If you care about your vehicle as much as you care about your bikes you ideally want to keep both safe and scratch free during transportation. An effective method of doing so is with a spare tire bike rack, which is mounted on to the spare tire of your vehicle. Now obviously this only works if you have a vehicle where the spare tire is fastened to the rear door, which is common for SUVs and other off-road vehicles.
The 5 Best Selling Spare Tire Bike Racks:
- Patented design carries bikes up high, away from road and hot exhaust
- 15" long carry arms easily accommodate two bicycles (up to 70 LB)
- Fits nearly all externally mounted spare tires, including those with over the tire third brake lights
- Patented individual tie-down cradles secure and protect bicycles
- Extra wide bottom foot supports weight on the rear tire not on the rim
- Spare-tire mount rack that holds up to 3 bikes at once
- Designed to fit nearly all externally mounted spare tires
- Patented design carries your bikes up high for protection
- Patented tie-down system secures and protects bikes
- Sets up and installs on your spare tire in seconds
- Fast installation or removal with a rugged strap system
- Fully adjustable to fit most rear spare tires
- Carries two bikes, comes fully assembled and folds flat for storage
- Support arms can be centered for side-mounted tires
- Attaches to any spare tire using a heavy duty mounting plate. Transports up to 3 bikes.
- Bikes are securely gripped in a non-scratch padded channel
- Durable black powder coat finish
- Made in USA
- Bike rack attaches to any spare tire using a heavy duty mounting plate (Note: Does not fit 2006 or newer RAV4) Check Application guides for exact vehicle fitment.
- Stay-Put Cradles with anti-sway cages hold bikes in place for frame protection and stability
- Attaches to spare tire and fits both regular and oversized tires
- Integrated locking cable and locking knob secure bikes to carrier and carrier to vehicle
- Arms fold down when not in use
- DO NOT install on a trailer or other towed vehicle
If your spare tire is stored in a spare tire well or in a cradle underneath the vehicle, you will have to look at other solutions. Fortunately, most folks that like heading out into the wilds with their mountain bikes prefer off-road vehicles to get there.
As far as transporting your bike, the spare tire bike rack is actually one of the easiest options to install. You’ll find that most of these racks allow for centered and off-center mounting and should fit a wide range of tires. This means that even if your vehicle uses oversized truck tires your bike rack should still fit.
Professional spare tire bike racks will come with a tool-free locking knob so you can attach the rack to your vehicle without any fuss or hunting around for the right tools.
Don’t worry if you do your biking with a partner as many of the racks has the capacity to carry two bikes or even three. If you do opt for a 2 bike rack make sure that it is equipped with some type of anti-sway cradle to eliminate bike-to-bike contact. This is especially important when going off-road as things inevitably get a bit bumpy.
Storage and Security
Of course you are not going to be driving around with bikes on the back of your vehicle at all times, so most spare tire bike racks fold down when not in use. If you do take your bike with you wherever you drive you’ll definitely want to opt for a rack that has locking cables to lock the bike to the rack just in case someone with sticky fingers takes an unhealthy interest in your property.
If you think that these are a lot of features for a simple rack, you might be surprised to learn that some come with integrated bottle openers! You never know when you might find yourself thirsty after a ride and need to hydrate while fastening your bike to the rack.
As great as a spare tire bike rack is there are a couple of downsides too.
- Like I mentioned previously, you need a spare tire that is mounted to the rear door of your vehicle to actually use the rack in the first place.
- Should you ever have the misfortune of ending up with a flat tire while transporting your bikes you have to take everything down in order to actually change the tire, which is a bit of a hassle.
- Mounting two or more bikes to the back of a vehicle with a spare tire does place a bit more stress on the hinges. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive this may or may not be a problem, but I would suggest doing some research and finding out from others what their experiences are. I would suggest inspecting the hinges regularly for signs of wear and tear so that you don’t end up with everything breaking off in the middle of traffic. Believe me, taking the time to do the inspections is much better in the long run than losing a rack, a few bikes and a spare tire on the freeway, let alone causing an accident for whoever is unfortunate enough to be driving behind you should this happen!
- Since the bikes are mounted to the spare tire on the rear door it can also be tricky to open and close this door depending on the type of rack and amount of bikes you have on it. This is more of a minor inconvenience than a real issue, but it is still worth mentioning.
- Oh, and those tool-free locking knobs I mentioned that are so convenient… unfortunately they are also very convenient for the criminally inclined so if you live in an area with a crime problem it is better not to leave your bike rack on the car when not in use.
Most spare tire bike racks are a breeze to install, but follow the instructions properly. You’ll find that there are usually different tongues for different sized tires, so if you get this wrong the rack won’t be as secure. This is not only dangerous for your equipment, but will also cause rattling while you drive your vehicle which is obviously undesirable. Incorrect installations can cause damage to the spare tire which is also something you want to avoid.
You’ll find plenty of cheap spare tire bike racks on the market, but if you care about your bikes it is better to invest in something that is sturdy. It might be a steeper initial investment, but in the long run it is still cheaper than having to rebuy a new rack or ending up with damage to your bike. Of course, if all you do is transport your bike to the park every other weekend, you probably don’t need a top of the line bike rack to get the job done. Anyone that is serious about cycling and regularly drive out to the country for some off-road biking will benefit from the more durable offerings.
If you have the type of vehicle that can handle a spare tire bike rack, it makes for a nice alternative to something more elaborate like a roof rack. It is also easier to attach and detach than a roof rack plus it frees up the roof for whatever else you need to take along on your cycling trips. If you are serious about your cycling a spare tire bike rack is a good investment that will see a lot of use so purchase wisely.