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 other types of racks targeting different kinds 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.
Anyone looking for the best 2-bike hitch 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 two models similar in almost all aspects.
What Is a Hitch Bike Rack?
A hitch bike rack is simply a bicycle accessory that attaches to your vehicle’s hitch for the purpose of transporting your bikes. It allows you to transport your bike from point A to point B without having to disassemble the bike or acquire a trailer.
There are different types of bike racks that you can choose from depending on conditions that include bike capacity, vehicle hitch class, and pricing.
Two Types of Hitch Bike Rack Designs
There are essentially two types of hitch rack designs that you will have to choose from.
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 unload your bikes.
Allen Sports 2-Bike Hitch Rack is the Best Overall Option
The XR200 is a sterling example of the Allen Sports brand. It’s affordable, made to last, and has 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, making it fairly versatile as far as platform hitch racks go.
The XR200 has adjustable wheel trays to fit even those fat tires, and 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. 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 check if extra padding or cloth is needed to stop unnecessary scratches to your car.
The upper frame connector fully secures and protects your bike and adheres to a wide variety of 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.
The XR200 includes individual tie-down cradles and still allows access to the trunk, which is quite phenomenal as far as convenience goes.
But, If You’re Looking for the Best 4-Bike Rack, Get the Allen Sports Deluxe
Allen Sports Deluxe 4 is one of the best examples of a great hitch-mounted bike rack on the market. 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 to keep the bikes some distance away from your vehicle’s tailgate. It also allows enough space to carry 4 bikes while giving each bike enough space to prevent too much knocking.
The 2 arms have 4 pairs of top plates which make loading and unloading your bicycles incredibly easy. Worth pointing out, that these top plates are made of rubber making them flexible so they can accommodate bikes with wider frames. Again, unlike hard-plastic top plates, these rubber cradles won’t break easily.
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 I 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 doesn’t involve a lot of fight. However, it’s not something that anyone with some ill intentions would just do in a split second.
You will need a 2-inch trailer hitch or a suitable extension for this hitch rack to fit on your vehicle. The hitch rack comes with no-wobble bolts that securely hold the rack in the hitch with almost zero wobbling. Allen Sports Deluxe has a tilting mechanism that allows you to access the rear door and take your stuff.
Once you have offloaded 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.
For the Budget Conscious, the Ikuram R 2-Bike Hitch Bike Rack Is a Good Option
The IKURAM hitch bike rack is perfect for families or avid bikers who need the convenience of being able to transport their bikes safely without breaking the bank. This bike rack is budget-friendly at less than $100 and gives you value for your money. The IKURAM mount bike rack stands out because it combines good quality and an affordable price. This is your best bet when you need convenience and versatility coupled with affordability. It is suitable for use on cars, trucks, SUVs, and sedans.
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 hitches.
Whether you’re going to a nearby bike trail or you’re doing intercity travel, the IKURAM hitch rack is for you. If you are going as a family, you can get a crossbar adapter which is sold separately and comes in handy for kid’s bikes.
It is made of strong and durable alloy steel, an added advantage is its resistance to corrosion. The finish adds a neat look that blends well with your vehicle. It also includes padded bike cradles with hook and loop straps to prevent any chipping and preserve the look of your bike finish. While the rubber cradle straps are UV resistant and this helps to slow down aging and degradation.
Additionally, installation is a quick and easy process. There’s no need to worry about wobbling during transportation because of the no-wobble hitch installation. The IKURAM hitch bike rack’s convenient design also allows access to the rear of your vehicle through its swing-down mechanisms, so there is no need to detach the hitch rack first.
The KAC K2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack Is Best for Heavy-Weight Bikes
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 tires, and e-bikes. With a 2-bike loading capacity of 120-pounds and its powder-coated steel tubing construction, this is a heavyweight hitch bike rack champion.
The K2 includes an anti-wobble system to prevent scratching your vehicle or bikes during transit. It has a convenient 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 60-pounds each, providing a combined weight of 120-pounds. To add to its ruggedness and durability it has a powder coating to add corrosion resistance. The 5-inch wheel trays fit most standard, fat tire, and e-bike varieties.
Installation is efficient because the majority of the parts are pre-assembled, making it easy to install and adjust. Although, I have found that bikes with a lower frame may require the KAC bike frame adaptor, which is sold separately. I would advise using this hitch mount bike rack on 2-inch hitches only.
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.
Yakima’s Ridgeback Hitch Bike Rack Has a Great Tilting Feauture
The Yakima Ridgeback offers the versatility and convenience to carry up to 5 bikes at once. Its anti-sway cradles prevent bike-to-bike contact, while ZipStrips tightly secure bikes to the rack. The Yakima Ridgeback offers versatile and adjustable features, but additionally, it also has a durable tilting feature, that allows access to the trunk of your car, while all your bikes are still loaded. The ability to tilt safely and securely, while being able to carry up to 5 bikes, makes the Yakima Ridgeback one of the top considerations if you’re interested in a hitch-mounted bike rack that has a tilting feature.
The Yakima Ridgeback is a fantastically designed, multi-bike hitch mount rack. Designed not only for functionality, but convenience as well, it has an integrated opener at the end of the cradle arms for your beverages. The dual arms with a set of 5 cradles, made from hard plastic, for 5 bikes. The hard plastic material is great for those who would use the rack regularly since the cradles won’t degrade as easily as is the case with rubber cradles. 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.
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. The grooves and levers tightly tie down the bikes, along with the anti-sway cradles. This is a great way to minimize swaying during transit. A swooped mast design offers enough clearance for all paddles, cranks, and sprockets, so to prevent damage during transportation.
The Ridgeback is easily removable from the hitch receiver without the need for additional tools. Additionally, if the bike rack will be used regularly, it conveniently folds up so that it’s out of the way when not in use.
For RV Drivers, the Swagman Traveler XC2 Is a Perfect Choice
The Swagman XC2 fits into a class III 2-inch hitch receiver. It comes with a 2-inch bumper mount adaptor for a 4.5-inch continuous steel RV bumper. This is so convenient for RVs that do not have a built-in hitch receiver.
This is a platform-style bike rack that 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.
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 are also black powder coated to prevent rusting and corrosion.
The wheel trays with this model are wide enough to accommodate wheels ranging from 20-inches to 29-inches. 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. Unfortunately, the Swagman Traveler XC2 doesn’t include a security cable. So you’ll have to order it separately when purchasing the hitch-mounted bike rack.
If you need access to your trunk, the Swagman Traveler won’t allow you access while the bikes are mounted to the bike rack. Again, this is why the Traveler is a great option for RV drivers, as accessing your trunk during a road trip isn’t normally a requirement. However, should you need to access your vehicle’s trunk, unloading the bikes can swiftly be done in under a minute.
The cradles fold up when the bike rack is not in use and can be driven in its folded position without it being any nuisance. This ease of folding also makes storing easy since the rack does not take much space.
While the Maxxhaul 50027 Is the Best Option for Trucks and SUV’s
The MaxxHaul 50027 is a perfect fit for avid bikers who like the convenience that comes with being able to take their bikes anywhere. It can easily carry two bikes with a maximum distributed weight of 75 lbs. You can also carry one bike provided that you secure it safely with the straps provided. It is the perfect fit for trucks and SUVs and performs better in this category than other types of bike racks. This is because of its compatibility with the hitch receivers on most trucks and SUVs.
The MaxxHaul 50027 is durable and it is made entirely of alloy steel which has excellent properties when it comes to resisting corrosion. It also has a neat finish that will blend seamlessly with your vehicle.
It comes equipped with a universal fit 2 by 2-inch bar which is compatible with standard 2-inch class three and class four hitch receivers which you can find on most SUVs, sedans, 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 comes equipped with rubber straps that you can easily adjust to increase safety and stability. There is also a hitch tightener that removes any hitch play or wobbles during transportation. If your hitch receiver is facing 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.
Why Is a Hitch Mount Bike Rack the Best?
There are three types of bike carriers; roof-mounted, trunk-mounted, and hitch mount bike racks. Each provides its own pros and cons, but overall the most popular choice tends to be the classic hitch bike rack.
Hitch Mount Bike Rack
Bike racks connect 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.
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 they hold over their roof-mounted counterparts is that they have low mounting heights. This alone is a million-dollar feature for cyclists with heavy bikes, people that cannot do the heavy lifting, or people of shorter stature. Additionally, unlike trunk-mounted bike racks, hitch racks hold bikes some distance from your vehicle preventing possible scratching of the paint or trim.
Hitch racks are also much more stable than most trunk-mounted racks. This style is also your best bet if you’re planning to haul several heavy mountain or electric bikes.
It’s this versatility that makes them the crème de la crème of bike transportation for many regular cyclists.
Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack
Trunk-mounted racks are normally the most affordable bike transportation option. 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 bike rack 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.
Roof-Mounted Bike Rack
These bike racks attach to your vehicle’s roof rack system. There are also some roof-mounted bike racks that attach to your vehicle’s roof rails 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 multiple bikes while also keeping your hitch free for additional storage space.
However, roof-mounted bike racks are a bit more complex to install. They require heavy-lifting which is quite hard for bulkier off-road bikes or bigger vehicles.
The Best Hitch Bike Rack – A Buyer’s Guide
When investing in transportation accessories for your bikes, some key considerations should be kept in mind.
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.
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 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.
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. If you find that you frequently need to access the hatch or trunk, the swing away is the better choice. With the swing away you can easily move the rack away and access your trunk or tailgate without having to unload 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. When moving a tilt rack either to access the hatch or put it in place, you need to exercise caution. Carefully tilt the rack and always have a rough idea of the amount of weight that you are working with.
Bike Wheel Size And Tire Width
It is important that you check if there are any specifications concerning wheel size and tire width before you buy your bike rack. Most bike racks come with specifications when it comes to 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 but those would definitely 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 a number of variables. The weight of the bike rack will largely influence its capacity. Most bike racks weigh anywhere around 45-pounds and each part will not weigh more than 18-pounds. The higher the capacity of the bike rack, 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 that you can find 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. Just keep in mind that a lightweight bike rack will not be able to accommodate heavier bikes.
Whenever you use a bike rack, your bikes are quite conspicuous and highly exposed. This may be a source of worry especially if you are in an unsafe or isolated are. You can employ measures that include using locks, alarms, or even getting bicycle insurance. Using bike locks will make it very difficult for anyone who might be trying to steal away your bike. If your rack comes equipped with its own bike locks, that makes security so much easier and stress-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Hitch Mount Racks Have Anti-rattle Devices?
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.
Can I Tow While Using a Hitch Bike Rack?
Some hitch racks allow you to also 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 fairly heavy or require the use of tools.
Are There Any Laws Regarding Hitch Bike Rack?
Before installing and towing your bikes on your hitch mount bike racks, enquire from your local state’s 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.
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 two models similar in almost all aspects.