Finding a new cycling destination or route can be exciting, especially when you can go in a fun group of like-minded individuals or family members. However, nothing can spoil the fun as quickly as trying to fit all the bikes and riders into one vehicle.
This begs the question of how big must my bike rack be. As most cars can fit four adults and most families consist of four members, the four-bike hitch rack would be one of your best options.
It can become overwhelming when shopping for the right hitch rack, especially if you want to accommodate multiple bikes of different sizes. Luckily, we have provided you with a handy list of the best four bike hitch racks. To ensure you invest and don’t waste those hard-earned bucks, we have provided a detailed buyer’s guide of things you need to consider before purchasing.
Allen Sports Deluxe
The Deluxe is a trendy and affordable mast-style rack with a 22-inch dual-arm mounting system weighing only 23 pounds.
Related Guide: 10 Tips For Transporting Multiple Bikes On A Bike Rack
The Best 4-Bike Hitch Rack
This list of the best 4-bike racks is split into two categories: hanging style and platform style hitch rack.
1. Allen Sports Deluxe
Allen Sports is known for its quality products; Deluxe is no exception. The Deluxe is a trendy and affordable mast-style rack constructed from alloy steel and finished with a coat of black powder for aesthetics and rust prevention. This versatile rack is made to carry all types of bikes, from adult fat bikes to kids’ bikes.
This rack is designed with a 22-inch dual-arm mounting system. Each arm is equipped with four patented cradle straps fixed in place but can still adjust to the size of your bike frame. The dual-arm mounting allows you to secure your bike frame at two points, providing extra security while on the road. The Deluxe is a lightweight rack that only weighs 23 pounds.
The Allen Sports rack is designed with a tilt-away feature to allow full access to your trunk, regardless of whether bikes are mounted on the rack. To access your trunk, activate the tilt-away feature by removing the pull-pin from the mainmast.
Once you are done with your trunk, push the rack up and put the pin back into place. Please note that although the rack weighs only 23 pounds, it is expected to carry up to 140 pounds, making it too heavy to lift when fully packed.
When the rack is not in use, you can remove the pull pin under the arms and fold the mounting arms down until flat against the mainmast. This will allow you to store the rack away using minimal space easily.
It would be best to have a Class III and IV two-inch hitch receiver and the provided mounting hardware to install the rack on your car. The process will not take you any longer than a few minutes.
Allen Sports also supplies a complimentary anti-wobble bolt to prevent instability, wobbles, or bumps. You will receive the Deluxe rack in three parts, requiring you to assemble them using the bolts provided.
2. IKURAM 4 Bike Rack
The Ikuram is a highly functional hitch rack perfect for family trips or group adventures. It is suitable for minivans, SUVs, and trucks with a standard Class III or IV two-inch hitch receiver. The rack is constructed of heavy-duty steel and finished with a thick powder coat that prevents rust and increases durability. It can hold up to four bikes at once with a total weight of 140 pounds, making each bike weigh approximately 35 pounds.
This rack has a dual-arm mounting system that protrudes 24.8 inches out of the main and allows you to secure your bike frame to the rack at more than one point. On each of these arms are four soft cradle beds to protect your bike from scratches and four UV-resistant straps, which are easy to use and adjustable to accommodate different bike frame sizes or designs. Although the cradle straps are adaptable and quick to use, remember that the straps can snap and need replacement after a certain period.
The swing-down feature provides full access to your trunk within minutes, regardless of whether your bikes are mounted or not. Remove the pivot pin in the main mast to enable the swing-down feature and tilt the rack. Once you’re done accessing the trunk, the rack pops back into the original position with the locking pin. However, please note that many users with a 2015 Ford 150 car have trouble opening their tailgate fully as the rack does not tilt down far enough.
Removing and storing the rack when not in use can be a hassle. To simplify this process, Ikuram allows you to fold the mounting arms inward, providing compact storage and keeping it on without the necessary extra length on the car.
Ikuram includes a free anti-rattle hitch tightener for extra value with each purchase. This will ensure your hitch is mounted onto your car correctly and prevents any excess rattle, wobble, or shake while on the road. Lastly, the rack does require assembly when delivered, but it is under a lifetime warranty from Ikuram.
3. MaxxHaul 70210
The Maxxhaul is a designed mast-style rack ideal for trucks, vans, and SUVs with a Class III or IV two-inch hitch receiver. Although the rack only features one mounting arm, this rack can still carry four bikes with an impressive total weight of 150 pounds, which is more capable than most dual-arm mounting systems.
The rack is entirely steel coated in a black powder finish for rust resistance. Maxxhaul also included a reflector stripe in the front of the rack for increased security and visibility at night.
The single-arm mount on the Maxxhaul is an incredibly versatile mounting system that can fit various bike frames and sizes. The single-arm support features four adjustable padded cradles to protect your bike frame from damage and four adjustable hook and loop straps for securing the bike frame to the rack. Therefore, you must place the frame in the proper cradle and tighten the straps. However, please note that some have found it challenging to try and fit four adult-sized bikes on the arm.
Remove the pull-pin in the mainmast to easily access your trunk during the trip. This will allow you to tilt the entire rack back, creating enough clearance to open your trunk door fully. Please remember that this feature is handy for tailgates that open upward instead of tailgates that swing open.
When the rack is unused, you can remove the pull pin under the rack’s arm and fold the arm mount down until it is flat against the mast. This will allow you to store the rack away using minimum space easily.
To install the Maxxhaul rack, you need the appropriate hitch receiver, the provided mounting hardware, and some basic tools. The Maxxhaul also comes with a hitch pin that is easy to use and adds security to your rack. The only concern is that it can be difficult to line the hitch pin with holes.
The Maxxhaul must be assembled once it arrives, but the process will only take a few minutes max.
4. Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B
Tyger Auto is one of the most expensive racks on the list, but it is well worth the rate because of the OE quality standard of the rack and the complimentary rack accessories included.
These accessories would entail a hitch lock to keep your rack safe from wandering hands, a security strap that ensures your bikes are safely secured, and a cable lock to keep your bikes safe from any potential theft.
The Tyger Auto rack is compatible with any car hitch receiver with 1.25 inches or 2 inches. However, this rack is not recommended for campers, RV motorhomes, and trailers. You can easily mount four bikes on the rack that weigh 33 pounds each. This would add up to a total weight capacity of 132 pounds.
Each of the two arm mounts on the rack is equipped with four padded cradles to prevent any scratches to your frame finish and ratchet buckles to mount your bike to the rack securely. This would mean that the Tyger Auto rack would secure each of your bike frames in two places, giving you double the security while on the road. Use the provided safety strap with your bikes; otherwise, the warranty will not cover any damages occurring on the road without it.
For added convenience, Tyger Auto has included a tilting feature on the rack, providing enough clearance at the back of your car to open your trunk. To activate this feature on the rack, you need to remove the locking pin on the mainmast. Once you are done using the rack, you can fold the rack’s arms down by pulling the locking pin under the arm mounts. This will allow you to store the rack away using minimum space easily, or it even allows you to conveniently keep the rack on the car when not in use.
The Tyger Auto rack would need assembly once delivered; however, the process is exceptionally straightforward and detailed in the provided instruction manual. The rack does come with a limited lifetime warranty for all US customers.
5. Retrospec Lenox
The Retrospec Lenox is a rigid bike rack that makes your next cycling journey a smooth experience. The Retrospec is compatible with a Class II or IV 2-inch hitch receiver and can carry 140 pounds.
Retrospec has two arm mounts, ratchet straps, and padded cradles to simplify the bike mounting process. The ratchet straps allow you to quickly and easily mount the bikes onto your rack, while the padded cradles protect your bike frame from damage or scratches.
Retrospec also designed the carrying arms to have enough spacing to easily fit a wide range of bike frame sizes and designs. However, the rack needs an adapter to securely fit a step-thru bike frame, such as a women’s bike with no top tube. Retrospect is also not recommended for carrying E-bike models.
You can easily access your trunk with the Restrospec rack by removing the pull pin on the mainmast and tilting the rack back. Once you have completed your cycling journey, remove the pull-pin under the arms and fold the mounting arms down. This will decrease the extra length of your car, and it is super helpful for storage.
The Restrospec does require minor assembly when it arrives; however, you would not need any tools as all the hardware is supplied with the rack. Retrospec also included a complimentary adapter to decrease bumps and wobbles and increase the rack’s stability while on the road for a bonus.
Once you have purchased the Restrospec bike rack, you have 30 days to report any defects or problems with the product. No matter if the damage was done during shipping or not.
6. Thule Apex XT
Thule is one of the most popular brands of racks in the market today, which is testimony to the premium quality of the Apex. This uniquely designed and feature-packed rack is one of the most expensive racks on our list; however, it is well worth the investment.
The Apex provides you with superior bike stability and security by using a combination of both cradle ratchet straps and anti-sway cradle straps. The four ratcheting cradles straps on each mounting arm are deliberately spaced 7 inches apart to ensure you can use any bike size or design on the rack.
To mount your bikes to the rack, use the cradle ratchet straps on each mounting arm and tie them around your bike frame. Then, attach the anti-sway cradles to your mounted bikes. These anti-sway cradles are specially added to prevent your bikes from swinging into each other and causing damage in transit.
One of the coolest features of the Apex is the patented swing-away system. This will allow you to swing the rack to the side to access your trunk instead of tilting the rack down. Remember that the rack can swing away when fully loaded, but the maximum weight capacity of the rack is 150 pounds. When the rack is not in use, you can fold down the two mounting arms to save you space when storing the rack.
With the purchase of the Thule Apex, you will also get an integrated cable lock on the arm mounts. This provides superior bike security and theft protection while on the road.
You can easily install your rack to Class II and IV two-inch hitches. It will only take a few minutes to mount the Apex to your hitch as the process would not need any tools except the provided SnugTite stinger, which allows you to lock the rack to your hitch.
7. KAC Overdrive
The KAC Overdrive is a heavy-duty platform rack perfect for cars, trucks, and SUVs with a 2-inch hitch receiver. However, the rack is not for use on trailers or RV motorhomes, and it is not recommended to use a 1.24 or 2-inch hitch adapter for the rack.
The KAC rack is constructed out of powder-coated steel tubing that can withstand four bikes weighing 60 pounds, totaling a weight limit of approximately 240 pounds.
KAC designed the wheelbase to be five inches wide and adjustable to ensure the rack is versatile enough to hold all bikes. This would mean you can load fat bikes and even E-bikes without hassle.
To mount and secure the bike to the rack, use the wheel straps provided and tie your wheels down to the base. For extra security and protection from theft, KAC also provides you with four padded frame hooks with locks. This will allow you to secure your wheels to the rack and the bike frame itself without causing any damage to the finish. The only point is that low Y-frame bikes will not fit onto the rack properly and require a KAC Overdrive bike frame adapter.
You can easily access your trunk, whether your rack is fully loaded or not, by twisting the lever on the mainmast. This action will then release the tension of the mainmast and allow you to tilt the rack back, allowing enough clearance to open your trunk door. Please ensure the rack does not fall into a tilt position but rather guided when tilting the rack. When tilting the rack with a heavy load, always ensure you have some assistance and practice cautiously.
Once you have removed all the bikes off the rack, you can fold the center post and hook arms, which compacts the rack into a smaller size. This innovative feature is an easy way to store the rack and eliminates the need to remove your bike rack between trips constantly.
The KAC comes in a few pre-assembled parts, easily assembled in minutes. When mounting your rack to your car, you will need the mounting hardware and the complimentary hitch locking pin provided by KAC.
With the purchase of this rack, you will receive a limited lifetime warranty covering several accidents. However, please remember that the warranty has specific terms for use before you can claim. For example, you can’t claim the warranty if you have used the rack on a camper or RV.
8. Saris Freedom
With the Saris Freedom, you can easily mount any bike you want, ranging from E-bikes to tricycles. To mount the bikes, remember that the rack can only withstand 190 pounds of weight, including the two bikes on the sides, which must not exceed 35 pounds. This will mean that the two inner-positioned bikes can weigh up to 60 pounds maximum.
The Saris is equipped with a wheelbase that can fit bike wheels up to 29 inches in size or tires up to 2.5 inches in size. Use the provided straps to secure your wheels to the rack’s base. You can purchase a longer wheelbase bar from Saris if your bike wheel needs a longer wheelbase.
To ensure the safety and stability of your bike on the rack, don’t just use the wheel straps. Instead, use the middle mast with individual rubber cradles and ratchet straps to secure your bike frame to the rack.
To have full access to your trunk anytime, step on the foot pedal and activate the tilting mechanism on the rack. However, be careful that the rack does not fall into a tilting position, as it could damage or hurt you. You can fold the arms in once you are done using the rack. The middle masts down for convenient transport and easy storage.
9. Saris Superclamp EX
The Saris Superclamp is built with your convenience and bike in mind. You can easily carry various bikes ranging from E-bikes to kid’s bikes. First, you can rest easy knowing that Saris has protected your bikes with a hitch locking pin and an integrated locking cable.
Saris designed the bike rack with an adjustable shepherd’s hook system and wheel ratchet straps that safely and reliably secure your bike to the rack without the need to touch your bike frame.
It can accommodate up to a 50″ long wheelbase and 190 pounds, making the Saris even more versatile. Please note that the bikes mounted on the putter side of the rack can only weigh a maximum of 35 pounds each.
The Superclamp is relatively more expensive than other racks on this list, but it is worth the investment. The rack is made to last with a lightweight but durable alloy steel construction. The rack is designed to be 40% lighter than other platform bike racks, making the mounting process efficient.
You only need a truck, car, or SUV with a 2-inch hitch receiver to mount the rack to your vehicle.
You can conveniently open your trunk at any time, including when the rack is loaded, by simply pulling the lever at the bottom of the rack and tilting it down. To take it even further, the rack can also fold when your bikes are not mounted for compact travel and easy storage.
10. Trimax Road-MAX
The Trimax is an extremely adaptable platform bike rack that can adjust the wheel trays into three different widths apart. This would mean it can conveniently carry a range of bike sizes weighing up to 33 pounds each.
The trays have durable plastic wheel straps to secure your bike wheels. The Trimax has also added a padded arm that holds your bike frame in place without damaging your bike finishes. The arms are also adjustable to any height.
The Trimax is compatible with any car, truck, or SUV with a hitch receiver of 2 inches. To mount your rack, you need to use the provided screw-in bolt. Once you have tightly secured the bolt, you can lock the hitch, adding extra security to your rack.
The only downside to this rack is the limited access to your trunk because it requires you to unload all the bikes and fold the rack to open your tailgate fully. However, the extensive arm and tray folding system reduces the size of your rack from 42 inches to a surprising 9.5 inches. This makes the rack super easy to transport and store.
Lastly, the rack comes with the main pieces assembled and would only require you to screw in five bolts in the right places.
The Main Two Types Of Hitch-Bike Racks
There are essentially two different types of hitch bike racks. These are the platform-style hitch rack and the hanging-style hitch rack. Knowing the difference will help you make an informed decision, ensuring you have the right rack for your situation.
The platform-style hitch rack comes in two different designs. One design provides you with a complete tray base, and the other is designed with molded cradles that support the wheels of your bike. Although there are two different designs of platform hitch racks, most of them function similarly. For instance, all platform racks transport the bikes upright, and all bikes on the platform racks are mounted by their wheels using ratchet straps or a shepherd’s hook.
A ratchet strap is not as durable as a shepherd’s hook due to the potential degradation of the material through wear and tear; however, it is an affordable option. Ratchet straps are highly adjustable, which is advantageous when mounting different wheel sizes.
A shepherd’s hook mount is a cradle-like arm that clamps over the top of your bike wheel. The arm is usually made of coated steel or aluminum, providing extra strength and durability, which means the shepherd’s hook would not need regular replacement like the ratchet strap. However, remember that the shepherd’s hook does not provide you with the same versatility as ratchet straps.
The main advantage of a platform hitch rack is the limited contact between the bike frame and rack. This is especially beneficial for those with carbon bikes or who are conscious of their bike frame. A platform hitch rack is generally more expensive than hanging-style hitch racks.
Hanging Style Bike Rack
A hanging style hitch rack, also known as the mast style hitch rack, mounts to your bike’s frame and carries your bikes in a hanging position, unlike the platform rack that supports your bikes from below. The mast-style hitch rack consists of three main parts, the mainmast, arm, and clamp.
The mainmast is the rack part that mounts to your hitch and holds most of the weight. The arms protruding from the mainmast provide an area to hook and hang your bike by the top tube. Lastly, the rack arms have clamps or ratchet straps to tie around your bike frame for security and sturdiness.
Some hanging-style racks come with a single-arm carrier, and others with a dual-arm carrier. The dual-arm carrier means that more than one arm protrudes out of the mainmast and that you secure your bike frame to the rack at more than one point.
The hanging style hitch rack is not recommended for cyclists who are particularly conscious about their bike frame, as this style only works by holding onto your frame. However, most modern mast-style hitch racks have padded cradles that protect your bike frame. Therefore, if you want a hanging style but are worried about your bike frame’s state, opt for a bike rack with padded cradles on the arms.
A mast-style hitch rack is affordable and can accommodate different bike sizes, making this rack extremely versatile and advantageous for families.
What is the Best Way to Load Your Bikes?
Hanging Style Hitch Rack
It is always best to start mounting your bikes from the back of the rack and work your way forward with each bike. Oftentimes people find it challenging to try and fit all the bikes on one arm without squishing them together and causing damage to the bike finishes.
This is why we recommend that you rather try alternating the handlebars on the rack; in other words, let each bike face the opposite direction of the one next to it. This will help you fit the bikes together like a jigsaw puzzle instead of a pile. To take it one step further and ensure your bikes are not damaged by rubbing against each other, you can cut a pool noodle in half and wrap it around your frame.
Platform-Style Hitch Rack
Platform-style hitch racks work best if you first load the heaviest and biggest bikes in the center trays of the rack. This will allow you to conveniently secure the bikes into place without the hassle of working around other bikes. The heaviest bikes go into the middle trays of the rack because the rack is stronger in the center parts.
Lastly, load your lighter bikes onto the side trays of the rack to ensure the integrity of the rack is not compromised and to put less strain on the carry arms.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a 4-Bike Hitch Rack
Before you rush out to get one of the best four bike hitch bike racks currently available, You should spare a moment to consider the following.
What Size Is Your Hitch Receiver?
The rack and hitch receiver compatibility is one of the most important specifications. The last thing you want to do is buy a rack and find out it does not fit. Most racks require a hitch receiver, not a 5th wheel or duck neck hitch.
A hitch receiver is divided into five classes that categorize the tube size and towing capacity. The classes are namely:
The easiest way to check what size hitch you have is to check your vehicle manual or crack the measuring tape. To determine your size, measure the width and length of the square hole. It should measure the same.
Most hitch bike racks on the list require a 2″ hitch receiver. You can get an adapter that allows a 2” bike rack to fit into a 1.25” receiver. But you need to check if the manufacturer allows this.
Another factor to consider is how you secure the rack to your car without any damage or faults occurring during your trip. The two main ways of securing the hitch are a locking pull-pin and a twist-in bolt. Most times, the twist in the bolt is more challenging to use than a pull-pin.
Materials and Build
The most durable 4-bike hitch racks are made from alloy steel or steel that is powder-coated for rust resistance. Steel is chosen because it is strong and difficult to bend, even with the weight of four bikes on the arms. It would be best if you avoided any rack made of other materials. A coating is necessary to protect the steel from moisture and oxygen, which will cause it to rust. The majority of bike racks are powder coated. But there are other options:
Galvanized racks are dipped into a special liquid after they have been constructed. This gives the metal a rough finish but protects it from the elements. Because the finish is rough, this is not a popular choice for hitch bike racks.
Stainless steel has additional ingredients that make it impervious to rust and corrosion. However, the finish can be damaged by chemicals.
This is a form of powder coating. These are applied straight after the rack has been fabricated and use an electrostatic charge to ensure the compound adheres to the meal. Powder coat finishes are usually 5-6mm thick, but the thermoplastic coating is thicker and feels softer.
In this instance, the rack is coated in a liquid plastic which sets to gives it a rubbery feel. It is very effective at protecting the metal in the rack, although you can wear it down over time.
Galvanized racks are generally the cheapest, but their roughness can affect your bike’s finish. Powder coating gives the same level of protection at a fractionally higher cost. It is much less likely to damage your bike, and a powder coating is available in various colors.
Many racks have tubular designs rather than square ones because tubular designs are known to withstand more pressure. Most Manufacturers will weld the small parts of the rack together; however, the rack is delivered to you in main parts. This will require you to assemble the rack with the provided bolts.
Vehicle Clearance for Trunk Access
Most modern hitch-mount bike racks are designed to provide convenient and full access to your trunk anytime by removing a pull pin on the mainmast or pushing a button. The two main clearance systems for your hitch bike rack is namely the following:
This is the most commonly found feature on racks and the most affordable. This mechanism allows the entire rack to tilt back and down towards the ground to provide the necessary clearance to open your tailgate.
Please note that it can be tough to push the rack back into the upright position after you have finished with the trunk. This could also cause injury!
This mechanism entails the rack swinging open onto one side of the vehicle with a hinge. A rack with this feature usually comes at a premium prove. However, it is made for the ultimate convenience.
The main advantage of the swing mechanism is the ability to move the entire rack out of the way when wanting to access your trunk. It eliminates the possibility of injury because you would not need to lift any weight.
Bike Mounting Systems
Ratchet straps are awesome mounting systems to have on your rack. They are usually made from plastic that is UV resistant and known to fit a wide variety of bike sizes.
However, the straps are usually prone to snap, which can be inopportune on the road. Ratchet straps are the most affordable option between the two systems; however, replacing the straps in the long-term vision of things could cost more.
Overall, ratchet straps are awesome for more security, but relying on the straps alone is not always practical. You will find ratchet straps are used on most bike racks.
A shepherd’s hook is usually found on platform-style hitch racks. These hooks mount your bikes by clamping them over the top of your wheel or onto the top tube of your bike.
Shepard’s hooks are usually steel or plastic and are often set in size. However, modern shepherds’ hooks are adjustable, accommodating various bikes.
The Type of Bikes You Want to Carry
Before you purchase a bike rack, it is essential to consider what type of bike you will load onto the rack. Some racks cannot safely carry E-bikes, which would make it a criterion for you when searching for the best four bike hitch racks.
On the flip side, if you are a family unit, it is important to consider whether your rack can simultaneously hold kids’ and adult bikes.
Making pit stops at your cycling destination is inevitable, especially when traveling with family and kids. When making these stops along the route, you must ensure your bikes are secure and safe from theft.
You need to use a locking hitch pin to complete security for your entire rack. This will ensure that you cannot separate your rack from your vehicle without releasing the lock by the hitch receiver.
Cyclers often use the locking cable to keep their bikes safe, whether on a bicycle stand or rack. A locking cable is super easy to use, providing extra security to your bikes at an affordable price. Please note that the locking cable needs to be thick enough to deter thieves from cutting through it.
Some racks come with these security accessories, and others don’t, so you must purchase them separately. Before buying a rack, this could be a factor to consider, as it could cost you more to buy the rack and accessories.
If you often use a hitch rack for your bikes and plan on leaving the rack mounted to your car, buying a rack with more features might be worth the investment. These features include opening your trunk while the rack is mounted, folding the rack when not in use for easy transport, and locking your hitch.
Timo is an outdoor enthusiast and gear specialist who is constantly exploring. As an avid hiker, he has completed the ADK 46ers, South Beyond 6000, GA4000, and the Colorado 14ers. He's ice climbed Mt. Hood, hiked up half a dozen mountains in the Alps, and spent three consecutive summers constructing a sustainable trail through the Colorado high country.