Posted by Rack Attack on 03-25-2019 under Bike Racks
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What Bike Rack Fits My Car?

One of the most common questions we get at Rack Attack is “what is the best bike rack for my car?” Luckily for you, finding this answer is relatively easy.

Bike racks are easier to choose because they are more application specific than many other types of racks. Basically you only need to know a few pieces of basic information to find the perfect rack for your needs:

  • Where do you want to carry them: on the back of the car, or on the roof?
  • How many bikes do you need to carry?
  • What kind of bikes are they?

The total price and number of extra parts you will require depends on your answers to these questions, but don’t worry: our goal is to get you the right rack. Our number one concern is always safety and usability, we want to sell you a rack you will enjoy for a long time (most of our racks have lifetime warranties!). Let’s get started at the beginning:

Should you carry your bikes on the roof or behind your car?

This is the first, and most important question you will have to answer, but the answer is going to depend on what your car can support. 

Bikes on the roof

Pros

  • Possible to carry any bike on any vehicle.
  • Just about every car can take at least 4 bikes.
  • Keeps your trunk free, unobstructed.
  • Can reduce the amount of road spray hitting your bike.

 Cons

  • Requires a base roof rack.
  • Can be difficult to load. 
  • Can be more expensive for carrying multiple bikes.
  • Can be tough with underground parking. 

 

Bikes behind your car 

Pros

  • Easy loading of your bikes.
  • Can be the most affordable option.
  • One rack can carry from 1-5 bikes.

Cons

  • Hitch racks require a trailer hitch, but do not worry, we install these!
  • Some vehicles (depending on hitch size or trunk mount) are limited to just two or three bikes.
  • Racks with bikes can cover the rear licence plate. It’s rare, but some customers have reported issues with this. 

While you can skip ahead to the section you have chosen now, I suggest you read the full test for each one. Not all racks work with all vehicles. To make sure you get the best bike rack for your car, continue reading.

Putting bikes behind your car

The easiest, often cheapest, and most versatile way to carry bikes is behind your car. But it’s not as simple as it may seem. There are three different styles of rear-mount bike racks.

Rear mount bike rack type 1: Hitch racks

Hitch mounted bike racks are considered by most to be the ideal way to carry bikes on a car. They are sturdy, reliable, easy to load, and carry nearly zero risk to damaging your vehicle. The catch is you need to have a receiver hitch installed on your vehicle (again, we install these)

There are two common sizes of hitches on passenger vehicles: 1-¼” and 2”. These hitch sizes will almost always be designated as class 1, class 2, class 3, or class 4. While most bike racks come available for both sizes (some other sizes are available, but may require adapters), the important thing to note is your hitch has two separate weight ratings: the tongue weight and the tow weight. 

Since we are not towing anything with a bike rack, we are only interested in the tongue weight. Here is the most important thing you will read all day: due to leverage and physics the actual weight of bikes you can put on your hitch is a fraction of the total tongue weight of your hitch.

Below are the general rules, but note racks will have specific weight ratings, so check with us for specfics. 

Class of Hitch Receiver Size Number of Bikes
Class 1 One and one quarter inch 1 - 2
Class 2 One and one quarter inch 1 - 5
Class 3 Two inches 1 - 5
Class 4 Two inches 1 - 5 

*Note: This chart is only a guide. Look up the actual class of your hitch, and avoid putting more than two bikes on anything but a class 2 or higher hitch.

If your car does not have a hitch installed on it, it is almost certainly possible to do so. Please give us a call to receive a quote. 

Now if you have a hitch, and you know how many bikes you are able to put on it, you’re almost ready to go. The last step is choosing the type of rack suitable to the style of bikes you own. If you have ‘standard’ bikes, you can basically ignore this, but if you own e-bikes, mountain bikes, or other 'non-standard' sizes, you may want to avoid racks holding the bikes by the frame, and choose a rack that holds your bike by its wheels instead. 

Use the tabs below to find the best bike rack for you. Click for a complete listing of hitch bike racks (including 3 and 5 bike models)

Tray Style

These are great options as they are extremely versatile and fit almost any style of bike. In particular, the Easyfold is becoming one of our most popular racks for E-bikes as it includes a ramp, and is rated to 60lbs per bike! The Easyfold comes ready to fit either size of hitch, all the other racks listed here are the 2" versions, but also come in 1 1/4" versions. The 2" versions of the T2, Hold Up and NV can all be extended from 2 bikes to 4 bikes with the purchase of an add-on.

Thule T2 Pro XT Black - 2 Bike 2 Inch
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Thule T2 Pro XT Black - 2 Bike 2 Inch Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule T2 Pro XT Black - 2 Bike 2 Inch

The upgrade from the previous model, the T2 Pro XT is Thule's premium platform hitch bike rack, and possibly the easiest way to carry bikes behind your car. This rack is for 2 inch hitches only.

Thule T2 Pro XT - 2 Bike Add-On Black
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Thule T2 Pro XT - 2 Bike Add-On Black

The Thule T2 PRO XT Add-On is an extension for the Thule 9034XTB T2 2" hitch bike rack (sold separately) which enables you to carry up to four bikes.

Thule EasyFold XT Platform Bike Rack
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Thule EasyFold XT Platform Bike Rack Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule EasyFold XT Platform Bike Rack

The Thule EasyFold XT Hitch Bike Platform is the most convenient, fully foldable bike carrier for all bikes, including E-bikes and other heavy rides!

Yakima Dr.Tray 2-inch Black
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Yakima Dr.Tray 2-inch Black Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima Dr.Tray 2-inch Black

The Yakima DrTray is a lightweight tray style two bike rack for carrying bikes of all types. It comes filled with premium fixtures making it one of the best tray style bike racks on the market.

Yakima EZ+1 Dr.Tray Add-On
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Yakima EZ+1 Dr.Tray Add-On

The Yakima EZ+1 is a third bike add-on for the Yakima DrTray platform bike rack. It easily pops on and off at the rearmost position of the DrTray's spine.

Kuat NV 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic
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Kuat NV 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Kuat NV 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic

With years of experience and feedback, we overhauled every feature and streamlined the look while maintaining the spirit of its predecessor. Fast fit adjustments fit nearly any bike, individual locking cables, and built in bike work stand.

Kuat NV Add-On 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic
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Kuat NV Add-On 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Kuat NV Add-On 2.0 2 Bike 2 Inch Rack - Black Metallic

When your solo ride turns into a weekend expedition with friends, the NV 2.0 Add-On lets you increase the NV 2.0 carrying capacity from two to four bikes in just minutes.

Frame Mount with Bike-On Vehicle Access

This style attaches to the frame of the bike. While this can pose a problem for some bikes, frame adapters are available. 

Thule 9027 Apex Swing
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Thule 9027 Apex Swing Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule 9027 Apex Swing

The Thule 9027 Apex Swing is Thule's new premium swing-away hitch rack that combines security, convenience and revolutionary new cradles with Road Dampening Technology (RDT) making it the most complete hitch rack on the market.

Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks
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Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks Alternate Image Thumbnail

Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks

The Thule 982XT Frame Adapter is a new and improved frame adapter that modifies women's, BMX and non-standard bike frames in order to be carried on hanging style hitch mount racks. It quickly attaches between the handle bars and bike seat.

Yakima FullSwing
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Yakima FullSwing

Now the family bikes can ride in style. The Yakima FullSwing has all the bells and whistles, from hassle-free ZipStrips to fully padded arms. It also swings away with one touch, for easy access to your car whenever you need.

Yakima Tubetop
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Yakima Tubetop

The Yakima Tubetop bike rack frame adapter connects easily between a bike's seat post and handlebars. This allows much easier loading and transporting of bicycles that don't have a top tube frame that runs straight between the handlebars and

Frame Mount without Bike-On Vehicle Access

Thule 9042 Helium Aero 2-Bike
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Thule 9042 Helium Aero 2-Bike

The Thule 9042 Helium Aero is nearly half the weight of most hitch racks and is the only ultra-light rack to integrate maximum convenience, bike protection, and security into one sleek aero-design. The Thule 9042 Helium Aero safely carries 2 bikes.

Not Available
Thule 9025 Apex 4-bike
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Thule 9025 Apex 4-bike Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule 9025 Apex 4-bike

The Thule 9025 Apex 4-bike is Thule's new premium hitch rack that combines security, convenience and revolutionary new cradles with Road Dampening Technology (RDT) making it the most complete hitch rack on the market.

Not Available
Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks
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Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks Alternate Image Thumbnail

Thule 982XT Frame Adapter for Bike Racks

The Thule 982XT Frame Adapter is a new and improved frame adapter that modifies women's, BMX and non-standard bike frames in order to be carried on hanging style hitch mount racks. It quickly attaches between the handle bars and bike seat.

Yakima FullTilt 4-Bike
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Yakima FullTilt 4-Bike Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima FullTilt 4-Bike

The Yakima FullTilt 4-Bike is here to get your biking adventure on the road. Fully assembled with fully padded arms make this one trusty carrier. Just SpeedKnob this puppy into your hitch, load your bikes with new ZipStrips and you are good to go.

Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike
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Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike

The Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike is a hitch mast bike carrier that goes long on features, including the UpperHand control lever that tilts the mast to make access to your rear hatch a cinch.

Yakima Ridgeback 2-Bike
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Yakima Ridgeback 2-Bike Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima Ridgeback 2-Bike

The Yakima Ridgeback 2-Bike is a hitch mast bike carrier that goes long on features, including the UpperHand control lever that tilts the mast to make access to your rear hatch a cinch.

Yakima Tubetop
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Yakima Tubetop

The Yakima Tubetop bike rack frame adapter connects easily between a bike's seat post and handlebars. This allows much easier loading and transporting of bicycles that don't have a top tube frame that runs straight between the handlebars and

 

 

Rear mount bike rack type 2: Spare tire racks

If you do not have a hitch, but you have a spare tire hanging off the rear of your vehicle, it’s possible for you to use a spare tire rack to carry up to two bikes. See your choices below.  

Spare Tire Mounted Racks

Thule 963PRO Spare Me Pro Bike Rack
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Thule 963PRO Spare Me Pro Bike Rack Alternate Image Thumbnail
Thule 963PRO Spare Me Pro Bike Rack Alternate Image Thumbnail

Thule 963PRO Spare Me Pro Bike Rack

The Thule 963PRO Spare Me heavy-duty bike rack is the perfect solution for any vehicle with a rear mounted spare tire. Now includes Stay-Put cradles for better stability, an integrated locking cable, and a second adapter plate to fit more tire sizes.

Yakima SpareRide
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Yakima SpareRide Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima SpareRide

Make that spare tire work for a living – the SpareRide easily attaches to your rear-mounted spare and turns it into a bike rack. Durable, stable and secure, it installs easily without tools.

  

Rear mount bike rack type 3: Trunk mount racks

The final type of bike racks are trunk mount racks. These racks are often the cheapest rack option available, but they need to be approached with caution. On top of being slightly annoying to mount, these racks mount with hooks and straps to the metal of your vehicles trunk. There is an extremely high possibility of light scuffing or scratching of your vehicle. 

One of the biggest shortfalls of trunk mounted bike racks is how they will loosen as you drive. The looser the fit of the rack, the more the rack may move against your vehicle, increasing the chances of vehicle damage. 

Finally, you will generally be unable to access your trunk while this rack is mounted. It may need to be removed entirely and re-installed for trunk access. These racks can carry up to three bikes, but it’s very important to adhere to the racks maximum weight limits, typically around 35 lbs per bike. 

 

Thule 9002PRO Raceway Pro 3-Bike
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Thule 9002PRO Raceway Pro 3-Bike Alternate Image Thumbnail
Thule 9002PRO Raceway Pro 3-Bike Alternate Image Thumbnail

Thule 9002PRO Raceway Pro 3-Bike

The Thule 9002PRO Raceway Pro 3-Bike is Thule's strongest, most secure and easiest to use rear mounted bike carrier. New PRO version features enhanced security covers over the SureTight cables.

Yakima FullBack 3
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Yakima FullBack 3

A fresher take on the classic strap rack, the FullBack securely holds your bike, is simple to use, stores easily, installs easily, and is easy on the wallet. The construction is rugged, the modern design is as cool as your ride.

 

Putting bikes on the roof of your car

Roof mounted bike racks are reliable and solid. If you do other sports, or use your vehicle for carrying just about anything you don’t want to put in the trunk, you can use the same base racks to carry just about anything as well as your bikes. The only real shortfalls of a roof bike rack is the bike’s height (for loading).

To carry bikes on your roof you first need a base rack, two cross-bars going door-to-door across your roof. If you do not have these you will have to install them first. Use our base roof rack fit guide to see the options for your vehicle. 

Once you have your cross-bars, you can now mount a bike rack. Remember each rack can carry one bike, and the typical roof can carry four bikes total, but that number will depend on the length (and load capacity) of your cross-bars. 

Note - If you have factory cross-bars, you may require adapters to attach the following racks. Please read the product listing to confirm.

The main difference between these racks is whether or not you take off the front tire of the bike, and attach directly to the fork of the bike. This adds a step to loading, but makes for a very secure rack that takes up less space on your crossbars, leaving room for more bikes! The wheel on carriers fit to most bikes, and let you keep your tire with your bike. 

Thule UpRide Bike Rack
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Thule UpRide Bike Rack Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule UpRide Bike Rack Alternate Image Thumbnail

Thule UpRide Bike Rack

Universal upright bike rack with no frame contact, for fast and secure mounting and maximum frame protection.

Thule Proride XT
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Thule Proride XT

When you want to quickly go from 4 wheels to 2, enjoy the convenient loading and unloading of the upright Thule ProRide XT rooftop bike rack. It's built tough to carry a bike weighing up to 44 lbs.

Yakima HighRoad
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Yakima HighRoad

The Yakima HighRoad is a premium roof-top bike rack that holds nearly any bike without taking off the wheels.

Yakima FrontLoader
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Yakima FrontLoader

The Yakima FrontLoader fits to multiple types of crossbars. FrontLoader is the most versatile bike rack ever. Bikes stay vertical as they roll onto the rack for quick and easy loading. Best-in-class consumer-focused design and security.

RockyMounts Brass Knuckles Black
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RockyMounts Brass Knuckles Black

The RockyMounts Brass Knuckles Black is the lowest profile upright bike mount on the market. Versatility is its middle name; mounts on all crossbars, accommodates 20"-29" bike tires, and road to downhill bikes.

Thule 535 ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier
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Thule 535 ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Thule 535 ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier

The Thule 535 ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier is a premium thru-axle fork mount bike carrier the fits a complete range of thru-axle diameters and has universal roof rack compatibility.

Yakima HighSpeed
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Yakima HighSpeed Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima HighSpeed Alternate Image Thumbnail
Yakima HighSpeed Alternate Image Thumbnail
Yakima HighSpeed Alternate Image Thumbnail

Yakima HighSpeed

The Yakima HighSpeed is a premium roof-top bike rack that holds nearly any bike by the front fork.

Yakima ForkLift
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Yakima ForkLift Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Yakima ForkLift

The energies of the universe have collided and created Yakima's first-ever direct to factory crossbar fork-mount bike carrier, the Yakima ForkLift. The Yakima ForkLift is simple as pie to install and fits most forks with disc brakes.

Kuat Trio Fork Mount Bike Rack - Gun Metal Gray
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Kuat Trio Fork Mount Bike Rack - Gun Metal Gray Alternate Image Thumbnail
Kuat Trio Fork Mount Bike Rack - Gun Metal Gray Alternate Image Thumbnail
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Kuat Trio Fork Mount Bike Rack - Gun Metal Gray

The Kuat TRIO Fork Mount TR01 Gray features the 3-Way fork mount system and can handle any bike you own. Top that off with a slim line design, security system, and rugged good looks and you have the most complete fork mount rack ever designed.

 

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