Best Car Bike Racks [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
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Are you planning a vacation and want to take the bikes with you so you can enjoy the trails while away?
Well, we can relate and luckily bike racks are available so we can take our bikes with us easily. But, you may be wondering what exactly to look for in a bike rack, this is where I come in.
It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before buying a bike rack. They should be sturdy and lightweight, as well as secure so your bikes don’t fall off the back while you’re driving.
However, many bike racks that have been designed poorly are flooding the market, this has led to many people reporting issues of their car being scratched so this isn’t just a simple purchase to make.
Hold on though, here’s the good news,
I’ve spent the last 10 hours analyzing every aspect of the best bike racks from weight capacity to whether they can carry two bikes or four bikes. All so you know what the best choice is for you.
And before we start, here’s a tip – If you decide on a roof rack then make sure you create some form of reminder on your garage door that your bikes are on top. Many people forget they have them on there and both their rack and bikes end up in a mangled mess.
Now, if you want something really special that will cradle your bikes safer than you would a newborn baby then take a look at number 1.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
Top Car Bike Racks on the Market
Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
Top Choice Item
Here is my top pick and I know you’re gonna love it as much as I do,
The Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack has a patented design that makes it compatible with hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, and minivans. Moreover, in order to boost lateral stability, it has side straps.
Besides that, it has a single configuration design for easier installation. The lower frame is well padded to protect your bike from the vehicle. You will also find that it has individual tie-downs that keep your bike secure.
It has narrow arms that accommodate bike frames with different styles and sizes. And to sweeten the deal, it comes pre-assembled so you can get straight to riding.
Now, if you’re still not convinced you’ll be reassured by the 16,000 reviews on Amazon and its impressive 4.5-star rating so hurry now and join the club.
Side straps to enhance stability
Secures your bike firmly
Easy to install
Not very sturdy
Latest deal: Deluxe Trunk Mounted Rack
BV Bike Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier for Car Truck SUV
Prime Picked Item
Coming in hot with a lot on offer is the BV hitch mount rack,
The first thing you should note about this rack is that it has a tilt-back design which allows you to open the rear gates even without removing the hitch rack. You will also find that it is easy to fold which makes it easy to store when not in use.
But wait for just a second,
Another awesome feature is the safety reflector which enhances visibility at night. The other incredible feature is the patented 2-way anti-wobble system which prevents wobbling between the hitch and the rack. The padded arms and the tray-styled loops hold the bike firmly on the car.
You absolutely have to check this one out, it’s everything you’ll ever need!
Anti wobble design
Latest deal: BV Bike Hitch Rack
YAKIMA – Ridgeback Tilt-Away Hitch Bike Rack
Best Value Item
If you are searching for the most durable and stable car rack, your search ends with this product.
Unlike others, it features reliable zip strips that secure your bike to the rack not to mention an anti-sway cradle design that prevents bike-to-bike contact.
When it comes to installation, you will find that it takes just 5 minutes or less to install. It also folds flat which makes it easy to store. With this rack, you can attach up to 4 bikes depending on the frame but you may need to buy an extender.
This is a perfect choice for any bike fanatic and you won’t have to worry about your bikes getting damaged.
Easy to use
Easy to install
Latest deal: YAKIMA – Ridgeback Rack
Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack
This one is among the most secure car racks you will ever find.
It provides a spacing of 7 inches between bikes and has an integrated anti-sway which provides excellent bike stability while the integrated cable lock secures the bike firmly to the rack.
You should know by now though that’s not all,
Another awesome thing is that you won’t need any tools to install. When it is not in use, you can easily fold it for safe storage. The ratcheting cradle strap also allows you to attach the bike easily. It’s also worth noting that it allows a load capacity of 150 lbs.
While not everybody’s top choice, this hidden gem has the potential to see the limelight, especially if more and more people see just how good it is. So give it a try.
Provides excellent bike stability
Latest deal: Thule Apex XT Bike Rack
How we did our research
We always take our time when researching different products because we do not want you to spend your money on a non-functional product. Below were our major concerns when selecting the above products.
Protection – You do not need a car rack that will always create scratches on your car. Again, it should not cause any damage to your vehicle. All the four products we have mentioned are top-quality products that won’t have any effect on your vehicle. Some of them have padding which prevents scratches.
Construction – A good car rack should be strong enough to hold your bike firmly on the car. It should also be able to support several bikes. None of the products in this list is made of cheap materials. This also means that all these racks are durable and reliable.
Adaptability– When buying a car rack, you should be aware that not all of them can fit in your car. Some are made for specific models only. We tried to pick only those models that can fit in almost all cars.
Weight– If you are searching for a bike rack that you can use to carry several bikes, then it means that it should be very strong. In most cases, such racks are very heavy which means that it may not be easy to remove them from the vehicle. They are good if you do not plan to remove them frequently.
Reviews– Reviews are the surest way of determining the quality of the product. All the products in this article have very positive reviews which means that they are indeed the best.
Things To Consider When Buying A Bike Rack
There are a number of things that you need to consider before you take the plunge and buy a bike rack. here are some important things to ask yourself so you don’t end up buying the wrong rack.
How many bikes do you need to transport?
There are several types of bike racks, and typically hitch-mounted options are the way to go if you need to transport more than 2 bikes making them ideal for family getaways. You’ll find most roof options will accommodate a single bike, while some trunk-mounted carriers will carry 2 or 3. If you’re needing to carry 4 or even 5 bikes, however, it’s best to do some extra digging for a hitch-mounted rack.
How often do you plan on using it?
If you’re just a casual enthusiast that needs a bike rack once a week, then you may not need something extremely expensive and versatile, you’d just be wasting money and that’s the last thing anybody wants. If you’re planning to use the rack multiple times per week, however, make sure to invest in a product that has a more solid construction so you have that durability that will see you through your years of cycling.
Do you park your vehicle in a garage?
Adding a bike rack to your vehicle will increase its overall length, so if you park in a garage every night, you’ll want to make sure it can accommodate the entire vehicle with the bike rack installed. This is especially prudent with roof-mounted racks as they increase your height. Many people forget they have their bike racks equipped which has resulted in numerous garage-related accidents leaving their bike racks and bikes mangled.
If you park your car outside, how safe is the area?
Leaving a bike on your rack at night while parking your car outside may not be the safest thing to do for obvious reasons. But if you have no other option, you’ll want to make sure your bike rack comes with a safety lock of some sort to deter thieves. the last thing you want is to buy a bike rack and lose your bike the next day.
How heavy is the rack you’re looking at?
Depending on how many bikes you need to transport, you’ll want to keep in mind how heavy the rack is. The heavier the rack, the more difficult it will be to remove it from your vehicle. At the same time, you’ll want a rack that is sturdy and can accommodate all the bikes you plan on transporting. This isn’t as big of a deal if you don’t plan on removing your rack frequently, but it’s something to consider before buying and during the assembly and installation process.
Does your vehicle have a rear-mounted spare tire?
While it isn’t common on most modern vehicles, some do come equipped from the factory with a rear-mounted spare tire. Keep that in mind as it could interfere with hitch-mounted bike racks.
Do you own a specialized bike?
If your bike is on the heavier side, you may not want to use a roof rack to carry it, since this would require a lot of effort to strap it to the roof of your car. Typically, tray-style racks are recommended for heavier bikes.
Types of Car Bike Racks
The most common types of bike racks are tow-mounted bike racks, roof-mounted bike racks, and rear-mounted bike racks. Their only difference is that roof-mounted racks are attached on top of the car while the rear-mounted racks are attached at the back of your vehicle. On the other hand, tow-mounted bikes are attached to the tow bar of your vehicle.
Rear-mounted Bike Racks
The rear-mounted bike rack is a cost-effective option and usually what comes to mind when you think about bike racks. The rear-mounted rack tends to follow a relatively basic design — a metal frame that sits against the back of the car.
Although it’s not all simple, there are some things to be careful of. Not all racks are designed for all cars. Check with the manufacturer’s guidelines to see if the one you’re intending to buy is compatible with your specific vehicle model and production year. Then practice fitting it.
Tighten the straps as much as possible before fitting your bikes and then do it once again after they have been fitted. Use padding between bikes to prevent damage, and then bungee all the bikes together. If you’re still unsure you can check the straps again if you’re concerned the carrier is wobbling excessively while driving, but don’t worry about it too much because they’re always going to wobble. Finally, make sure nothing is obscuring the car lights or number plate.
Benefits of rear-mounted bike racks
- They are sturdy to carry up to 4 bikes
- They are easy to lock
- These racks do not require accessories such as roof bars or a tow bar. As a result, they save you the cost of buying these accessories.
- Another benefit is that they fit easily on different cars.
Tow Mounted Bike Racks
Tow bar or mounted-mounted cycle carriers are great pieces of kit that clamp securely to the car, providing very stable and easy access to your bikes. In some instances, modern tow point-mounted racks have overcome many of their past negatives. For example, although they can be relatively heavy and cumbersome when not in use, some modern tow point-mounted carriers fold for easier storage or have adopted strong yet simple designs.
By far the biggest downside is that you need a tow bar or tow ball and these aren’t cheap, but if your car already has one and an accompanying electrical point for a number plate lighting board — some tow point-mounted racks even come with an integrated lighting board — then they are a superb option and offer possibly the most secure way to transport your bikes.
Benefits of tow mounted racks
- You can use them to carry up to four bikes
- They allow you to use the roof to carry other things
- Allow you to lift the bike easily in the rack. Due to this, they are the best for tall cars.
- Some are easy to tilt to give you access to the boot
Roof-Mounted Car Racks
Roof-mounted cycle carriers clamp on to bars that can be fitted to run laterally across a car’s roof. There are a number of ways roof-mounted cycle carriers can hold a bike in place, but the two most common options use either a pivoting arm that clamps around the bike’s down tube, or a front bar onto which you can attach the fork dropouts once you’ve removed the front wheel.
Although this option may appeal to race fans because it looks like the systems used by teams at the Tour de France, most leisure and family cyclists don’t need this extra hassle as even the least expensive down tube-clamping roof-mounted rack is secure enough to hold a bike securely.
One of the benefits of using roof-mounted carriers is that you can buy and fit up to a maximum of about four depending on car size. To get the most out of it though you will have to top and tail the bikes alternating the way each is pointing to use roof space efficiently and squeeze the most on. Also, you’ll have to be relatively strong and tall to use all roof space.
And as I mentioned earlier don’t forget that your bikes are up there while driving as this can be a costly mistake if you decide to make a pit stop in a multi-story car park. Once the bikes are all securely in place, though, you can enjoy the journey without any of the nervous rearview-mirror glances that come with rear-mounted cycle carriers.
Benefits of roof-mounted car racks
- They hold the bike more securely than the lockable racks
- Allow you to open the boot easily
- You can carry several bikes when using these racks
How to Install a Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
Now, when it comes to any kind of rack it’s worth referring to the included manual however, in case they’re not included or you just want a refined guide, here’s how to install a trunk-mounted rack.
- Ensure your car is clear of debris
- In general, most racks will come with 6 straps, which are used to secure the bike rack to the vehicle
- Firstly, place the bottom part of the rack on the rear bumper, and the upper part of the rack either on the trunk or rear window, depending on your vehicle
- Install and secure the top straps first by pulling the traps into a tight position
- Install and secure the side straps, ensuring every strap is pulled into position once your rack is installed
- Check and re-tighten the straps as necessary semi-regularly
How To Install a Hitch-Mounted Rack
Although they may seem complicated, installing a hitch-mounted rack is fairly straightforward to assemble. Again, it’s highly recommended to follow the supplied instructions, as some racks will be different to install compared to other products.
- Verify that the rack will fit your hitch or receiver
- Use any supplied hardware to mount the bike rack to your hitch or receiver
- There is likely a securing bolt or pin that will be installed to lock the rack into place
- Ensure the rack is tightly fitted so that it’s sturdy and doesn’t wobble
- Install any locking accessories or mechanisms that may have come with your rack
- Check for any clearance issues, and test the rack if it folds or tilts
How To Install a Roof-mounted Rack
If your vehicle came standard with crossbars, installing one of these types of racks is much easier. In some cases, roof-mounted racks will require you to remove the front wheel of your bike but most will be able to accommodate your entire bike depending on its overall size and tire size. If you haven’t worried about having to lift your back onto the roof of your car, these racks are generally affordable and easy to use.
- Typical roof racks will have four installation points: two at the front, two at the rear
- Keep in mind each vehicle is different and the distance between the front and rear installation points can vary
- Clean the area where you plan to mount the rack, you can also install any sort of paint protectant film if you like
- Your rack likely came with rubber pads that will need to be installed on the feet of the crossbars
- Once you mount the rack onto the crossbars, tighten all four clamps
Types of Hitch Bike Rack
Hitch bike racks are probably the most common and best overall racks to use so here’s a little extra info about the different types.
Compared to hanging racks, platform designs are compatible with a much wider range of bike styles, sit lower to the ground for easier access, and are excellent in terms of stability. Most have two attachment points: a ratcheting arm that secures the front wheel, and a strap that holds the rear wheel in place.
This straightforward and effective system makes it easy to load and unload your bike, as well as minimizes any wobble or side-to-side movement while driving. In addition, these racks are the most gentle on bikes because they typically only come in contact with the tire or wheel.
However, this bike rack is not without its downsides. Platform racks are often bulky and usually quite heavy. If you plan on removing your hitch rack with any regularity, you’ll want to pay attention to weight, and many leading options tip the scales at 50 pounds or more. Platform-style hitch racks also are among the most expensive options on the market, with prices sometimes surpassing the $500 mark. Despite this, for serious riders, the added weight and cost are well worth the security and ease of use of this style.
These are fantastic for those who are worried about their bikes or car being damaged during a long journey.
Hanging hitch racks are a popular way to transport road or lightweight bikes without the need to lift them overhead and onto the roof of your vehicle. While not necessarily inexpensive, a quality hanging rack can often be found for half the price of a platform model with the same capacity. Hanging racks are much lighter and more compact, which is a plus for those that plan to remove the rack with some regularity.
However, hanging racks are rarely favored over other types. The reason is simple: they’re unable to accommodate irregularly-shaped bike frames, for example, full-suspension mountain bikes, kids’ bikes, and step-through bikes. This can be countered by purchasing a top tube adapter but this isn’t ideal when other racks offer this without the need for an adapter.
In addition, the bikes are closer together than on a platform rack and are more prone to swaying and coming into contact with one another while driving potentially leading to scratches or other damage on your bikes.
A final drawback of the hanging rack is how it secures bikes to the rack: it holds them in place by rubber or plastic straps that wrap around the frame. Unfortunately, these straps often can lead to scuffing and scraping overtime which for anyone who’s passionate about their bikes is surely a deal-breaker.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are car bike racks worth it?
If you require carrying your bike frequently using a car, there is no doubt that you will need to invest in a car rack. Apart from saving space, they also allow you to carry several bikes in a more convenient manner.
Are car racks expensive?
Car bike racks are available at different prices. When buying, you need to look for a product that is within your budget. Most importantly though, have a look at the reviews and ratings. Customers are the best people to give an honest opinion. Some of the products suggested above are a big hit with customers so you’re in safe hands.
Can bike racks damage your car?
Most of the bike racks especially those we have reviewed comes with a platform that rests on the trunk of your car. They also have padding which prevents scratches. However, if you aren’t careful with what rack you purchase you may end up with a damaged car or bikes.
For example, hanging racks are favored less because the bikes sit closer together which can lead to bikes scratching or getting damaged because they can bump into each other during your journey.
Do I keep on the bike rack when I’m not using it?
This question really comes down to personal preference and how often you plan on needing your bike rack. Most bike racks can be left on your vehicle when not being used, so long as they’re not interfering with your day-to-day activities, such as parking or accessing your trunk or rear cargo area.
Roof racks, however, need a bit more attention, especially if you keep your bike loaded. This affects your vehicle’s aerodynamics and will affect your gas mileage. Increased height also affects driving in general as you may have to plan an alternate route due to the increased height.
If you don’t plan on using your bike rack for an extended period of time, it’s probably more worthwhile uninstalling if it interferes with your daily driving experience. Although Roof racks can generally be left on your vehicle, so long as you don’t have a bike loaded all the time.
Car racks provide the most convenient way of carrying bikes. The good thing about them is that they are easy to mount on your car and are made of strong materials which means that you can use them to carry more than one bike.
And of course, they’re relatively cheap which is one of the biggest incentives to buy anything when it’s high-quality.
My top pick was the ‘Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack’, this rack had everything, side straps for stability, it secures bikes firmly, it’s easy to install, and best of all it’s affordable. This is the go-to bike rack so give it a look yourself before it runs out of stock!
Whichever bike rack you settle on though, make sure you enjoy your cycling experience.
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.