The 10 Best Bike Racks For Cars
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Take your cycling to some more adventurous locations with one of these handy bike racks, which attach easily to your car's trunk, roof, or trailer hitch and offer a safe way to transport your ride (or rides) during solo trips or family outings. We've included models priced for any budget that will accommodate most types of bicycles, from mountain to touring. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bike rack for cars on Amazon.
Transporting Your Ticket To Freedom
Fortunately for biking adventurers, plenty of quality options are readily available for adhering bicycles to all types of motor vehicles.
It’s the perfect location for a day — or a weekend — of trail biking.
The trail is absolutely stunning; it’s a labyrinth winding through a lush forest set on mountainous terrain, offering occasional glimpses of the lake and more than a few scenic vistas. Picturesque campsites dot the landscape, which is punctuated by fishing streams, narrow hiking trails, and an endless array of wildlife. It’s the perfect location for a day — or a weekend — of trail biking.
Well, almost perfect, because there's a catch: it’s 200 miles by highway from your home.
If not for the invention of bike racks for cars, this cycling fantasy would likely go unfulfilled. Fortunately for biking adventurers, plenty of quality options are readily available for adhering bicycles to all types of motor vehicles. So many, in fact, that determining which model is ideal for your purposes can be a challenging endeavor in its own right.
Before diving in and breaking down all your options, think about your specific needs. What type of vehicle will you be driving? Will you ever change vehicles? What types of bikes will you transport, and how many? If you’re only looking to transport a single bike, that's one thing; if you need a model equipped to handle a family vacation, you probably won’t want to look at anything smaller than a four-bike car rack.
Performance is always a top priority, but durability, ease of use, and budget will all factor in, as well. In addition, if you frequently transport other types of sporting equipment — such as boats, skis, snowboards, or surfboards — you may want to tailor your search to include racks capable of accommodating some or all of those items at the same time.
Once you’ve assessed your needs and capabilities, narrowing down the potential options becomes a heck of a lot easier.
Securing The Proper Equipment
Bikes racks for cars typically fall into one of four categories. Trunk racks are built to strap to the back of most vehicles; roof racks connect to the top of your car; tray-style hitch racks connect to tow hitches and support bikes from the bottom; and arm support racks also attach to the hitch, but use the bike frame as the point of attachment.
Simple yet effective, a trunk mount is the most basic, lightweight, and economical model.
Simple yet effective, a trunk mount is the most basic, lightweight, and economical model. This is a nice choice if you plan on transporting between one and three bikes that aren’t particularly heavy duty. One carrier will usually work on a variety of vehicles, and because of its compact design, it’s easy to break down and store. There are drawbacks, though: access to your trunk will be blocked, there’s a risk it will scratch your car’s finish, and it’s not the most stable option.
Some roof-mounted carriers attach to your vehicle's existing roof rack or crossbars, while others will connect to the door frame or rain gutters. Either way, it’s a cost-effective design that can accommodate essentially any outdoor toy you’re able to lift up there. With a roof mount, the bikes remain stable and out of view, but you must remain cognizant of low-hanging obstructions and the potential for high winds at all times.
Tray hitch racks, capable of carrying virtually any type of bicycle, are simple to load and can usually hold up to four bikes at a time. These are on the pricier side, but they provide reliable stability, will not put your car at risk of damage, and don’t require heavy overhead lifting like a roof rack does.
Arm support hitch racks offer similar advantages, but since they use the frame as the connecting point, the support arms often won’t accommodate full-suspension mountain bikes or models with unusual frame shapes. Both hitch-style racks may obstruct the driver’s view, block rear-door access, and cause problems with small cars that aren’t rated for towing.
That just about covers your primary styles of vehicle bike racks, though specialty options do exist. Racks that adhere to a spare tire, models that transform a truck bed into a bicycle rack, and cargo boxes are a few examples.
Tips, Tricks, And Risk Management
Woohoo! You’ve purchased and installed your bike rack, and now it’s finally time to make that awe-inspiring wilderness cycling trek a reality...right? We hate to dampen your spirits, but before you load up and hit the on-ramp at 60 mph, you should slow down and consider a few safety-related items first.
Since bikes vary in design by brand and type, there are some inconsistencies in how well certain racks can accommodate specific models of bicycles.
Any time you travel at high speeds with expensive equipment in tow, inherent dangers are involved. When using a trunk or a hitch rack, it will never hurt to secure the bikes with an additional strap or a bungee cord for extra security and to prevent swaying. On top of that, if your vehicle is holding multiple people and several bikes, all of that extra weight can put undue stress on your car’s tires, transmission, and engine. Make sure you know what type of weight your vehicle can handle before setting off on your trip.
Since bikes vary in design by brand and type, there are some inconsistencies in how well certain racks can accommodate specific models of bicycles. Before you make your first trip, make sure to test-fit the bikes you plan to strap up for the ride. Worst case scenario, you may need to get some extra attachments for added support.
It would be easy to forget about security once you've reached your destination, but with bikes, you should never let your guard down. I don’t have the statistics handy, but bicycles have to be near the top of the list of the most frequently stolen items in the world. Avid cyclists tell bike theft stories the way fishermen wax poetic about "the one that got away." It’s not a matter of if — bikes that are left unattended and unlocked eventually will get stolen. The same goes for the racks themselves. Don’t become the latest victim of bike-related burglary — invest in the proper tools to ensure your equipment’s security at all times.
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