Best Bike Racks For Subaru Outback – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: July 8, 2021

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Subaru designs its all-wheel-drive vehicles for adventurous people. As such, the Subaru Outback SUVs tend to attract outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom enjoy cycling.

If you are one of the many Subaru Outback owners that would enjoy using your vehicle to transport bikes to remote trails, you should consider investing in a high-quality bike rack. 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Very easy to assemble and install
  • Made from strong metal to be durable
  • Will transport up to 2 bikes at a time
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  • Tilts back to provide easy entrance
  • Easily carry up to 75 pounds
  • Safety reflector included for improved visibility
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  • Best for the Money
  • Will easily carry different types of bikes
  • Very easy tool-free installation option
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  • Best Thule Bike Rack For Subaru Outback
  • Hold up to 3 bikes at a time
  • Made with a lightweight aluminum design
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  • Best Subaru Outback Hitch Bike Rack
  • Soft rubber added to prevent scratching of paint
  • Anti-sway cradles included for better balancing
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What Makes a Bike Rack Great for a Subaru? 

While there are countless bike racks out there, some are better suited for use with a Subaru than others. To find the best bike rack for your vehicle, consider the following factors:

Durability

As mentioned, Subaru designs its vehicles for those that love the outdoors, which is why they usually have all-wheel-drive capabilities and a rugged exterior. Since your bike rack will attach to your adventure vehicle, you want to make sure that it can withstand the same harsh driving conditions. Choose a well-made bike rack constructed from durable materials.

Compatibility

Make sure that the bike rack you choose is designed to work with the Subaru Outback. Some bike racks only work with particular makes and models, so you must make sure the one you choose is compatible with a Subaru Outback.

Capacity 

Many people choose the Subaru Outback because it is a family-friendly vehicle. If you plan on transporting multiple bikes at a time, make sure that the bike rack you choose has the correct bike capacity. While some bikes only hold one or two bikes at a time, others can carry as many as six bikes at a time.  

Review of the Best Bike Racks For Subaru Outback 

To help you find the perfect bike rack for your vehicle, we have provided reviews of several of the best Subaru Outback bike racks available.

Best Overall:
Swagman XTC2

Swagman XTC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack

PROS

  • Easy assembly and quick installation 
  • Easy to load and unload bikes from the rack
  • Works with a wide variety of bike types and sizes
  • Folds down to a compact size for more convenient storage
  • Ratchet locks protect bikes and a locking hitch pin keeps the rack fixed to the vehicle

CONS

  • Only holds a maximum of two bikes at a time
  • Needs to be tightened frequently to avoid bouncing and swaying

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed with how durable this bike rack is. They found that it is well built and engineered for stability in all types of driving conditions. While most found that the bike rack is generally very stable, they also report that it needs tightening before each trip.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Swagman bike rack is our top pick for the best overall Subaru Outback rack because it holds bikes securely. The ratchet locks and the cradle configuration ensure that your bikes remain stable, even when you are traversing along uneven and winding roads.

We also really liked that this rack folds down into a discreet package when it is not in use. Some hitch racks are bulky, which makes storage far more difficult than it needs to be.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a durable and stable bike rack for your Subaru Outback, this durably constructed hitch rack from Swagman is the perfect product for your needs.

Runner-up:
BV 2-Bike Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack

BV 2-Bike Bicycle Hitch Mount Rack Carrier for Car Truck SUV - Tray Style Smart Tilting Design (2-Bike Carrier)

PROS

  • Folding design for more convenient storage
  • Safety reflectors for improved visibility at night
  • Tilts backward to allow easier access to the trunk
  • Two-way anti-wobble system prevents swaying and vibration 
  • Tray loops and padded cradle arms protect bikes and ensure stability

CONS

  • Does not work with fat bike tires
  • Fairly heavy, which makes installation difficult for a single person

What Recent Buyers Report

The main thing recent buyers like about this bike rack is its unique tilt-away function that enables users to access their truck, even when the rack is fully loaded with bikes. They also liked that it remained stable during all driving conditions.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked that this bike rack featured a tilt away function, something that is usually reserved for more expensive hitch bike racks. This feature is helpful for SUVs, like the Subaru Outback, because they have a rear liftgate.

We also found that the anti-wobble system is helpful, especially for those who plan on taking their bikes to remote trailheads that involve driving over unpaved roads. 

Bottom Line

This bike rack is an affordable and durable hitch-mounted bike rack perfectly suited for use with the Subaru Outback. If you are looking for a hitch mount that can carry two bikes at once, this BV rack is well worth considering.

Best for the Money:
Yakima HighRoad Upright Bike Carrier

YAKIMA - HighRoad Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks, 1 Bike Capacity

PROS

  • Does not interfere with trunk hatch
  • Fits a wide variety of bike sizes and styles
  • Do not have to remove bike tires to use the rack
  • Low profile design reduces noise and wind resistance 
  • Integrated ‘TorqueRight’ tightening knob makes it easy to secure bikes to the rack

CONS

  • The bike rack’s paint is susceptible to scratching
  • Front tire bars are not secure when there is no bike loaded in the rack

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers enjoyed the straightforward installation, which took only a matter of minutes to mount on their existing roof racks. While some found the bike racks were a little bit bulky, they did enjoy the low profile and sleek styling. Most were also relieved to discover the bike racks come with an integrated cable lock, which securely attached the bikes to the bike rack and reduces the potential for theft when the bike rack is left unattended.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The thing we liked the most about the Yakima HighRoad rack is the sleek design and low profile. Whereas some roof-mounted bike racks can look a bit awkward and overly bulky, these racks almost sit flush with the rails. In addition to looking better, this lower profile also helps reduce noise and wind resistance, which can be a serious issue with some roof-mounted bike racks.

Bottom Line

The Yakima HighRoad bike racks have a low profile and integrated locking mechanism. They are available at a low price and have exceptional compatibility with the Subaru Outback.

Best Thule Bike Rack For Subaru Outback:
Thule Helium Pro Hitch

Thule Helium Pro Hitch Bike Rack

PROS

  • Integrated locking cable
  • Fits 1.25 and 2-inch hitch receivers
  • Impressive 7-inch gap between bikes prevents scratching
  • Lightweight design makes installation and removal easier
  • Anti-sway cradles make sure the rack remains stable in all driving conditions

CONS

  • Poorly written instruction manual
  • Fairly expensive compared to other hitch racks

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were generally impressed by the lack of wobbling and vibration they experienced after installing this bike rack. Despite its lightweight design, they found this rack remains incredibly stable during use, as do the bikes attached to it. They also appreciated the integrated locking cable and the hitch locking pin, which helped users feel like their bikes were safe at all times.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason this particular Thule bike rack stood out to us is its lightweight design. The bike rack of the Helium Pro is because it is constructed out of lightweight aluminum and has a total weight of less than 20 pounds. Given that most steel hitch bike racks usually weigh in at twice the weight of the Helium Pro, it is impressive that it is still capable of carrying three bikes stably.

It also comes packed with plenty of other noteworthy features, such as the integrated cable and hitch locks, as well as industry-leading bike spacing. 

Bottom Line

You can usually expect a high-quality product when you purchase from Thule, and this lightweight hitch mounted bike rack is no exception. If you don’t mind spending a little extra, this is the perfect bike rack for the Subaru Outback.

Best Subaru Outback Hitch Bike Rack:
Hollywood Racks Traveler Hitch Rack

Hollywood Racks Traveler Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

PROS

  • Holds up to four bikes at a time
  • Tilts away for easier trunk access
  • Fits both 1.25 and 2-inch hitch receivers
  • Soft rubber anti-sway bike cradles ensure a firm and stable hold
  • Foldable arms for a more discreet profile when not loaded with bikes

CONS

  • No built-in locking mechanism
  • Difficult to load bikes with smaller frames, such as women’s and children’s bikes

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were impressed with the overall build quality of this hitch-mounted bike rack. Given its relatively low price, buyers thought the corrosion-resistant powder-coated finish and sturdy steel construction were nice touches. Most had no trouble loading their bikes and experienced secure holds and a reasonable degree of stability. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This hitch-mounted bike rack stood out to us because it finds a balance between performance and price. Whereas some of the better-known brands, like Thule and Yakima, offer more stability, they are considerably more expensive. This product is the perfect hitch mounted bike rack for those on a budget or planning to transport cheaper bikes. That is not to say that this rack will damage your bikes. Its soft rubber anti-sway cradles offer a very reasonable amount of protection.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is an excellent choice for the budget-minded Outback owner that would like a convenient way to transport up to four bikes at a time. Given its reasonable price, it exceeded our expectations for quality and performance.

Best Bike Roof Rack For Subaru Outback:
Genuine Subaru SOA567B020 Thule Bike Carrier

Genuine Subaru SOA567B020 Thule Bike Carrier - Roof, 1 Pack

PROS

  • Bike tire clamps are easy to use
  • Secure hold that will not wobble or vibrate
  • Manufactured from high-quality components
  • Designed specifically for compatibility with Subaru vehicles 
  • Fits perfectly with factory Subaru crossbars, so installation is easy

CONS

  • Fairly expensive

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers found that the installation was quick and easy. They found that this bike rack sits perfectly on their existing roof racks, partially because they were designed to work with Subaru crossbars. Overall, most were impressed with how stable their bikes sat on these racks and felt they were the perfect choice for any Subaru owner looking to transport bikes over any significant distance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We always like it when an auto accessory is designed to work with a specific type of vehicle. The fact that Thule makes these bike racks to fit with Subaru’s factory roof racks means that they are easy to install and have a secure hold. We also liked that they had a sleek appearance that works so well with the overall look of a Subaru. 

Bottom Line

If you want the peace of mind that comes with choosing a product specifically designed to work with your particular vehicle, you cannot go wrong with these bike racks. 

Best Yakima Bike Rack For Subaru Outback:
Yakima HoldUp EVO

YAKIMA - HoldUp EVO 2' Hitch Mounted Tray Bike Rack, 2 Bike Capacity

PROS

  • Integrated SKS lock
  • Holds bikes by the tires to prevent frame damage
  • Tool-free ‘SpeedKnob’ allows for quick and easy loading and unloading 
  • Convenient foot pedal operated tilt away mechanism for easy trunk access
  • Accommodates a wide variety of bike types and sizes, including fat bikes, full-suspension bikes, and E-bikes

CONS

  • Fairly heavy for a two-bike rack
  • Only carries two bikes at a time

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers enjoy how quickly they can load and unload this bike rack. They also appreciated the convenience of the foot pedal controlled tilt function. They also appreciated that this rack accommodates a wide variety of bikes. Many purchased it specifically because it can carry fat bikes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The thing we liked the most about this bike rack is its unique SpeedKnob feature. You can adjust and tighten the bike rack without tools. We also appreciate that Yakima took some of the newer bike styles into consideration when they were designing this bike rack. Very few bike racks can accommodate fat bike tires, women’s bikes, E-bikes, and full-suspension mountain bikes, but the Yakima HoldUp works with all of them.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a versatile hitch mounted bike rack for your Subaru Outback, you should seriously consider taking a look at this two-bike carrier from Yakima. Not only is it available at a reasonable price, but it also has some unique and convenient features.

Are Bike Racks Universal?

Unfortunately, most bike racks are not universal. Because every make and model is a little different, some bike racks only work on certain vehicles. For example, some bike racks sit in the truck bed, so they only work with pickup trucks.

Before you purchase a new bike rack, make sure you check if it is compatible with your particular vehicle. Most manufacturers will display their bike rack’s compatibility list on the packaging and their website.

What Should I Look For When Buying a Bike Rack for My Subaru Outback? 

Before you choose a new bike rack for your Subaru Outback, you should consider the following factors:

Bike Capacity

As you can tell from our reviews, bike racks are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes. You should always make sure your new bike rack can accommodate all of the bikes you plan on carrying. Think about how many bikes you will need to transport and choose a bike rack that can handle at least that many. You can always take fewer bikes than the rack is capable of holding, but you cannot carry more than its capacity limit allows.

Yakima HoldUp EVO

Locking Features

It is always a good idea to keep an eye out for a bike rack with a built-in locking mechanism. While you can secure your bikes with a standard cable lock, a built-in lock makes sure you are never in a situation where you are transporting bikes in an unprotected manner.

Easy Installation

The best bike racks are easy to install and remove. Unless you plan on leaving your new bike rack on your Subaru at all times, the convenience of an easily installed and removed bike rack is well worth paying a little extra for.

Types of Bike Racks For a Subaru Outback

There are plenty of bike rack options out there, but only three types work with the Subaru Outback:

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch mounted bike racks use the Subaru’s existing trailer hitch to hold bikes at the vehicle's rear. These racks tend to be the easiest to load and unload. Not only are they convenient to use, but they also tend to have the highest bike capacity limits. If you plan to carry more than two bikes at a time, you might want to choose a hitch-mounted rack.

Roof Mounted Bike Racks

Roof bike racks sit on the roof rails of your Subaru. While they can be somewhat difficult to load and unload, these racks offer an excellent degree of stability and give the user full access to the trunk. Since the Outback comes with factory-installed roof rails, roof bike racks are a great choice.

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

Trunk mounted bike racks work by creating tension against the surface of the Outback’s trunk. They use padding and support straps to cling to the back of the vehicle. While these bike racks tend to be the cheapest option, they have their drawbacks. For starters, they make it impossible to access the trunk. They also offer less stability than other types of bike racks.

How to Install a Bike Rack on a Subaru Outback

The way you install a bike rack on your Subaru will depend on the particular bike rack you purchased. However, if you are installing a hitch-mounted rack, follow these steps: 

1. Slide the bike rack arm into the Outback’s hitch mount. Be sure you have lined up the hole in the receiver with the hole in the hitch mount properly.

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

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 your new bike rack. 

Remember, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that everything is secure before loading the rack with bikes.

Conclusion

Choosing a bike rack for your Subaru Outback does not have to be difficult. Just make sure you choose one that can carry the correct amount of bikes and that has the features that most appeal to you. Any of the bike racks we reviewed above are compatible with the Subaru Outback and are worth considering.

People Also Ask

Most questions you might have about bike racks can be answered by reading through the bike rack’s instruction manual; however, the following are commonly asked questions about Outback bike racks:

How Much Will a Bike Rack for My Subaru Outback Cost?

There is a significant range for Outback compatible bike racks, but in general, you can find a bike rack anywhere from $100 to $600.

Will a Bike Rack Damage My Car?

As long as you install the bike rack properly and it is compatible with your vehicle, it will not damage it. 

How to Stop a Bike Rack From Rattling

The easiest way to prevent a bike rack from rattling is to make sure you tighten all of its attachment points. If you are having trouble securing it properly, you can always use a wrench. 

Are Bike Racks Hard to Install on a Subaru Outback?

How difficult a bike rack is to install will depend on the type you get; however, due to its large size, built-in roof rails, and hitch mount, it is generally easy to install a bike rack on a Subaru Outback.

I used to work in construction and landscaping, so I've seen my fair share of ratchet straps, winches, and similar rigging gear. I started Winch Central because I've seen some nasty accidents due to crappy rigging or poor practice. I wanted to be able to recommend good equipment that's SAFE and also provide resources for how its used. I handle the research side of things here as well as product selection for gear reviews.