The Best Bike Rack for Car – Buying Guide

Your time for worrying is over, our guide aims to provide you with all the information required to find the best bike rack for car without you having to break the bank.

Types of Bike Racks

To find a bike rack for car which would suit your traveling needs and fall well within your budget, you will need to carry out some research about the different types and models available, and then to make a comparison.

Purchasing the wrong bike rack could result in a damaged bicycle, and can prove to be a safety hazard. Furthermore, there is a chance the bike rack ends up scratching your vehicle’s finish. Therefore, it is very important for you to choose the right one.

Bike racks generally fall into three separate categories, which include hitch-mounted racks, roof-mounted carriers, and strap-mounted racks, but there are also others, such as spare-tire racks and towbar-mounted racks, all which are of different sizes. For a closer look at the different bike rack types available, read on, as we discuss each in a detailed manner, in addition to highlighting their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Zemanta Bike Car Rack

Roof- Mounted Carriers

Roof-mounted carriers are mainly preferred for minivans, station wagons, and SUVs, as they are attached to a vehicle’s existing crossbars and roof rack, but they can also be attached to mounted feet and clips fixed to a vehicle’s rain gutters or upper door frame.

However, if your vehicle is already outfitted with crossbars or a roof rack, the total cost you incur should be low. When it comes to selecting a roof rack, you need to decide upon the method through which you will mount the bikes.

Certain racks use a fork-mount carrier, which are clamped onto the front-wheel fork of the bike, while others use upright mounts to secure the bike by their pedal crank or frame.


  • Most sedans will hold up to four bikes, but as many as seven can be secured on a large van.
  • The rack can also be utilized for other activities, such as holding accessories and equipment for canoeing and skiing.
  • Lockable mounting is featured.
  • Most racks will support odd-framed and tandem bikes.
  • Can be mounted with non-permanent footing of the rack’s manufacturer or adapted to existing factory hardware.


  • Installation can be quite complicated.
  • You would not be able to drive through any overhead structures which have low clearance, such as parking garages or drive through restaurants.
  • Wind resistance reduces gas mileage more than other types of bike racks.
  • May scratch the paint as it touches the vehicle’s body.
  • Carrying heavy loads on an SUV is not recommended, as the chances of a rollover accident are greater.
  • If the rack is on a taller vehicle, it can be hard to lift the bike, resulting in scratches to the sides or roof or the car.

Bike Car Rack Spare Tire Zemanta

Spare-Tire Racks

Spare-tire racks can be attached to vehicles equipped with exterior rear-mounted spare tires, which are a common feature on off road or sport utility vehicles.

This type of bike rack for car is more compact and lighter compared to other types, and are considerably easier to use. However, they can only support two bikes and the tire covers need to be removed during installation.


  • The costs are moderate.
  • Bikes can be attached with ease, as only a reasonable amount of lifting is involved.
  • Fewer chances of the bike making contact with the vehicle’s finish.


  • Bikes attached might obstruct rear license plate, taillights, or driver’s rear window view.
  • During transport, bikes can sway a little and bump into each other.
  • There is only a two- bike limit.

Bike Car Rack Rhode Gear

Strap-Mounted Racks

These bike racks are the least expensive when compared to the other bike rack for car options, and can be attached to the vehicle’s rear bumper, hatchback, or trunk. The frame of the bike rests on plastic support arms, but better models have indented cradles or padding to hold the frame.

For proper usage, the rack must be firmly strapped to the vehicle, in addition to its frame supports and arms being properly adjusted to ensure that it is properly balanced. It usually carries one or two, and in some cases, three bikes on a trunk-mounted rack.

These racks are affordable and can work well with almost any vehicle, but the chances of damaging the vehicle and bikes are much greater than other bike racks.


  • It is the most affordable option.
  • Lifting and securing bikes in place is relatively easier.
  • These racks can easily be stored, even in trunks.
  • An ideal option for rented or leased vehicles, as they usually support most types of vehicles.


  • May block the driver’s rear window view.
  • The trunk cannot be utilized after rack has been installed.
  • Sometimes extra attachments are required to support odd-framed bikes.
  • Not a suitable option for tandem bikes.
  • Strap can loosen due to wear.
  • Since the weight of the bike and rack rests on the body panels of the vehicle, paint or sheet metal can be damaged.

Bike Car Rack Hitch Zemanta

Hitch-Mounted Racks

These bike racks come in a range of different sizes to complement the class of hitches, which usually vary from vehicle to vehicle. Class III hitches, with 2” openings, are usually used on truck-based SUVs and pickups.

On the other hand, Class I hitches with 1.25” openings can work well with almost any car as well as with small SUVs. If you are planning to buy hitch-mounted racks, your choice would be dependent on one factor: the number of bikes you need to transport.

Class I racks can usually carry up to three bikes, while class III racks can secure only two. However, added extensions can support up to four bikes. Some hitch-mounted racks require the bikes to be strapped securely to the carrier while others will secure bikes on mounting trays, quite similar to those used with roof-mounted models.


  • Fewer chances of the vehicle’s paint being scratched when mounting.
  • Quite easy to install as they just slide into the hitch.
  • Lifting and securing bikes in place is extremely easy.
  • Bikes can usually be mounted without removing the front wheels.


  • Not suitable for all tandem bikes.
  • Might block rear window view, causing problems while driving.
  • Padding is often required between bikes to refrain them from banging and scraping each other.
  • Extra attachments are usually needed to support bikes with odd frames.
  • Chances of getting a ticket if taillights or license plate are obstructed.
  • No access to the vehicle’s rear liftgate in some models. The ones which allow access are often more expensive models.

Size of the Bike Racks for Car

Best Bike Rack for Car FeaturesSince bikes are of different shapes and sizes, bike racks also come in a varied size range, with each type of bike rack having models that feature different sizes. Therefore, it is important that you determine whether or not the bike rack you are considering would be the best bike rack for your car.

For example, you would need to consider things like the size of the hitch receiver, the number of bikes you need to attach, and the design of your bike frame so that you can ensure that the size of your bike rack will complement both your bike and vehicle.


Features to Look for When Buying a Bike Rack for Car

Best rack for car swagmanAs you already know, bike racks come in a number of different models, all with their own individual features. When looking for features, it usually just depends on what are the requirements of the buyer, but there are certain features you should learn about, so that you can reach a conclusion to which ones are important.

Scratch Free Surfaces: It’s quite obvious that you wouldn’t want your car or bike to get scratched while you drive or attach bikes. By looking for bike racks that feature this kind of protection, you will rest assured that neither your car nor bike would get scratched in the process.

Locking Capabilities: It doesn’t matter if you are driving or are away from your car for a short period of time, you would want to be sure that your bike doesn’t get unlocked, or even worse, watching someone running away with it easily. Therefore, by getting a bike rack with top-notch locking capabilities your bike will be secured properly.

Weather Resistant: Since most bike racks are going to be attached on the outside of your vehicle, looking for a bike rack that is weather resistant is more appropriate. After all, you wouldn’t want to pay a substantial amount of money to find out the bike rack wears or rusts due to weather changes.

Attractive Appearance: The bike rack you choose for your vehicle should not look out of place, as it would affect the aesthetics of the car. Hence, look for a bike rack that offers good features along with an attractive appearance that will match your car.

Popular Bike Rack Brands

There are many brands that are providing bike racks in the market, but you shouldn’t just purchase them from anybody. Often, the main reason to opt for such brands is the prices they offer, and usually they come to be quite low. No doubt there is a major difference in price, but the difference in quality is even greater, as top brands will guarantee their bike racks will last you a long time to come, however, the same cannot be said about cheaper alternatives.

So, always consider buying from these top brands discussed below, as they are renowned for their reputation and dependability:

thule logo


Bike racks from Thule have always been an outcome of quality materials, and the objective of adding utmost convenience to people’s lives. Founded in 1942 in Sweden, Thule is the global leader in developing transport solutions for bikes and others type of sports equipment. Thule’s bike racks can outfit any kind of vehicle with easy-to-use and stable bicycle carriers.

Saris car rack logo


Saris are known for their best selling rear bike racks, and are among one of the leading manufacturers of storage, parking solutions, and bike racks. Their bike racks will never fade or wear, and feature molded arms and legs which are unarguably the strongest on the market.

Swagman Logo


Bike racks made by swagman are aimed to help people in enjoying the outdoors. The only manufacturer with RV approved bike racks, you are assured to get innovative options and top-of-the-line features for safe bicycle transportation.

hollywood racks logo


Mainly popular for its trunk-mounted racks, Hollywood also provides hitch-mounted racks along with others. There are an exciting range of features in its line of bike racks, and top-notch quality that ensures comfortable and safe transportation of bicycles.

Price Range for Bike Racks on the Market

The prices of bike racks vary according to their type, and of course, the brands offering them. If you are looking for a bike rack on a budget you can get one for as low as $40, and the prices can go as high as $400.

It’s better to keep your needs in mind when setting your budget for a bike rack such as the number of bikes you need to attach, the type of bike you have, the size of the hitcher and so on.

For example, if you are looking for budget-friendly bike rack and need to secure two to three bikes then you can get strap mounted racks from $40 to $140. Similarly, if the number of bikes you need to attach is greater than three, you can get roof-mounted carriers, which range from $100 to $200.

However, again it is important to mention that you need to choose one that would be suitable for both your car and bike.

Tips to Find the Best Discounts

Searching for discounts when buying bike racks can be a great way to find the best bike rack for car, without breaking your bank. Below we have mentioned some helpful tips to aid you in finding a good deal on the market:

Online Shopping

If you know what you are looking for, then ordering a bike rack online can sometimes bring good discounts, and even lower prices. This is because since the retailer doesn’t have costly store spaces to pay for, the money they save is often reflected in the prices charged or discounts allowed on their bike racks.

Look for Deals & Coupons

Many top retailers such as Thule or Hollywood provide good deals and coupons on their bike racks occasionally. So search their websites to see if there are any offers available.

Legal Tips

When buying bike racks, there are two important legal considerations you need to make. First, the rear lighting of your vehicle must be clearly visible, even during daylight hours. In most cases, bike racks might block your rear lights and you need to fix the problem before you drive.

The best solution to this problem is using light boards. A plug is installed at the rear of your car, with connections which feed your rear lights. Once started the light board becomes your main rear lights. Second, your license plate must be easily visible.

There are laws in most states relating to obscured license plates, and you can receive a really big ticket if violated. Therefore, ensure the bike rack you buy will not block your license plate view.

So, that’s about it! By following our guide, hopefully you will be able to find the best bike rack for car without breaking your bank.