Stuffing a bike in the back of a car is a hassle. It’s a process that generally requires taking the bike apart, folding down the seats, and pushing it into the cabin until the trunk lid closes. It’s a great way to leave grease, mud, and other stain-leaving materials on your otherwise flawless beige upholstery. The simple solution to this problem is getting a bike rack.
There are three basic types of bike racks: carriers that sit right on top of your roof rack, ones that attach to your trunk lid using straps, and ones that mount in your hitch. The type you get depends on the kind of car you drive, how often you ride, and how much you want to spend. Strap-style racks are typically the more budget-oriented options, while tray-style racks that attach to a car’s hitch are at the other end of the price spectrum. Are you ready for an adventure? Here are the best bike racks you can buy today.
The Allen Sports Deluxe is the lowest common denominator in the bike rack world. It won’t break the bank, it takes seconds to install, and it’s designed to fit a wide variety of cars including SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, and minivans. The manufacturer notes that the 12-inch-long arms make it easy to accommodate just about any type of bike. And, like all strap-style racks, it won’t take up much space in your garage.
Tyger’s Deluxe Black 1-Bike is great if you’re the lone rider in your household. It’s a sturdy, compact unit built to carry a single bike on the back of a car. Individual soft cradles protect the bike’s frame, while a protective coating ensures the rack won’t rust to pieces after just a year’s worth of use. Note that bikes without a top frame bar will require an extra-cost adapter bar before they’re mounted to the rack.
Saris claims the Bones’ arms are the strongest ones on the market, so users don’t need to worry about the rack bending under the weight of three bikes. It’s built entirely with recyclable materials, and it’s guaranteed not to rust. It fits on many cars equipped with a spoiler thanks to its arc-shaped design, and it’s guaranteed for life. It’s more of a premium product than basic options like Allen’s rack, but it will make your life easier if you’re a frequent rider.
The Swedes take roof racks seriously. Sweden-based Thule is one of the biggest names in the rack industry; it’s the company that manufactures the bike racks you often see on the front of buses in some cities. The T2 Pro XT 2 is a similar, tray-style rack that attaches to the hitch of your car. That means you need a hitch, which not all cars come with, and you also need to measure its size. Thule promises tool-free installation and a clever switch lever that tilts the rack up when it’s not in use.
Allen’s hitch-mounted Sports Deluxe is a good option for users who occasionally need to carry bikes. It’s similar in design to other hitch-mounted racks, but it’s a more basic product with a wallet-friendly price tag. You get a lot for the money: it can carry up to 70 pounds, it’s powder-coated, and it boasts a no-wobble bolt. It fits 1 1/4-inch and 2-inch receivers.
The Tyger hitch-mounted bike rack is a step up from Allen’s comparable unit, both in terms of features and in terms of price. The idea is the same: the rack mounts directly into the hitch. It tilts down to provide unobstructed access to the trunk, and the arms fold down when they’re not in use. It also comes with a cable lock to ensure no one steals your bikes, and a hitch lock to ensure no one steals your rack. Note it can hold three city bikes but only two mountain bikes.
Cheap it ain’t, but the Kuat Sherpa is the ideal hitch-mounted rack for serious riders. It’s made entirely out of aluminum, so it’s one of the lightest racks in its competitive set, and it has been recently redesigned to be more user-friendly. For example, it now comes with a foot-actuated pivot lever that lets users lower the rack even if they have their hands full. It’s available in three colors, and Kuat promises tool-free installation.
Yakima is another trusted name in the rack industry. Its RidgeBack hitch mounts to a car’s trailer hitch, and it can be installed without special tools. The rack tilts down to give users access to the trunk, and it folds flat for easy storage. Yakima even developed anti-sway cradle to make sure the bikes don’t rub against each other out on the open road. The RidgeBack benefits from the manufacturer’s “Love It ‘Till You Leave It” lifetime warranty, so it’s a rack that will likely outlast both your car and your bike.
As basic as it gets, this roof-mounted bike carrier is essentially a metal rail that users secure their bike onto. The rear wheel remains on the bike, while the front wheel needs to go in the trunk. Note that virtually every type of roof carrier (including the one made by CyclingDeal) needs to be installed on crossbars, so you’ll need to buy a set if your car isn’t equipped with them.
Thule’s patented SecureHook technology holds the bike by grabbing the front wheel, meaning there’s no need to remove it and risk damaging the frame or the fork. The bike sits on an aluminum, corrosion-resistant tray capable of accommodating tires up to 2.6 inches wide. Like all roof-mounted bike racks it needs to be installed on crossbars; you can use the factory-fitted bars, buy a set from Thule, or order aftermarket bars.