Cycling is a sport we have become addicted to, and part of the fun is exploring. In many cases, we can piece together great rides from our front door. At other times, we want to go somewhere else to start the ride.
When we want to transport our bike, we have two choices: Either disassemble part of the bike, and fold down seats in our car to make room for it, or throw the bike(s) on a bike carrier or rack. Since a bike (when it’s not used as its own transportation) is not the most portable object, a bike carrier or rack is something that nearly every cyclist will look to invest in at some point.
We will share a bit about the criteria you can use to choose a bike rack, followed by our favorite bike carriers in each category.
What should you look for in a bike rack?
Bike racks can be added to any kind of vehicle, so it doesn’t matter if you own a sports cart or a large truck, you’ll find one to fit your needs. Some fit certain models better than others. Most of them are attached to the trunk door, to the trailer hitch or to the back of the car, but some models can be installed and secured on the rooftop or in the rear cabin of a pick-up truck. We will take a look at all types.
Most bike racks come in various sizes that can carry anywhere from 2-4 bikes. However, if you max out the capacity of the rack, you will really be wedging your bikes together. If you want to comfortably carry, say, 2 bikes, we suggest investing in a carrier meant for 3-4 bikes.
Hitch bike racks
Why a hitch rack?
Hitch racks are great because they put the bike in a vary secure space, mounted to your car’s hitch and not rubbing on the hatch or drunk. They tend to be heavy, which means they are a little harder to attach, but once on are quite stable. Be sure to buy a rack compatible with your vehicle’s hitch size. There are mainly 2 in the US — either 2 inch (usually standard on trucks and mid/large SUVs) and 1 1/4 (more common on cars and smaller SUVs).
If you don’t have a hitch on your vehicle – which is often the case – you can usually have one installed at a shop in just a couple hours.
NV 2.0 by Kuat Racks
The NV 2.0 is the second edition of one the most popular racks in the market, off the brand Kuat. It’s been designed for simple and easy installment, achieved with the included tools and instructions. You only have to slide it in the hitch, add the locking pin and tighten the dial. It’s enforced with two security tubes meant to keep the bikes safe.
Thule T2 Pro XT by Thule
This model allows you to quickly secure your bikes, without frame contact with the frame-free ratcheting arm. This bike rack is designed to easily fold when it’s not in use, in order to provide access to the trunk. It includes a tool-free AutoAttach system to easily install and remove. It’s possible to increase its capacity from 2 to up to 4 bikes.
Backstage 2 by RockyMounts
The RockyMounts Backstage 2 is the first model to provide access to the trunk for cargo and tilts away when the bikes are still loaded. It’s designed to hold your bikes with no frame contact. Its extremely sturdy platform will hold perfectly, even if the car is lifted for performing purposes. It comes with a two-spot capacity, and it’s one of the preferred models in the market due to its quality-price proportion. The RockyMounts Backstage 2 is an affordable and secure option for your bike rack.
Roof bike racks and carriers
Why a roof rack?
Sometimes, the best place to carry something is on top of your vehicle. This can be a great option if your hitch is already used by other things (trailer, camper) or if you don’t want to install one. A roof rack can also be an excellent choice for people who will need easy and regular access to the back of their car, and don’t want to have a bike or bike rack in the way.
If you go this route, know two things. First, your bike adds a good 3-4 feet to the top of your car…. you can’t go under the low awnings or into parking garages like you used to. Second, it takes more work to put a bike on top of your car than to just throw it on the back of your vehicle.
Yakima HighRoller Rooftop Bike Rack, by Yakima
Yakima is one of the most trusted brands in this niche. The HighRoller model is made to transport any kind of bike, of any size. It’s also one of the easier-to-use models out there, besides being easy to fit and very secure. It holds the rear wheel while supporting the front wheel, without touching or putting any stress on the frame of the bike. It may not be the most economical option of the market; however, you’ll be getting quality and for that price, it’s completely worth it.
Thule ThruRide by Thule
The ThruRide is one of the most practical, easy to install and secure models, and it’s compatible with a variety of axle standards: it can hold any diameter regardless of length. Although, you’ll have to purchase a lock cylinder because it isn’t included with this model. But the price and practicality of the ThruRide are for sure worth it.
Kuat Trio by Kuat Racks
Kuat is the most competitive bike rack brand up in the market. This model is a clear example of why Kuat holds that place. It’s one of the most secure models for long-distance travels with your bike loaded. It requires the removal of the front wheel, but its unique axle system makes the rack compatible with almost any kind and size of the axle. Kuat’s functional and elegant designs have made it famous and trustworthy among bike enthusiasts and professional cyclists.
Trunk bike racks and carriers
Why a trunk bike carrier?
Sometimes you just want to keep it simple — you don’t want something mounted to the top of your car, and you also prefer not to have a hitch receiver installed. That is where a trunk or hatch back carrier can do the trick. The upside is the ease and simplicity. The downsides are that they are not quite a stable — the bike may move around a bit — and you usually can only fit 1 or at most 2 bikes on the carrier.
Allen Sports Deluxe 2 by Allen Sports USA
The Allen Sports Deluxe is known as one of the most affordable bike rack models out in the market. It’s specially designed for SUV’s, sports cars, and minivans. This model is made of aluminum, so you can count on it to be lightweight and really easy to install. It can carry two bikes, providing complete stability and confidence.
Hollywood Racks Express Trunk Bike Rack, by Hollywood Racks
This model is thought for quick installation and removal, so it can be folded flat for storage purposes. It’s one of the most affordable and versatile trunk bike racks out there and fits on any kind of vehicle trunk. You can easily adjust the stripes, even when the bikes are loaded. It’s not heavy at all and provides stability to prevent the bikes from bouncing. The Hollywood Racks Express is a perfect option when it comes to price and compatibility.
Saris 805 Bones 2 Bike Trunk Rack, by Saris
The Saris Bones 805 Trunk Bike Rack is recognized for the mix of functionality, practicality, and design. This model fits over most of the spoilers and its arc-based design differentiate bikes on different levels. It’s built with 100% recyclable materials, so you’d be contributing with the environment when buying. It’s designed to protect the paint with articulated rubber feet and anti-sway straps for a safe hold.
As you have read, there are many models of bike racks, of different prices and sizes. We recommend that before purchasing yours, remember to know what your vehicle can handle, that way you’ll make the appropriate purchase. In addition to buying the carrier, be sure to learn how to install the carrier for maximum performance.
No matter which model you choose, or the car you have, having a bike rack is a complete investment in your cycling.