Truck Bed Bike Racks

The Best Truck Bed Bike Racks

Editor’s Note – This list of the best truck bed bike racks was updated on December 1, 2022. The INNO RT201 was updated to a newer model, the INNO RT202. Additional products were mentioned within the text as further considerations and comparisons, and overall irrelevant content was removed.

For cycling enthusiasts that own pickup trucks, transporting your bikes shouldn’t have to be a stressful and difficult endeavor. Truck bed bike racks are a practical and functional transportation solution that will save you a lot of time and effort. As an SUV driver myself, I am much more comfortable with hitch bike racks and roof racks; however, researching and trying out something new, like truck bed bike racks, was quite interesting and insightful.

A truck bed bike rack not only ensures protection, safety, and stability when you transport your bikes, but they’re also often very useful in assisting with simplifying the loading and unloading process.

Alternatively, if you wish to consider other bike rack options that would also work well with your truck, hitch-mount bike racks are a great consideration, especially if you have a tonneau cover over your truck bed,

Thule-insta-gater-pro

Thule 501 Insta-Gater Pro

The Thule 501 Insta-Gator Pro is a great all-rounder bike rack for your truck bed. It’s fully adjustable to fit a wide variety of bikes of up to 50 pounds. It easily locks in the bike for a top-notch secure fit; with no wobble. A durable and solid truck bed bike rack, Thule ensures value for money and long-lasting use.

  • Best Overall Bike Rack – Thule 501 Insta-Gater Pro
  • Thule is one of my favorite premium brands and has a long-running reputation for producing high-quality products. The Insta-Gater Pro is a solid representation of that. Apart from its strong and durable construction, the 501 offers versatility in fitting a variety of bikes, including carbon frames, MBTs, downhill and fat bikes, as well as e-bikes.
  • Best Value for Money – Swagman Pickup Fork-Mount Truck Bed Bike Rack
  • In my opinion, Swagman is a brand with a reputation for making solid recreational gear. Apart from my own dislike of fork-mounted bike racks, this stainless steel truck bed bike rack is a good piece of equipment; durable in its construction, practical in its design, and functional in doing what it needs to do and at an acceptable price of $88, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a consideration if you’re looking for value.
  • Best Tailgate Pad – Demon Tailgate Bike Pad
  • Premium, high durability, and UV-resistant padding are just one of the features that put the Deamon tailgate pad at the top of the bike pad list for truckbeds. Its size versatility makes it possible for truck owners to choose between a small or large size pad that can accommodate between 5 to 7 bikes. The demon has also designed this tailgate bike pad for quick and efficient loading with full tailgate visibility.
  • Best Fork Mounted Bike Rack – Thule Bed Rider
  • For those who prefer fork-mounted bike racks for their truck beds, the Bed-Rider is a perfect choice. Unlike many other fork-mounted competitors that can’t fully curb the dreaded wobbling, the Thule Bed Rider has a superior lockable skewer mechanism that keeps the bike stable and secure during transportation. Its lightweight aluminum telescoping bar has soft rubber edges that firmly attach to the truck bed with no damage or drilling necessary. Additionally, Thule includes three one-key lock cylinders for added security and anti-theft protection.
  • Best Compact Bike Rack – INNO RT201 Truck Bed Bike Mount
  • If saving space in your truck bed is a concern, then the INNO RT201 is the best choice, as it has a compact, discreet design that doesn’t diminish cargo space. Attaching it to the truck bed is easy, with no drilling necessary or the removal of the bike’s front tire. Bikes are attached by their front fork and seat with no damage to the frame. The INNO RT201 is also versatile enough to fit just about any type of bike frame, making it a fantastic choice for all cyclists.

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 as one of the top truck bed bike racks 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 pounds weight capacity, great security lock, and easy installation. I would highly recommend this bike rack to anyone who owns a pickup truck.

1. Thule 201 Insta-Gater Pro

Thule 201 Insta-Gater Pro

Material:
Aluminum and plastic

Dimensions:
40.6″ x 18″ x 6.7″

Load Capacity:
50 Lbs

Bike Rack Type:
Wheel-mount


I have always been a huge Thule fan, not only for their stellar reputation and high-quality products but how elegantly designed their products are. Thule has the right amount of functionality mixed with just the right amount of aesthetics and design. The Insta-Gater Pro is another great example of this.

I am always excited to see what Thule has come up with and has to offer. First off, this is a good-looking bike rack. It looks and feels solid, and its aluminum frame screams rugged durability. I would’ve liked it if the frame could fold completely flat for the sake of storage, but unfortunately, that is not the case. However, the rack itself is quite small and compact, so it’s not like it’s awkward and bulky.

Loading a bike into this rack is no different than loading a bike onto any other type of bike rack that makes use of wheel cradles and ratcheting arms. As I would expect from most bike racks, there is no frame contact, and the ratcheting arm’s hook provides a snug fit around the bike’s wheel, provided that the wheel falls within 20″ to 29″. The wheel cradle can accommodate tire widths of up to 5 inches, so I’d say that you’ll be able to load your e-bikes and fat bikes with no issues.

If I could critique one design flaw, it would be that I would’ve wanted the wheel cradle and ratcheting arm’s hook to be rubberized rather than plastic. On a more positive note, Thule products are also well-known for their integrated security features, and the Insta-Gater is equipped with their One-Key system lock included with the Insta-Gater Pro. This is a nice feature to have. However, it isn’t completely theft-proof, and I would not suggest that you solely rely on this to keep your bike or bike rack safe. I would suggest investing in additional anti-theft systems for complete security.

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 Insta-Gater Pro is a premium truck bed bike rack and will offer you a premium level of functionality and use. As far as a truck bed bike rack goes, you cannot find a happier medium other than the Insta-Gater Pro.

Does it have space for improvement? Yes. However, overall it ticks all the necessities when it comes to truck bed bike racks, especially in terms of space, durability, quality, and functionality. It might have a bit of a heavier price tag, but this is a premium product that offers premium quality. Definitely the best overall choice in my opinion.

Liked

  • No bolting or drilling to install the rack
  • High-quality from a well-known brand
  • Can fit a large variety of bikes

Disliked

  • The plastic wheel cradle and ratcheting arm hook
  • More expensive than non-premium products
  • Invest in a separate anti-theft system for additional security

Swagman’s Truck Bed Bike Rack is Truly Great Value for Money

This truck bed bike rack from Swagman is as practical as they come. With no extra frills and eccentricities, it is a straightforward fork-mount bike rack that can transport two bikes. I like its simple, yet practical design.

2. Swagman PICKUP Fork-Mount Bike Rack

Material:
Stainless steel

Dimensions:
6″ x 3.5″ x 54″

Load Capacity:
70 Lbs

Bike Rack Type: Fork-mount


It has a telescoping bar that enables it to extend and adjust to fit most truck bed sizes, and also makes installation quite simple and efficient. I would certainly not want to drill into my truck for any reason, and luckily this isn’t a reality with trying to install this bike rack. It has rubberized grips at the end of each side that grip the rails of the truck bed quite well. The rubber grips feel solid and sturdy, and after doing a scratch test, the grips weren’t hard enough that it is able to cause damage to the truck’s paint. 

I’m not much for fork-mounted bike racks, only because I don’t want the hassle of having to remove and re-attach the bike’s front wheel. However, due to a truck bed’s limited space, fork-mounted options seem like a more practical solution. As mentioned the Swagman is a fork-mounted bike rack; and upon going through the exercises of mounting the bikes to the rack, I was surprised at the relative ease of the process.

The fork mounting blocks offer a truly secure and anchored fit and the bikes had minimal sway and movement on the road, even on dirt roads. However, I did notice that after driving around for a couple of days with the bikes loaded, some of the bolts around the fork mount started rattling and slightly came loose, so just be aware of that possibility. The mounting blocks are fitted with convenient quick-release skewers, which is a standard expectation in my opinion, and definitely helps to make the loading and unloading time more efficient.

Also, another small touch of versatility by Swagman is that the fork blocks are adjustable in the sense that they can be repositioned anywhere along the main bar of the bike rack. This makes it possible to use the truck bed space more effectively if you’re loading different-sized bikes. And on that space-saving note, I did try to attach this bike rack to a truck bed that had a tonneau cover on, and with some minor configuration I managed to get it properly fitted and the bikes were loaded with no problems. I would just suggest doing extra research if you do have a tonneau cover, as I’m not sure that this will work with all covers.

In my opinion, Swagman is a brand with a reputation for making solid recreational gear. Apart from my own dislike of fork-mounted bike racks, this stainless steel truck bed bike rack is a good piece of equipment; durable in its construction, practical in its design, and functional in doing what it needs to do and at an acceptable price of $88, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a consideration if you’re looking for value.

Liked

  • Extendable telescoping bar to fit a variety of truck bed sizes
  • Rubberized supports to protect No bolting or drilling necessary
  • Fork blocks can be moved and adjusted to use truck bed space more efficiently

Disliked

  • Some bolts may come loose after regular use
  • Might not be compatible with all tonneau covers

The Inno RT202 Is Great for Discretion

If you’re looking for a discreet truck bed bike rack that won’t take up a lot of cargo space, then I would strongly recommend the Inno RT202. This rack is seriously compact and mounts to your truck bed’s side rails without any need for tools or drilling of holes, unlike other similar mounting blocks such as the MBP fork block.

3. INNO Velo Gripper RT202

INNO RT202 Truck Bed Bike Rack

Material:
Alloy steel

Dimensions:
12.5″ x 10.3″ x 2.7″

Mounting Type:
Frame-mount


I don’t like things to get too cluttered, so when I consider storage options, being compact is a major component. The INNO RT202 does a great job of maintaining organization when loading your bikes onto your truck bed, while at the same time being so small and discreet that it is hardly noticeable.

I found it to be a very versatile bike rack in the sense that it is fully adjustable to fit any bike frame. The tiny clamps clip onto the sides of the truck bed rails quite easily and they stay put remarkably well. Rest assured; no drilling or bolting was necessary.

When driving around with bikes loaded, there was a slight wobble, but nothing that I’d get too upset about. I used a bungee cord for extra stability, which worked perfectly. However, one critique I do have is that I would prefer the plastic grip for the seat tube to be rubberized instead. I feel that the hard plastic can be quite abrasive and might damage the bike’s paint over time and regular use.

The Inno RT 202 doesn’t come with any added security or anti-theft features, but it would sure work fine with any standard bike cable lock. I tried installing this truck bed bike rack onto a truck with a standard tonneau cover. It fit well enough, but I wouldn’t recommend this as you would have to remove the plastic cap on top of the RT202 otherwise it might poke through the cover.

One more thing to note, the RT202 isn’t compatible with all trucks that have C-channel tracks. A good alternative for standard truck beds would be the Inno RT201, but I would suggest making sure about compatibility with your specific truck before making a purchase. For instance, the RT202 wasn’t a good fit for a Nissan Frontier due to incompatibility with its C channel tracks but had no problem with a 2021 Jeep Gladiator’s Mopar C-channels.

Inno has come a long way since its rack division was launched in 1976 and has since seen a growing demand for its products. I like the minimalist design of the RT202 and RT201 and apart from the fact that truck beds can only accommodate two of these bike racks at a time, it does not diminish the fact that these compact little bike racks are perfect for those who prioritize ample truck bed space.

Liked

  • Very discreet and compact design
  • Carries any type of bike
  • No need for drilling or other tools to install

Disliked

  • Limited due to only being able to attach to truck bed side-rails
  • Hard plastic grips might be too abrasive over regular use
  • No added security/anti-theft feature

For the Best Tailgate Pad and Value for Money, Try the Demon Tailgate Pad

Tailgate bike pads are an extremely practical solution for transporting bikes, especially multiple bikes. There are no permanent, or semi-permanent alteration needed to the truck bed and no installations. This is perfect for pickup truck owners who don’t regularly transport their bikes, or who utilize their truck beds for other purposes. Demon offers quite an impressive product, with all the bells and whistles at a very agreeable price of $99.99, compared to other competitors such as Yakima’s Gatekeeper tailgate pad.

4. Demon Tailgate Pad

Demon Tailgate Pad

Material:
Polyester

Size:
54″ (Small) and 62″ (Large)

Item Weight:
3.7 Lbs

Bike Rack Type:
Tailgate pad


The Demon tailgate bike pad comes in two sizes to accommodate mid-size pickup trucks (54″) and full-size pickup trucks (62″). I feel like this is a standard expected to have and Demon delivers sufficiently. The padding on the inside of the tailgate pad is quite luxurious and plush, providing a quality buffer between the truck’s paint and the weight of the bikes. The outer layer is made from a hardy canvas-type fabric, that is intended to be UV and waterproof. I do agree that the material feels very high-quality, durable, and heavy-duty; so I would say that this is a great option if you intend on using this bike pad during hard summer or winter weather.

The smaller 54-inch bike pad is designed to carry 5 bikes, while the larger 60-inch pad is designed to fit up to 7 bikes. In my experience trying to fit 7 bikes of different shapes and sizes seemed quite a challenge. I managed to squeeze in 3 standard bikes, 2 MBTs, and 1 fat bike. So perhaps for a family with smaller bikes for kids, or with some very precise maneuvering, you’d be able to get up to 7 bikes in.

I liked the quick simplicity of securing the bike pad to the tailgate. The 3 tailgate straps and the web cinch strap really do a good job of keeping the pad securely in place while I drove around; even when the bike wasn’t loaded onto it.

When it comes to securing the bikes to the pad, I was a bit disappointed with the frame holder straps being made from velcro and not a stronger rubberized strap. I am not fond of velcro as it wears down over time and then becomes essentially useless unless you replace it. However, that being said, when in good condition the velcro straps do a satisfying job of securing the bikes and keeping them n place during traveling, with just a very slight bit of movement. No frame contact though.

A really useful little design feature is the 2 tool pockets in which you can store all your essential bike tools and gear. I like this practical addition.

The Demon tailgate bike pad is a perfect choice for those who don’t cycle regularly or can’t have a bike rack take up their truck bed space on a semi-permanent basis. This is a quick and easy solution that requires almost no effort to put on or take off. In comparison to its closest competitors such as the premium Yakima GateKeeper or the more budget-friendly LEETPIC tailgate pad, the Demon holds its ground remarkably well. It offers high-quality materials for all-weather exposure, functional practicality in its design, and a very agreeable price ta of just under $100. The Demon tailgate bike pad is the perfect happy medium.

Liked

  • Can accommodate various bike frames
  • Affordable price range
  • High-quality weather-proof materials on the outer-layer

Disliked

  • The rear access flap may not be suitable for all cameras
  • Straps are made from velcro which may deteriorate over time

For a Fork-Mounted Truck Bed Rack, Choose the Thule Bed Rider

As far as fork-mount bike racks go, I personally prefer not to use them as I don’t want to go through the regular exercise of removing and re-attaching my bike’s wheels. Especially when I’m hyped up for a new cycling trail, I just want to unload and get going. But others might prefer a fork-mount bike rack, as it offers a much more secure fit and better stability during transportation compared to most other types of bike racks. For pickup trucks, the Thule Bed Rider is one of the best premiere options when it comes to fork-mount racks. It offers a standard of versatility, stability, security, and durability that is difficult to find with most of its standard competitors.

5. Thule Bed Rider 822XTR

The Thule Bed Rider 822XTR

Material:
Aluminum

Size:
50.3″ x 4″ x 4″

Item Weight:
9.25 Lbs

Bike Rack Type:
Fork-mount


The aluminum-made Bed-Rider is another good-looking product produced by Thule of premium quality. I’ve seen a few of these mounted onto truck beds, so they definitely are a popular choice among many cyclists.

As a standalone bike rack, the Bed-Rider can only carry 2 bikes, so for those with families, this might not be a great option to consider, unless you want to add the Bed-Rider add-on block which is sold separately.

Similar to the Swagman Pickup bike rack that I mentioned earlier, the Bed-Rider also has a telescoping, adjustable bar, so it’s compatible with most bed liners except over-the-rail bed liners. These are incompatible with the SoftGrip rubber feet on either side of the bike rack skewer bar. I like the fact that a rubber coating is used, rather than a standard hard plastic. This provides a much more solid grip when the rack is loaded, and better protection against possible damage or scratches on the truck’s paint. This is the type of high-quality detail and standard that I have come to expect from Thule’s products.

When I installed the rack onto the truck bed, it immediately locked into place. Loading the bikes onto it was painless as well, with the quick-release skewer lock holding the bike frames firmly in place. I could see no wobble when driving around with the bikes loaded on, so it definitely does a stellar job in the stability department. Thule often features locking or anti-theft systems with their products, and the Bed-Rider offers 3 One-Key lock cylinders that securely lock the bikes to the rack and the rack to the truck bed.

As far as critiques go, I have not experienced this myself but I have heard from fellow cyclists and bike enthusiasts that the Bed-Rider doesn’t fit all bikes, particularly those with disc brakes or bikes with thru-axles. In this case, I would suggest finding appropriate adapters to fix this issue, or alternatively considering other bike racks that aren’t fork-mounted.

I highly recommend the Thule Bed Rider if you’re primarily looking for a solid high-quality fork-mounted bike rack. At $199.95 it does have a more premium price range, albeit a bit overpriced in some people’s opinion, but in terms of build quality, bike loading efficiency, and overall functionality it is well worth it in the long run. Small touches like the soft and protective rubberized grips at the end of the bar, the One-Key lock cylinders, and the ability to add additional mounting blocks is what sets the Bed-Rider apart from other fork-mounted bike racks, such as the Swagman Pickup bike rack.

Liked

  • Rubberized grips on each end of the bar prevent damage to the truck’s paint and created a better grip
  • Three locking cylinders to secure the rack to your truck and bike
  • Separate add-on mounting blocks are available should you want to transport more than two bikes

Disliked

  • A bit more expensive than other standard truck bed bike racks
  • You will need an adapter for bikes with disc brakes and thru-axles

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 7 bikes, like the Demon tailgate bike pad mentioned earlier. 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 Racks

Side clamp bike racks are attached to the sidewalls of your truck bed. A previously mentioned example of this type of bike rack is the Inno RT202. 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 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 Racks

With these bike racks, the front tire of your bike must be removed before mounting and securing the bike. Two previously-mentioned examples of these types of truck bed bike racks include the Swagman Pickup and Thule Bed Rider bike racks.

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 Racks

Wheel-mounted bike racks, similar to fork-mounted bike racks, secure bikes by fixing the tires to the truck bed, but without removing any tires, such as with the Thule Insta-Gater Pro. 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.

A Buyer’s Guide to Truck Bed Bike Racks

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 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 Your 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.

Easy Installation

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 to lock 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.

Bike rack for truck bed

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.

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.

Join the discussion