Best bike racks to Buy in 2018- Our Top 8 Picks

By Tim Fox | Bike

Mar 23
Best bike racks

Introduction

You are all set for the adventure with your mountain bike and new gear! But, how do you transport all these bikes in a car? Shoving them all together is not an option! That’s when the best bike rack comes in with its functionality! You are supposed to mount these systems on your vehicle and load your bikes on it for easy portability!

With so many rack types, brands and models flooding in the market, how to choose your ideal one? Here, we have made it super-easy for you to choose from best bike racks available on the market today.

Below given are detailed reviews of Top 8 Bike racks for 2018 with buying guide and other valuable info! Let’s begin:

Product

Racks Type

Our Rating

​Price

Yakima HighRoad Roof Bike Rack- Best Roof Rack

​Roof Rack

Yakima Products Tray-Style Bike Rack

​Hitch Rack (Tray-Style)

Yakima Products Ridgeback Hitch Bike Rack

​Hitch Rack

Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Trunk Mount Rack

​Hitch Rack

Thule Helium Aero Hitch Carrier

​Hitch Rack

Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0 -2 Bike Rack

Hitch Rack

Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack - Best Trunk Rack

Trunk Rack

Swagman XC Cross-Country Bike Hitch - Best Car Rack

​Hitch Rack

Types of Bike Racks:

1. Trunk/Hatch racks

Trunk/Hatch racks

These types of stands are the best option for the individuals who wish to take 3-4 bikes with them while traveling long distances. It goes with any sporty vehicles or cars. It is also light in weight and cheap to buy. 

Trunk racks are convenient, and you can comfortably install and pull it out without much effort. They have hooks and setup of straps (commonly made from neoprene material) which makes it easy to secure it with the back end.

Pros

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    Multi-functional: Can carry several bikes at a time
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    Much better locking system
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    Cheap in price, compact to store and saves space
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    Can be easily attached/detached from your vehicles

Cons

  • Lacks stability. Bikes might thud with each other while transporting
  • Requires maintenance
  • You also need to frequently check the straps to know whether they are loose or tight while traveling
  • Bikes or the rack might partly block the rear view or restrict the tail-lights.

2. Hitch Racks

Hitch Racks

Most of the people believe that hitch racks are very durable and safest choice when it comes to carrying big bikes. The hitches are divided into different sections starting from class I to class V depending upon their capacity to pull weight.

The part of the hitch that elongates away from the vehicle is known as “tongue of the hitch.” Class I hitch tongues have less capacity to carry weights as compared to class V. Hence, they tend to bend or break off when heavy loads are attached.

Pros

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    Bikes are loaded at a certain distance from the actual vehicle. So, there’s less contact between them.
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    Easy to set up; You just need to slide it down
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    Detachable design; Does not remain permanently fixed on vehicles

Cons

  • Some models are cumbersome
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    It sometimes doesn’t fit perfectly with the rear spare tire on the vehicles
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    Bikes with full suspension might need to purchase frame adapters
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    Mounting bikes with locked straps is sometimes difficult

3. Roof Racks:

Roof Racks

These racks are mostly appreciated for their versatility. They can carry any heavy loads like bikes, snowboards, boats, skis, etc. They are firm and tightly secured, hence carrying bikes becomes very easy. 

The main concern here is that the vehicle needs to have its setup like some crossbars or side barriers as a base system for installation. If you don’t have any such system, then it is important first to install that.

Pros

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    Rackmount is stable, bikes remain firm and do not wobble much
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    The driver has a proper view of the rear end without any hindrances

Cons

  • Not detachable and remains permanently on the vehicle
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    Might make noises due to wind
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    Loading/unloading is difficult on tall vehicles
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    Car loaded with tall bikes might become unsteady in the high-cross breeze
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    Cut downs the mileage of fuel due to the reduced aerodynamics of the vehicle

4. Spare-tire racks

Spare-tire racks

Such rack is set up on the spare tire that’s there at the rear end of the vehicle. It is comparatively more firm and light in weight. When you use this type of rack, you can easily access the rear of the car.

Pros

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    Simple and easy to install
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    Low price
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    It is easily detachable

Cons

  • Maximum two bikes can be mounted
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    There is the possibility of bikes dashing with each other
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    You need to remove the covers of the tire
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    Might obstruct the rear view.

Reviews of the Best Bike Racks in 2018

Yakima HighRoad Roof Bike Rack - Best Roof Rack

Yakima HighRoad Top Car Bike Rack

The Yakima HighRoad is the most easy-to-work-with bike rack for cars. The installation process is a breeze as its ready-to-go right out of the box and doesn’t need any assembly whatsoever. In a nutshell, it is quick and effortless to mount this on the roof and load bikes on this bike carrier.

Wheel-Mount Design

The Yakima Roof rack has the wheel-mount type of design and firmly holds all the bikes. And, the bike lock makes sure to secure them in place. It ensures the front wheel of the bicycle snugly and thus discards any contact with rest of the body.

The incredible thing about this type of design is that you don’t need to disassemble the front wheel of the bike while mounting. It is portable altogether. And that’s why it is an excellent choice for carbon fiber bikes or bikes with custom paints.

Bike Lock

Unlike most of the bikes out there, the functional HighRoad comes with bike locks. Hence, you can conveniently lock the bikes to the roof of your ride. The mounting system on this roof rack is universal. Thus, it fits on most of the crossbars.

Know that the bike carrier requires a base roof-rack system for mounting, just like most of the roof bike racks.

Construction

The HighRoad looks very sleek, and its low profile tray reduces hatch interference. New improved “TorqueRight” knob precisely locks down the bike in no time. The HighRoad is Yakima’s latest premium upright bike mount model that’s sleek, simple-to-use and secures the bike notably. Probably, it’s the best bike rack available in the roof-type category.

Customer Reviews

As mentioned earlier, the customers have appreciated how easy the installation process is. It takes only about 10 minutes to attach the bike to the vehicle. Moreover, loading and unloading of bikes is a breeze! The users have also loved how bikes don’t rattle or make windy noise while driving.

Things We Liked

  • ​Easy to install
  • Loading/unloading of bikes is straightforward
  • Can accommodate up to 3.25” wide tires
  • Robust construction
  • Hatch clearance is impressive

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​SKS locks are to be purchased separately
  • Loading/unloading might be difficult on tall vehicles

Final Impression

Yakima HighRoad is no doubt one of the best upright bike carrier, which demands very minimal installation process. Premium torque knob and adjustment-free hoop allow safe and secure loading of the bikes. The HighRoad is uniquely designed with low-profile and forward shift to offer great hatch clearance.

Yakima Products Tray-Style Bike Rack

Yakima Products Tray-Style Bike Rack

Another remarkable bike rack from Yakima excels in performance and innovation. Yakima is renowned for their premium-grade product lines. They make sure there’s ample bike rack space provided in each of their bike racks. Stating the obvious, this tray-style bike rack is very innovative and won’t disappoint you at all!

Tray-Style design

Tray-style bike rack allows you to load bikes with different shapes and sizes. No need to worry about receivers or tire diameters whatsoever! No matter how big or small your bike is, it will undoubtedly fit!

This tray-style bike rack can conveniently accommodate up to 2 bikes. To fit up to 4 bikes, you need to purchase an add-on.

No-contact design

Another remarkable feature of this bike rack is its non-contact design. To retain the finish on your bikes, this rack won’t come in contact with the bike frame. Plus, you get rear-of-vehicle access, even when the bikes are fully loaded.

Customer Reviews

Customers have considered the Yakima Hold-Up Bike rack to be the best value for money. It folds-in very snugly, and the locks are super-convenient. All in all, users have found this bike rack to be well-built and very secure to lock bikes. Best of all, customers have loved how Yakima Hold Up rack allows individual adjustment of trays in right/left positions! This avoids rattling between seats and handlebars.

Things We Liked

  • ​Can be extended to carry 4 bikes
  • Individual adjustments of trays
  • Includes SKS bike lock and SKS hitch lock
  • Can fit bikes of any shape/size
  • Fast and easy to install
  • Impressive zero-contact design

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Every time you need a wrench to screw on/off the hitch pin
  • To fit 4 bikes, you need to buy +2 add-on
  • Heavyweight

Final Impression

You are probably going to find Yakima Holdup to be the best value for money. Your bikes will effortlessly fit into the rack without rattling with each other. Best thing out of all? The trays are adjustable, and the seats or handlebars won’t thud with each other. It is not so ideal for Fat bikes though.

Yakima Products Ridgeback Hitch Bike Rack

Yakima Products Ridgeback Hitch Bike Rack

An excellent combination of simple design and great functionality can be witnessed in this Yakima RidgeBack. Power-packed with unique security features, rest assured that your bikes will be snugly attached to the vehicle, throughout the journey. This bicycle carrier is extremely lightweight to carry and handles up to 2 bikes at a time.

Locking mechanism

The locking mechanism does not require any types of tools, making it super-easy to install the rack onto the vehicle. The adjustable knob makes it very easy to set up everything in place.

Unique features

With the help of a control lever, you can fold down the rack swiftly for secure storage. Moreover, you can also use the same lever to lower down the rack for accessing the rear end of your vehicle. Anti-sway cradles make sure to keep your bikes extremely stable on the road.

Talking about the bikes, the Yakima RidgeBack accepts 1 ½” as well as 2” receivers.

Customer reviews

Users have loved the operation levers provided at the top. Now you don’t need to bend down for anything. Same way, the locking mechanism on this bike rack has also impressed the customers. All in all, RidgeBack is said to be a heavy-duty hitch rack!

Things We Liked

  • ​Versatile design; receives 1.5” and 2” receivers
  • Unique security features
  • Extremely easy to install
  • Highly functional

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Immovable bike mounts
  • ZipStrips cannot be replaced

Final Impression

One of the things that we love about this Yakima bike rack is the easy setup. No tools, no assembly whatsoever; it comes fully assembled. With the help of Auto-pin, you can easily position the rack into the receiver. SpeedKnob will then lock it down, and the unique ZipStrips will tightly secure your bikes. Ease of installation is what makes it worth the buy!

Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Trunk Mount Rack

Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Trunk Mount Rack

Available at such a shockingly low price, you just cannot beat the Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mount models. Even with such affordable price, it does not compromise with the quality and functionality of the rack.

Long arms

One thing that makes this bike carrier stand out from all the other models is its long arms. As a result, it folds down very easily. It even allows you to secure each bike in its place with sufficient clearance. Extra tie-down systems enhance the stability and security of the bikes.

Robust steel construction and sleek black powder finish make it enticing in every which way! To access the back of your vehicle, all you need to do is tilt the rack away in one swift motion.

Customer Reviews

Customers feel that the Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Trunk mount is perfect for people with tight budget. The rack in itself is easy to install, but users found the tie-down straps to be very thin. Hence, the rack is much more suitable to use for low-speed travels. About the pros, the users stated that it gives a tight fit and is stable enough, despite the lightweight.

Things We Liked

  • ​Fits a wide range of bikes
  • Single configuration design; No hassle of assembly
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Very affordable
  • Folds down

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Not extremely sturdy
  • The tie-down capability is not the best

Final Impression

The Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk mount is ideal for users who seek a reasonably-priced bike rack. What is even more amazing is that it can fit on SUVs, hatchback, minivans, sedans, etc. it does not demand any assembly, and you can just mount it in seconds.

Tie-down systems are fixed to the arm, but also rotate freely to fit different sized bike frames! Nevertheless, apart from the top and bottom straps, there are 2 more side straps especially for highway driving!

Thule Helium Aero Hitch Carrier

Thule Helium Aero Hitch Carrier

One of the industry leaders when it comes to bike mount, the Thule just knows how to hit the right nerve! Thule is very famous for offering security, stability, and ease-of-use with their product range. Thule Helium Aero bike hitch does not allow swaying of bikes at all!

Ultra-light construction

The advanced design of the Helium Aero is ultra-light in weight, almost half the weight of its competitors in the market. Sleek aero-design features a combo of security, convenience, and maximum bike protection.

Made from aluminum, this particular bike hitch is effortless to handle, install and remove. And, the load capacity is about 110 lbs.

Patented Hold-fast cradles

Patented holdfast cradles along with the exclusive RDS (Road Dampening Technology) will secure your bike to the rack tightly and will also capably absorb road shocks. What’s even more appealing is its non-contact design that protects the bike frame from scratches.

Locking features

The Helium Aero comes with an auto-attach locking knob and an integrated locking cable. Both of these offer maximum protection to your bike while giving ample amount of ground clearance.

Customer Reviews

The Thule Helium was deliberately built to deal with heavy bikes, and that’s exactly what it does! Customers have liked the unique ultra-weight design of the bike. Clever engineering and lightweight design has made it popular amongst bikers! Not to mention, its ability to dampen the road shocks with its RDS technology is also much appreciated!

Things We Liked

  • ​Great locking features
  • Lightweight design
  • Extremely stable rack
  • Dampens road shocks
  • Tilts away so you can access the rear of the vehicle

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Suitable only for standard bike frames; Other frames will need an extra adapter
  • Not good value for money

Final Impression

Foldable design of this bike hitch is very convenient, and it also tilts away for you to access the rear of the vehicle, without detaching the bikes! It’s a little expensive, but if you don't mind the price, it is quite good in providing security and stability. In a nutshell, its compact, its lightweight and it offers great ground clearance!

Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0 -2 Bike Rack

Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0 -2 Bike Rack

Looking all sturdy in its looks and performance, the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 will certainly allure all the hardcore adventurers and mountain bikers! This professional-grade bike hitch features adjustable front tire cradle and a new innovative pivot design with optional foot assist.

Improved Design

All new and improved design of Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is lighter, secure and user-friendly than before. All-aluminum body construction is what makes it light in weight and also improves your vehicle’s MPGs (Miles per Gallon). Believe it or not, you can adjust this amazing bike rack using just one hand.

Clearance

Foldable design of the tire cradle creates ample amount of clearance so that the bikes won’t hit each other. Foot-actuated pivot lever lets you lower the rack one-handedly.

Aesthetics

The sleek and stylish Sherpa 2.0 flaunts a low profile arched design with gloss metallic powder finish. It is available in 3 mesmerizing colors, you are free to pick any!

Customer Reviews

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 features an elegant design and unbelievably lightweight construction, say customers. The hitch clearance is very impressive, and you don’t even need to reposition the seat. Users have liked the foldable design of the rack, as it lets you open the rear hatch of the car with much ease!

Things We Liked

  • ​Installation requires no tools
  • Redesigned pivot comes with optional foot lever
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Foldable design makes storage easy

Things We Didn't Like

  • Bolt holes are not aligned properly; Mounting the rack is difficult

Final Impression

Overall, the Kuat Racks Sherpa 2.0 is a well-engineered, lightweight, solidly constructed and an attractive-looking bike rack. The new hitch pin is large and solid in design. Adding to this, the new front tire ratchet design is also very functional with its intuitive release button. This bike hitch is deliberately re-designed to make your life easier! Sherpa 2.0 makes it to the 3rd position and is certainly one of the best bike racks in hitch-type.

Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack - Best Trunk Rack

Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack

Saris is a famous brand that manufactures cool bike racks, and this Bones 2-bike Trunk model is no exception! Although, you might need to do some former prepping-up to precisely align the “bones” to your car. Meaning, you need to completely remove the arms and legs of the rack and reattach it at a perfect angle. This might sound a little hectic, but it also means that the rack is compatible with wide range of models, right from 12” to 29” fat bikes!

Versatility and Durability

The Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack is ideal to use on different rear ends of different cars. From mini-vans to sedans or SUVs, it fits on almost all models. Strong injection-molded arms and legs provide unmatched stability to the bike rack when fully loaded with bikes!

Anti-sway Straps

It is straightforward to adjust the hold-down straps and securely lock the bikes with much stability. Thanks to the dual level set up, your bikes are firmly protected and do not scratch one another while on the go.

The bike is held for more away from the bumper and trunk. Hence, there won't be any scratches on your valuable car.

Customer Reviews

Customers consider Saris Bones to be at a statement of durability, style, and design. It is said to look best and work best! Arc-based design can fit on minivans, sedans, SUVs, hatchbacks and almost all cars! Once you figure it out, the rack just takes about 5 minutes to install, say, users! All in all, it holds bikes very snugly, do not let them rattle at all and is a breeze to install!

Things We Liked

  • ​Hold-down straps won't scratch your bike
  • Sturdy frame
  • Made with rust-free and 100% recyclable materials
  • Fits on almost all car models
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Weighs just 9 lbs

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Plastic parts are cheap
  • Regardless of the claim, the rubberized feet might scratch your vehicle

Final Impression

With the strongest frame available in the market, the Saris Bones has to one of the best bike racks for the car out of all. Strong injection-molded legs/arms and the ratcheting anti-sway straps tightly secure the bikes in place. For this price, it certainly won’t fail to impress you with its fantastic design and craftsmanship.

Swagman XC Cross-Country Bike Hitch - Best Car Racks

Swagman XC Cross-Country Bike Hitch

Swagman XC Cross-Country features two vertical clamp arms and four-wheel slots to carry to 2 bikes simultaneously. It is one of the great options for different maneuver sizes of bike frames. That's because the main components have an adjustable design for height and width. Given its high-quality design, it is the best hitch bike rack for the car and also a great value for money!

Versatile design

The best feature about Swagman is its ability to fit different tire diameters. It can effortlessly accommodate tire diameter up to 59 cm. And, it is compatible with 1 ¼” and 2” of hitch receivers. Meaning, now riding with your partner is going to be very delightful!

No-scratch

Worried about getting scratches on your bike? Well, the Swagman has grips with a soft coating on it to protect your bike from blemishes or scratches. Besides, the bike rack is super-easy to install!

Customer Reviews

Customers find Swagman to be very well-made and lightweight in nature. They say it is a breeze to put the rack together, load bikes on it or unload them. Moreover, customers also love how the bikes won’t budge at all while on the go! The materials found on this rack are termed as solid, and nothing feels cheap here!

Things We Liked

  • ​Wheel hoops can accommodate different bike sizes
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Includes an anti-wobble hitch device
  • Bike hooks are cushioned to prevent scratches
  • Secures both wheels; Very stable
  • Easy to assemble

Things We Didn't Like

  • ​Hitch pin and locking cable is to be purchased separately
  • Grips tend to chip off paint from the bike

Final Impression

Swagman is a stress-free bike rack that adeptly transports your bike from one destination to another. Both the wheels and frame are tightly secured, unlike other models. Hence, the stability and security of bikes are far better than other bike hitch models. You can adjust the cushioned hooks to fit-in different bike frame sizes. The rack even folds down into a compact frame for convenient storage. How cool is that?

With all these amazing, Swagman tops our list and is the best hitch bike rack for a car on the market.

Buying Guide

There are different factors you need to consider before buying any of the above mentioned racks. Let’s get to know these points in detail below:

Type of mounting

There are different ways to mount the bike onto your vehicle like roof-mounted or hitch-mounted. But before that, you need to figure out which type of bikes you want to load, their total weight, number of bikes to load and your individual choice to arrange the bikes.

Total count of bikes

Different racks are capable of carrying a different number of bikes. Bike racks can carry 2-3 bikes. But, if you want to load more bikes, then opt for hitch racks as it can hold up to 4-5 bikes.

Bike’s weight

The rack must be strong enough to handle the total load of the bikes. Or else it might be dangerous for your vehicle and people traveling alongside your car. Since electric bikes weigh (typically 25kg) comparatively more than the normal ones (typically 14kg), they require special arrangement.

Balance

Some racks secure the bikes in a more balanced way than other types, such as roof racks. If you are just carrying 1 or 2 bikes, then this won’t be an issue. But for carrying 4 or 5 bikes, make sure the rack is fit enough to bear the load.

Fuel efficiency

If a bicycle carrier is overloaded, it can affect the aerodynamics of your vehicle. This is more common in roof racks and high-mounting racks.

Cost

Cost of the rack tells a lot about the stability it offers. More expensive a rack is, more stable will be its design. Given this notion, roof mounted racks are usually expensive as compared to other types of bike racks.

Locking systems

After mounting, some racks fully obstruct the rear view of the vehicle, which is quite impractical. So, the driver needs to be extra careful while driving. Make sure you look for racks that have ample amount of locking systems to secure bikes.

You don’t want your bikes to wobble too much or collapse on the ground while on the road. So, this is by far the essential factor to consider.

Bikes are also prone to robbing. It is always preferable to have them secured tightly to the vehicle with enough straps.

Car load capability

It doesn’t matter how strong your rack is, each vehicle has its capability to carry the load. Consider the total weight of the passengers traveling and accordingly calculate the load your vehicle can bear. Don’t go beyond this weight and do not overload it. 

Compatibility

Specific racks are designed to be compatible with specific bikes only. So before buying, make sure the rack suits your bike’s size or shape properly. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a bike rack that is completely unusable and incompatible.

FAQs

Q. For bike hitch, what types of hitches do you need?

Most commonly, there are 3 kinds of hitches available.

2”x 2”

1 ½” x 1 ½”

1 ¼” x 1 ¼”

You need to check which size of hitch will fit with your bike rack.

Q. How to lock the bike rack with your vehicle?

Cable bike lock is the most common type of lock that is used for this purpose. You need to wrap it around the rack and then lock it across the bike frame.

Q. How to open your trunk when the bike rack is mounted?

Most of the bike racks come with some feature for rear-access of the vehicle. As for hitch mounted bike racks, most of them tilt away, so you get easy access.

Conclusion

A lot of thought-process and techniques go into the design of these bike racks. You need to check the number of bikes, the load capacity of your vehicle, it's compatibility with rack, type of bikes and many more factors before choosing your best bike rack.

Figure out all of these requirements and then choose the best bike rack for a car that suits your lifestyle best!

Given the quality of material and craftsmanship, Swagman XC bike hitch is our Top pick. It is compatible with different receivers, is affordable, has steady design and loads of other amazing features!