Hanging Hitch Bike Racks
Unlike platform racks, hanging hitch bike racks carry bikes via their frame rather than their tires. Bikes typically hang via their frames top tube on the racks two support bars.
Hanging racks are available in capacities ranging from 2 to 5 and can often accommodate bikes with wheel sizes 16 and up.
If you are on a tighter budget, especially if you need to haul 3 or 4 bikes, hanging racks are your best bet.
Compared to platform and vertical hitch bike racks, hanging bike racks are significantly lighter, making them much easier to install and remove. As a result, if you dont want to leave your rack on your car for an extended period of time, a hanging rack is a solid choice.
A PASS FOR
Bikes on hanging hitch racks are spaced much closer together and make significantly more contact with each other compared to platform and vertical racks. Scratches are common and should be expected.
If you are hauling higher-quality bikes , wed advise you to skip a hanging rack. But if you can only afford a hanging rack, be sure to buy a rack with more capacity than you need you so can leave extra space between the bikes when loaded.
Bikes with carbon frames should never be carried on a hanging rack! If you have a carbon frame, platform and vertical are your only options.
Best Overall Hanging Hitch Bike Rack
MSRP : $449
CAPACITY: 2, 4, or 5 bikes
Best 5 Bike Capacity on a Budget
MSRP : $159
CAPACITY: 4 bikes 20 wheels +
The Best Bike Racks Of 2022
Searching for a new bike rack? We’ve invested six years and purchased 38 bike racks to bring you this review of the 25 best racks available today. We know just how daunting it is to find a rack that works for your bike, vehicle, and budget, which is why we’re here to help. For months, our team of bike-loving testers hauled bikes around on hitch, trunk, and roof-mount racks. We rotated them from cars to trucks to SUVs and drove up dirt roads, down highways, and parallel parked around town. Through it all, we noted how easy it was to load and unload our bikes onto each and how securely they held our beloved rides. Read on to find the perfect rack for your needs, budget, and vehicle.
We’ve been testing bikes and bike-related gear for many years. From trail mountain bikes to bicycle helmets, we have recommendations on everything you need to help improve your ride. Once you’re done riding, we have garage bike storage suggestions to help you stay organized.
Editor’s Note: We updated this review on April 12, 2022, with the addition of the Yakima StageTwo and details and information to help you find the best bike rack for your needs and budget.
Access To The Trunk Or Rear Hatch
The ability to access the rear hatch of your car while the rack is fully loaded is another great feature available on most higher-end racks. To allow access without removing bikes, several hanging racks have a 180-degree swing out as shown in the first picture below. The swing-out access is not available on platform or vertical racks.
Many platform, hanging, and vertical racks have the ability to tilt down about 30-degrees below upright . This tilt typically provides plenty of room for a rear hatch to open.
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Analysis And Test Results
We used these bike racks on multiple vehicle types, from small hatchbacks to giant vans and everything in between. This variety of vehicles was important because these racks can offer dramatically different performances based on the style of the vehicle. We paid attention to the obvious characteristics and nitty-gritty details to rate these racks on the chosen metrics. Their performance in each area is discussed below.
Types Of Hitch Bike Racks
Platform RacksPlatform racks dominate this round-up, and in our opinion, are the best way to transport your bikes. Compared to hanging racks, platform designs are compatible with a much wider range of bike styles, sit lower to the ground for easier access, and are excellent in terms of stability. Most have two attachment points: a ratcheting arm that secures the front wheel, and a strap that holds the rear wheel in place. This straightforward and effective system makes it easy to rapidly load and unload your bike, and it minimizes any wobble or side-to-side movement while driving. In addition, these racks are the most gentle on bikes because they typically only come in contact with the tire or wheel .
As with any product, there are bound to be compromises. Platform racks are big, bulky, and generally quite heavy. If you plan on removing your hitch rack with any regularity, youll want to pay attention to weight, and many leading options tip the scales at 50 pounds or more. Platform-style hitch racks also are among the most expensive options on the market, with prices of leading designs like the Thule T2 Pro XTR and 1Up Heavy Duty Double clearing $600. That said, for serious riders, the added weight and cost are well worth the security and ease of use of this style.
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Hitch Mount Vs Other Bike Rack Styles
Weve made it clear throughout this piece that a hitch-mounted rack is our favorite design, and platform models in particular. Comparing common bike-carrying alternatives, there isnt a style that offers as much convenience, capacity, or compatibility with such a wide range of vehicles . Rooftop racks have a lower maximum capacity , are more of a pain to load and unload, and can impact gas mileage or create a whistling sound on the highway. Trunk-mounted racks are cheaper but prone to causing paint damage on your vehicle if you dont take extra precautions. If you have a truck, the simple pickup pad is a nice, affordable option, but you do lose the security of a locking hitch and it can take some work to limit bike-to-bike contact. In the end, all have their merits, but no other bike rack type can match the versatility of a hitch mount.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our mountain bike review editor, Jeremy Benson, and multi-discipline bike racer Curtis Smith supply the experience and know-how behind this review. Jeremy is the author of two books – Mountain Bike Tahoe and Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: California. A 20-year Lake Tahoe resident, Benson races and rides mountain and gravel bikes obsessively in the summer months. Curtis races for the Bikes Plus/Sierra Nevada team in road, mountain, and cyclocross. He has placed first overall in the Sierra Cup. Both Benson and Smith travel with bikes regularly and are very familiar with bike racks of all kinds. Pat Donahue is a newcomer to this review. He is a mountain bike fiend that has experience with all types of bike racks, from trunk racks to hitch racks, over his cycling career. He is also skilled in the art of breaking things, which makes him particularly adept at evaluating durability.
Testing bike racks is not rocket science. Essentially, we loaded and unloaded a wide range of bicycles as much as possible. We used drop bar road bikes, hardtail mountain bikes, full-suspension bikes, and e-bikes. We evaluated how each rack plays with each style of bicycle. Next, we drove aroundâ¦ a lot. We traversed all kinds of roads, from fast and straight highways to twisty mountain roads. We carefully evaluated each rack on a set of performance metrics, including ease of everyday use, ease of removal and storage, security, durability, and ease of assembly.
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Honorable Mention Bike Racks
While these hitch bike racks didnt make our top 10, weve tested and thoroughly vetted them. We are happy to recommend them if they fit your situation and budget better.
Most Flexible Capacity: 3 Bike Hitch Rack
MSRP : $1,179
CAPACITY: 2, 3 or 4 bikes 20 wheels + max tire width 3
FEATURES: Slim, sleek design, 3-bike option, integrated bike locks, tilts for hatch access, anti-wobble hitch system
Clean, sleek and easy to use, the RockyMounts is very adjustable and versatile to fit a wide range of bikes. This high-quality rack comes standard as a 2-tray rack and can be upgraded to a 3 or a 4-tray rack.
In fact, its one of just two tray racks on our list that offer a 3-bike option. Swapping between 2, 3 or 4 trays is also pretty easy, so theres no need to keep extra trays on if you arent going to use them regularly.
As an added perk, each tray on the RockyMounts can be adjusted up to 4 to the left or right to allow for plenty of offset between handlebars and saddles. While the trays do take some time to adjust, we didnt find it challenging or complicated.
CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes 20+ wheels max tire width 5
FEATURES: Easy ratcheting shepherds arm design, tilt down access, top-quality Thule design
The Classic, however, does not come with individual locking cables. And while it still folds up and tilts down, the folding lever is located near the receiver, so its more challenging to reach.
Vertical Hitch Rack for Small Kids Bikes
MSRP : $809
Wheel Size And Tire Size
Almost all racks can carry 24 bikes and larger, but smaller kids bikes, fat bikes, and ebikes arent as universally compatible.
Platform Hitch Racks: Generally a best fit for 24 bikes and larger, although some racks have 20 bike adapters. The 1-up is the only platform rack that can carry a 16 bike.
Most platform racks either come with trays that can accommodate fat tires, or have optional fat tire trays.
Horizontal Hanging Racks: With a lower weight limit, youll need to be more careful about carrying heavy bikes kids or adult! So while those fat tires wont come into play because youre hanging the bike by the frame, make sure that fat bike isnt too heavy!
While most hanging racks can accommodate 20 kids bikes and larger, Allen racks are really the best option if you need to carry a 16 bike.
Vertical Hitch Racks: Wheel size compatibility is really dependent on brand. Some brands can carry 12 bikes, while others can only go as small as 24.
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Bike Racks For The Whole Family
Thule Apex XT is a hanging hitch bike rack that can carry up to 5 bikes. This secure bike rack keeps bikes stable on the trip, and fits a range of frame styles and sizes. Perfect for a bike vacation with the whole family.
Thule Apex XT Swing 4 hitch bike rack has all these perks and more! This bike rack provides access to your trunk with the bikes still loaded.
Bike And Receiver Hitch Locks
Bike racks in general have very similar feature sets, and one common upgrade that you see on mid-range and premium designs are locks. Starting with bike locks, these flexible cables allow you to secure the bikes frame or wheel to the rack. While not a perfect deterrenta solid set of bolt cutters will make quick work of themthey do provide a degree of security while parking your car . Our favorite bike locks are those that are integrated into the rack, which makes it very convenient to quickly deploy them when needed. Racks that include a separate cable lock that you need to store in your vehicle are less appealing, and in those cases, we prefer to purchase our own metal U-lock.
The second accessory lock is for the receiver hitch, which typically is found on the hitch pin or integrated into the bottom of the rack. The aim is to keep thieves from removing the entire rack from your car. Considering even a budget-friendly design is often $200 or more, this is a sensible addition. There arent major differences between styles in terms of functionality, although weve found the integrated type is a little easier to use. Its worth noting that if the rack youre purchasing doesnt include a receiver lock, every manufacturer on our list above offers one as an accessory.
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Best Hitch Bike Racks
All racks listed will fit 20 bikes on the rack and hold at least four bikes. There are very few racks that will accommodate a bike smaller than 20. Balance bikes and 12 to 16 bikes typically fit just fine in the trunk of the car. Also to note: when transporting four bikes, a 2 hitch is usually required.
Hitch Mount Bike Racks
In a perfect world, every awesome trail would start right outside your back door. Sadly, this isnt true. Since many trails start further away than riding distance, you need a way to transport your bike by car. Unless you have a pickup truck or a large empty van, you are going to need a bike rack. In the world of bike racks, hitch mounted racks reign supreme. If you need a rack and you have a hitch, a hitch rack is the way to go. Here at JensonUSA, we have a wide selection of hitch mount bike racks for you to choose from.
Hitch racks are considered better than other bike racks for several reasons. To start with, they are extremely secure. The rack sits inside the trailer hitch of a car and is typical secured by a large thru-bolt and nut. Hitch racks are also super easy to install and remove because there is only that one bolt holding the rack in place. The thru-bolt is a very secure design, but when you unthread it, the rack comes right off. Most companies also provide a way to lock this bolt so your rack cant be easily stolen at night. A hitch rack also cant damage your car like some other racks can. Roof racks can lead to roof damage if not installed correctly and trunk racks can leave dents or paint chips if also not installed correctly.
If you have any questions about hitch mount bike racks, hop on a call or a chat with one of our expert Gear Advisors today at . They are always happy to help you with any questions you may have.
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Ease Of Removal And Storage
It sure would be nice if we could leave our bike racks on our vehicles all the time, but unfortunately for most of us, riding bikes is a hobby rather than a full-time job. Therefore, bike racks are often mounted and removed from our vehicles as needs or seasons change. The ease of that process depends on various factors, including a rack’s size, weight, and the method of attachment.
In the case of roof-mounted racks, manufacturers assume that you’re less likely to remove them regularly. Roof racks are more of a set-it-and-forget-it item that consumers often choose to just leave on the roof for extended periods after the initial installation. An exception is the Yakima HighRoad which is impressively easy to remove or install on your vehicle. Everything can be done with your fingers and fingers alone. Removing this rack is as simple as flipping a switch on three different contact points on the rack and loosening a screw. When the rack is unattached, it is light and easy to haul off your roof. It only weighs 18 lbs and can be conveniently shoved onto a high shelf or tucked into a tight space in the garage. Other models in our test selection, such as the Kuat Trio and the RockyMounts BrassKnuckles, require hex keys to take on and off, but they are mostly long and skinny, so you can stand them up in a corner or lay them on the floor when they’re not in use.
Wheel Size And Tire Width Compatibility
Wheel size and tire width arent major considerations when choosing a hanging rack, but those that opt for the platform style will want to verify their bikes will fit in the included trays. The good news is that the majority of road and mountain bikers wont have a problem at allevery platform rack on our list can fit 26- to 29-inch wheels and 3-inch and under tires. Its when you get to the extreme ends of the spectrum with 12- to 24-inch kids bikes or fat bikes with 4- to 5-inch tires that problems can crop up.
One of the reasons that the Thule T2 Pro XTR took the top spot on our list is its ability to fit so many bike styles straight out of the box. Its the only one that can both accommodate 20- to 29-inch wheels and tires up to 5 inches wide . Others, like the Kuat NV 2.0, require two separate adapters to fit bikes with wheels between 20 to 24 inches and tires larger than 2.75 inches. For reference, purchasing both Kuat adapters isnt costly at around $20, but they are separate pieces that youll need to store when not in use.
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Choosing A Hitch Rack For Carbon Fiber Bikes
Carbon fiber bikes are dream machines for many riders and come with premium price tags, so its no surprise that a common question is how to transport them safely. To keep the material protected, the most important thing to do is select a style that doesnt allow for any frame contact. This means youll want to avoid the standard hanging rack category, as models like the Yakima Ridgeback secure the bike with straps directly over the top tube. Among platform-style racks, its best to choose one of two basic designs: a ratcheting arm that locks in over the front wheel and a strap through the rear wheel or a dual-arm design like 1Ups Heavy Duty that tightens over the front and rear tires. The common denominator among these compatible racks is a high price tag, but its well worth it to avoid any unnecessary damage to your carbon rig.