Last Updated on March 26, 2020 by Team TRA
The U.S. has more than 13,000 miles of dedicated public bike trails. This isn’t even counting the thousands of miles of trails used for off-roading, or roadways frequented by biking enthusiasts. But taking advantage of even a fraction of those trails means transporting your bike from place to place. And to do that, you’re going to need the best hitch bike rack.
With so many options out there, narrowing down your options can be a challenge. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about choosing the best hitch bike racks, as well as 10 of the top models on the market today.
Why a Hitch Bike Rack Might Be the Right Choice
When it comes to choosing the right bike rack for your vehicle, you have two main options:
But while these look cool and leave your trunk open so that you can load other equipment, they can also be difficult to install, hard to get your bike onto, and more expensive.
Trailer Hitch Bike Rack
As long as your vehicle has a trailer hitch, you can quickly and easily add or remove your hitch rack. Then when you’re ready to add your bike or bikes, you only have to lift them as high as your rack, rather than trying to get them onto the roof of your car.
Top 10 Best Trailer Hitch Bike Racks
Hitch mounted bike racks are a popular choice among beginner bikers and enthusiasts alike. Easy to use and able to be installed on a variety of types of vehicles, there are plenty of options out there. Here are our picks for the 10 of the Best Hitch Bike Racks on the market.
Best Two Bike Hitch Rack
The Yakima Holdup Evo is the latest in a long line of superior quality bike racks by the brand. The standard rack holds two bikes, but an optional add-on can hold an additional two.
The easy-to-use tray style of this rack makes it one of the easiest racks for loading and unloading bikes. Because the design doesn’t require you to strap your bike to the rack by any part of the frame, only the wheels, this model can hold a variety of bike styles and sizes.
This bike rack does weigh just under 50 pounds, which can make it difficult for smaller users to install on their own. It’s also a fixed rack, so you’ll have to take it on and off in order to get into your trunk.
Best Hitch Bike Rack for the Money
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Yakima Holdup rack, this might be a good option for you. This low-cost rack holds up to four bikes. The simple, streamlined approach is lightweight, coming in at just under 27 pounds. It also folds down when empty, allowing you to get in your trunk without removing the bike rack.
The Maxx Haul bike rack is largely designed for men’s bikes. Because of the design shape, it won’t hold bikes with slanted frames, which most women’s bikes have.
Best Hitch Bike Rack for Enthusiasts
Like Yakima, Thule is another leading name in outdoor performance. The Thule 9054 Doubletrack Pro is the perfect trailer hitch rack for any biking enthusiast.
At 35 pounds, it’s easy to install. But it also folds down out of the way when you need to access your trunk. Thule’s 9054 rack holds two bikes. It features adjustable clamps and tire holds, which means you can secure bikes of any shape or size.
Best Fold Down Bike Rack
The BV Hitch Mount Carrier is a great middle-of-the-road option. More affordable than brands like Thule or Yakima, yet more durable than other lower-cost options on this list, it’s a great rack for new bikers and enthusiasts looking to save some money as well.
The fold-down design gives you access to your trunk as you need it. The tray-style design holds mountain bikes and street bikes, and the hooked, padded arms lock your bike in place while also protecting it from scratches and dents while in transit.
While the rack will hold two bikes, it has a weight capacity of just 70 pounds. If you have two larger bikes, this may not be enough.
Best Hitch Mount Bike Rack for Large Bikes
Larger bikes require a heavy-duty rack. The Thule T2 Pro XT is just the rack.
The basic model can hold two bikes, though an extra attachment allows it to hold four. It can handle bikes with a tire width up to 5 inches. The ratcheting arm and generous space between bikes keep you from damaging your gear while on the go.
This will help save you from constantly having to re-wax your car to get rid of little scrapes and marks.
Best Trailer Hitch Bike Rack for Cargo
If you enjoy other outdoor activities or traveling in addition to biking, a trailer rack that can do double-duty might be a great choice for you.
The Tow Tuff TTF-2762KR Steel Cargo Carrier doubles as both a cargo rack and a bike rack. It can hold up to 500 pounds of cargo or bicycles. When you want to cart bikes, simply fold out the metal frames. You can hold up to 4 bikes at once.
When you want to tote cargo, all you have to do is fold in the bike carrier, load up your gear, and strap it down. You can carry everything from work equipment like air compressors to your suitcases for your next family vacation.
Only a small portion of the U.S. bikes to work, which means that most enthusiasts are doing it for fun. A rack that can be used for more than just your one hobby is a great way to make the most of your money.
Best Adjustable Bike Hitch Rack
When you’ve got more than one or two bikes to deal with, each of different shapes and sizes, you need a rack that changes with you.
The BUZZ RACK Express features movable wheel trays and ratcheting straps to hold any style bike. It also features pads to protect up to four bikes while in transport.
Best RV Hitch Bike Rack
If you don’t want to struggle with overly complicated bike racks, this might be a good choice for you.
With its simple, streamlined design, the Swagman 3 Bike Standard features a sturdy cradle with padded vinyl to protect your bikes. It can hold up to three at once, yet weighs just 24 pounds, making it one of the lightest on this list. The Swagman 3 is also perfect for use on the back of RVs and motorhomes.
Most Durable Hitch Bike Rack
Another great streamlined rack is the Thule Parkway, Hitch Mount. All you have to do is lift your bike frame up and over the hitch, and strap it into place. No worrying about lining up tires or dealing with complicated strap systems.
The Thule Parkway Hitch is incredibly durable, made from high-strength steel. It does have soft rubber pads that keep your bike from striking the steel directly.
Best Hitch Bike Rack 2018
Some hitch mounted bike racks are designed to sit high above the ground. When you’re installing them on an SUV or truck, and you have a heavy bike, loading your equipment can be a workout in itself.
The Sarris Freedom 2 Bike Tray sits lower on your vehicle. Wheel holder locks your tires in place, while the middle bar keeps them locked in place.
Tips for Choosing the Best Hitch Bike Rack
With so many options out there, you’ll want to narrow down your choices and consider your needs so that you can ensure you’re buying the perfect model for you. These tips can help.
The Weight of Your Bikes Matters
If you’re new to biking, you might be surprised to learn that bikes come in a variety of sizes. And the variation in weight is something you need to think about when you’re shopping for the best trailer hitch bike rack. While many bike racks can handle larger, heavy bikes, they may not be able to handle more than one.
When you’re buying a bike rack that can hold several bikes, you need to make sure that it can handle the total weight of each of your bikes combined. Even though it may be advertised as being able to hold bikes that are 60 pounds or heavier, it may only be equipped to hold up to 100 pounds.
If you want to be able to transport more than one heavy mountain bike, you’ll need to make sure that you’re choosing a rack with a high enough weight limit.
Consider Whether You Need Trunk Access
Bike racks mounted on the trailer hitch are easier to access and simple to install. But one drawback of a trailer hitch rack is that it can block access to your trunk.
If you’re using your bike rack to transport your bikes around town for rides, you might not be worried about getting into your trunk for other gear. But if you want to take your bikes with you on a camping trip or out of town getaway, having to take your hitch rack off every time you need in your trunk for gear or luggage can be a hassle.
Luckily, there are trailer hitch bike racks that can swing out of the way to allow you to get into your trunk without removing the rack.
Set a Budget
Bike racks, like any kind of outdoor gear, come at a range of price points.
- Setting a budget will help you ensure that you don’t end up falling in love with a more expensive model with advanced features.
- If you’re on a tight budget, don’t fret. An affordable bike rack will still get your gear where you need to go. But if you have some extra money to spend, a more expensive model can help you get more features and a durable rack that will last through much more hard use.
- The best hitch bike rack for one person isn’t necessarily the best for the next. Choosing a model that not only fits your needs but is also in your budget, is a must.
- Plus, saving some money on your bike rack will leave you with more cash for other hobbies, like motorcycles.