Best Bike Racks – 2021 Complete Guide

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Whether you are a speedy road cyclist or you prefer hitting the trails on a rugged mountain bike, one of the best ways to take your hobby to the next level is to pack the bike up and drive out to a new area.

Investing in a quality bike rack is one of the most convenient ways to take your bike to new trails and paths.

Our Top Picks for Best Bike Racks

  • 22in Carry arms
  • Simple installation
  • 4 Bicycles
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  • 1.25in/2in Hitch vehicles
  • Tilt down feature
  • Protection pad
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  • Best for the Money
  • No frame contact
  • 20-29in Tire bikes
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Comparison of the Best Bike Racks

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Secure 22-inch long carry arms
  • Installation in less than 5 minutes
  • Carries up to 4 bicycles
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  • Suitable with 1.25in and 2in hitch vehicles
  • Tilt down feature for simple bike access
  • Protection pad for enhanced security
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  • Best for the Money
  • Doesn't touch the bike frame
  • Carries bikes with 20-29 inch tires
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  • Best Hitch Bike Rack
  • Anti-wobble device for added stability
  • Accommodates bikes with frames up to 23 inches
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  • Best Bike Rack For Suv
  • Smart design with flat-fold storage/simple access
  • Features a Yakima bottle opener
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  • Best Trunk Bike Rack
  • Jumbo car pads for enhanced load capacity
  • Extra protected with dual compound and quick snap
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  • Best 4 Bike Hitch Rack
  • Ratcheting cradle strap for simple attaching
  • Reliable cable lock to keep bikes safe
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  • Best Bike Rack For Car
  • Sturdy and rust-free hitch rack legs/arms
  • Separates the bikes on multiple levels
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  • Best Platform Bike Rack
  • Highlighted by a load capacity of 120 lbs
  • Frame-free ratcheting arm for optimal security
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  • Best Roof Bike Rack
  • Elegant and lightweight design for carrying a bike
  • Simple locking feature for keeping bikes in place
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What Makes a Great Bike Rack?

Several factors separate average bike racks from the best. Keep an eye out for the following features:

Built-in Locking Mechanisms

The best bike racks protect your bikes, rather than simply carry them. Built-in bike locks and hitch locks are helpful features. You should keep an eye out for bike racks that come packaged with key locks.

Padding

Look for bike racks that use durable padding to create a cushioned barrier between the rack and bikes, as well as the rack and your vehicle. This padding will protect your bikes and your vehicle from damage during transportation.

Anti-Sway Stability Features

Great bike racks are designed for stability. They protect your bikes by keeping them stable in all driving conditions. Look for bike racks that grip the bikes individually and securely connect to the vehicle. 

Bike racks that have strong securing points will be much less likely to sway and shake as you drive. Just make sure that you are choosing a bike rack that will not damage the paint on your vehicle.

Quick Take  - Best Bike Racks

Before you get any further, here are our recommendations for the best bike racks:

  1. Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Rack
  2. Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe
  3. Kuat Transfer 2 Bike Rack

Review of the Best Bike Racks

To help you better understand your options and find the right bike rack for your needs, we will be reviewing ten of the best bike racks available in 2020.

Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks for 2 in. Hitch

PROS

  • Quick and simple installation
  • Fits any vehicle with a 2-inch trailer hitch
  • Tilt-away main mast for easy trunk access
  • Accommodates anywhere from one to four bikes at a time
  • Folding carry arms for a smaller profile when bikes are not attached

CONS

  • No locking mechanism for the bikes, only the hitch
  • Bikes are held close together, which can lead to scratching 

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers enjoy this bike rack's simple design. They found it easy to attach and remove bikes from the bike rack and found they held securely. While some found that attaching four bikes at a time was frustrating because the pedals and handlebars interfered with one another, others were less bothered by this issue.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We chose this product as our best overall pick is because it just does everything well. While there are more expensive bike racks out there that feature locking mechanisms and other useful features, this bike rack accomplishes all of the basics and is a very reasonable price.

We liked that the entire rack can be folded and tilted away, which helps when you are driving around without bikes attached to it. 

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a reliable and convenient way to transport several bikes at a time, this affordable and practical four-bike hitch rack from Allen Sports is an excellent choice.

Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe 4-Bike Carrier Rack Compatible with Both 1-1/4'' and 2'' Hitch Receiver | with Hitch Pin Lock & Cable Lock | Soft Cushion Protector

PROS

  • Easily installs in minutes
  • Limited lifetime warranty 
  • Features a cable lock and hitch lock for added security
  • Accommodates anywhere from one to four bikes at a time
  • Tilt-down feature makes it possible to access liftgate trunks

CONS

  • Bike cradles made of plastic
  • Only tilts downwards, rather than sideways, which does not work with all truck types

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers are impressed with the level of performance they get from this bike rack, especially given it is noticeably less expensive than similar products offered by the more well-known brands. Many buyers found the durable and reliable construction was a major plus, while others enjoyed the secure locking mechanisms.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This bike rack stood out to us because it holds bikes securely. The fact that the cradles have more than one strap for each bike and that the bike rack itself anchors with an extra safety strap means that this bike rack will remain secure and stable as you drive. We also liked the dual locking mechanisms, which make sure that bikes and the hitch cannot be removed without first being unlocked.

Bottom Line

This is a well-built bike rack that can accommodate up to four bikes at a time. If you want something reliable and easy to install, you should seriously consider this classic hitch-style rack from Tyger Auto.

Best for the Money:
Kuat Transfer 2 Bike Rack

Kuat Transfer - 2 Bike Rack - Gun Metal Gray

PROS

  • Sleek appearance
  • Straightforward installation 
  • Fits both 1.25-inch and 2-inch receivers
  • Does not make contact with bike frames, which reduces potential scratching
  • Spring-loaded foot pedal lowers the rack to make loading and unloading easier

CONS

  • Does not come with a hitch lock
  • Front-wheel platforms have a slight wobble

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed by the overall build quality of this bike rack. They also really liked the glossy black and matte gunmetal finishes, which give the bike rack a sleek and attractive look. While some were disappointed that it did not come with a hitch lock, others did not find that to be a major issue.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The thing that stood out to us the most about this bike rack was the unique foot pedal release, which leans the entire bike rack forward, making loading and unloading bikes much easier. It is also helpful in situations where you need access to the trunk while you have bikes attached to the rack. 

We also liked the small profile of this bike rack, which makes it much easier to reverse park without having to worry about damaging the bikes or anything behind them.

Bottom Line

Kuat has created an innovative bike rack, which securely and conveniently holds one or two bikes behind your vehicle. If you are looking for a rock-solid bike rack that holds your bikes securely and reliably, this could be just what you need.

Best Hitch Bike Rack:
Swagman XC2

Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack

PROS

  • Easily assembled and installed
  • Fits anything from 20 to 29-inch bike tires
  • Rack folds easily into a compact package when not in use
  • Upright ratchet arms are easily adjusted to accommodate various bike sizes
  • Built-in anti-wobble device keeps hitch mount stable and prevents bikes from shaking

CONS

  • Poorly written instruction manual
  • Only holds a maximum of two bikes at a time

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed by how lightweight and discreet this bike rack is. They also found the construction well, but many found that the low quality of the instruction manual made installation more complicated than it needed to be. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason why this bike rack stood out to us is that it finds the perfect balance between affordability and quality. Even though this is one of the most affordable hitch-style bike racks on our list, it still performs well. 

We also really liked how compact and discreet this bike rack is when folded. This feature is ideal for those that want to be able to keep the bike rack on their vehicle, even when they have no intention of transporting any bikes.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a hitch bike rack that is not going to break the bank, this compact and simplistic hooped bike rack from Swagman could be perfect for you. While it only holds two bikes at a time, it is easy to use and works well.

Best Bike Rack For Suv:
Yakima RidgeBack

YAKIMA, RidgeBack Tilt-Away Hitch Bike Rack

PROS

  • Easy, tool-free installation
  • Removable Zip Strips add extra security and stability 
  • Entire rack folds flat for easy storage when it is not in use
  • Built-in bottle opener for camping trips and end of ride celebrations
  • Upper hand lever can tilt the rack downwards for easier access to SUV lift gates

CONS

  • Cramped when carrying four bikes at a time
  • Simplistic instructions that rely almost exclusively on images

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers liked the tilt lever, which they found made it much easier to access the trunk, especially SUVs with a lift gate. Many like that this product carries as many as four bikes, but they found that it became cramped with a full load.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason why this bike rack stood out to us is that it works with an SUV. Given how many SUV drivers also enjoy cycling, it is nice to know that there is an affordable bike rack out there that makes it easy to access an SUV trunk, even with bikes attached.

We also liked the overall aesthetic of this bike rack, which makes it look much more expensive than it is. While Yakima does offer a two-bike version of this tilt-away bike rack, we found the four bike rack was perfect for families.

Bottom Line

This is a great hitch bike rack to use if you plan on transporting your bikes with an SUV. The hitch mounting system works with 1¼ and 2-inch hitch receivers, so you should have no problem attaching it to your SUV.

Best Trunk Bike Rack:
Allen Sports Premier

PREMIER TRUNK MOUNTED BIKE RACK

PROS

  • Affordable price
  • Accommodates up to two bikes at a time
  • Unique design fits sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and SUVs
  • Patented Sure Strap restraints keep the hooks in place at all times
  • Extra-large padding distributes the weight of the rack and bikes to prevent damage to the vehicle

CONS

  • Can block the rear license plate on some vehicles
  • Unless installed carefully, it can scratch the surface of the vehicle

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed with how secure and tight the fit was with this trunk-mounted bike rack. While there were concerns about the bike rack scratching certain vehicle types, most users were able to rectify this problem by placing a buffer between the attachment hooks and the painted surface of their vehicle.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason why this bike rack stood out to us was its ability to securely cradle bikes. It uses durable, UV resistant rubber cradle straps to make sure that the bikes are securely held in place, no matter how large they are. This feature is impressive for a trunk-mounted bike rack, given that they usually struggle with stability.

We also liked the efforts Allen Sports took to prevent this rack from scratching vehicles, which is always a risk with any trunk-mounted bike rack.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for an affordable bike transportation solution and also want the ability to transfer your new bike rack from one vehicle to another, this versatile, trunk-mounted bike rack is a great option.

Best 4 Bike Hitch Rack:
Thule Apex XT

Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack

PROS

  • Anti-sway cradles keep bikes secure
  • Integrated cable lock for extra security
  • Fits a wide variety of bike styles and sizes
  • Swing-away design for easy access to the trunk
  • Unique hanging design comfortably accommodates four bikes at a time

CONS

  • Fairly expensive
  • Bike securing straps are stiff and difficult to use

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers enjoyed how easily they could attach this bike rack to their vehicle’s rear hitch. They also found the swing-away mechanism made it easy to access their trunk, without negatively impacting stability.

They also really appreciated the integrated bike lock, which is helpful for those with theft concerns.

Why it Stands Out to Us

As with most Thule products, this bike rack is well built. It also features an eye-catching hanging design, which suspends the bikes behind your vehicle.

We also really liked how stable the hold is with this rack. With a suspended bike hold, you sometimes worry that the bikes will sway, especially as the vehicle rounds corners. However, with this bike rack, we found the bikes were completely stable at all times.

Bottom Line

If you are willing to invest a little bit extra into your bike rack and you are looking for something that can accommodate four bikes at a time, this is the perfect bike rack for your needs.

Best Bike Rack For Car:
Saris Bones Trunk Bike Rack

Saris Bones EX Trunk Bike Rack Carrier, Mount 2 Bikes, Black

PROS

  • Corrosion-resistant finish
  • Durable injection-molded arms for added durability
  • Designed for compatibility with a wide variety of different vehicles
  • Arched design holds bikes at different levels to prevent scratching
  • Unique Dog Leg design fits over spoilers, including those found on most sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs

CONS

  • No locking mechanism 
  • Does not fit large wheeled mountain bikes very well

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed by the sturdiness of this bike rack. They found that the extra straps and heavy-duty materials used in its construction gave it a solid feel that they felt confident using. While some users found it was difficult to mount two large mountain bikes, those with smaller bikes, or those only mounting a single mountain bike, did not encounter any issues.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The thing we like most about this bike rack is its unique arched design, which makes it perfectly suitable for use with a car. Most of the bike racks you will find seem specifically designed to work with the much larger surface area of SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. Luckily, this bike rack works flawlessly with sedans and hatchbacks.

We also really appreciate how easy it is to load and unload this bike rack.

Bottom Line

If you own a sedan or hatchback and you are looking for a reliable bike rack for your car, you might want to consider this uniquely designed bike carrier from Saris. 

Best Platform Bike Rack:
Thule T2 Pro XT

Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack

PROS

  • Tilts downwards for easier trunk access
  • Built-in locking mechanism protects each bike
  • Tool-free attachment makes it easy to install and remove
  • Folds up for a much more compact profile when it is not in use
  • Accommodates larger bikes, even those with 5-inch fat bike tires or more

CONS

  • High price
  • No locking pin for the hitch mount

What Recent Buyers Report

One of the things recent buyers were most impressed with is how easy it is to install and remove this bike rack. Since most platform bike racks are heavy and difficult to install, the quick, tool-free attachment and removal impressed many users. Users also appreciated the built-in locks but found the rack could have used a hitch lock.

Why it Stands Out to Us

As we have mentioned with the other Thule bike racks on this list, we have high expectations when it comes to Thule products. Fortunately, this platform bike rack also lives up to those expectations.

We liked the AutoAttach knob, which makes installation and removal quick and frustration-free. The hidden hitch lever is also a great feature, especially for those that want an easy way to access their trunk while they carry bikes.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a compact, well-built, and easily installed platform bike rack, you really cannot go wrong with the Thule T2 Pro XT. While it is fairly expensive, you get a quality product for the price.

Best Roof Bike Rack:
Swagman Upright Bike Rack

Swagman UPRIGHT Roof Mount Bike Rack

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Made from durable plastics and steel
  • Straightforward assembly and installation
  • Accommodates a wide variety of bike sizes
  • Minimalistic and sleek design weighs very little and looks great

CONS

  • Very noisy when driving at high speeds
  • Does not fit large 29-inch mountain bike tires

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers think this product is impressive, especially with its low price. While there are sturdier roof bike racks out there, most of them are much more difficult to install and cost significantly more. Many users were also really impressed by the customer service offered by Swagman.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The first thing we noticed about this bike rack was how affordable it is. More often than not, you would expect to pay at least four times the price for a roof-mounted bike rack, yet we found that it performed just as well as its more expensive competition.

We also liked that this rack has a locking feature and room for additional tie-down straps. The sleek design is also great, especially for those that only plan on occasionally carrying bikes and do not want an overly prominent bike rack on their roof.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a low-cost, roof-mounted bike rack, you really cannot beat the affordability and performance you get with this Swagman bike rack. It works great and costs significantly less than other roof bike racks you will find.

What is a Bike Rack? 

A bike rack is any device that attaches to an automobile to hold and transport one or more bicycles. Bike racks come in all sorts of designs and configurations.

They are useful for cycling enthusiasts who enjoy exploring new places on their bikes and for families that love bringing their bikes with them on family road trips. Competitive cyclists will also use a bike rack to transport their bikes to race starting points and remote trailheads.

No matter which style of bike rack you choose, the aim is always to transport bikes in a safe, convenient, and secure way.

How Does a Bike Rack Work? 

As mentioned above, bike racks come in a variety of styles. Some attach to the hitch and extend outwards with clips and cradles to hold the bikes behind the vehicle. These hold the bikes hanging behind the vehicle, or they feature a platform on which to secure the bikes.

There are roof racks that hold bikes upright on top of the vehicle’s roof. Often, these will attach to the tires of the bikes, or the bikes will clip directly into the rack with their forks.

Then there are specialized bike racks that work with specific types of vehicles, such as truck bed bike racks and rear tire mounted bike mounts.

Can Any Bike Rack Fit Any Car?

Unfortunately, most bike racks do not work with every type of vehicle. While there are certain types of bike racks, such as hitch-mounted racks, which are compatible with any vehicle that has a rear hitch, most work with specific makes and models.

The different designs are why you must make sure a bike rack is compatible with your specific vehicle before you purchase it. While you can find a bike rack that will work with just about every type of vehicle out there, there are plenty of limits when it comes to cross-compatibility.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Bike racks come in all shapes and sizes, so it is important to consider a few factors before you choose one.

Bike Capacity

Before you choose a bike rack, you need to decide how many bikes you plan on transporting. Some bike racks can hold multiple bikes, while others can only accommodate a single bike, so you must find one that fits your particular needs.

Installation and Removal

Some bike racks use a quick, tool-free installation. If you plan on attaching and removing the bike rack regularly, it might be worth keeping an eye out for a bike rack that installs and removes quickly and easily.

Build Quality

As you would before purchasing any automotive accessory, you must look for a bike rack that is well made and designed to last. Keep an eye out corrosion resistant coatings and durable build materials.

Security Features

Given how expensive bikes can be, you will want to look for a bike rack that has built-in security features. Locking mechanisms that protect individual bikes and hitch locks will help protect your bikes while transported. Remember, you can always add a cable lock for more protection.

Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Rack

Bike Rack Types

As you can see from our list, there are a wide variety of bike racks out there. Some of the most popular types are as follows:

Hitch Mounted Racks

Hitch racks connect to the receiver hitch at the rear of your vehicle. They are known for their strength and stability. They also tend to have more features than you get with some of the smaller bike rack varieties. 

Strap Mounted Trunk Racks

Strap racks tend to be amongst the most affordable bike racks. They are designed for vehicles that lack roof racks and hitch receivers. They connect to the rear of the vehicle by using a mixture of padded securing points and straps. They are perfect for occasional use.

Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe

Roof Mounted Racks

These bike racks hold bikes in an upright position on the roof of the vehicle. They offer a safe and secure hold, but they can be a bit of a hassle to load and unload, which is why they work best for bringing bikes on a long road trip, rather than for those that want to transport bikes regularly.

Bike Rack Comparison Overview

Platform vs Hanging Bike Rack

Platform bikes allow the bikes to stand on their tires. They are easier to load and can accommodate a wide variety of bike styles and sizes.

On the other hand, hanging bike racks are usually much lighter and grab the bikes by their frames. While they can provide a secure hold, they can be challenging to load.

Fork Mount vs Upright Bike Rack

Fork mount bike racks grip the bikes by their fork clips. They provide an extremely dependable hold, but they also require the user to remove the front tire from each bike, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Upright bike racks allow the user to keep the tires on their bikes. While this makes loading and unloading much easier, the hold is often less secure, and the bikes are more susceptible to sway as the vehicle drives.

Thule vs Yakima Bike Rack

Both Thule and Yakima offer a wide variety of high-quality bike racks. While Thule tends to offer superior style and much more innovative designs, Yakima bike racks are typically less expensive. For most people, the decision comes down to personal preference.

How to Install a Bike Rack

The way you install a bike rack will depend on the particular type of bike rack you have purchased. 

If you are installing a hitch-mounted bike rack, you should follow these steps:

1. Slide the bike rack arm into the hitch mount. Make sure you have lined up the hole in the receiver with the hole in the hitch mount.

2. Connect the hitch bolt. Remember to use a lock washer to make sure the bolt is secure.

3. Screw the bolt all the way in and then tighten it with a wrench to prevent sway and vibration.

4. Insert the pin into the bolt and lock the bike rack into place.

While the installation process will vary for each type of bike lock, you can usually find detailed assembly and installation instructions packaged with the rack. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure your vehicle is compatible with that particular rack before you install it.

How to Use a Bike Rack

The way you load bikes on a bike rack will depend on the particular type of bike rack you have purchased and the number of bikes you plan on carrying with it. However, to demonstrate how easy it is to use a bike rack, we have broken down the steps you would take to load bikes on the bike rack that we chose as our best for 2020 – the Allen Sports 4 Bike Hitch Rack.

1. Securely attach the rack to your hitch mount.

2. Full extend the grab arm outwards and hold the first bike level with the tie-down cradle closest to the vehicle. 

3. Secure the bike by pulling the tie-down straps as tight as possible around the top frame tube of the bike.

4. Repeat the process outwards until you have attached the desired number of bikes. Once you attach the bikes, you can choose to loop a standard cable lock through their frames for added security.

Removing bikes from a hanging bike rack is just as straightforward as loading them. Simply support the bike so it will not fall and loosen the straps until the bike is free. Lower the bike to the ground and repeat the process until you unload all the bikes.

Conclusion

The type of bike rack you choose will depend on a wide variety of factors. Just be sure to take your own needs and personal preferences into consideration when you choose a new bike rack. The ten bike racks we reviewed above were all chosen because they find the perfect balance between quality and affordability, so be sure to look them over.

People Also Ask

We know it’s not always easy choosing the right bike rack. If you still have questions, we’re here to help. Here are some of the most common things people wonder about when choosing a bike rack.

How to Mount a Women’s Bike on Bike Rack

Mounting a women’s bike on a bike rack follows the same process as mounting a men’s bike. The only thing to remember is that women’s bikes usually have smaller frames, so make sure that you are fully tightening any straps or clamps.

What Bike Rack Fits My Car?

The type of rack that will fit your car will depend on the make and model. Most bike rack manufacturers explicitly list the vehicles that are compatible with their bike rack, so just be sure to read over the manufacturer’s compatibility list before you purchase a new rack.

How to Put a Bike on a Bike Rack

Loading a bike on a bike rack will depend on the type of rack you have. Standing racks simply require you to lift the bike into the slots before securing it. The same goes for roof racks. With hanging racks, you lift the bike into the cradle arms so it can attach to the bike’s frame tubes.

Will the Roof Racks Damage My Car?

Roof bike racks are designed to sit on the roof rails of your vehicle. As long as the bike rack is secured properly, it will not damage your vehicle in any way.

How Many Bikes Can I Fit on a Roof Rack?

Roof racks come in a variety of sizes. While you can purchase roof racks that only accommodate a single bike, others hold up to four bikes at a time.  

Can I Go Through a Car Wash With My Rack on the Car?

Yes, you can go through a carwash with a bike rack attached to the car. Most bike racks fold up, and they have water-resistant coatings. Just make sure that you remove the bikes before you enter the car wash.

How Fast Can You Go With a Bike Rack?

A bike rack will not reduce your speed, so you can drive just as fast as you could before you installed the rack. However, it is worth noting that some bike racks can generate noise and reduce fuel efficiency, especially during high-speed driving.

Can I Open My Trunk With a Bike Rack?

Your ability to open your trunk with the bike rack attached will depend on the particular bike rack you have installed. Many high-quality bike racks, including several on our list, have tilt-away features that allow you to access your trunk, even with bikes attached to the rack.

Do I Need a Hitch For a Bike Rack?

No, you do not need a hitch to have a bike rack. While hitch mounted bike racks are durable and easy to use, several other types do not require the vehicle to have a hitch.  Consider a roof rack or trunk rack if you have no hitch mount.

How Much Are Bike Racks? 

Bike racks vary in price considerably. The cheapest bike racks can cost as little as $50, while the more expensive and larger bike racks tend to cost somewhere in the range of $250 and $700. While price can be an indicator of quality, it is not the only factor you should consider when choosing a new bike rack.