Mount Up: The 7 Best Bike Racks for Cars

Serious cyclists know that no matter how good the streets near your house are, no matter how sick the hills, there are still better paths over the horizon. Since shipping your bike is expensive, and carrying it around like a travel backpack is impractical, you’re going to need to outfit your vehicle with a bicycle rack. You can get one cheap, but then you’re trusting your two-wheeled companion to a hunk of plastic and metal that is likely to fail just as you hit the hundred miles-per-hour mark out on the salt flats.

To keep your investment safe and allow your good times to roll on, you’ve got to be careful with what you buy. It has to fit your car, which means selecting from a roof rack, a trunk rack, a hitch, or one for the bed of your pickup. You’ll need to make sure it is big enough to hold everyone’s gear, and fits your style whether you prefer slim road bikes or beefy fat bikes. Finally, you need to decide whether on a detachable or fixed model. For every cycle junkie out there, we’ve got the perfect fix in our 7 best bike racks for cars.

Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk

Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Straps leave lots of room for operator mistakes

Switch Hitter: Immensely popular thanks to its easy use, the Deluxe Trunk works on standard cars, hatchbacks, SUVs, and even minivans. Fast breakdown allows you to stow-and-go at a moment’s notice or to disconnect and move on to another car should the need arise. It holds well with the multiple straps, but they are just straps and therefore subject to fray as well as user error so take extra care when attaching the rack to your car. This will only hold two bikes and has a maximum weight of 70 lbs. so try to avoid loading it down with heavy cruiser bikes or fat bikes that will overburden it and strain the straps. Keep the cushions clean or they’ll scratch up your car’s paint job. [Purchase: $40]

Swagman RV Bumper Rack

Swagman RV Bumper Rack

Pro: Keeps trailer hitch available
Con: Only works with continuous weld bumpers

For Bike Camping: If you’re crashing around the country in an RV, you can usually put your bicycles inside it, but for anyone who is seeking to keep your filthy mountain bikes from ruining the upholstery on your camper, there’s the Swagman bike rack. It works with the larger bumper of RVs while still keeping your trailer hitch clear should you want to tow a car, boat, or jet skis along for the ride. You’ll need to use something to tie your bicycles down since this is just a standing frame without any security measures included. It bolts down hard to any 4-inch or 4.5-inch continuous weld bumper and barely moves. Moving it around quickly or easily is a dream so make sure it’s right the first time. [Purchase: $60]

Inno Velo Gripper

Inno Velo Gripper

Pro: Accessible from the side of the bed
Con: Can be difficult with large wheel humps

Truck Bed Trapper: You can use just about anything to mount your bikes when you have a whole truck bed to play with, but for easy use, affordability, and security, we prefer the Gripper among larger, more complicated truck bike racks. A couple of simple clamps go onto the sides of your truck and can be accessed standing to the side rather than climbing all the way up into the bed. They work with any bicycle size from your lightweight rock-hoppers to beefy electric bikes thanks to an easy adjustment system. There’s no need to remove tires, just tighten down and go. Holds your bicycle upright with no sway even on fast corners and limited bounce even when going cross country. [Purchase: $80]

Swagman XC

Swagman XC Cross-Country Hitch Mount

Pro: Folds up when not in use
Con: Loading and unloading bikes requires practice

Most for the Money: This was the absolute lowest price we could find for a hitch rack that could really stand up. There are cheaper ones that can carry more bicycles, but they are riddled with problems that often don’t appear until it’s too late. This folds away perfectly when not in use, but when deployed includes plenty of room for two bikes without any collision, along with a securing arm that holds them in place. Bikes with all tire sizes will fit in and lock down without any wiggle. Installation is simple but the loading and unloading is a little tricky until you get the hang of it. Will fit any standard 1.25-inch or 2-inch receiver. [Purchase: $159]

Yakima Sparetime

Yakima Sparetime

Pro: Security cable included
Con: Only holds 2 bikes

Pick Up The Spare: Off-road enthusiasts who need to keep their spare tire on the back of their vehicle sometimes have a tough time getting a good bike rack. Among those few who have tried to make car racks that accommodate bikes, Yakima does it best. The Sparetime uses the mounting bolts for your spare the same way most racks use the hitch, putting it in close to the vehicle when not in use and giving you a swing arm that pops up to hold your bicycles in place. The anti-sway cradles arrest movement so that the bikes never come in contact with each other even when going over hill and dale with your 4-wheel-drive fully engaged. A 60-inch locking cable is included for safety and security, while the end has a bottle opener for celebrating a successful day on the trail. [Purchase: $64]

Thule Sprint 528

Thule Sprint 528

Pro: Accurate tightening system
Con: Difficult to use with taller vehicles

Finest Fork Mount: Those with a smaller vehicle will get the best security from using a roof-mounted bike rack, and even more if they choose a fork mount rather than one that cradles the entire bicycle. Once you put the frame onto the 528, you tighten it with the Acutight knob that gives you a precision click so that you never over or under tighten it. It’s built like a bullet train and won’t create too much drag so you’ll never have to worry about losing an excess of fuel economy whether it’s loaded or not. It fits with all the standard crossbars and is quick to put on and take off in case you need to swap vehicles. Shock absorption features prevent loosening on the road. Works with frames up to 48 inches. If you prefer a roof rack that isn’t a fork mount, the Yakima HighRoller might be better suited for your needs. [Purchase: $209]

Kuat NV Hitch Mount

Kuat NV Hitch Mount

Pro: Lifetime warranty
Con: Expensive

Carry, Prep, Repair: If you’ve got a standard 1.25-inch or 2-inch hitch that isn’t being used, and a few hundred dollars to spend, there is no reason you shouldn’t get an NV. Not only does it have an integrated cable and hitch locking system that holds your bikes down while also offering them a full 13 inches of buffer, it also functions as a repair stand. Clean, tighten, and adjust your bike wherever you are without having to flip it upside down or contort yourself to see every nook and cranny. Fit bikes large and small equally well, comes with a lifetime warranty, installs easily, and is made of hard-core, resist-a-full-on-collision materials. [Purchase: $529]

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