Getting the best hitch-mounted bike rack for your rig seems simple. However, with hundreds of options available today, it can quickly become overwhelming.
Hitch-mount bike racks are available in different sizes and models. Manufacturers are also pushing other types of racks targeting different kinds of bikes: mountain bikes, electric bikes, and specialty bikes. They also vary in terms of vehicle compatibility. Purchasing a bike rack requires research, evaluation, and comparison of the different models concerning the vehicle you intend to use them on.
We’re here to help you sort through the details so that you can find the best hitch-mount rack for your needs.
Editor’s Note – This list was updated on 31 August 2023 to improve readability.
Allen Sports 2-Bike Hitch Rack
Anyone searching for the best 2-bike hitch rack should consider the Allen Sports 2-Bike hitch rack. This model is a smaller version of the Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack. Our evaluation and comparison found these two models similar in nearly all aspects.
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1. Allen Sports 2-Bike Hitch Rack
Bike Carry Capacity:
The Allen Sports 2-Bike Hitch Rack fits a 1-¼ or 2” receiver hitch, adding versatility. The tie-down cradle system does a great job of holding and protecting your bikes while accommodating various frame sizes.
The upper frame connector fully secures and protects your bike and adheres to various tube sizes and shapes. Wheel trays fit 3-inch wide tires and a range of bicycles from 35-inch to 48-inch wheelbases, with wheels from 20-inch to 29-inch in diameter.
Built from alloy steel and capable of holding up to 70 lbs, this bike rack can hold most recreational bikes. The XR200 has adjustable wheel trays to fit even those fat tires, a plus for adaptability. It also features a frame attachment system that allows for a tighter grip for less shaking during travel. The XR200 can carry many bikes, from size to type, to make your life much easier.
On top of this, the XR200 includes another feature, or rather, it features the fact that it doesn’t require an adaptor bar to carry bicycles without a standard tube top. The XR200 folds up against the vehicle when not in use; it is convenient, but check if extra padding or cloth is needed to stop unnecessary scratches to your car.
The XR200 includes individual tie-down cradles and still allows access to the trunk, which is phenomenal for convenience.
The design also has a tilt-back feature, which keeps trunk access easy, even when loaded with bikes. Be carefully tilting it back when the rack is loaded down with weight, or have a friend help you manage the weight load.
2. Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike
Bike Carry Capacity
Allen Sports Deluxe has two arms measuring 22 inches to keep the bikes far from your vehicle’s tailgate. It also allows enough space to carry four bikes while giving each bike enough space to prevent too much knocking.
The rack also allows you to load four bikes comfortably with enough space to prevent them from rubbing against each other. Allen Deluxe Hitch Racks also come with extra hardware to eliminate pesky wobbling. The no-wobble bolt allows you to tighten and secure the entire apparatus. When you remove the bikes, the rack-carrying arms can also fold down, decreasing the chances of getting caught on something. If you’d rather remove the whole thing between adventures, it’s easy to do so.
The two carrying arms have individual cradles that securely hold your bike down. The cradle tie-downs are adjustable and rotate to fit a variety of bike frames, adding to the overall convenience.
Once you have offloaded all the bicycles from the rack, you can fold the arms to get them out of the way and leave your setup neat and organized without detaching the entire hitch rack. You can also hit the road with the rack on. This also makes parking your vehicle in the garage easy without the rack taking up so much space.
Even if you had to uninstall it, the rack comes off the hitch as easily as it went in. If you install and uninstall it often, it is ideal for replacing the nut and bolt with a standard trailer pin. This way, it will go on and come off much easier with no bolt to loosen.
The bike rack also has a tilt-away feature, making trunk access simple. While you can certainly use the tilt feature while a bike or two is loaded, if the rack has four bikes on it, I’d avoid messing with the feature. The combined weight will tilt the rack down far too quickly, which could lead to injury.
3. IKURAM R
Bike Carry Capacity:
The IKURAM hitch bike rack can carry up to two bikes with a weight of up to 84 lbs combined and fits onto most standard Class 3 and 4 two-inch receiver hitch. Whether going to a nearby trail or biking in the middle of the city, it is a great investment. For families, you can purchase an additional crossbar adapter, which is handy for holding kids’ bikes.
It is corrosion-resistant alloy steel and features padded bike cradles with hook and loop straps. The setup prevents chipping and preserves the integrity of your bike’s finish. The rubber cradle straps are UV resistant, which slows down aging.
Like several other models, the IKURAM hitch rack has convenient tilt-away features. You can access your vehicle’s trunk even when the bikes are strapped onto the rack.
One of the immediate benefits of this selection is the low price. It’s also easy to install and performs well on paved roads because of the no-wobble features. The rack does rock on dirt or gravel surfaces, which, over time, may reduce the setup’s effectiveness. Keep that in mind if you use rugged roads to access trails.
4. KAC K2
Bike Carry Capacity:
This heavy-duty offering is a platform-style. It includes an anti-wobble system to prevent scratching your bike or vehicle during transit. The rack also has a quick-tilt system for easy trunk access and a folding mechanism for easy storage.
The K2 supports two bikes up to 60 pounds each, providing a combined weight of 120 pounds. It has a powder coating to add corrosion resistance to its ruggedness and durability. The 5-inch wheel trays fit the standard, fat tire, and e-bike varieties.
Setting up the rack is a breeze because most of it comes pre-assembled, making it easy to attach to your hitch receiver. Remember that the bike rack works best with 2” hitch receivers. The K2 lacks when it comes to security and anti-theft features. However, it does have a limited lifetime warranty that covers a variety of mishaps or performance issues.
This burly rack is the real deal for heavier bikes, e-bikes, and fat tires. If you need heavier bikes transported safely and with minimal rocking, the KAC K2 is a solid option.
5. Yakima Ridgeback
Bike Carry Capacity:
Yakima is renowned for well-thought-out and well-crafted products; the Ridgeback is no exception. This incredibly functional bike rack can carry up to 5 bikes via hard plastic cradles. The build is sturdy, with the hard plastic standing up better over time than softer rubber variations. The inside of the cradles is soft, which prevents scuff marks and damage to your bike rims.
The rack comes fully assembled and features anti-sway properties. At 32 pounds, it does weigh considerably more than other models, so be careful when installing it. While the design allows five bikes to fit, one of the bikes should be smaller. It takes some work to fit five adult-sized bikes on there.
The Ridgeback has an excellent tilt-away feature for easy trunk access and also folds flat for convenient storage options when it isn’t in use.
Each bike is held comfortably with three zip strips that accommodate wider frames. Anti-sway cradles and precut grooves help the bike sit in place. The swooped mast design also offers enough clearance for all paddles, cranks, and sprockets to prevent damage during transportation.
The Ridgeback is easily removable from the hitch receiver without additional tools. Additionally, if the bike rack is used regularly, it conveniently folds up, so it’s out of the way when unused.
6. Swagman Traveler XC2
Bike Carry Capacity:
Another platform-style rack, the Swagman, uses wheel trays to hold onto your bikes. This design flourish makes loading and unloading bikes easy because the platform sits much lower than a traditional hanging mast rack.
The bike rack is sturdy and supports up to 70 lbs. across two bikes. Corrosion-resistant arms help prevent rusting, although reapplying corrosion-resistant sprays periodically helps extend the rack’s life.
You can fit bikes onto the rack that have between a 20 and 29-inch wheel diameter. The cradles adjust as well, making it easy to secure the bikes. This model does not have an included security cable, so you’ll need to buy one separately if you want security features.
While the benefits of the Swagman are numerous, it does not have a tilt-away feature. This is less of an issue with a platform rack, as pulling it off is easier. However, if bikes are loaded, you’ll need to pull them off first, then the rack, before you can get to the trunk, which wastes time and effort. Thankfully, with RVS, trunk access is typically less important with other vehicles, so it shouldn’t be a big issue.
The Swagman does have a fold-up feature. The cradles can fold up when unused, reducing the rack’s size and bulk. With the fold-up feature, storing the rack between uses is simple.
7. Maxxhaul 50027
Bike Carry Capacity:
The MaxxHaul 50027 is durable and made entirely of alloy steel, which has excellent properties in resisting corrosion. It also has a neat finish that will blend seamlessly with your vehicle. The bike rack fits best with a 2-inch bar, compatible with standard 2-inch hitch receivers, which are most common on SUVs and trucks.
The MaxxHaul 50027 features hooks and tire cradles that can easily accommodate most bike frames with wheel sizes that range from 20 inches to 26 inches. There’s no need to worry about the size of your bike frame. The hook design adjustments cater to different sizes of bike frames.
The two foam-padded hooks secure your bikes to the rack without causing any chafing or scratching. This is perfect for preventing damage while in transit. You can easily and quickly remove the vertical post for compact storage. This also makes assembling and disassembling quite easy and quick.
The MaxxHaul has rubber straps that you can easily adjust to increase safety and stability. A hitch tightener also removes any hitch play or wobbles during transportation. If your hitch receiver faces downwards, you can easily correct this by getting an adapter. You can add a few accessories depending on the type of bike that you have.
The Two Types of Designs
In bike rack designs, two types stand tall: hanging hitch and platform hitch bike racks. Each comes with benefits and drawbacks that you should consider before settling on a style.
Hanging bike racks support your bike from the top frame. This design helps avoid the wheel size range that limits platform hitch racks. Many hanging racks come with a very handy tilt-away feature for trunk access, and most come pre-assembled. These racks can typically hold 2-5 bikes. Remember that you’ll need to lift your bikes much higher to load and unload them because they are vertical.
Platform racks, by comparison, are much easier to load and unload because the platform sits lower to the ground. Some of them have tilt-away features, but a lot don’t. Generally, they are durable and sway less than hanging racks, but they cost a lot more. They also may require some assembly. If you plan to drive on rugged dirt roads to access trails, the lower ground clearance is also something to consider.
A Buyer’s Guide To The Best Hitch Bike Rack
When investing in bike transportation accessories, some key considerations should be considered.
Finding the Right Hitch Rack for Your Vehicle
Most vehicles that have a hitch receiver can accommodate a hitch-mount bike rack. This can usually be installed if your vehicle doesn’t have a hitch receiver. EZ Travel and Reese Towpower 81378 are some of our best recommendations here. They are affordable, strong for up to 2 bikes, and easy to install. Assuming your vehicle already has a hitch, you must determine whether your ideal bike rack will fit.
The Correct Hitch Size
Hitches are usually divided into classes according to each vehicle’s towing capacity. They range from Class I (fits any vehicle, tows up to 2,000 pounds) through Class V (only fits full-size pickups and vans with a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds or more).
Hitch-mount bike racks normally only fit hitches from Class II and up, with a few exceptions. This is because the “tongues” of Class I hitches can’t carry heavy loads. To see what hitch your vehicle has, check the owner’s manual if you have a factory-installed hitch, or if you have an aftermarket hitch, check the hitch itself for a notation, sticker, or stamp with the classification. Alternatively, contact the hitch maker directly.
Vehicle Design and Clearance
In your search for a trailer hitch bike rack, you need to consider your vehicle’s design to ensure you pick one compatible with your setup.
- If your car has a rear-mounted spare tire, you may need a bike rack with a longer shank (the square metal tube that slides into the hitch receiver) to prevent damage to your vehicle or bikes. Measure the distance from the middle of the hitch’s pinhole to the spare tire’s outermost edge to get the minimum required length for the shank. Alternatively, you can add an extension like the Heininger 6000 Advantage to get more clearance. However, do know that extenders slash the weight capacity of your hitch by half.
- If you have a vehicle with low clearance, double-check that the hitch rack you opt for is high enough from the ground to prevent damage to the bike and the rack when you drive over bumps.
With hitch-mounted bike racks, accessibility to the vehicle’s cargo area may become a problem, especially with some cheaper, more simplistic models.
- Fixed-position hitch bike racks always stay in place, and you need to remove them to access the back of your vehicle.
- Tilting hitch bike racks will tilt down at the rack’s base when you pull a switch or remove a pin. These racks allow you to open the rear door or hatch, but you must remove the bikes to tilt the rack.
- Swing-away racks will swing the bikes completely away from the car, giving you unlimited access while the bikes remain on the rack. They usually work by removing a clip or a pin.
Tilting or Swing-Away Feature
There’s always the question of which feature is better, the tilt or the swing-away feature. Both have some perks that will come in handy.
How many times do you need to access the hatch or trunk when your bikes are loaded? The answer to this question will determine which feature you should prioritize. The swing away is the better choice if you frequently need to access the hatch or trunk. With the swing away, you can easily move the rack away and access your trunk or tailgate without unloading the bikes.
If you’re working with a tight budget, the tilt is the best option because it is cheaper than the swing away. With the tilt rack, you can easily tilt the rack down if you need to access the hatch. You must exercise caution when moving a tilt rack to access the hatch or put it in place. Carefully tilt the rack, and always have a rough idea of the weight you are working with.
Bike Wheel Size And Tire Width
You must check if there are any specifications concerning wheel size and tire width before you buy your bike rack. Most bike racks come with specifications regarding wheel size and tire width. A good example is how the vertical hitch bike racks are compatible with 20 to 29-inch standard wheels and 24 to 29-inch mid to fat-tire bikes.
Material and Build
The material used for making bike racks should be durable, aesthetically presentable, and highly functional. You don’t want to pick a material that is not weather-resistant when you know that your bike rack will be fully exposed to the weather during transportation. Good choices include stainless steel or thermoplastic. Bike racks can also be made from titanium, which would be more pricey. Each choice of bike rack material has its pros and cons. Steel is affordable and has a high resistance to cutting and bending, which makes it a perfect choice.
The weight of the bike rack itself also matters. A bike rack that is too heavy may damage your car. The weight of the bike rack heavily depends on several variables. The weight of the bike rack will largely influence its capacity. Most bike racks weigh around 45 pounds, and each part will not weigh more than 18 pounds. The higher the bike rack capacity, the more it will weigh. Heavier bikes will need a heavier bike rack, and lighter bikes will need a lighter bike rack.
One of the lightest hitch-mount bike racks on the market is the Thule Helium Pro 2, which weighs only 19 lbs. This is because it is made out of aluminum, which is lightweight. There are a lot of other lightweight bike rack options that you can pick from. Remember that a lightweight bike rack cannot accommodate heavier bikes.
Your bikes are conspicuous and highly exposed whenever you use a bike rack. This may be a source of worry, especially in an unsafe or isolated area. You can employ measures that include using lock alarms or even getting bicycle insurance. Using bike locks will make it difficult for anyone trying to steal your bike. Security is much easier and stress-free if your rack has bike locks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Hitch Mount Racks Have Anti-Rattle Devices?
Most bike racks have an anti-rattle device, but you must know how easy it is. Some work with an easy twist-knob, but others have a hitch bolt, requiring a wrench every time you load or unload bikes.
Can I Tow While Using a Hitch Bike Rack?
Some hitch racks allow you to tow your trailer while the bike rack is installed.
Are Hitch Bike Racks Easy to Install?
Most hitch bike racks are easy to install, but some are heavy or require tools.
Are There Any Laws Regarding Hitch Bike Racks?
Before installing and towing your bikes on your hitch mount bike racks, enquire about the racks’ usage laws from your local state’s road authority. In most states, traffic regulations require that your vehicle’s license plate always be visible, and obstructing the vehicle’s lamps with attachments is usually an offense.
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.