As cycling enthusiasts and athletes, we take great pride in ensuring that our bikes are well-protected both at home in storage, as well as on the road in transit. For truck drivers, the reality of just throwing their bikes in the back and hoping for the best shouldn’t be a reality anymore, especially with the vast number of truck bed bike racks available today.
Truck bed bike racks not only ensure protection, safety, and stability when traveling and transporting bikes, but they often also assist with simplifying the loading and unloading process, which in turn will also protect your vehicle from possible damage.
Whether you need space for multiple bikes or just a single one, driving a truck shouldn’t deter you from loading your bike and doing what you love.
Alternatively, if you wish to consider other bike rack options that would also work well with your truck, hitch mount bike racks are a good investment.
Editor’s Note – This list of the best truck bed bike racks was updated on March 01, 2022. We removed irrelevant and discontinued products and added the Heininger Advantage SportsRack 2030, Demon Tailgate Pad, and the Thule Bed-Rider to our list.
Types of Truck Bed Bike Racks
There are generally four different types of truck bed bike racks, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
1. Tailgate Pad
These are large, high-quality pads draped over a truck’s tailgate and can generally carry up to 6 bikes. Bikes are mounted by placing the fork and front tire over the tailgate while the rest of the bike remains in the truck bed. Thick foam padding prevents bikes from scratching the paint on your truck, while attached velcro straps hold the bikes in place.
There are usually two sizes available to accommodate different truck bed sizes. Tailgate pad bike racks are great value for money but are considered the least stable way of transporting bikes in a truck bed, compared to other rack designs.
2. Side Clamp Truck Bed Bike Rack
Side clamp bike racks are attached to the sidewalls of your truck bed. They make use of ratchet holders that are tightened to the bike’s downtube to keep it upright and secured.
These bike racks are popular due to their inconspicuous design, compatibility, and ease of installation and removal. However, they do limit you in the number of bikes you can transport, as there will only be space for two bikes when using this type of bike rack.
3. Fork-Mounted Truck Bed Bike Rack
With these bike racks, the front tire of your bike must be removed before mounting and securing the bike. A steel bar is fitted to the width of the truck’s bed, with multiple fork attachment points for attaching the bike’s front fork. The number of bikes that this bike rack can transport depends on the model.
These bike racks are generally very stable, and there is little movement between the bikes. They are an excellent option for longer journeys and trucks with a smaller bed due to removing the front tires.
4. Wheel-Mounted Truck Bed Bike Rack
Wheel-mounted bike racks, similar to fork-mounted bike racks, secure bikes by fixing the tires to the truck bed, but without removing any tire. Wheel-mounted bike racks are some of the easiest to install and use. The front tire is placed in the mount, and the bike is then securely clamped into place. There are risks that the bikes may shift on the road due to only being secured by the front wheel.
This bike rack does take up a lot of truck bed space, so they’re not the best choice for shorter truck beds.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Truck Bed Bike Racks?
As with all cargo racks, the different bike racks have their strengths and weaknesses. Truck bed bike racks are no different and hold their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
- Truck bed bike racks do not take up the entire length of your truck.
- They free up your hitch for other use.
- They secure and protect your bike well during transit.
- Some truck bed bike racks may require additional essembly and installation.
- Some tailgate pads may block rearview cameras.
- it might be necessary for you to drill into your truck.
Key Features to Look For in a Truck Bed Bike Rack
Irrespective of the type of bike rack you want, there are some important features to identify before making a final decision. Any quality truck bike rack should share the majority of the below features:
- Make sure it fits your truck’s bed.
- Consider how many bikes you would like to transport.
- It should have some sort of locking mechanism for security purposes.
- Make sure it is made from high-quality and durable material.
- Look for something that has a quick release option to easily load and unload your bike.
The Best Overall Truck Bed Bike Rack, the Thule Insta-Gater Pro
The Insta-Gater Pro is one of Thule’s best bike racks and has long held the spot for the top truck bed bike rack due to its well-established reputation and high-quality workmanship. The Insta-gater Pro is no different. It gets the vote for the best overall bike due to its fantastic 50 lbs weight capacity, great security lock, and easy installation. I would highly recommend this bike rack to anyone.
Aluminum and plastic
40.6″ x 18″ x 6.7″
Bike Rack Type:
The elegantly designed Insta-Gater Pro comfortably fits any bike weighing up to 50 pounds and can accommodate wheel sizes from 20 to 29 inches and up to five-inch tires. It is a wheel-mount bike rack, so thankfully, it’s unnecessary to remove any of the wheels when loading the bike.
Handling this bike rack, you can immediately feel that this is a high-quality product. Its steel construction and black powder-coated finish add to its durability and elegance. It’s also surprisingly lightweight.
Installing this bike rack was extremely simple. It took me a couple of minutes, and I did not have to drill any holes in or bolt anything to the truck to secure the rack in place. The rack’s clips are placed between the truck’s bed and tailgate and secured by closing the tailgate. After securing the rack, I placed the bike’s front wheel in the chock and pulled out the ratcheting grip that kept the bike steady and prevented its frame from coming into contact with the truck during transit.
The rack’s hook acts as a safeguard that hooks around the front tire, keeping the bike steady and secure. The ratcheting arm is also adjustable. Being able to raise and lower it accordingly helps to make loading and unloading much more efficient.
The Insta-Gater Pro is my go-to recommendation for single bike truck bed racks. It has been a favorite for many years purely because it’s a top-quality product; it’s efficient, user-friendly, and durable.
The Heininger Advantage Sportsrack 2030, the Best Multiple Bike Truck Bed Rack
The four-bike Heininger Advantage 2030 truck bike rack is a great addition if you want to carry multiple bikes. It offers quality design, versatility, user-friendly assembly, and security and protection for your bikes when on the road. What more would you want?
52 x 68 x 18 Inches
Bike Rack Type: Wheel-mount
The Heininger Advantage 2030 is a robust four-bike truck bed rack that perfectly fits almost all truck bed sizes. Its steel frame is thick and solid, with the black powder coating protecting against rust. Rubberized supports are strategically attached throughout the bike rack, which serves as a buffer between the rack’s frame and your truck’s bed, preventing scratches and possible damage. Since it is a wheel-mount bike rack, it doesn’t require removing any wheels to mount your bike.
Fitting it to a truck bed, it extends from 54.56 to 64 inches, and with the use of the included extender, up to 72.5 inches. This makes it an ideal rack for all mid-size and larger truck beds. The Advantage 2030’s blue clamshells fit tires of up to 29-inches and can also carry fat-tire bikes with wheels up to 4-inches, adding to its versatility. It is not suitable to transport Ebikes in, however.
Assembling this bike rack is relatively easy and can be done in minutes without having to drill into your truck’s bed. Securing the Heininger bike rack to your truck bed is done by using the included 10-foot cable lock. Loading bikes onto it only requires rolling the wheels into the rack’s placeholders and securing them with the attached quick ratcheting straps. The bike rack’s innovative design secures the bike firmly to the rack, resulting in minimal movement while on the road and no contact with other bikes or your truck’s paint. The Heininger 2030 also works perfectly well with truck bed liners.
The top connector of the wheel placeholder can be extended or lowered to accommodate different wheel sizes. I also liked that the wheels are strapped and secured in two different points, the top and bottom of the tire. Unlike the previous model, the 2025 Advantage SportsRack, the wheel is only secured at the top.
When the bike rack isn’t in use, it can be used as a standalone storage rack for your bikes, which is a feature I appreciate.
Great effort, thought, and planning was put into this bike rack’s design. Although it might look a bit bulky, it more than makes up for it in its durably quality, stability, versatility, and user-friendly assembly and mounting. Absolute value for money. This is a great all-rounder truck bed bike rack, and I would, without a doubt, recommend any cycling enthusiast to invest in the Heininger Advantage SportsRack 2030.
The Heininger Automotive 2025 Advantage SportsRack Truck Bed Bike Rack is the model preceding the 2030. Offering some of the same features and functionality, it doesn’t completely match up to the 2030’s size, securing options, and bike type versatility.
The INNO RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack Is the Best Compact Rack
If you’re looking for a truck bed bike rack but do not want to sacrifice cargo space, then the compact Inno RT201 truck bed bike rack is a perfect option. This rack is discreet and mounts to your truck’s bedside rail without any need for tools or drilling of holes.
Aluminum and plastic
12.5″ x 10.3″ x 2.7″
Bike Rack Type:
Meant for standard truck beds, this ratcheting fork holder carries one bike but is versatile enough to fit all bicycle models. There is also no need to remove the bike’s front wheel unless you have a smaller truck bed.
Its compact clamps are lightweight and lined with rubber to cushion your truck against scratching the paint. Since these tiny clamps are mounted on the side rails of your truck, it does leave you a bit limited on the number of bikes you can transport using this bike rack type. But if space-saving is your main concern, then you can’t go wrong with the INNO RT201. Its small size makes it hardly noticeable, so if you decide to leave it on your truck, it won’t take up any excess space, so using the truck bed for other things won’t be an issue. I could still load other cargo without the INNO RT201 getting in the way.
When securing the bike with the clamps, one clamp feels sufficient, but I would suggest using both, especially on rougher or uneven terrain, as additional security. Securing the clamp on the truck bed’s edge only requires your to twist the handle until you can see the D-ring clamps are in place and tightly fixed. The 5-inch attachment thread should then just be fed through the clamps and then pulled tight to secure the bike’s frame.
Even with the attachment thread securing the bike enough to not bump against the truck, I noticed that it does still slightly move, especially on uneven terrain, so keep this in mind. I would suggest some extra padding to place in between the bike and the side of your truck. I also feel that the clamp’s grip might be a little too tight, which may, after extended use, cause scratching to your bike’s paint.
The RT201 is compatible with general cable locks, but you must purchase these separately.
For the Best Tailgate Pad and Value for Money, Try the Demon Tailgate Pad
This premium truck bed tailgate pad is the perfect option for hitting some biking trails with a group. It comes in two sizes, small and large, to accommodate your truck bed size and can fit up to seven bikes. Apart from its durable construction and quality, it has useful pockets to carry essential tools and equipment and is a top choice when considering value for money.
54″ (Small) and 62″ (Large)
Bike Rack Type:
When draping the Deamon tailgate cover, I could feel that the foam padding is thick, about 3/4-inches, and the vinyl material is strong and perfect for some heavy-duty work. The cover seemed well constructed, tear-resistant, and waterproof when testing its durability. This is an ideal 4-seasons tailgate pad, as the material is also highly UV-resistant. The inside of the pad is lined with an incredibly soft material, so to protect your truck from scratches.
The two available sizes are small and large. The small fitting most mid-size and compact truck beds at a width of 54-inches, and the large fitting most full-size trucks at a width of 60-inches. They carry up to five and seven bikes, respectively.
When loading the tailgate pad, I draped it over my truck’s tailgate, took the three straps that surround that tailgate and hooked them up, and then used the web cinch straps to secure the pad in place further. The Demon Tailgate pad has an access flap that enables you to open the tailgate while the pad is being used, as well as to allow access to your rear camera. There are supports included that will enable you to leave the access flap open permanently.
The front wheel is draped over the truck’s tailgate when loading the bikes, and velcro frame holders keep the bikes securely in place.
If you’re looking for a truck bed bike rack that is well-designed, can securely carry multiple bikes, offers protection not only to your bikes but to your truck as well, and won’t break the bank, then I highly recommend the tailgate pad by Demon. This is quality and value for money all in one.
A Good Alternative
The Yakima GateKeeper tailgate pad is slightly more pricey than the Demon, coming in between 154.95 to $199. The medium size carries up to 5 bikes, while the large carry six. It uses soft cushioning and large velcro straps to secure the bikes in place. As with the Demon, the outer material is hardy and weather-resistant, while the Yakima has soft, luxury felt-lining to protect the truck’s paint. It also has a flap that provides access to the tailgate handle. There aren’t many differences between these two tailgate pads, except the Yakima brand and accompanying price tag.
For a Fork-Mounted Truck Bed Rack, Choose the Thule Bed Rider
Thule is one of the major players in the truck bed bike racks niche, and if I had to choose my favorite fork-mounted truck bed bike rack, then the Bed Rider XTR is definitely up to the task. This rack is made out of strong, yet lightweight aluminum with a telescopic bar at its core, with soft rubber feet that hold onto the side rails of your pickup truck, eliminating the need for drilling holes. Discreet, high-quality, and user-friendly, this is a worthwhile investment if fork-mount bike racks are your preference.
Aluminum and rubber
50.3″ x 4″ x 4″
Bike Rack Type:
The Thule Bed-Rider has a maximum load of two bikes or about 70 pounds. If you get the Thule locking bed-rider add-on block sold separately, you can mount more bikes. It covers a width of 47.75 – 72 inches, so it should fit both full-size and smaller pickup beds.
Made from lightweight aluminum, which is also corrosion-resistant, it doesn’t affect your truck’s fuel economy, should you decide to leave it on. It has a slim and modern design, which I find pretty aesthetically pleasing, so it didn’t bother me to leave it on for a couple of weeks.
The rubber feet and cam mechanism is mounted horizontally between the sidewall railing of the truck bed and require no additional drilling or bolting. The Thule Bed Rider is also compatible if you use a bed liner but is not compatible with tandem or recumbent bikes.
Security is always something to keep in mind, and the Bed Rider does not disappoint. It includes three one-key lock cylinders to lock bikes to the rack securely and the rack to the truck.
Mounting the bike to the rack is a straightforward process that requires little skill and effort. After removing the front wheel, the bike’s fork is placed onto the fork clamping skewer and securely tightened. I have to mention that to use this truck bed bike rack, your bike must come equipped with a quick-release front skewer.
I would recommend this fork-mount bike rack for any pick truck owner. Not only are you assured of the Thule quality, standard, and durability, but the Bed Rider also offers fantastic security features, discreet design, user-friendly functionality, and additional accessories that you can purchase separately.
A Good Alternative
The Swagman PICKUP fork-mount bike rack is a good alternative if you want quality but don’t want to break the bank. A well-established and respected name within the bike rack industry, Swagman, is known to be durable and offer value for money. This steel bike rack is an adjustable bar with rubber-mounted ends and is designed to fit the width of your truck bed. As with the Thule Bed Rider, the Swagman PICKUP carries a maximum of two bikes.
Pipeline Offers the Best Bike Rack for Full-Sized Trucks
Pipeline offers different truck bed bike racks, mainly depending on the size of your truck bed and the number of bikes you’d like to transport. This wheel-mount bike rack offers carrier options of two, three, or four bikes. They are an excellent choice for truck owners with a full-sized truck bed. The rack fits a minimum width of 58.5-inches and is compatible with all bike types.
54″ x 3.5″ x 6″
Bike Rack Type:
With Pipeline’s pickup truck bed bike rack, there is no need to drill holes or bolt anything to your truck bed. The rack is also very easily adjusted to fit bike wheels between 20 and 29-inches with a width of 3 to 5-inches. It is highly versatile when it comes to size compatibility for both your bike and your truck bed.
The frame is very lightweight since it is made from aluminum. Therefore getting it into the truck bed is effortless and quick. It did require a little bit of time and effort to complete the installation. The aluminum is rust-resistant and feels strong and durable. The rack is relatively steady on the road, but the bikes become a bit wobbly and unsteady on more uneven terrain.
After loading the bike’s front wheel into the forks, it is secured locked in using wheel straps. I did notice, however, that bikes that have full fenders or mudguards are not compatible with this truck bed bike rack.
Additionally, what I like about this bike rack, is its duality. As with the Heininger 2030 mentioned above, this bike rack can also be used as a standalone bike storage rack when not in use.
If you have a truck with a large bed, my recommendation is to get the Pipeline Pickup truck bed bike rack. It is the best fit for full-sized trucks, offering good stability when your bikes are loaded and still having a purpose as a storage rack when not in use.
Truck Bed Bike Racks: A Buyer’s Guide
Personal preference will always play its part when it comes to consumer behavior. However, some general elements are helpful to consider to narrow down your buying decision.
What Type of Bike Mount Do You Want?
There are four different types of truck bed bike racks mentioned previously.
- Wheel-mounted bike rack
- Fork-mounted bike rack
- Side clamp bike rack
- Tailgate pad
When purchasing a bike rack for your truck, it is important to consider what type of mount you want and what would fit your truck bed best. Each bike rack has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Consider the Size of You Truck Bed
The size of your truck bed is important as it will determine the type of truck bed bike rack you will be able to fit. Shorter truck beds usually do not have enough space to carry a bike unless the front wheel has been removed.
Larger truck beds will have to be sized up with the width at which a certain bike rack can extend.
The Number of Bikes You Want to Carry
Choosing a bike rack is also dependent on the number of bikes you want to transport. Some bike racks offer you the ability to add additional pieces to carry more bikes.
The Type of Bicycles You Have
There are two ways your bike can influence your choice of bike rack. Firstly, your bike’s frame needs to comfortably fit the style of the rack for secure mounting. Secondly, if you would like to get a wheel-mounted bike rack, your bike’s tire size should fit the cradle space.
Straightforward installation is definitely something to consider when choosing any bike rack. Some truck bed bike racks require you to drill into or bolt certain pieces to your truck; therefore, it is important to consider this.
Quality Build and Materials
Bike racks are usually exposed to the elements, so when choosing one it is important to consider its quality. If it will be used frequently and mounted to the truck bed for extended periods, then it’s a wise decision to invest in something robust and durable. A bike rack that is hardy and won’t give in after a bit of hard work.
Is It User-Friendly?
Bike racks shouldn’t be over complicated with assembly and installation. When looking at the truck bed bike rack, keep in mind the amount of effort it might take to get the rack fitted and to mount your bike to the rack itself. Will it be something you can do independently, or would you need extra help?
Additional Security Options
It’s always a good thing to have security features with your bike rack, especially if you are likely to leave your truck unattended for any amount of time. Bike racks that can lock should be the first choice, and they should firmly secure the rack to the truck and the bike to the rack.
Not all bike racks have this feature, but some brands offer locking mechanisms that you can purchase separately.
Price and Affordability
This consideration is straightforward and requires no explanation. However, it is nonetheless an important factor in choosing a bike rack. Different bike racks are set at different prices, and the same goes for brands.
There is no sense in spending a lot of money on something that you’re not going to use frequently. If you are a frequent cycler, then investing in a reputable brand with high-quality products, which will be a bit pricier, is a good choice in the long term.
Frequency of Use
If you will be using the bike rack regularly, investing in durable, high-quality products is a must. If you’re going to leave the bike rack on your truck bed for extended periods, it should also be hardy enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Some Helpful Tips and Advice on Using a Truck Bike Rack
- Frame-mount bike racks can support and secure heavier bikes better, however, they are known for damaging the bike frame’s paint. This can be a problem because the paint protects the bike against rust and erosion.
- Fork-mounted racks can be tedious as they require you to remove your bike’s wheel, and they also usually have lower weight limits compared to other truck bed bike racks.
- Before driving with your loaded bike racks, always test the security and stability of your bikes and the rack itself.
- Always make sure that the rubber padding stays static and doesn’t shift, as this may cause damage to the paintwork of your truck and the bike.
- When leaving your bike unattended, lock your bike through its frame, not its wheel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a bike rack be used over a tonneau cover?
Yes, it can be done through a design similar in style to a roof rack, using crossbars attached over the width of the truck bed. You can then clamp your bike rack and bike to these bars and you should be good to go.
Which is better? A truck bed or hitch bike rack.
Overall, if you own a truck, then the truck bed bike rack would be a better choice. It is much easier to assemble and load, it takes up a lot less space and it’s normally less expensive than hitch bike racks.
If I have a short bed truck, will the bike rack fit?
Generally, the racks fit perfectly, however, the length of the bike that you want to load is the deciding factor. If you have a short truck bed, consider getting a bike rack that requires removing one of the wheels. Alternatively, you can also let down your tailgate a bit to fit the bike better.
Can my bike be stolen out of the truck bed bike rack?
Unfortunately, your bike is not completely protected from theft, but many bike racks have additional security features such as security locks.
How can I measure the correct rack size for my truck?
Measure the truck bed’s width and the height of the truck bed’s walls. This will give you a good indication of what bike rack would fit securely.
How should I clean my truck bed bike rack?
All that you need is some soap and water. Ensure that you rinse off the soap properly and dry the rack well to avoid rusting.