Getting the best bike rack for your hitch may sound like a simple objective. However, with such a myriad of options available on the market today, it’s not so simple to figure out where to start.
Hitch mount bike racks are available in different sizes and models. Manufacturers are also pushing different types of racks targeting different types of bikes; mountain bikes, electric bikes, and specialty bikes. They also vary in terms of vehicle compatibility. As such, purchasing a bike rack requires some research, evaluation, and comparison of the different models in relation to the vehicle you intend to use them on.
Best Value Hitch Rack
Anyone looking for the best 2-bike hitch mount bike rack is better off with the Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Hitch Mount Bike Rack. This rack is a smaller version of Allen Sports Deluxe 4-bike receiver. What’s so good about Allen Sports Deluxe is that it’s designed to fit 2-inch and 1-1/4-inch receiver hitches.
Best Hanging Hitch Rack
The Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Bike Rack has a sturdy high-quality rack with easy assembly and a tilting mechanism that enables you to access the tailgate even with bikes fitted.
A hitch mount bike rack should ideally be within your budget. However, you shouldn’t let the cost stand in the way of transporting your bike safely and without much hassle. For safety and legal purposes, these devices should perfectly fit your vehicle. It should also restrain the bike securely to prevent it from becoming loose when driving along.
Falling for the wrong type of hitch bike rack could lead to some dire consequences. First, you may end up scratching your vehicle. Second, the bike may easily be stolen or damaged. Moreover, a poorly restrained bike can easily become an unexpected flying object on the roads. This could lead to fatal accidents with hefty fines and possible deaths, at worse. No one wants this. That’s why you need to make a well-informed decision.
The Best Hitch Mounted Bike Racks:
It’s worth mentioning that there’s no “best” hitch bike rack for any cyclist. These units are subjective to your type of vehicle, bike, and several other personal priorities. That’s why we found it imperative to cover a broader spectrum when selecting the best hitch rack below.
If you are familiar with what amounts to a top-notch hitch bike rack, you are free to head directly to the reviews section and compare the various models that we have for you. However, for the uninitiated, we have a detailed hitch rack buying guide after the reviews. You might want to start there.
2 Primary Hitch Bike Rack Design Types
There are essentially 2 types of hitch rack designs that you will have to choose from. We’ve covered both of them:
Hanging Hitch Bike Racks
Hanging bike racks support your bike from the top frame except for a few wheel-only models. These devices can hold anywhere between 2 and 5 bicycles.
Platform Hitch Bike Racks
Platform bike racks hold your bike by the wheels. These designs are more stable and don’t have sway problems. They are easier to load and to unload your bikes.
Platform or Tray Hitch Bike Racks
It’s quite hard for any list of the best hitch rack reviews to go without a unit or 2 from Swagman. Guided by the philosophy -Ride, Paddle, Explore, Seek your adventure- Swagman is among the most reliable brands when it comes to bike transportation.
This manufacturer has all sorts of bike racks ranging from single arm 2-bike carriers to heavy-duty dual arms 5-bike transporters. However, if you’re hunting for an affordable, light-duty carrier that can transport 2 bikes regularly, Swagman XC 2-bike carrier is quite ideal. This model is also great for solo bikers who don’t want to tot around a huge bike rack with only one bike on it.
So what is this Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-Bike rack?
Swagman XC is a thoughtfully designed bike rack carrier that fits 1-1/4-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers. I think this is quite important especially if you wish to use it on 2 or more vehicles with different size hitch receivers.
Swagman XC slides into a 2-inch receiver easily. Expectedly, there should be a slight play. Fortunately, Swagman has included a threaded pin that eliminates all the wobbling. The package does not bring any tool to tighten the pin-down. So you’ll require a wrench or a socket to do so. Sure! You could still maneuver the pin with your hand and tighten it. However, if you need some sought of assurance about your bikes’ and the rack’s safety; you better get a set of sockets or wrenches for that.
What’s so good about Swagman XC is that you can assemble it in about 5 minutes. This rack consists of 3 movable arms joined into a center bracket by 3 easily removable pins.
How it holds your bikes
Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-bike rack accommodates bikes with a total of 70 pounds. It is a platform type of bike carrier. This means that it holds your bikes by the wheels. A mega feature here is that you won’t go through the hassle of removing any of your bike’s wheels.
This rack has 2 pairs of wheel pools. What’s so impressive is that the wheel trays are designed to accommodate different bikes with varying wheel sizes. This is a biggie feature for people who won’t be transporting bikes with the same style of wheels all the time. The wheel trays easily move back and forth on the arm by loosening their independent turn knobs. This means that you can carry an adult’s bikes and children’s bikes with the same rack.
Mind you, you don’t need any tool to turn the knobs. Now, to ensure that the trays don’t fall off, there is a screw at the end of each arm to prevent them from falling. On this note too, you can remove a pair of the wheel trays and leave only one on the rack if you’ll only be transporting one bike all the time.
What I also like about the wheel pools is that there is no form of bike-to-bike contact. Each of your bikes is held on either side of the center arm. So if you’re really worried about your bikes knocking each other down the road as is the case with most hanging racks, this one might please you.
Besides the wheel trays, Swagman XC Cross Country bike rack also has 2 ratcheting hooks that move up and down the center arm. There is a hook for each bike. Their role is to hold your bikes by the frame and push them down to lock the wheels in place in the wheel wells. When mounting your bikes, you’ll have to pull the hooks up first. You do this pressing a button and pulling the bracket up. Once you’ve mounted your bike, you simply push the hook down onto the frame.
The center arm through which these hooks slide has grooves so that the brackets have a vice-grip. So you’ll have to push a button to pull up. This is one of the ways of securing your bike onto the rack. So when you’re driving on bumpy terrains, the hooks won’t move up and risk your bike.
Worth noting, these hooks have friendly heavy padding that protects your bike frame’s paint. You might also consider throwing an old sock or foam between the hook and the frame if you like.
Other than the vise-gripping hooks, there isn’t any other form of security for your bikes on this hitch mount bike rack. As such, you might want to purchase a bike security cable and tie them down to the arm. This creates some sense of security, for instance, if you’re to make a stop and leave your vehicle/bike for some minutes.
Accessing the trunk
With some vehicles, you’ll have to put your bikes down first before accessing the trunk. Luckily, loading the 2 bikes shouldn’t take you more than 60 seconds.
Lastly, the 2 arms that lie diagonally can fold up for compact driving and parking. The center arm also folds down by pulling a pin out.
- Quick and super easy to assemble
- Incredible all-metal construction
- Fits 1-1/4’’ and 2’’ hitch receivers
- Takes utmost 60 seconds to load 2 bikes
- Wheel pool and hooks hold your bikes securely
- Adjustable wheel pools fit bikes of different sizes
- Padded hook won’t scratch the frames
- Folds easily for storage and packing
- Unbeatable price
- You’ll have to purchase a locking hitch pin and a security cable separately
- Not enough rise for cars with low ground clearance
The XR200 is a sterling example of the Allen Sports brand, it’s affordable, made to last and it’s got incredible versatility, it’s definitely a rack worth considering.
The Allen Sports’ XR200 fits either a 1-1/4 inch or 2-inch receiver hitch which makes it fairly versatile as far at platform hitch racks go.
The XR200 has adjustable wheel trays to fit even those fat tires, this is definitely a plus as far as adaptability goes. It also features a frame attachment system that allows for a tighter grip for less shaking during travel. This means that the XR200 can carry a wide range of bikes, from size to type, to make life that much easier for you.
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, convenient but be sure to check if extra padding or cloth is needed to stop unnecessary scratches to your vehicle.
The upper frame connector fully secures and protects your bike and adheres to a wide variety of tube sizes and shapes. The wheel trays fit a 3″ wide tire and adjust to fit a range of bicycles from a 35″ to 48″ wheelbase, with wheels from 20″ to 29″ in diameter.
To top it off, the XR200 includes individual tie-down cradles as well as still allowing access to the trunk, which is quite phenomenal as far as convenience goes.
- Versatile and adjustable, allowing for a wide range of bikes.
- No adaptor bar required.
- Affordable and well made, typical of Allen Sports.
- Made to fit wide tires.
- Folds against vehicle when not in use.
- Applies to both 1-1/4 and 2″ hitch receivers.
- Reportedly difficult to attach, detach.
- May shake slightly if attached to the 1-1/4 inch hitch receiver.
Variety is the spice of life. So to spice this list up we’ve included this rack by KAC. The KAC Overdrive Sports K2 is a platform style carrier that supports standard, fat tire, and e-bikes.
Ease of Use
The K2 includes an anti-wobble system to prevent that pesky problem from either scratching your vehicle or dropping the bikes while you travel. It also contains a quick-tilt system that allows access to rear cargo and includes a folding mechanism for easy storage when not in use.
The K2 supports 2 bikes up to 60lb each using a durable powder coating to add to corrosion resistance. It also comes with padded clamps and locking know and hitch pin, as well as a rear reflector to increase visibility.
The 5″ wide wheel trays fit most standard, fat tire and e-bike varieties Most of the parts come pre-assembled and are easy to install and adjust.
It should be noted that bikes with a lower frame may require the KAC Bike Frame Adaptor, which is sold separately.
The K2 also comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers a variety of mishaps or performance issues.
- Anti-wobble system prevents shakiness and damage.
- Quick-tilt system allows access to rear cargo.
- Folding system for easy storage.
- Rear reflector for added visibility.
- Lacks a security mechanism, additional locks are imperative.
Swagman’s Traveler XC2 model comes next on our list of the best hitch mount bike rack reviews. It’s hard to beat this unit if you are looking for a unit that sets up easily and that which is easy to have your bikes on and off without lots of struggles.
Swagman XC2 is super easy to assemble since it involves inserting a few pins through the arms. This bike rack fits into a class III 2-inch hitch receiver. It also comes with a 2’’ bumper mount adaptor for a 4.5-inch continuous steel RV bumper. This is so convenient for RVs that don’t have a built-in hitch receiver.
Swagman Traveler is as solid as it looks. It’s made of a strong metal gauge that will support 2 bikes with 35 pounds each for some years to come. Its metallic arms also have a black powder paint to prevent them from rusting.
This is a platform-style type of bike rack. It uses 2 wheel trays to hold your bike. If you’re tired of lifting your bikes to your high car’s rooftop, you’ll probably appreciate the low height with this rack the most. You could be through with loading your 2 bikes on this in under 60 seconds.
The wheel trays with this model are wide enough to accommodate wheels ranging from 20 inches through 29 inches. Again, each of these wheel cradles adjusts independently along the arm by turning a knob. This makes it easy for you to carry anything from an adult’s bike with a wider wheelbase to a kid’s bike. In case you’re wondering, these cradles can’t fall off the arm unless you want them to. There’s a small bolt at each side of the 2 arms that keep them within the frame.
Worth mentioning, each set of the wheel pools has been positioned on one side of the main mast. This helps in minimizing the bike to bike contact.
Besides the wheel pools, Swagman Traveler XC2 Bike Rack also has 2 hooks that press the bikes firmly into the cradles. These hooks are designed to accommodate all sorts of bike frames- wide and narrow. They have durable heavy padding that won’t scratch your bikes’ paint. These hooks move up and down the mast by pressing a lever. This mechanism allows them to slide way down and hold your kids’ bikes into their place in the wheel pools.
Do know that the role of these hooks is to press the bikes down. They are sturdy enough and won’t release their hold even on the bumpiest roads. However, this isn’t to mean that your bikes can’t be stolen if they are off your eyeshot. Unfortunately, Swagman Traveler XC2 doesn’t include a security cable. So you’ll have to order it separately when purchasing the hitch mounted bike rack.
Accessing the cargo area
To get your sports gear and other stuff out of the trunk, you’ll have to get the bikes off the rack first. You’ll also have to lower the main mast to the right or left by pulling out a pin. This might be a little bit inconvenient. However, it isn’t such a huge problem considering that you can load the 2 bikes in under a minute.
By the same vein, the cradles fold up for storage. You can also drive with the rack in its folded position without any nuisance. This ease of folding also makes storing easy since the rack does not take much space.
- Load your bikes in utmost 1 minute
- Wide wheel cradles accommodate wide wheels (20’’-29’’)
- Ships with a 4.5’’ bumper for RVs
- Hooks hold your bikes firmly in place
- Hooks have heavy padding to protect the frames’ paint
- Padded hooks slide up and down to accommodate bikes with different heights
- Rack’s locking hitch pin and the bikes’ security cable sold separately
If you are prepared to spend a bit more to get one of the absolute best bike racks on the market, the HR1400 Sports Rider SE is for you. This bike rack takes things to the next level by giving you everything you need from a hitch rack and more.
Started in 1973 in California, Hollywood Racks has earned a great reputation by offering its clients what they need: good quality bike racks that are simple, strong, and secure. The Hollywood Racks HR1400 does not shy away an inch from this.
Who is this rack designed for?
Let’s start here. Hollywood Racks HR1400 is among the priciest models in our hitch rack review. However, you might consider it if you’re looking for something sturdy, large enough for your XL Mountain bikes, and that which has a solid build. You might also go for it if you’re looking for the most versatile carrier irrespective of its weight and cost.
Meet the HR1400
The HR1400 is an example of a solidly built hitch mounted bike rack. This unit has strong steel construction and a black powder painting to prevent it from rusting. Given the strong gauge of metal used on it, the entire rack weighs over 70 pounds. As such, most users might require a hand while attaching and detaching it from the receiver. However, you could still do it alone since it can be separated into 2 units holding 2 bikes each.
The HR1400 is designed for use with vehicles that have a 2’’ inch hitch receiver. The shank gets into the receiver easily. Amazingly, you don’t require a wrench or any other tool to tighten it into your receiver. Upon sliding the shank into the hitch, there’s a locking pin that secures the rack into the receiver. This locking pin also has a lock and key that ensures the rack is safe on the vehicle. Again, there’s a lever at the rear of the shank that you turn clockwise to eliminate all wobbling.
Ferrying your bikes on the HR1400
Hollywood HR1400 is a platform-style type of rack. It has 4 sets of wheel trays that are wide enough to accommodate bikes with up to 3’’ tires. These trays are adjustable along the arm. So they can support a bike with up to 60’’ wheelbase. I’ve said earlier that this is a heavy-duty rack. The arms and wheel trays are strong enough to support bikes with a total of up to 200 pounds of weight.
There are also 2 masts that are designed to stand upright. These masts have 2 padded hooks that push down your bikes into the wheel trays. Worth pointing out, these hooks are nicely padded to prevent scratching your bike frame’s paint. Again, the hooks are compatible with a wide array of bike frame styles including hybrid and dual suspensor bikes. The hooks can also move further down to hold kids’ and women’s bikes with no frames.
To secure your bikes further onto the rack, the wheel trays have Velcro straps that hold each of the wheels. You also get a 9-foot security cable to lock all the bikes onto the bike rack.
Unique from its competitors, this is a 2+2 model. This means that you can fix the rack to ferry just 2 bikes or add the second attachment to ferry 2 more bikes. This process is easy and simple and does not require any tool too. You only need to remove a pin that joins the 2 attachments at the middle and loosen another lever at the rear-most end to loosen it. This lever is also used to reduce wobbling in the second carrier. Notably, you can take off the outermost rack and attach a cargo carrier like Hollywood’s part number HR1485.
There’s also another impressive feature with the add-on bike rack. It boasts a nice rise from the point it attaches to the main rack all the way to its rearmost point. Precisely, the outermost point is about 21 inches from the ground. This is enough clearance to help you navigate different roads without your bikes hitting the ground.
Accessing the cargo area
Hollywood HR1400 tilts downwards to let you access the tailgate. Unfortunately, you can’t do this alone whether you have 2 bikes on or all 4. You’ll require someone to hold the horizontal frames as you pull out a pin that connects the entire shaft to the shank. There’s no problem with tailgates that open upwards. However, those that open downwards will require being held halfway to prevent them from falling onto the bikes. Don’t worry, though. It still offers enough room to access the trunk and get your stuff out.
Folding the rack
This rack adds around 43.5 inches at the back of your vehicle which might limit your parking options. Luckily, the HR1400 offers 2 folding options when it’s not in use. You can either fold the entire rack vertically against the vehicle or simply fold the diagonal arms upwards. So you don’t have to detach the entire unit if you’ll be ferrying your bikes again soon.
- Heavy-duty construction
- Supports up to 200 pounds
- The bike rack has a lockable hitch pin for security
- No-wobble no-tool system eliminates wobbling
- Switches from a 2-bike carrier to a 4-bike rack easily
- No-bike contacts at all
- Heavily-padded clamps hold your bikes down without scratching the paint
- Universal wheel trays accommodate wheels with varying sizes (up to 3’’)
- Adjustable wheel trays accommodate bikes with a wide wheelbase (up to 60’’)
- Lockable hitch pin secures the rack to the receiver
- 9-foot lockable security cable secures the bikes to the rack
- The rack folds for easy storage and compact parking and driving
- Rack tilts to allow access to the cargo area
- It’s heavy to maneuver alone
- It’s bulky and has an awkward shape for storage
Hanging Hitch Bike Racks
Allen Sports Deluxe 4 is one of the best examples of a great hitch mounted bike rack on the market. In fact, this rack is currently the best-seller in its category on Amazon today. And it’s pretty easy to see why so many people love it.
About Allen Sports
Allen Sports is an American Brand started in 1967 in Lincoln, Massachusetts, by Dick Allen. Dick Allen had just lost his job working on Apollo mission aerospace technology. As a cyclist enthusiast and an inventor, Dick used to take his family of bike lovers for some riding escapades at Cape Cod and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. What proved difficult was to ferry all his family’s bikes to the riding locations. That’s what led to the birth of the first truck-mounted bike rack consisting of metal strapping, electric conduit, and fire hose casings. A company that was born in a garage now owns 30+ patents and has products in over 12 countries globally.
So what makes Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Bike Rack a good recommendation?
It’s a 4-bike carrier
If you have a family of biking enthusiasts, then this bike is worth checking out. As its name suggests, Allen Deluxe is crafted to hold 4 adult-size bikes securely. This is a hanging-style rack that holds your bikes by the frame. In case you’re asking, this 4-bike carrier also accommodates your kid’s non-traditional bike frames quite easily.
Allen Sports Deluxe has 2 arms each measuring 22 inches. The essence here is to keep the bikes some distance away from your vehicle’s tailgate. It also allows enough space to carry 4 bikes while allowing each bike enough space to prevent too much knocking.
The 2 arms have 4 pairs of top plates. Loading and unloading your bicycles is incredibly easy. Worth pointing out, these top plates are made of rubber. This makes them flexible so they can accommodate bikes with wider frames. Again, unlike hard-plastic top plates, these rubber cradles won’t break easily.
Your bikes safety
We would also like to note the level of protection that Allen Sports Deluxe offers your bikes. A closer look at the individual cradles reveals some raised teeth-like details. Again, each of the cradles has rubber straps that you use to tie down the bikes like a backpack strap. What we like here is that the rubber cradles won’t eat into your bike frame’s paint. Again, the nylon straps hold the frames tightly eliminating any unwanted movements. In addition, tying these straps don’t involve a lot of fight. However, it’s not something that anyone with some ill-intentions would just do in a split second.
It’s solidly built
You don’t want to see your bikes somersaulting on the highway thanks to a cheaply-made bike rack, right? Allen Sports Deluxe 4-bike rack is made of super-strong steel. This bike rack is designed to support 4 bikes weighing up to 140 pounds. You can tell that it’s solidly built just by holding it in your hands. Again, it has a black powder coat finish. So we expect it to hold up quite fine in the weather. To cement its long-lasting design, Allen Sports goes ahead to back it up with a lifetime warranty.
This is probably the easiest thing with this rack. Allen Sports Deluxe has a heavy solid feel. However, you could assemble and install this thing all alone. Mind you, you need not be a super DIYer to do this. Assembling and installing this rack takes the utmost 15 minutes.
You will either need to have a 2-inch trailer hitch or a suitable extension for this hitch rack to fit on your vehicle. The package comes with no-wobble bolts that securely hold the rack in the hitch with almost zero wobbling.
Opening the tailgate
Allen Sports Deluxe has a tilting mechanism that allows you to access the rear door and take your stuff. To do this, you only need to pull out a pin that supports the main mast. Notably, you can tilt the rack with 1 light bike on.
We also love that you don’t have to take this rack off your vehicle if you don’t feel like it. Once you have unloaded all the bicycles from the rack, you can simply fold the arms down to get them out of the way and leave your setup looking neat and organized without having to detach the entire hitch rack. You can also hit the road with the rack on. This also makes it easy to park your vehicle in the garage without the rack taking so much space.
Even if you had to uninstall it, the rack comes off the hitch as easily as it went in. In fact, if you’ll be installing and uninstalling it quite often, an ideal idea is to replace 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.
By the same vein, this 4-bike receiver folds flat for storage. It’s also not bulky. So you can either choose to hang it on your walls on just lean it at one corner.
- Sets up and installs in utmost 10 minutes
- Steel construction and black powder coat finish for durability
- Carries 4 bikes with a total of 140lbs
- Dual arm style for increased stability
- Individual tie-down system secures your bikes
- Rubber cradles are flexible to accommodate wider frames. They also don’t break easily
- Arms fold easily for compact storage
- Main mast tilts away to give access to the rear door
- Favorably priced
- The rubber in the cradles degrades after some years
The Ridgeback is one of Yakima’s newest bike racks for vehicles equipped with a hitch receiver. This model is available in 2-bike, 4-bike, and 5-bike carriers. If you intend to carry up to 5 bikes to your riding location, Yakima Ridgeback 5-bike rack is worth checking out. This model is also one of the cutest things that we’ve come across in our best hitch-mounted bike racks reviews. So if looks also rank highly in your considerations, this rack fits the bill.
Fits 2’’ and 1-1/4’’ hitch receivers
What you’ll certainly like about Ridgeback 5-bike carrier is that it comes fully assembled out of the box. It’s designed to fit in both 1-1/4’’ and 2’’ hitch receivers. Switching between either of these 2 versions involves installing an adapter. This process is simple and straightforward and shouldn’t take you a minute.
The entire rack weighs around 35 pounds. So you’ll most probably be able to lift it up and down with ease. The shank slides into the receiver without any hassle. Upon sliding it in, the shank is held in place by a hitch pin. There’s also an integrated speed knob at the rear of the shank. Once you turn this knob, it raises a wedge inside the shank that pinches in between the sides of the hitch tube. This eliminates all wobbling tool-freely. The Speed knob is large enough to give you a better grip. It also has a lock hole that comes with 2 keys. This lock prevents anyone from loosening the rack and stealing it.
Mounting your bikes onto the rack
As its name suggests, this Yakima Ridgeback is a hanging-style 5-bike rack. It has dual arms with a set of 5 cradles for 5 bikes. What’s so good with these cradles is that they are all made of hard plastic. This is good news to people who’ll use the rack regularly since the cradles won’t tear easily as is the case with rubber cradles.
Each of your bikes is held onto the arms with 3 zip strips. These zip strips are easy to use and are long to accommodate bikes with wider frames. They have grooves and levers that tightly tie down your bikes. In addition, there are other anti-sway cradles that hold each of your bikes by the seat post. Their role is to minimize sways that could lead to excessive bike-to-bike contact.
Worth mentioning, each of the plastic cradles has a soft inner lining. This prevents them from leaving marks on your bike frames or scratching off the paint.
Do note that the plastic cradles don’t offer optimum security for your bikes from theft. So you might consider purchasing a handcuff locking cable to secure them together.
There’s also another impressive feature about the Yakima Ridgeback 5-back carrier. The main mast is swooped towards your vehicle and away from the bikes. This offers you enough clearance so the bikes’ sprockets, crank, and pedals won’t come into contact with the mast.
Yakima Ridgeback distances itself from other hanging-style bike racks in the way it bends for storage or tilts away. This rack has upper hand control levers positioned at the top of the mast. All the operations of the bike rack are in the red and the black levers. As such, there’s no need to swing and pull a pin at the bottom to tilt the mast or the arms.
Lifting up the red lever allows you to put the cradle arms in their storage position. You’ll certainly want to bend the arms down when the rack isn’t in use. It also reduces the added length which enables you to pull into your garage confidently.
The black lever at the front tilts the rack away from your vehicle. This allows you to open the rear hatch and get out your sports gear.
As I told you earlier, Yakima Ridgeback weighs around 35 pounds. Again, it’s easily removable from the hitch receiver tool-free. What’s unique about the shank is that it also folds up against the mast. So you are left with a super compact unit that you can lean against your walls without grabbing much space.
- Made of strong materials for durability and safety
- Upper hand levers make rack operations easy and fast
- Zip strips hold the bikes firmly
- Speed knob eliminates all wobbling tool-freely
- Anti-sway cradles eliminate bike-to-bike contact
- Swooped mast offers enough clearance for paddles, cranks, and sprockets
- Mast tilts away to allow easy access to the trunk
- There’s an integrated opener at the end of the cradle arms for your beverages
- You’ll require a frame adapter for hybrid bikes without the traditional frame
Anyone looking for the best 2-bike hitch mount bike rack is better off with Allen Sports 522R. The 522R is a smaller version of the Allen Sports Deluxe 4-bike receiver. In fact, in our evaluation and comparison, we found these 2 models similar in almost all aspects. The only differences are that the 522R carries 2 bikes and has a lower load limit. We also found it a bit wallet-friendly for the riders on a budget.
Fits on most vehicles
What’s so good about Allen Sports Deluxe 522R is that it’s designed to fit 2-inch and 1-1/4-inch receiver hitches. This is a rare rack and a much sought-after model for smaller cars that are severely limited in hitch bike racks. This versatility also means that you can switch it from one vehicle to another.
Made for everyday use
One thing that we appreciate about this hitch-mounted bike rack is its incredible ease of use. If you need a rack that you’ll carry your bikes with on a regular basis, the 522R will suffice. It comes in 3 parts and only requires 3 bolts to assemble. As most of its verified purchasers confirm, you need not be a machinist to put this thing up. To be more precise, you could be through with the whole process- assembling and installing- in 10 minutes. All you require is a 14-mm socket wrench and an adjustable wrench.
When fully assembled, Allen Sports 522R weighs around 21.1 pounds. This is way lighter than most racks in our best hitch-mounted bike racks reviews. So swinging it on and off the hitch or ferrying it on your hands for storage is much easier and simple. Like most hitch bike racks, this model also has a lower loading height. It does not involve heavy lifting like the roof-mounted racks. Again, it does not require you to remove any of your bike’s wheels. This is a great idea for seniors.
How it holds your bike
The 522R uses Allen Sport’s patented tie-down system to secure and protect your bikes. This comprises 2 pairs of rubberized cradles. It would have been a nice feature if these cradles were easily adjustable on the horizontal supports. However, we still found them well-spaced to accommodate different bikes. Again, space minimizes bike-to-bike contact while on the road. Like it’s the case with most Allen Sports Bike racks, these tie-downs are rubberized. That said, they are not easy to break and are also flexible to accommodate bikes with wider frames.
These cradles also feature nylon straps and plastic buckles that you use to tie down the bikes into the cradles. To eliminate back and forth sways, the 522R also includes dual compound straps. These straps help in fastening the bikes to the main mast which minimizes the movements even further.
Accessing the rear door
Accessing the lift-gate is made possible by tilting the rack. You do this by pulling a pin that holds the main mast to the bottom bracket. It’s easy to tilt the rack down even with one bike mounted.
Notably, the 2 arms also fold down easily when not in use. So you don’t have to uninstall the entire unit, for instance, if you plan to mount the bikes again soon. By the same note, its 21.2 pounds means that the unit has almost zero effects on gasoline consumption as you drive with or without the bikes.
Overall, Allen Sports Deluxe 522R is a great option for riders who want an economical 2-bike rack. Its best selling point is that it fits easily into 1-1/4’’ and 2’’ hitches easily. So if you want a rack that you can mount onto any vehicle and ferry your bikes, this could be it.
- Fits 2’’ and 1-1/4’’ hitches
- Steel construction and black powder paint finish ensure durability
- 5-minute assembly and installation saves time
- Tie-down cradle system and a compound strap minimizes bike to bike contact and excessive sways
- Tilts away for lift-gate access
- Folding arms for compact driving and storage
- No-wobble bolt doesn’t eradicate wobbling completely
Anyone looking for an economical way to transport their bikes to their cycling destinations is better off with Lenox by Critical Cycles. This is among the most affordable models on our list of the best hitch-mounted bike racks. In the same manner, it’s also among the most reliable racks for transporting 4 bikes. So let not its price scare you off.
Besides its wallet-friendly price tag, there are several other incredible features that we love about Lenox;
This rack comes unassembled. Fortunately, the process involves tightening a few bolts and shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes utmost. Again, all the necessary tools required for assembly and installation are included in the package. To fit, your vehicle needs to have a class III or IV 2-inch hitch receiver.
The Lenox hitch mount bike rack feels sturdy simply by holding it. It’s made of sturdy steel and has a weight limit of 140 pounds. The metal frames also have a black painting to prevent them from rusting. So with just a little care, this rack should serve you for years to come.
At around 25 pounds, this bike rack is also lightweight to maneuver alone. A little help may, however, be necessary if you experience back pains when lifting heavy items.
Lenox is a dual-arm hanging-style 4-bike rack. It has a set of 8 bike frame holders (4 on each arm). What’s good with these holders is that they are of rubber. This is a great relief from plastic holders that tend to break easily in case the bike frames smash them.
Another impressive feature about these holders is that they are movable along the arms. There’s a hex key included for this purpose. This feature allows you to fit bikes with different styles and sizes comfortably. You might also get some of them out if you want to convert the rack into a 2 or 3-bike carrier.
These cradles use independent tie-down straps to secure your bikes onto the arms. The straps are strong and elastic. So they can fit virtually any frame width without lots of issues. We also like that you can you put your bike on and off the rack in seconds.
Lenox also offers something that most high-end hitch racks models don’t offer: Reflective signs. However slight an addition it is, it warns other motorists about your load, especially at night.
We also appreciate that you can pull a pin and fold the arms down easily. This is a great feature when you want to drive with the rack on, but you don’t want the arms sticking out behind you. It also allows you to park easily without worrying too much about the added length at the rear of your vehicle.
About accessing the storage area, Lenox tilts outward easily just by pulling out a clevis pin. This eliminates the need to uninstall the entire bike rack whenever you want to get something from the trunk.
- It’s affordable
- Minimal assembly time
- Assembling and installation tools included
- It’s sturdily built and has solid welds
- Easy to put your bikes on and off the handles
- Arms have moveable rubber frame holders that accommodate bikes with different styles
- The tilts outwards allowing you to access the storage compartment
- Bike security cable is sold separately
- You’ll need to use bungee cords to minimize swaying and bike-to-bike contact
Yakima’s Doubledown is another incredible hitch-mounted bike rack for a family or group of riding enthusiasts. Our team of reviewers found it a reliable option worth its price mark. You might consider it if all you need is a compact rack that isn’t overly bulky and too complicated to maneuver.
This rack comes unassembled. However, assembling is easy thanks to a detailed guide that comes with the package. Interestingly, this model ships with all the tools required for the assembly. As such, even the non-techies can easily set it up without much hassle.
One thing that we like about the Doubledown is that it fits both 1-1/4-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers. This versatility means that you can ferry your bikes with any of your vehicles (or a friend’s) that has any of these 2 receivers. To convert it to a 2’’ model, you only need to insert a bracket and bolt it down to the shank with a bolt. The shank slides into the receiver without issues, and it’s held in the receiver by a hitch pin and a safety clip.
Yakima Doubledown is a bit heavy at around 35 pounds. However, it’s still easy for one person to maneuver it around given its compact design. This rack is made of sturdy materials. It’s rugged and strong enough to support 4 bikes weighing up to 40lbs each. Again, the shank, shaft, and cradle arms have a black-powder paint to protect them from rusting.
Mounting your bikes on the rack
Yakima DoubleDown is a hanging-style 4-bike rack. Similar to other racks of this kind, the DoubleDown holds the bike by the frame. That said, you might require a Yakima tube top adapter if your bike doesn’t have the traditional frame.
This bike rack uses a set of 4 independent cradles to hold your bikes onto its arms. The cradles are made of hard plastic and have rubber straps that you tie down your bikes with. At the side of each cradle are 4 sturdy posts that the straps go into. You can use either of the 4 as you see fit. The inside of each cradle has 2 grooves that hold the bike frame sturdily to prevent it from crashing the cradles.
Besides the top cradles, this rack also has Switchblade anti-sway cradles that hold your bikes by the down tube. These cradles work impressively in preventing the bikes from knocking into each other. In the end, each arm is a red thingy that not only prevents the cradles from falling out but also acts as a bottle opener for the long rides.
Yakima DoubleDown bike rack uses a user-friendly TriggerFingers system to fold the unit out of the way. When not in store mode, the dual arms fold easily by pulling a red lever at the top of the mast. This allows you to drive into your garage easily. You can also drive on the roads without necessarily uninstalling the whole unit.
There’s also a built-in red pin down the mast. Pulling it up allows you to pull back the mast. This allows you to access the back of your minivan or SUV.
This rack does not offer security to your bikes in case you left them unattended. Fortunately, Yakima offers optional Deadlock for this purpose. You might also consider purchasing Yakima’s Armlock that secures the rack to the vehicle
- Easy assembly
- Compatible with 1-1/4’’ and 2’’ receivers
- Switchblade anti-sway cradles prevent the bikes from knocking
- Pivots down so you can access the storage area easily
- Easy ON/OFF feature
- Folds down compactly for storage
- No lock to protect the bike and the rack from theft. You need to purchase these separately
What is a bike rack?
As the name suggests, an automobile bike rack is a carrier used to transport bikes. Different types of vehicles SUVs, pickups, and buses call for different types of racks.
Finding the Right Rack for Your Vehicle
There are several questions that could make purchasing a bike rack less daunting for you. The first and most obvious question is the type of vehicle that you intend to carry your bike with. Secondly, how many bikes are you planning to tot at a go? It’s also important to keep in mind the type of bikes- weight, frame, and wheel size- that you have, or you intend to purchase.
The next big thing worth considering is how you plan to transport them. Will you carry them on the roof or on the back?
3 Types of bike racks – Why are hitch mount bike rack types the best?
Do know that there are basically 3 types of bike carriers; roof-mounted, truck-mounted, and hitch mount bike racks. Let’s dig into each one of them.
Their name says it all. Bike racks for roofs attach to your SUV’s or Wagon’s existing roof rack. There are also some roof-mounted bike racks that attach to your vehicle’s rain gutters or upper door frame. These are ideal for vehicles that don’t have an existing roof rack. If your vehicle already has a roof rack, the cost of installing the bike rack is significantly reduced.
The major benefit of these models is that the rack can be used for a number of other uses other than hauling your bikes. Again, roof-mounted racks allow you to carry as many as 7 bikes with large vehicles. This is a nice feature, for instance, for a group of riders who want to use one vehicle to transport their bikes.
The flip side is that roof-mounted racks are a hassle to install. They also involve a lot of lifting which is quite hard for tall off-road vehicles. If not carefully done, you might also easily scratch your vehicle or even break the side mirrors.
Trunk-mounted racks are the cheapest of the lot. Unfortunately, they also tend to be the least secure. These models have adjustable straps on their frames. These frames attach to your vehicle’s trunk, rear bumper, or hatchback.
Despite being relatively cheaper and compact in comparison to other models, truck-mounted racks are more likely to damage your vehicle. Again, the straps can easily snap or be cut easily. These racks also make it hard to access the truck with the bikes mounted.
The last category of bike racks connects to your vehicle’s hitch at the back hence their name. Experts agree that hitch racks are the sturdiest and the most versatile when it comes to bike transportation. Though they are the priciest rack styles, they remain the most popular options for riders.
Why a Hitch Mount Bike Rack?
The thing with a hitch mount bike rack is that they take advantage of other rack styles’ weaknesses to bring you a versatile and incredibly functional way of transporting your bikes.
The biggest advantage that they have over the roof-mounted models, for instance, is that they have low mounting heights. This alone is a million-dollar feature for the short people since they can load their bikes without lots of lifting. Second, unlike the trunk-mounted bike racks, hitch racks hold your bikes some distance from your vehicle. This leads to minimal chances of scratching the paint or trim.
Again, a hitch rack is also much more stable than most trunk-mounted racks. This style is also your best bet if you’re planning to haul several heavy downhill or electric bikes. Even better, most of them can be adapted to perform a bevy of transportation activities such as carrying skis, snowboards, or cargo holders.
It’s this versatility that makes them the crème de la crème in bike transportation world!
Finding the Right Hitch Rack for Your Vehicle
Most vehicles that have a hitch receiver can accommodate a hitch mount bike rack. If your vehicle doesn’t have a hitch receiver, this can usually be installed. EZ Travel and Reese Towpower 81378 are some of our best recommendations here. They are super affordable, strong for up to 2 bikes, and easy to install.
Assuming that your vehicle already has a hitch, you’ll need to find whether your ideal bike rack will fit into it.
Hitch Sizes Vs Your Ideal Hitch Mount Bike Rack
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 usually only fit hitches from Class II and up. 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.
In your search for a trailer hitch bike rack, you need to take your vehicle’s design into consideration to ensure you pick one that is 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, you will need to double-check that the hitch rack you opt for is high enough from the ground to prevent damage to the bikes and the rack itself when you drive over bumps.
With hitch-mounted bike racks, accessibility to the cargo area of the vehicle may become a problem, especially with some of the 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 will need to 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.
- With Parallelogram Bike Racks you pull a switch to extend the entire rack away from the vehicle, allowing limited access to the back so you can open the rear door or hatch. The bikes can stay on the rack when extended.
Finding the Right Hitch Mount Bike Rack
Trailer hitch bike racks can be divided into 2 major categories; hanging and wheel-mount (platform) racks. The major difference between these 2 is how they hold your bike or bikes.
Hanging Hitch Mount Bike Racks
Hanging bike racks support your bike from the top frame except for a few wheel-only models. These devices can hold anywhere between 2 and 5 bicycles. They are also way lighter than platform bike racks. They fit ¼’’ by 1/4’’ and 2’’ by 2’’ hitches.
If you intend to go for a hanging hitch bike rack, you’ll then have to choose between the single-arm and dual-arm racks.
Single-Arm Hitch Mount Bike Racks
Single-arm trailer hitch bike racks support the bike frame with a single cradle. They easily accommodate both standard-frame bikes (such as mountain bikes and road bikes) and alternative-frame bikes (such as women’s or children’s bikes). They are easy to load and can carry up to 5 bikes and come in different designs:
- Rotatable cradles will rotate in order to keep the bicycle wheels level. They can carry most sizes and styles and come with a hand knob with which you tighten the top plate, securing the bike frame to the rack. These cradles are simple to load, but often bulky, making it hard to secure bikes that have small crossbars, such as kiddies’ bikes.
- Single, fixed cradles will either have Velcro straps or a single top plate that secure the bikes in their cradles. These cradles can’t rotate, and alternative-frame bikes may tilt when cradled from a slanted cross tube. This means ground clearance may become an issue if you have a low vehicle.
Dual-arm Hitch Mount Bike Racks
Dual-arm hitch mount bike racks consist of two cradles that hold the bike frames, supporting it evenly. They can hold up to 5 bikes while reducing contact between the bikes. This prevents them from rocking too much when transported. These are very secure racks, but keep an eye out for ground clearance.
Many come with anti-sway cradles or straps. Dual-arm racks are very compatible with standard frame bike and will also fit bikes with an alternative frame, but you may need an adapter bar for these. Models with wide arms are most suitable for bigger bikes, while narrow arms are better for smaller bicycles.
Platform style/ Wheel-mount Hitch Bike Racks
Unlike the hanging racks, platform bike racks hold your bike by the wheels. These designs are more stable and don’t have sway problems. Again, they hold different levels of bikes and are easy to load and to unload your bikes. However, most of the platform bike racks only carry a maximum of 4 bikes.
Hitch Mount Bike Rack FAQs:
Besides figuring out whether your trailer hitch bike rack will fit your vehicle and work for your bikes, you also need to know whether it will work for you. There are a couple of questions you may have to ask yourself before making a purchase:
Does the rack have anti-rattle and how does it work?
Most bike racks have an anti-rattle device, but you need to know how easy it is to use. Some work with an easy twist-knob, but others have a hitch bolt, requiring the use of a wrench every time you load or unload bikes.
Does the rack offer theft prevention?
Many bikes have integrated locks that secure the bikes and the bike rack to prevent theft. If security is a concern, this is an absolute must-have.
How easy is it to store the rack?
If you only go for bike rides occasionally, storing a bulky bike rack may become a problem. Many racks can fold away while others have removable arms.
Can I tow while using this rack?
Some hitch racks allow you to also tow your trailer while the bike rack is installed.
How easy is it to install the rack?
Most trailer hitch bike racks are easy to install, but some are fairly heavy or require the use of tools.
What does the law say about their usage?
Before installing and towing your bikes on your hitch mount bike racks, enquire from your local states road authority on the laws relating to racks’ usage. For instance, for our readers from Ontario, Subsection 13(2) of the Highway Traffic Act requires that your vehicle’s license plate be visible always. Again, according to Subsection 62(4) and (7), it’s an offense to obstruct the vehicle’s lamps with any attachments. So check out to ensure that the rack doesn’t put you in trouble.
The best hitch mount bike racks are aerodynamic and easy to load, which makes these bike racks a great choice. They are however not something you could purchase on a whim. You first need to ensure that you get a rack that will fit your vehicle’s hitch, can accommodate the bikes you plan to use and fulfill your own transportation needs.