If you are not lucky enough to live within easy cycling distance of your favorite trailhead, you’ll need to consider the most effective way to transport your bike.
One of the most versatile options at your disposal is a hitch-mounted rack. These bike racks attach securely to the receiver hitch on your vehicle, offering unrivaled ease of use and flexibility.
Just like buying a bike rack for your SUV, choosing a hitch-mounted rack involves many considerations, so don’t rashly whip out your credit card and potentially end up with an unsuitable rack.
The first pointer to think about is the type of rack that best fits your needs. You have three main options at your disposal:
- Platform racks
- Hanging racks
- Vertical hanging racks
1) Platform racks
Platform-style hitch racks are compatible with most bike styles and offer robust stability. Sitting low to the ground for easy access, these racks have two attachment points. A strap secures the rear wheel while a ratcheting arm holds the front wheel in place.
Loading and unloading bikes is super-simple with this style of hitch-mounted rack. The configuration of platform racks also minimizes any movement of the bike while you are driving.
Another key benefit of the versatile platform rack is the way they eliminate contact between rack and painted frame.
The drawback of platform racks is their size and weight. They are also among the most expensive hitch bike racks out there.
2) Hanging racks
A hanging hitch rack allows you to easily transport lightweight road bikes without needing to lift them onto the roof of your vehicle.
Although these racks are not cheap, they are much less expensive than platform variants.
This style of rack is lightweight and compact, ideal if you plan to remove the rack on a regular basis.
3) Vertical hanging racks
A recent innovation, vertical hanging racks let you hang your bikes vertically from the handlebar with the rear wheel secured below.
This set-up enables you to carry more bikes and to secure them closer to your vehicle.
On the flipside, these racks are heavy, costly, and you’ll need to reach overhead to load them. Additionally, the tall profile of this type of hitch rack eats up a lot of real estate on your vehicle.
Once you have established which style of hitch-mounted rack makes the smoothest fit, consider the following pointers to help you explore our rack reviews below more confidently.
- Capacity: Most platform hitch racks can carry between one and four bikes. You may require an extension to carry more than two bikes on this type of rack. A hanging hitch rack allows you to carry from two to five bikes in total. Most riders find a two-bike hitch rack makes a sound investment. If you have a large family or you anticipate frequently transporting multiple bikes, get a higher-capacity model to avoid frustration.
- Receiver hitch size: Hitch receivers come in two main sizes: 1.25-inch or 2-inch. Always check for compatibility before committing to purchase.
- Weight: If a bike rack weighs more than 80 pounds, this can be challenging to install or remove without assistance. If you intend to install and remove your rack regularly when you are alone, consider a hanging rack to streamline your experience.
- Bike weight capacity: If you want to transport e-bikes, fat bikes, cruisers, or downhill mountain bikes, check the weight capacities of any racks on your shortlist to prevent disappointment and overloading.
- Tilting functionality: Some hitch racks come with a tilting feature that promotes easier access to the rear hatch. A swing-away rack gives you complete access to the cargo area the rear of your vehicle without needing to unload all your bikes first.
Keep these factors in mind and you should have no problem picking the best hitch-mounted bike rack for your requirements.
The 14 Best Hitch Bike Racks
1. Our Pick: Kuat Racks Sherpa Bike Rack
- Material: Aluminum
- Weight: 32 pounds
- Dimensions: 45 x 15 x 12 inches
Our favorite hitch bike rack overall comes from Kuat Racks in the form of the enduringly popular Sherpa. What do you get for your money here, then?
Made from powder-coated aluminum, this premium rack is not ideal if you’re hunting for a bargain. If, on the other hand, you place security, ease of use, and convenience uppermost, this is one of the best hitch racks up for grabs.
Installing this rack couldn’t be much easier. The lightweight aluminum build means you won’t strain yourself in the process and you won’t need any tools or DIY skills for set-up either.
The only notable drawback with the aluminum construction is the pretty low weight overall weight capacity of this rack. Make sure it meets your requirements before committing to purchase as this rack isn’t cheap. That said, it might prove the smartest investment you make for your bike this year if the sizing and weight limit suit.
This rack is designed to accommodate bikes with wheelbases to 47 inches in length and with tires measuring 3 inches across. This makes the Sherpa a smooth fit for most SUVs, trucks, and cars.
A key benefit of this hitch rack is the way it mounts tilted away from your vehicle, allowing you unfettered access to the rear hatch of your vehicle without needing to unload your bikes first.
The wheels of your bike will be protected in transit by a molded strap on the rear tire cradle.
The rack comes with a lock and cable baked in, perfect for securing your bicycles if you leave your vehicle temporarily unattended.
Most user testimony for this highly effective rack is glowing, but we can’t say the same for consumer reports of this brand’s returns policy and customer care. Setting this and the low maximum weight capacity aside, you’re getting one of the finest hitch-mounted bike racks, even if you need to dig deep for the privilege.
2. Thule T2 Pro XT/XTR Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy
- Weight: 51 pounds
- Dimensions: 55 x 13 x 15 inches
Thule has a deep bench of bike racks in a variety of styles to suit all needs.
The T2 Pro XT 2 is designed to accommodate two bikes in its standard form, or up to four bikes if you invest in the additional kit. Even with this rack is loaded fully, there will still be plenty of space between your bikes, preventing scratches to the framework.
This rack is the upgraded version of the baseline Pro X, and you can mount the platform-style rack with no tool kit and no expertise required.
You get an integrated lock with this rack, although consumers report the lock cylinder is weak, so you may want to take extra precautions and use an additional lock.
You can find this rack with this 2-inch hitch size and also with a smaller 1.25-inch version. If you need an extension for four-bike hauling, this is only possible with the bigger hitch size.
When you have mounted your rack, you can take advantage of the hitching lever to make small adjustments if necessary. Tilting the rack downwards allows you to access the rear of your trunk without unloading your bikes or removing the rack.
You may find this rack quite heavy, but the integrated wheels make it slightly easier to shift around.
Ideal for road bikes, mountain bikes, and most fat bikes, this rack is a great all-rounded from a brand you can rely on.
3. Hollywood Racks Sports Rider Rack for Electric Bikes
- Material: Alloy steel and plastic
- Weight: 56 pounds
- Dimensions: 37 x 8 x 22 inches
If you ride e-bikes, you’ll need a heavy-duty bike rack if you want to transport them. And let’s face it, the range of electric bikes is limited, so it makes sense to haul them to wherever you fancy riding rather than relying on a few hours of battery life.
This rack is designed to transport one or two e-bikes with wheelbases up to 60 inches. The maximum load-bearing capacity for each bike is 80 pounds.
You can attach this rack only to 2-inch hitches. If you have a 1.25-inch hitch, you will not be able to attach this rack to it even if you use an adapter. You should not fix this rack to a trailer or towed vehicle either.
When you’re not using this rack, you can fold it against the vehicle. The tiltable functionality gives you unencumbered access to the rear of your vehicle, and you won’t need to unload your bikes to achieve it.
You must always remove the batteries of your e-bikes before transporting them on this rack.
The lockable frame is ideal if you ever leave your vehicle unattended and you don’t want to unload your bikes.
Overall, this is one of the best hitch bike racks for electric bikes.
4. Vibrelli Electric Bike Hitch
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 35 pounds
- Dimensions: 33.5 x 38 x 59 inches
Vibrelli offers another transportation solution for e-bike owners. This rack is also ideal if you have a mountain bike, fat bike, or road bike.
If you plan to transport e-bikes, this hitch rack allows you to haul a maximum load of 130 pounds, ideal for two bikes weighing 65 pounds each. This is the maximum capacity per bike.
You can use this rack with cars or SUVs equipped with a 2-inch tow hitch receiver. The rack is unsuitable for use with RVs, motorhomes, or towed vehicles.
Use a quick-release pedal to tilt the rack down. This lets you access the rear of your vehicle without removing your bikes from the rack.
If you are driving long distances on open highways and want to minimize movement of your bikes on the rack, you’ll appreciate the anti-wobble hitch and the triple-lock mechanism. You should get no side-to-side movement, and your bike frames and wheels won’t be scratched or damaged either.
One thing to note is that women’s’ bikes and step-through bikes will require a frame adapter to attach them to this rack. This is available separately at extra cost.
Considering the reasonably keen price of this rack, the warranty is generous. You’ll be covered for a full ten years against all manufacturing defects, allowing you to buy with complete confidence.
5. YAKIMA Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 49 pounds
- Dimensions: 34.5 x 12 x 64 inches
Next up comes this hitch-mounted rack from YAKIMA, so how does it stand and fall?
Well, this platform-style rack is priced at the upper end of this class of racks, so read on if you have a more fluid budget.
You must first choose from a 1.25-inch or 2-inch version of this rack according to the size of the hitch receiver on your vehicle.
You can transport two bikes with a maximum total weight of 60 pounds on this rack. If you need to haul four bikes, you can pick up an optional extension.
Installation is reasonably straightforward, so you should be up and running out of the box.
Impressive adjustability from side to side gives you the chance of creating plenty of space between your bikes to prevent scratched paintwork.
Intelligent tiltable design helps streamline access to the rear of your vehicle without any fussing around.
Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, you should get years of faithful service from this rack, as well as the ability to haul several bikes safely and securely. The only real drawback is that it’s one of the more expensive racks on our shortlist, but we have tried to provide something for all tastes and budgets today.
6. Kuat Racks Bike Rack
- Material: Metal
- Weight: 62 pounds
- Dimensions: 36 x 8.5 x 23 inches
Kuat make some premium bike racks ideal for a variety of bicycles, and the NV 2.0 is the line-topping model that’s laden with features, albeit at a considerable cost. If you don’t mind investing in an upscale rack, is it worth the money or too expensive for what you get?
Available in this metallic gray version or in a black alternative, build quality is impressive. Stable and reliable, you should get no movement even when you’re hauling your bikes long distance at high speeds.
Installing and mounting the rack is simple by the standards of most hitch racks. You should be up and running within thirty minutes or so. If you opt for the add-on to carry more bikes, this is quite tasky to install so pack plenty of patience.
You can shuttle most bikes using this rack, including road bikes, mountain bikes, and fat bikes.
The rack is rated to carry two bikes of up to 60 pounds each, so it may be suitable for your e-bike, although we recommend exploring some of the dedicated e-bike racks above and below.
In terms of weight, this rack is similar to most of the opposition at 62 pounds.
Despite being packed with locks, a tilt system, and super-stable attachment system, the rack couldn’t be much easier to use. It’s one of our favorite hitch-mounted racks overall despite the stiff price tag. If you have expensive bikes and you want to ensure you can transport them without damaging them, you’re in safe hands with Kuat.
7. Thule EasyFold Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Aluminum and plastic
- Weight: 45 pounds
- Dimensions: 48 x 27.75 x 25 inches
Thule has an impressive selection of high-end bike racks ideal for ensuring your precious cargo arrives with no scratches or dings.
The aluminum and plastic build gives you strength and rigidity in a lightweight form. By the standards of hitch racks, you should find this model quite easy to maneuver.
Installation is a cinch, too. You’ll have this rack up and running in a matter of a half-hour or so. You won’t need tools or any DIY expertise either.
Total load-bearing capacity is 160 pounds, so make sure this is enough for your purposes before whipping out your credit card.
The completely foldable design is sleek and also allows you to get into the rear of your vehicle without unloading all your bikes.
If you plan to haul two e-bikes, you may find this rack feels too cramped. Check out some of the racks above intended exclusively for heavier e-bikes instead.
You get the ability to lock your bikes to the rack and the rack to the hitch receiver on your vehicle, perfect if you step away from your vehicle and leave it unattended.
For those looking for convenience and compatibility above pricing, this platform-style hitch bike rack is one of the best in its class.
8. YAKIMA RidgeBack Tiltaway Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 40 pounds
- Dimensions: 44 x 12 x 16 inches
YAKIMA makes some great and reasonably priced hitch bike racks, including this alloy steel model that weighs just 40 pounds, allowing you to install it quickly and easily to your vehicle without straining yourself.
Of the multiple variants available, this is the four-bike rack. You can also pick a rack intended to shuttle two bikes or five bikes.
Compatible is decent, but if you have a bike with a slanted top tube, you’ll need to use a frame adapter. This is available from the manufacturer but sold separately.
Thanks to the innovative swinging cradle, you almost eliminate bike-to-bike contact in transit, ideal if you have costly road bikes to transport.
The rack arrives completely assembled and ready to mount onto the hitch of your vehicle right out the box, so what are you waiting for?
9. Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 23 pounds
- Dimensions: 14 x 26.4 x 12.2 inches
Another entry from the Allen Sports stable with this iteration of the Deluxe.
This version of the classic hitch-mounted bike rack is intended for vehicles with 2-inch hitch receivers. Check for compatibility before you proceed with purchase.
Like all Allen racks, this one comes pre-assembled and allows you to mount it to your vehicle in less than five minutes, without tools or DIY know-how.
Lengthy arms keep your bikes securely in place during your road trip, with each bicycle individually tied down to inspire added confidence.
The tilt-away mast promotes easy access to the rear of your car or SUV without requiring you to unload your bikes.
A no-wobble bolt should inhibit any movement of the rack on the hitch, improving overall stability.
You should note that if you purchase this Allen Sports rack from a third-party seller, this will invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.
The only real drawback with this rack is the fact it can feel too fragile when loaded with several heavier bikes. If you have road bikes or lighter mountain bikes, though, it’s one of the best options at your disposal.
10. Saris Bones Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Composite
- Weight: 8.8 pounds
- Dimensions: 30 x 30 x 8 inches
If you need to transport two smaller and lighter bikes so you can ride farther from home, the Saris Bones hitch rack is ideal for your purposes. For those who need to haul more bikes, there are several different iterations of this rack up for grabs.
Intended for use with most cars and SUVs, you should have no compatibility issues here.
The sleek and minimal look comes at a cost. The rack feels very lightweight and several consumers report build quality issues developing over time. If you have small and lightweight road bikes, though, this is a non-issue.
The set-up of the rack positions both of your bikes at different levels to eliminate bike-to-bike contact and scratched paintwork.
Hand-made in the U.S. from completely recyclable materials, do your part for the environment while widening your boundaries for cycling away from home.
11. Tyger Auto Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Dimensions: 83 x 6 x 10 inches
Tyger Auto serves up something for the bargain hunters with this hitch-mounted bike rack priced firmly in budget territory.
Fortunately, you don’t compromise quality or security here. There are several versions of this hanging-style rack available, depending on how many bikes you want to shuttle. You can also pick up the rack in platform style if that better fits your needs.
The powder coating on the rack reduces the chance of rust developing over time and improves lifespan.
Despite the budget pricing, you get a cable lock, a hitch lock, and an additional security strap included.
Quick and easy to install in minutes flat, this is hands-down the best cheap hitch-mounted bike rack.
12. Swagman XC2 Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 28 pounds
- Dimensions: 5 x 11 x 34 inches
If you’re looking for a cheap hitch-mounted bike rack, Swagman offers the XC2 at a very keen price point.
Like all budget bike racks, this model is not without its drawbacks. If you use the recommended configuration, for example, you may feel there is too much movement when you’re transporting your bikes. Use an additional strap to minimize this.
Ideal for bikes with frames to 23 inches, you can accommodate bikes with a variety of frame-types, even those with non-standard frames.
You can install the rack quickly, easily, and tool-free. The foldable nature allows you to store the rack in small spaces when it’s not in use.
You can attach this hitch rack to either 1.25-inch or 2-inch receivers, allowing you to haul one or two bikes with a maximum total weight of 70 pounds.
The rack is compatible with bike tires from 20 inches to 29 inches, so it makes a good fit for fat bikes.
Some extras are only available separately – wheel trays for fat bikes, a locking hitching pin, and a security cable, for instance. That said, we feel the budget pricing makes up for this shortfall.
13. Allen Sports Store Deluxe Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 7.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 23 x 13.6 x 3.9 inches
The Deluxe sits in the middle of the Allen Sports range. This brand has a reputation for delivering highly effective bike accessories at competitive prices.
Compatibility is outstanding. The rack works well with cars, SUVs, hatchbacks, sedans, or minivans, making it a great solution for multi-vehicle families who do not want to purchase more than one hitch bike rack.
Ease of use is uppermost here. The rack arrives completely assembled, allowing you to mount it, load your bikes, and hit the road.
The frame of the rack is padded below so the frame of your bike stays away from the paintwork of your vehicle.
You can tie each bike down separately. There is also an extra side strap included to enhance stability in transit.
If you have a smaller bike or a bike with a non-standard frame design, the Deluxe is the strongest option in the Allen Sports range.
14. MaxxHaul Hitch Bike Rack
- Material: Alloy steel
- Weight: 33 pounds
- Dimensions: 31.5 x 7.9 x 11.8 inches
To round out today’s showcase of the best hitch bike racks is an offering from MaxxHaul, but is it any good?
Well, the first issue to highlight is stability. While this rack is very keenly priced, that comes with a cost. If you plan to drive long distances on open highways, you might find there is too much movement of bikes on the rack.
For shorter journeys at lower speeds, though, this is a lightweight and efficient method of transporting your bikes.
There is no contact between the frame of your bike and the rack, so you won’t end up with the paintwork scratched up.
Total weight capacity if just 80 pounds, with a maximum weight capacity per bike of 40 pounds, making it a smooth fit for road bikes and mountain bikes but unsuitable if you need to shuttle e-bikes.
The vertical post in the middle of this rack can be removed to make storage and transportation easier.
Easy to use and install, this is an affordable hitch-mounted bike rack ideal for anyone with smaller and lighter bikes.
1) What are the advantages of hitch-mounted bike racks?
You can load and unload your bikes without needing to lift them overhead. Using this type of rack leaves the trailer hitch free for towing purposes. A hitch-mounted bike rack lets you get into low-clearance areas such as parkades and garages. Additionally, you can leave your car’s roof rack available for cargo boxes and similar.
2) What are the disadvantages of hitch-mounted bike racks?
Hitch bike racks may sometimes impede access to the rear of your vehicle. Before investing in a hitch rack, you must first ensure you have a vehicle hitch in place to receive the rack. Bikes transported on a hitch rack can obstruct your view from the rear of the vehicle and will also increase the overall length of your vehicle.
3) What are the advantages of hanging bike racks?
A hanging-style hitch rack enables you to haul up to five bikes. You can readily remove this type of rack from your trailer hitch. These racks are reasonably compact, streamlining storage. You can load your bikes onto a hanging rack at chest height rather than needing to strain yourself by lifting them overhead. If you choose the right model, tilting or swing-away functionality promotes unfettered access to the trunk or hatch without needing to unload your bikes.
4) What are the disadvantages of hanging bike racks?
This type of rack sometimes allows bikes to come into contact with each other. Bikes with non-standard frame geometry may be challenging to mount on a hitch rack. Top-tube adapters often provide a workaround but check for compatibility with your bike before buying a hanging hitch rack. Transporting your bike on the rear of your vehicle will expose it to road grime. With a lower vehicle, your bike may unexpectedly come into contact with the ground.
5) What are the advantages of platform hitch-mounted bike racks?
With a platform hitch rack, you can carry up to four bikes. Almost any type of bike is compatible with this style of rack, including kids’ bikes and recumbents. Loading and unloading this type of rack is straightforward. The platform will protect your bikes and keep them separated. Most of these racks are heavy-duty and long-lasting.
6) What are the disadvantages of platform hitch-mounted bike racks?
Platform racks are typically heavier and bulkier than hanging-style hitch racks. These racks can make it awkward to access hatchbacks, although you will find it quick and easy to remove your bikes from this type of rack. You can carry a maximum of two bikes on light-duty hitches.
7) Do all hitch bike racks come with an integrated lock?
An integrated rack lock is available on some models, but you should always consider taking additional security measures with a good bike lock to minimize the chance of your unguarded bikes being stolen.
If you arrived here at Florida Cycling today with no idea about the different types of hitch-mounted bike racks, today’s guide should have cleared up the confusion.
Whether you prefer a platform-style rack or a hanging hitch-mounted rack, our reviews above give you plenty of options at a range of price points. There should be something for everyone today, whether you want to haul e-bikes or fat bikes, mountain bikes or road bikes.
Take a moment to bookmark our blog before you head off today and pop back soon for more informative guides on all aspects of cycling. See you soon!