Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Jan. 23, 2020

Riding your bike is a great way to get some exercise, tackle off-road trails, and visit new places. But there may come a time when you aren’t able to ride your bicycle because it’s not functioning properly or the trail is far away. A hitch bike rack allows you to easily and conveniently transport your bike wherever you need it. So, if you’re in need of a rack to go biking, check out these top picks.

Best Hitch Bike Rack

Swagman’s robust hitch bike rack certainly looks the part, but don’t be intimidated by its design. The rack assembles easily and takes just a few minutes to fit into place. While the rack may be set up quickly, doing so can be a hassle. Consider its adjustable ratchet arms, for instance. They conform to fit two bikes and several different-sized bike frames, including ones up to 59 cm in diameter with 29-inch tires, but they may be difficult to move.

Perhaps one of the important features of this hitch is its high amount of stability. Its built-in anti-wobble design prevents bikes from shaking on the drive. Another benefit appears when it comes to storing the rack. The device folds up easily and compactly, so you can stow it in the garage or keep it on the hitch when the bikes aren’t on it. However, the instructions aren’t that useful and might be confusing or offer limited details on specifications.

Key Features
  • Robust design; perfect for hauling bikes from place to place
  • Fits two bikes and conforms to their frame and tire size
  • Features an anti-wobble design
  • Folds up to a compact size
Specification
  • Brand Swagman
  • Model 64650
  • Weight 32 lbs
PROS

Durable and sturdy

Simple design

Light

CONS

The instructions can be a hassle

The guide is limited in detailing some specifications

If you’re looking for a low-priced and more budget-friendly hitch bike rack with the ability to carry multiple bikes with ease, then the Retrospec Lenox Car Hitch Mount Bike Rack is a contender. The low price of the rack shouldn’t keep you from checking it out. It’s a lightweight clamp rack that makes hauling two bikes convenient and simple, but the instructions aren’t very detailed and can be a little confusing to understand.

The rack is versatile and can fit Class III and IV two-inch trailer hitches. It comes with a durable and strong carrying arm to accommodate a number of bike frames and styles. However, the rubber clamps lack durability and may deteriorate more quickly than the frame. Its rubber straps wrap around the frame securely and firmly to reduce shaking and damage to the material, but you may need to use some sort of tie-down system to better secure the bikes. It folds down neatly and compactly for storage when you don’t need it and can be put on effortlessly in little time at all.

Key Features
  • Can hold up to two bikes
  • Carries bikes weighing up to 35 lbs.
  • Fits several trailer hitch styles
  • Accommodates several frame types
Specification
  • Brand Retrospec
  • Model 3011
  • Weight 21 lbs.
PROS

Developed out of tough steel

Lightweight and compact

Easy to store

Budget friendly

CONS

The anti-wobble feature is lacking

The rubber straps aren’t very durable

Instructions can be difficult to read

Thule knows and understands bike racks, and its T2 Pro XT is certainly a premium and heavy-duty choice. Although it is a bit heavy at just over 60 pounds, it is one of the most robust and toughest bike racks out there. The rack comes with a tool-free auto attach system for easier installation and removal of the bulky and cumbersome device. Plus, its cradle system makes loading bikes a breeze.

The rack folds up nicely and is capable of fitting a plethora of bike models and bikes with 20 to 29-inch tires, but it won’t fit fat bikes with 27.5-inch tires. This allows you to haul your favorite mountain, downhill, hybrid, or fat bike anywhere you desire. Plus, its integrated cable bike lock and lock knob secure each bike tightly to the device so that they aren’t shaken around.

Key Features
  • Features a cradle rack for easy-access loading
  • Firmly and tightly grasps bikes
  • Premium choice for bike racks
Specification
  • Brand Thule
  • Model 9034XTB
  • Weight 63 lbs
PROS

Can hold multiple bikes easily

It’s large, robust, and durable

Device is easy to manage, install, load, and unload

CONS

It is heavy and cumbersome

It may require two people to install

It is not compatible with all tire sizes and bike models

This hitch bike rack is capable of holding four bikes, which is the highest bike capacity out of all our selections. Allen Sports’ hitch rack features a mighty metal frame with thick straps to hold the bikes in place. Keep in mind, though, that loading multiple bikes can be a hassle, especially ones of varying sizes. The bikes will mount close together, so you need to adjust their handlebars and pedals to ensure they don’t hit or rub against another. 

The bike carrier isn’t too difficult to understand. It isn’t too high to load bikes onto the support platform, and the tie-down cradle system securely wraps around the bike to hold it in place. However, you may need to use tie-downs or bungee cords to secure the handlebars and wheels from spinning or rotating. It’s capable of hauling a number of different bikes, from mountain bikes with thick tires to quick road bikes with delicate frames. Plus, it includes a no-wobble bolt to prevent the rack from moving around inside the hitch.

Key Features
  • Capable of hauling up to four bikes
  • Won’t wobble or shake during the journey
  • Holds bikes tightly and securely
  • Fits bikes of various sizes and makes
Specification
  • Brand Allen Sports
  • Model 542QR
  • Weight 27 lbs
PROS

A simple and easy-to-manage design

Simple to mount multiple bikes

Lightweight and compact

CONS

It offers limited space between bikes

You may need bungee cords or padding for a more secure fit

Here’s a quick-to-assemble hitch bike rack that can be set up in minutes so you can hit the road faster. But it is hefty and can be a pain to install alone. The system is fully integrated, so you won’t have parts lying around afterwards, and everything is easy to fasten and adjust. Its cradle design is sleek and looks nice on the back of your vehicle. Plus, it’s strong and reliable and provides a tight, firm grip on up to two bicycles.

One of the biggest benefits of this high-quality rack is that it does not come into contact with the bike frame at all. This reduces the risk of accidental dents and scratches to any bike frame, especially lighter carbon fiber frames. It can hold bikes weighing up to 60 pounds and locks down tires between 20 and 29 inches. One issue, though not a huge one, is that the integrated cable lock can be a bit too short. Clamping it around one bike shouldn’t be an issue, but two or more can be problematic.

Key Features
  • Sold and secure design
  • Easily accommodates all types of bike models 
  • Sleek and modern look
  • Adjusts quickly
Specification
  • Brand Yakima
  • Model 8002443
  • Weight 49 lbs
PROS

Quick and easy to assemble and lock down bikes

It’s painted with a heavy powder-coated gloss black

The bikes are held firmly in place by a ratchet arm that doesn’t contact the frame

CONS

It’s hefty and difficult to install alone

It doesn’t include rubber pads, so it may get scuffed when placed on the ground

The locking cables are a bit too short

We appreciate a bike rack that can easily accommodate more than two bikes, and the Bell Rightup Hitch Rack does just that. It is able to carry up to three bicycles between 12 and 29 inches with its powerful clamps. A problem may arise, however, when you have multiple bikes on the rack: Due to its design, having two or three bikes may allow them to bump into each other. The hitch is versatile and capable of installing to either 1.25-inch or two-inch receiver sizes (Class 1-4).

One of the best features of the rack is its lightweight design. While it may look small and feeble, it’s capable of carrying up to 35 pounds per bike. Its weight of 30 pounds also allows you to easily maneuver it around when you don’t need it anymore. You can stow it in the garage or leave it on the rear of the vehicle without a second thought.

Key Features
  • The rack is easy to transport
  • It’s lightweight and durable
  • Folds up when bikes aren’t needed
  • Easy to load
Specification
  • Brand Bell
  • Model 7076328
  • Weight 30 lbs
PROS

Ultra lightweight

Simple to remove and install yourself

Can hold up to three bikes

It’s versatile and can fit class 1 through 4 hitches

CONS

Multiple bikes may hit or rub against each other

There is no security cable

It may look a bit odd, but this rack does a good job of transporting bikes without much hassle. It is equipped with four robust cradles to carry two bikes, plus two large ratchet arms to hold the frames in place. The arms each come with thick padding to avoid denting or scuffing the frame and paint, carrying your bikes to the trails in comfort. You should be aware of what size hitch your vehicle has, as this rack is not designed to fit Class 1 hitches.

A crucial part of this bike rack is the additional safety reflectors that offer enhanced visibility when driving at night. The rack can also be tilted away from the trunk, so you can access it while the bikes are on it. Plus, with the safety and security of the anti-wobble feature, your bikes won’t get jostled around during the journey. One downside is that if you leave the rack on the vehicle 24/7, it doesn’t hold up to weathering all that well.

Key Features
  • It’s simple to hook up
  • Tough and robust without being too heavy
  • Bikes clamp down easily
  • Quick and efficient
Specification
  • Brand BV
  • Weight 39 lbs
PROS

Can hold two bikes firmly

It’s strong and provides a comfortable padded grip on the bikes

It features safety reflectors

CONS

It does not do well if left in the rain or other harsh weather

Can be awkward to carry and store

Not designed for Class 1 hitches

With a name like Helium, this bike rack is one of the lightest and most compact devices on our list. It’s developed out of ultra-light aluminum that is capable of handling a hefty load of up to 110 pounds. But one thing it can’t do is carry a bike with a non-conventional frame. These may include women’s, children’s, and full-suspension bike frames. It has hold-fast cradles with road-dampening technology to reduce shock on the frame and bikes so they don’t get tossed around. This also prevents the bikes from contacting the rack or each other.

A great benefit of the Thule Helium Aero is its integrated locking cable and lock knob. These key components allow you to easily and quickly lock your bikes to the rack for extra security. Also, we all know how difficult it can be to reach the trunk if you have a bike rack—but not with this one. It has a built-in tilt feature to lower and raise the bike rack whenever you need to. One issue is that the rubber straps can begin to show wear and tear quite quickly. Also, the padding isn’t the thickest.

Key Features
  • Bikes are easy to load
  • Tool-free installation
  • Includes integrated locking cables
  • Designed out of lightweight aluminum
Specification
  • Brand Thule
  • Model 9043
  • Weight 20 lbs.
PROS

Rack holds up to three bikes

Features road-dampening technology to reduce shock

Lightweight

Sleek and modern design

CONS

It may not hold women’s, children's, or full-suspension bike frames

Rubber straps aren’t durable

Padding could be thicker

Best Hitch Bike Rack Buying Guide & FAQ

Bike racks offer cyclists a convenient way to carry around their bicycles, but they can be a pain to hook up and load with a bike. There are many to choose from, and deciding which one is right can be difficult. We’ve put together everything you need to know before making a purchase.

Do You Need a Hitch Bike Rack?

There are several benefits to owning a bike rack, and they are much more than just a tool to haul bikes. In addition to transporting your bike, they allow you to carry accessories and gear and can also be a place where you can lock your bike if necessary.

  • A bike rack allows you to transport bikes safely, so you don’t damage them when taking them to the trail or to a repair shop.
  • It allows you to haul other bike accessories such as helmets, bike tubes, and locks with ease.
  • If you don’t have a garage or can’t put the bike in your house, a rack gives you a place to hold or store your bike.
  • You can use the rack to lock your bike while you run errands or park the car for the night.
  • If you need to pick up more than one bike or have several riders traveling with you, a rack gives you more space to hang multiple bikes.

The Most Common Types of Hitch Bike Racks

Choosing the best hitch bike rack comes down to finding the right one for your particular type of bike and vehicle. You can opt for a rack that cradles your bike’s tires like a newborn baby or choose one that holds the frame securely. 

  • Hanging Style

A hanging hitch bike rack grasps the bike by the central frame, allowing it to hang in space. The clasps are typically made out of thick treated rubber that clamps over the frame. The benefit of a hanging bike rack is it is generally lighter and allows room for multiple bikes. However, the pedals, handlebars, and tires aren’t locked down, so they will spin and rotate on the drive. This could lead to them rubbing against other bikes or the rack itself.

  • Platform Style

A platform rack provides a cradle for the bike’s wheels to sit on. A ratcheting arm, usually padded, then connects to the frame to hold it firmly in place. Clamps attach to the bike tires to prevent them from spinning, thus also preventing the pedals from moving.

Features to Look for in a Hitch Bike Rack

While all bike racks generally come with the same features, you should be aware of the types of things they provide. Yes, they hold your bike in place, but they can include a variety of features that you may not realize are available.

  • Locking Cables

Not all bike racks come with a locking cable, but those that do provide you with extra security. You don’t have to worry about leaving the bikes attached to the rack while you run an errand or eat a meal. Locking cables are built-in security devices that keep your bike attached to the rack. One thing to note is that locks typically only come standard on premium and more expensive racks.

  • Padded Protection

The locking arms and clamps should all be padded to protect your bike from harm. One of the worst things that can happen to your bike (apart from falling off the rack) is it getting scratched or dented from the rack’s arms or clamps. They should be padded to ensure a comfortable and damage-free ride.

  • Anti-Wobble Mechanism

You don’t want the bikes or hitch to shake around during the drive, so look for a rack with an anti-shake or anti-wobble feature. It is an extra addition that will keep the bikes and hitch from shaking loose while reducing friction from the road.

  • Hitch Attachment

You need to check the size of the hitch attachment and compare it to your vehicle’s hitch. Hitches fall under a class category, so you will need a bike hitch that matches your specific vehicle.

Tips for Buying and Using a Hitch Bike Rack

Knowing how to install or take care of your hitch bike rack will allow you to hook it up more efficiently and quickly. You also need to know how many bikes it can hold properly as well as its maximum weight capacity.

  • Note the weight restrictions and guidelines detailed on the rack. They can only carry a certain amount of weight before they no longer function properly.
  • Measure the wheel size to see if it will fit on the cradle of a platform bike rack. Many will only hold wheels between 20 and 29 inches.
  • You can remove the front wheel of a bike to make more room for multiple bikes on a rack. The wheels can easily be stored in the trunk of the vehicle.

Best Hitch Bike Rack FAQ:

Q: How do I install a hitch receiver rack?

First, check to see if the hitch on your vehicle is large enough to fit the bike rack. Most hitches have a two by two-inch or 1.25-inch by 1.25-inch receiver opening. If so, you can slide the rack into the hitch and then slide the hitch pin into place to hold it securely.

Q: What type of bikes can a rack carry?

Racks should be able to carry nearly any style of bike, including mountain, full-suspension, road, carbon fiber, urban, hybrid, kids, tandem, and recumbent bikes.

Q: Can I put another hitch on my car if I have a bike rack?

No, you will not be able to put an additional hitch on your car if you use a hitch bike rack since it installs directly into the hitch.

Q: Is there a way to lock the hitch to the car?

You can purchase a hitch lock for your vehicle to prevent anyone from removing the rack. One of the best types for a hitch rack is called a pin lock. It works by sliding into the fastener hole to secure the rack into place.

Our Top Pick

Our choices are all excellent picks, but the Swagman XC Cross Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack is one of the most reliable and dependable racks out there. From its easy and quick assembly to its lightweight and durable design, it makes hauling any bike to the next trail a breeze. It comes with a built-in anti-wobble function to keep your bikes from getting jostled around, and it is simple to remove and store away. All of these factors combined make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.

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