Best Hitch Bike Racks
What is better than hitting the open road with your bike, supplies, food, and an amazing cycle ride ahead of you? Dare we say, nothing? If you resonate with this idea of freedom, you will most definitely need a hitch for your car to attach your beloved bike. You want to ensure that from point a to point b, that your bike is securely placed in a rack that won’t scratch or damage it in any way.
To keep things fresh, there is a new generation of hitch bike racks on the market today, and they make both loading and unloading your bike onto your car an easy process. It’s certainly a good idea to purchase one of the best hitch bike racks for peace of mind, since you’ll know your bikes will be secure as you travel to your new destination.
However, there are so many options to explore when you’re trying to buy a high-quality hitch bike rack that the research process can seem like a daunting task. To save you some time, we’ve created a list of the best hitch bike racks on the market today, and provided you with some ideas to consider when you decide to purchase one.
- Thule T2 Pro X2
- Secure locking system
- Kuat NV 2.0
- Easy instalation
- Kuat Trio
10 Best Hitch Bike Rack Models
Thule T2 Pro X2
The Thule T2 Pro X2 doesn’t require tools to be attached to your car, and comes with a simple Auto Attach system. One you’ve attached it to your car, you can easily lock your bikes into the rack, and secure them with the integrated cable lock and lock knob.
The Thule T2 Pro X2 has a two-inch receiver that can easily hold two bikes securely with a foot of space between the bikes, meaning you won’t have to worry about the bikes hitting or scraping against each other as you drive. This bike rack can hold up to 120 pounds of weight, or about 60 pounds per bike.
When you’re done using the Thule T2 Pro X2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack, you can fold it easily and tilt it away from the rear of your vehicle. It’s very easy to adjust, put on, and remove, and has an excellent reputation for securely locking bikes onto your vehicle.
- Excellent bike security.
- Not a lightweight bike rack. Heavier than some competitors’ models.
- Higher in price than its competitors’.
Kuat’s Trio Hitch Mount Bike Rack comes with great durability and is very easy-to-use. The appearance of the rack is also attractive, and the use of quality construction and excellent materials make this a great rack for its price.
This Kuat rack includes a Way Mount fit system that can be mounted easily to almost any type of factor or aftermarket cross bars. It also comes with an integrated cable lock system that locks in at the rear wheel of the bike, and the bike’s frame, for added security during transport.
Kuat’s Trio Hitch Mount Bike Rack includes a “No Worries Warranty,” which is a great feature to have since you know the manufacturer stands behind this product and is willing to replace anything that might break. You also have the option of purchasing an additional adapter kit if you plan on transporting fatter bikes on this rack.
- Versatile and adjustable
- Could be easier to assemble overall.
- Not as many features as some competitors’ models.
Kuat NV 2.0
Kuat’s NV 2.0 Hitch Mount Bike Rack has a new and improved pivot system with a foot assist, so the rack is easy to lower and you’ll never have to lean your bike up against anything, risking unwanted scratches or damage. Also, this hitch mount bike rack includes an adjustable cradle, making it easy to place any type of bike into the rack.
Kuat also improved the bike cable locks on their new NV 2.0 design, making them longer and stronger for better bike security. The ratchet arms are also made to help better stabilize your bike while you are transporting it to your next outdoor destination.
Kuat’s NV 2.0 Hitch Mount Bike Rack also comes with a Trail Doc work stand, meaning it is easy to make trail or roadside repairs without additional stress. Plus, you can easily install this bike rack on your car, since no tools are required for vehicle installation.
- Easy vehicle installation
- Trail Doc work stand
- Excellent adjustable bike security
- Not lightweight. Heavier than some other competitors’ models.
- Costs more than its competition.
Thule T2 Classic
Thule’s T2 Classic Hitch Mount Bike Rack has a ratcheting arm clamp system that locks onto the front wheels and tires of your bikes, meaning you won’t have to worry about your bike frames getting scratched during transport. The cable locks and the hitch lock system also provided by this bike rack offer extra security when you lock your bikes to your vehicle.
Also, the bike mount itself is fully adjustable, so it’s easy to make sure your bikes won’t contact each other as you transport them. It can hold two bikes securely in place, and also tilts carrier away from the vehicle when not in use, utilizing its HitchSwitch lever fold design.
An added benefit of this bike rack is its SnugTite Lock (STL) technology, which locks the rack to receiver hitch. You’ll get all the bonuses of secure transport with this bike rack, and save a bit of money if you select this product.
- Versatile and adjustable
- Secure transport
- SnugTite Lock technology
- Heavy, could be more lightweight.
- Not as many features as some competitors’ models.
The Yakima HoldUp Hitch Mount Bike Rack is a versatile rack that can accommodate a wide variety of bike frame styles and sizes. It comes with StrongArm technology which effectively secures any size or style of bike securely at the wheels, so that you will never have to worry about your bike frames getting damaged when transporting them.
This hitch mount bike rack is designed to be tray-style, and has a low loading weight plus the ability to securely lock in heavy bikes. It can also fold up when not used, making rear vehicle access easier when you aren’t hauling bikes around.
The Yakima Holdup Hitch Mount Bike Rack is quick and easy to assemble, and also is adjustable so that you can create space easily between your bikes. The rack lets you lock your bike with the SKS lock system design, keeping your bikes safe and secure.
- Lifetime Warranty.
- Securely holds bikes
- Not as user-friendly as some competitors’ models
- Not as durable as some of the competition.
RockyMounts Backstage 2
When locking your bike into the RockyMounts Backstage 2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack, you also don’t need to use any bike frame contact points to lock your bike securely in, keeping your bike better protected. The design of this hitch rack has a chromoly hitch tube, which helps make this rack lightweight and helps to reduce corrosion.
The locking hitch pin that comes with the RockyMounts Backstage 2 is also anti-wobble, and has a strong cable lock. The hitch mount is easy-to-adjust and can fit just about any bike style or size, including fat bikes or bikes with long wheel bases.
The total weight of the RockyMounts Backstage 2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack is about fifty-nine pounds, but it can carry bikes of up to sixty pounds each. It also allows you to adjust the bikes you mount so you have plenty of space between them as you transport them.
- Versatile rack system
- Secure locks
- Swinging bike rack design.
- Not as affordable as some of its competition.
- Could be easier-to-adjust.
Saris Freedom SuperClamp 2
The newly designed version of the Saris Freedom SuperClamp uses front and rear wheel hooks, meaning you can lock your bike safely on the tray-style rack without worrying about bike frame contact. Plus, this bike rack is designed to be adjustable and includes integrated lock system that is made to fit any bike, regardless of size or style.
Saris also designed the Freedom SuperClamp to include ratcheting arms that pivot on case hardened brackets, meaning your bike is held safely and securely on your vehicle. With integrated locks on both the bikes and the hitch, you know your bike will remain safe on your vehicle as you go to your next destination.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, strong and secure rack, then this rack might be right for you. It’s a bit more affordable than some of the competition, and can help you securely get your bike from one place to the next.
- Integrated lock system
- No bike frame contact
- Could offer better stabilization
- Could use better ratchet arm design.
Yakima Dr. Tray 2
Yakima’s Dr. Tray 2 Bike Hitch Rack can carry a wide range of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, and fat bikes that are up to five inches, making it very versatile and adaptable. Plus, if you want to carry three bikes on your next trip, you can purchase the EZ+1 option, sold separately, and add it to the rack for an additional bike.
This bike rack also has excellent clearance capability because the tray can slide side-to side, meaning you won’t have to worry about any damage to your bike when transporting it. Plus, attaching the Yakima Dr. Tray 2 Bike Hitch Rack is a breeze because this rack is designed with SpeedKnob locking technology plus a tilt lever, making the rack easy-to-use.
Yakima’s Dr. Tray 2 Bike Hitch Rack also comes with an SKS cable lock system, helping to securely lock the wheels and the frame on your bikes so they are never stolen. The rack is also designed with a collapsible tongue so that both storage and transport are easy.
- Great clearance
- Can purchase an additional feature for a third bike.
- Not as affordable as some of its competitors’ models.
- Keys could be easier to use.
Along with the anti-sway cradles, Softride’s bike hitch rack also has a solid, secure hitch lock and an integrated cable system, both of which can be used to secure your bikes when transporting them, and to prevent your bikes from being stolen. If you do decide to lock your bikes in, you’ll have to purchase a padlock separately apart from this bike hitch rack.
Designed with a Quiet Ride Locking Hitch Bolt, the Softride’s materials will prevent the rack from moving in the hitch receiver. Plus, the anti-sway cradle offers extra three-point bike contact stability features, meaning your bikes will be safe as you transport them.
Another nice benefit of Softride’s design is the quick release arms that come with this bike rack. The arms are easy to remove, making storage, parking, and security easier for you each time you use the rack.
- Carries up to four bikes
- Securely holds bikes
- Hitch pin could be easier-to-use.
- Pull pin on lower rack could be more efficient.
Allen Sports Deluxe 4
Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack comes with twenty-two-inch long carry arms to help individually secure all bikes placed on the rack. This rack includes Allen’s patented tie-down system, adding extra security and safety to help hold your bikes in place.
This bike rack is also easy to adjust and fold down when you aren’t using the rack. The folding carry arms on the rack are easy to move out of the way when you aren’t using the rack itself.
Plus, setting up the Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack is easy, and installing it takes less than five minutes. You also know you’ll be buying a rack that is built to last, since it is made of steel and comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Carries up to four bikes
- Not secure when off-road.
- Requires professional hitch installation.
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Types of Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks
There are two types of hitch-mounted bike racks available on the market today, hanging or platform (also called wheel-mount). Let’s take a look at what each offer, and break down the features of each category in a bit more detail.
First, hanging style bike racks usually bring you the following features:
- Can hold 2-5 bikes
- Are more lightweight than platform racks.
- Need sway control devices to decrease bike movement while on the rack.
- Are more affordable than most platform racks.
- Some require adapter bars or other adaptive features before being attached to the car.
- Many contact the bike frame (although not all of them do).
- Usually fit 1-1/4’’x 1-1/4” and 2”x2” hitches
By comparison, platform style bike racks offer the following:
- Can hold 2-4 bikes
- Are more stable than hanging style bike racks and don’t need sway control devices to prevent bike movement while bikes are on the rack.
- Can hold a wide variety of bike types and styles.
- Don’t typically contact the bike frame. If the model does use the bike frame, the contact is usually minimal.
- Make loading and unloading easier than hanging bike racks.
- Usually fit 1-1/4’’x 1-1/4” and 2”x2” hitches
Hanging Style Bike Racks
Hanging style bike racks are typically the more affordable hitch bike rack style available on the market, and whether you decide to buy one of these types of bike racks is up to how comfortable you feel with the way these bike racks actually work. Some outdoor enthusiasts are just fine using them, but they don’t offer as many benefits as platform style racks and can also create damage to bikes when they are transported.
If you tend to mount your bikes often and transport them when you ride, then this type of bike rack might not be the best for you. However, if you are only transporting your bikes minimally on your vehicle, you might be able to save quite a bit of money by purchasing this type of bike rack.
One of the reasons some outdoor enthusiasts avoid hanging style bike racks has to do with the way these bike racks hold the bikes—by the bike’s frame. That means the bike hangs from the top tube of the bike rack. It also means that grabbing the bike by the frame could possibly damage the bike frame when transporting the bike—a risk you need to decide upon if you purchase this type of bike rack.
Most hanging racks function better for standard-frame bikes, and a few of these racks do hold bikes by their wheels and not the frames. Typically, hanging racks that use wheel-only mounts are also more versatile and can hold a wide variety of bikes, but also cost a bit more than their frame-holding counterparts.
Sometimes when you hang a bike with an alternative frame on this type of rack, you’ll notice the bike doesn’t sit at the right level. If this happens, you can usually purchase an adapter bar and clamp it onto the seat post and head tube of the bike for extra bike holding support.
Another issue to look out for if you decide to purchase a hanging bike rack is the fact these racks can make bikes sway, and that means they can contact other bikes or your vehicle. Some or these racks do come with anti-sway cradles, which prevents this type of swinging damage, and is really an option you want to consider to reduce the chances of damaging your bikes or your vehicle.
Most hanging bike racks come as either dual-arm bike racks, single-arm bike racks, or wheel-only mount bike racks. Dual-arm bike racks offer the following:
- Two arms to stabilize bikes and offer better support.
- Spacing between bikes, which can vary widely depending on the type of dual-arm bike rack you buy. However, the more widely spaced the arms are on the rack, the better the stability for larger bikes. One thing to watch out for here, though, is how this affects the fit of smaller bikes. Some smaller bikes may not fit correctly on racks with wide arms. So again, whether you need this feature or not will depend heavily on the types of bikes you transport.
Single-arm racks use one cradle arm per bike on the rack, and use clamps or straps to effectively secure bikes. Typically, they offer the following:
- Single, fixed cradle designs that won’t sway or rotate, although sometimes you might need an adapter bar if you have a bike with a non-standard frame.
- Some of these cradles also rotate, meaning they can easily adjust to carry any sized bike.
- Not all children’s bikes fit well over these cradles, so keep that in mind if you plan on transporting a child’s bike.
- Some of these racks use straps to secure bikes in place, making it easier to hold bikes with large diameter tubes.
Wheel-only mount hanging bike racks grab bikes by the wheels, meaning they don’t make contact with your bike’s frame when holding your bike. They offer the following:
- Wheel-Only mount hanging bike racks sometimes come as v-shaped racks, which carry a wide variety of different sizes and styles of bikes. They usually use straps to prevent the bikes from swinging.
- Some wheel-only mount hanging bike racks are unique and grab bikes by the wheels using a vertical format. Many of these also fold up easily when they aren’t being used. Standard sized bikes usually fit these types of racks.
Platform or Wheel-Mount Bike Racks
All types of platform bike racks are made to hold bikes by their wheels. While they typically cost more, they also offer better options and features to protect your bike while you travel. For those outdoor enthusiasts planning to transport their bikes more often, this might be the better option, since you know your bike will likely incur less damage each time you transport it.
Platform racks allow bikes to sit on top of the rack, and typically have your bike’s tires securely locked into the cradles. Most of these platform racks also have adjustable wheel holders, meaning you can fit far more styles and sizes of bikes on them, making them far more versatile than hanging bike racks. They also usually offer easier loading and unloading capabilities when compared with hanging bike racks. So, if you know you need versatility and don’t want something that holds your bike by the frame, you might want to consider purchasing this style of bike rack.
Most platform racks come in either one of two options, frame clamp styles or wheel clamp styles. Frame clamp styles bring you a clamp hook that goes over the crossbar of your bike, securing the bike frame easily. This style of platform rack is very stable and ensures that your bikes won’t sway at all when you travel.
So, with the frame-style clamp platform rack option, there is no need to purchase any anti-sway devices to protect your bike. Plus, there’s no worry about your bike contacting other bikes on the frame or your vehicle. Of course, this feature can cost more, but could also save you money in the long run. Not only will your bike incur less damage, but you also don’t need to purchase any additional technology to stabilize your bike.
The second option you have with platform racks is the wheel clamp style option. With the wheel clamp style, the clamps hold bikes securely by the wheels, so there is no frame contact whatsoever. For those outdoor enthusiasts worried about scratches and bike warranties, this is an excellent purchase. Some bike warranties are no longer good if you use a rack that holds your bike by the frame. Also, if you have a bike with suspension, you don’t have to worry about this rack putting pressure on the bike frame or upsetting the suspension in anyway, making it a better option for people with suspension-type bikes.
The style of bike rack you decide to purchase, in the end, will be up to you, the sizes and styles of bikes you’ll transport, your budget, and what you feel you can live with when you transport the bike. Once you’re able to determine the answers to those questions, you’ll be able to figure out what you need.
Remember that bike styles and sizes will affect the type of bike rack you should purchase. We’ll cover that a bit more in our FAQ section below.
Q: What’s the best type of hitch-mounted rack to use with road and mountain bikes?
The answer to this question can vary a lot based on the size of your bike. One rule, though, is that almost all types of hitch-mounted racks work well with any standard-framed bike, whether you are transporting a road bike or a mountain bike.
If you’re transporting several bikes and are comfortable with a hanging-style bike rack, then know that many hanging style racks can carry up to five bikes easily. Also, if you want a hanging-style bike rack that won’t contact the frames on your bike, you can purchase a wheel-only mount hanging bike rack to hold your bike by the wheels.
If you’re looking for more stability and are willing to pay a bit more, then platform racks are the most stable and secure options. Plus, they’ll make minimal contact with your bike rack.
So, if you’re traveling with any road or mountain bike that’s standard in size, you are able to pick any one of the hitch-mounted rack styles to transport your bike. Your choice depends upon how many bikes you’ll bring along with you, how stable you need your bike to be to feel comfortable transporting it, and how you feel about a hitch-mounted rack that grabs your bike by either the frame or wheels.
Q: What’s the best type of hitch-mounted rack to use with bikes that have step-through frames?
If you are going to transport a bike that has a step-through frame, there are a couple of things you’ll need to know about the way hitch-mounted rack styles work with these kinds of bikes. First, if you’re thinking about getting a hanging-style rack for this style of bike, you’re probably going to also need to purchase an additional adapter bar so the bike will still hang evenly when you place it on the rack.
With that in mind, you already know you might need to spend a bit more when mounting this type of bike to your bike rack. That means you might want to consider one of your other options.
First, you could purchase a hanging wheel-only-mount rack, which will hold any bike level, regardless of its frame type. So, you’d spend a bit more on the mount rack’s purchase, but you won’t need to buy anything additional to secure your step-through framed bike.
Second, you could buy a platform rack, which will cost the most, but also holds all bikes level no matter what type of frame is on the bike. Plus, with this type of rack, you get several bonuses and features, and a more secure, steady, and safe way to transport your bike.
Q: What’s the best type of hitch-mounted rack to use with children’s bikes?
If you know you’ll be transporting a bike or two for your children, then you’ll need to consider purchasing a hanging rack. Most children’s bikes fit easiest on hanging racks that have close dual arms, or are made with single arms and small cradles.
If you’re transporting a child’s bike, then you may also need to consider purchasing an adapter bar. Make sure that before you buy one, you check the length of the bar so that it will effectively fit and secure the child’s bike.
Q: What’s the best type of hitch-mounted rack to use with bikes that have carbon and fiber frames?
Bikes that are made out of carbon and fiber frames can damage more easily when coming into contact with racks. These bike frames need some additional help for safe transport because the frames are typically more fragile, and you don’t want to invalidate your warranty by using the wrong type of bike rack.
So, for carbon and fiber bike frames, you need to invest in a bike rack that won’t contact the bike frame at all. Your best bet with this type of rack is buying a platform rack that will clamp onto the bike’s wheels, so no frame contact is made.
Your other choice here is to buy a hanging wheel-only rack that only grabs the bike by the wheels. However, because these racks can sway and you’re dealing with a more sensitive bike frame, you can still damage the bike frame with this purchase. It may save you money, and the choice here plus the risk of damage is up to you.
Don’t consider other hitch-mounted racks for these bikes, because not only will they damage the bikes, but they’ll also make your warranty useless. So, play it safe and get the best type of rack for this kind of bike.
Q: What’s the best type of hitch-mounted rack to use with bikes that have suspension?
If you need to transport a bike that has suspension, then you’ll need to consider a few things about your bike before selecting your bike rack. While a hanging-style rack can hold as many of as five bikes, they typically grab bikes by the frame, which can disrupt both your bike’s frame and suspension. So, you are probably better off avoiding this type of frame.
A hanging wheel-only-mount, on the other hand, offers a bit more affordable option that will grab your bike by the wheels and won’t damage or offset your suspension. If you’re willing to take the risk of the bike possibly swaying, then you should still be fine with this option.
However, a platform rack that clamps onto the wheels of your bike and doesn’t touch your bike’s frame at all is probably the best option for this type of bike. Since the bike’s frame isn’t touched, the bikes’ suspension won’t get compressed or offset when it’s mounted on the rack.
When you are deciding what the best hitch bike rack is for your budget, the types of bikes you’ll transport, and how often you’ll transport your bike, factoring in how comfortable you are with hanging or platform bike rack options is really the choice you’ll have to make. Much of this will depend on what you feel you can risk and live with while you transport your bikes, the types of bikes you’ll transport, and how often you decide to transport them.
While platform style bike racks are usually the best investment, not everybody necessarily needs them and some outdoor enthusiasts can save money by purchasing other types of bike racks. Remember, as long as you are comfortable with what you know you’ll get out of your bike rack, then you are most likely making the best purchase choice for you and your family.