Unbiased Bike Reviews, Guides & How-To's
We are reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links on our site. Read More...
When you need to take your bike across town or on a longer trip, you’re going to need to throw it in the car. But throwing it inside the car doesn’t always work – cars are small, and you might have other people, luggage, and gear that fills up the interior. The solution: bike racks.
Car bike racks help you transport your bike without having to throw it in the car, risking damage to the bike or getting grease all over the inside of your car. While bike racks are great, they can also be confusing.
There are many different styles, price points, and capabilities – and you may need a completely different rack if you have an e-bike versus a road bike or a mountain bike.
An increasingly popular style of bike rack is the hitch bike rack. This style of bike rack connects to the hitch of your car (which you can modify or add on if necessary) and offers many unique benefits compared to other bike rack styles.
The best hitch bike racks for bikes are easy to use, affordable, strong, and capable. You want your bikes to be secure and easy to access, with the flexibility to reach into your trunk, too.
This is our list of the best hitch bike racks.
Hitch bike racks are so popular because they are much easier to use than roof racks. The former allows you to lift your bike just a few feet off the ground in order to fit it into the hitch rack, while the latter forces you to lift your bike all the way overhead, and secure it on the roof where you might struggle to see.
Related: Best Bike Racks (All Styles)
Roof racks also hurt your gas mileage, and they could be your worst nightmare with a low overhang if you happen to forget about the extra four feet of bikes on your roof. Hitch racks are best for heavy bikes because they are easy to use and the most secure.
However, in order to use a hitch rack, your car needs to have a compatible hitch. Nearly all hitch bike racks are compatible with either 1.25” and 2” hitches – many racks offer adapters that will fit either hitch size.
In order to install a hitch bike rack, you need a compatible hitch. A hitch replacement can also be done at a local auto shop, and the entire process shouldn’t be too expensive.
Once you have a compatible hitch, the process of installing a hitch bike rack should be fairly simple.
The entire process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, and then you’re ready to load your bikes onto one of the best bike racks with a hitch.
Read more: Bike Racks & Carriers – How to Choose
But first, here is our list of the best hitch bike racks.
The standout feature of the Thule T2 Pro X is its solid towing capacity – 50 lbs to be exact, and that’s for each bike. That means that this hitch rack for bikes can handle almost any kind of bike, including mountain bikes, fat bikes, and (many) e-bikes.
There is a SnugTite lock that is as secure as any bike rack on the market, and room for two bikes on the Thule T2 Pro X. It sets itself apart with fantastic features and best-in-class capabilities including the towing capacity and maximum tire width of 3.0”.
One of the best features of the Thule T2 Pro X, which we will see in many of the best hitch bike racks, is a design that allows you to tilt the rack while it is loaded, and gain access to the car’s trunk. This was one of the biggest complaints of hitch bike rack users, and many of the top models have this issue solved.
The Thule T2 Pro X can also be expanded to hold four bikes using the Classic Bike add-on. This rack is super easy to install (without any tools) and features some of the best capabilities on the market.
MSRP: Check Price on Amazon
Saris Superclamp EX 2 is easily the most impressive hitch bike rack on our list, and it’s easy to see why. With a two-bike limit and carrying capacity of 120 lbs, you can fit almost anything you want onto this bike hitch rack.
This rack is perfect for families or groups of friends who travel together on biking trips. Saris Superclamp EX 2 can not only hold two bikes, but it can haul two large bikes such as mountain bikes and fat bikes, and maybe even some e-bikes.
Consider also: Best Bike Travel Cases
Saris Superclamp EX 2 comes with a universal hitch that works with 1¼” and 2” hitch receivers, and fits wheelbases up to 50” and tires as wide as 4″.
There are all the other features that you would expect in a premium hitch bike rack, including an integrated locking mechanism, a tilting feature that gives you access to the trunk, and carefully designed shepherd hooks that secure the bikes without touching the frame.
Küat is known for its sleek and stylish designs, and the Sherpa 2.0 is no different. The hitch bike rack is available in both 1.25” and 2” hitch sizes and comes with a glossy finish that is available in three different colors.
Perhaps the biggest downside of the Sherpa 2.0 is its assembly process – it is not intuitive as you might hope, and you’ll actually have to use the packaging as part of the assembly. But once you have it all together, the Sherpa 2.0 is one of the easiest hitch bike racks for cars.
You can fit a wide variety of bikes on the Sherpa 2.0, which has room for two bikes with up to 3” tires and weighing 40 lbs each.
That will be plenty to hold most mountain bikes and fat bikes, and you can then secure the bikes with adjustable straps and hook arms.
The high price is what you pay for the brand name and the good look, and the Sherpa 2.0 doesn’t have many standout features compared to its competitors – but it is certainly one of the easiest bike racks with a hitch to use.
What really sets the Yakima StageTwo apart is its weight capacity and easy loading mechanism.
The limit of 66 lbs should be more than enough to carry the heaviest of mountain bikes, hybrids, and e-bikes, and fits 16” to 29” wheel sizes with tires up to 3.25” wide. This rack is available for both 1.25” and 2” hitch receivers, and it also comes with a set of features unique to Yakima.
Yakima integrated SKS lock system and the StageTwo’s remote lever help secure the hitch bike rack and give you easy access to the trunk. Furthermore, Yakima has designed an offset tray that makes for extra bike clearance and makes loading and unloading easier than ever.
Lastly, the tool-free SpeedKnob makes installation quick and easy. The StrongArm Hook which secures each bike in place without touching and potentially damaging the frame.
MSRP: Check Price on Amazon
While the Saris Freedom isn’t the flashiest hitch bike rack, it is arguably the most capable, even at a modest price point. This is cheaper than many other hitch bike racks – racks that only carry two bikes, by the way.
Saris Freedom 4 carries – as the name suggests – four bikes with an outstanding weight limit of 190 lbs. This rack uses foldable arms and anti-sway attachments to secure the bikes, though you won’t be able to lock the hitch rack to your car – at least, this feature is not included.
The marketing is a bit confusing, as Saris claims the Freedom 4 is capable of carrying four bikes, or a total of 190 lbs, keeping in mind that the two outer bikes can weigh a maximum of 35 lb each.
However, the unique design of this four-bike rack means that not every bike will fit. Bikes with up to 2.5” tire width should fit into the standard wheel scoops, though unique frame and handlebar shapes may have a hard time lining up with one another in the somewhat cramped, four-bike setup.
Perfect for family vacations and biking trips, Saris Freedom 4 is the best and most affordable hitch rack for four bikes.
MSRP: $349 – $449
Bike racks can be very intimidating, especially for those who have never used them before. The Kuat Transfer V2 makes the process easier than ever, with a 1.25” ball cam and a semi-integrated cable lock.
Offered at an affordable price, the Kuat Transfer V2 is one of the best hitch bike racks available and comes with a 60-80lb capacity, depending on whether you get the 1-bike or 2-bike version.
This hitch rack fits wheels that are 18-29” in diameter and 5” in width, and with a wheelbase of up to 50″. Given its total capacity, this rack won’t be able to fit two large bikes, such as two fat bikes or two e-bikes.
One of the best features of the Kuat Transfer V2 is its swinging feature, which allows the hitch rack to completely swing to the side, allowing full access to the trunk.
Like many other top hitch racks, the Kuat Transfer V2 comes with a locking hitch pin and cable lock which will help keep both your bikes and rack securely no matter where you are.
MSRP: Check Price on Amazon
The Allen Sports hitch bike rack is a true standout on our list because it is cheaper than most other hitch bike racks, but it also holds twice as many bikes (four in total). You can find this hitch bike rack on Amazon, which comes with a lifetime warranty and a tilting mast that gives you access to the trunk.
For less than $100, you can get the Allen Sports hitch rack which can carry four bikes at once. The biggest downside of this rack is its weight limit which is just 12.5 lbs per bike. That means that you won’t be able to haul many mountain bikes on this rack, and certainly no fat bikes or e-bikes. You might be able to carry one, but that would be it.
This hitch rack only fits a 2” trailer, so make sure you have the compatibility to match.
Thule Helium Pro 3 is a bike rack with a hitch that looks quite different from the other usual suspects. In fact, Thule Helium Pro 3 wins the award for simplest hitch bike mounts for cars thanks to its clever design and ease of use.
The rack comes fully assembled straight out of the box, with no extra assembly or tools required. Thule Helium Pro 3 is also one of the lightest hitch bike racks for cars that we tested – perhaps, hence the name. In fact, the lightweight aluminum design is hardly half the weight of other hitch bike racks.
Despite its lightweight design and sleek look, Thule Helium Pro 3 is incredibly sturdy, and it will keep up to two bikes secure, even off-road.
There are even adapters on the bike rack that allow you to accommodate a wide variety of bikes, with a solid weight limit of 37.5 lbs. per bike. It fits 1.25″ or 2″ hitch receivers, and the bike rack is secured to the hitch with the turn of a knob.
There is also a locking mechanism that increases security, and a quick lift feature – called HitchSwitch – that allows the rack to tilt backward so that you can access the trunk.
Yakima HoldUp EVO 2 is a real heavy-duty hitch bike rack, built to withstand heavy bikes and off-road driving. This rack is designed to carry heavy and large off-road bikes such as mountain bikes and e-bikes, and so it has a carrying capacity of two bikes with 20” to 29” wheels and up to 5” wide tires.
The SpeedKnob and Strong Arm systems are included here as well, which help secure the rack and make it easy to use.
One standout feature is the burly steel trays with folding wheel hoops that make for the strongest and most secure rack.
There is even a KickStart foot pedal which can be used to tilt the rack down and out of the way for easy access to the trunk.
The weight limit isn’t as high as you might think for a strong and sturdy hitch bike rack such as the Yakima HoldUp EVO 2, but the 50-lb limit per bike is certainly high enough to handle two large mountain bikes.
Hitch bike racks are best for frequent bike rack users because they are very easy to use and they can haul multiple bikes at once. Though hitch bike racks are more expensive than comparable bike racks of other types, hitch bike racks are the most user-friendly of all.
Few other bike racks allow you to carry multiple bikes at once – and if that is possible, you might need to pay extra for another rack add-on. With hitch bike racks, you will typically have room for two bikes, and sometimes more. For frequent users, hitch bike racks are best because they are the simplest to use, and they’ll save you gas too.
Almost all bikes fit on bike racks, given that you have the compatible size. There are plenty of bike racks that are compatible with mountain bikes, e-bikes, and fat bikes, though it also depends on the type and model of bike rack. For a 55lb electric bike, you are going to need a hitch rack (and maybe with a ramp) rather than a roof rack which would require you to lift the entire bike overhead.
Many of the hitch bike racks above are available in two different sizes: 1.25” and 2”. This helps accommodate bikes with larger tires, such as mountain bikes or hybrid bikes. Just make sure you read the fine print before purchasing a new hitch bike racks.
No, bike racks do not damage your car in any way. Simply put, these manufacturers wouldn’t sell us bike racks that damaged our vehicles – because then we would never use them again!
All bike racks are built to be an addition to your car, not some sort of substitute that could compromise the integrity of the vehicle. Hitch racks for bikes aren’t even attached to the car, technically speaking. Instead, they are attached to the hitch, which is a separate piece of material attached to the underside of the car. The hitch is not actually part of the car, and many hitch bike rack users actually have a new hitch installed in order to fit their hitch bike rack.
While the process varies between hitch racks, it is always fairly simple. Most hitch bike racks have slots for the wheels, which you have to lift your bike up to in order to place them in. This helps stabilize your bike via the wheels, and then there are two arms that rotate and clamp down on your front and rear wheels – again, this is the design of many hitch bike racks, but not all.
Other hitch bike racks hold the bike via the top tube – so all you have to do is lift your bike onto the rack, and then secure it with the given straps. Make sure to consult the owner’s manual for your hitch bike rack, as the process of mounting your bike on the hitch rack can vary between devices.
Always double-check the rack and straps to make sure they are secure before driving off. This can usually be done in a matter of seconds, with a quick pull on each strap, just to make sure there is nothing loose.
There are no comments yet, add one below.