?

If you’re planning to transport an e-bike, or multiple e-bikes, you’ll want a heavy duty bike rack that can accommodate the extra weight. Always check the weight capacity of a bike rack before purchasing one.

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