The 9 Best Bike Racks of 2022 - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

2022-11-17 17:02:33 By : Ms. Susan Lee

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In the past few years, enjoying the outdoors on a bicycle has become increasingly popular. And while pedaling around your neighborhood is a lovely way to get yourself moving and perhaps also meet your neighbors, sometimes we want some new scenery. With a bike rack, riding in new places is much more accessible. If you’re already achieving new routes by shoving your bike inside your vehicle to transport it, that’s great—think about how much cleaner the inside of your car will be when your backseat is full of friends or gear rather than greasy, muddy bikes. Bottle Jack

The 9 Best Bike Racks of 2022 - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

This article outlines nine of our favorite bike racks across all different styles and models. Beyond the products, we list features and limits to consider when buying a bike rack, as well as answer some frequently asked questions you might have in the process. You can increase your vehicle's carrying capacity and your biking life’s fun capacity by finding the right bike rack for you—so let’s do it.

Glance around the parking lot at any busy bike trailhead in America and you’re almost guaranteed to spot a few Kuat Sherpas. This rack is super popular, and for many reasons. The two-tray system is built with sturdy, light aluminum tubing, with enough heft to inspire the confidence you need to strap something more expensive than your car to the outside of it (you know who you are). A pivoting swing-arm securely cinches down over the front tire of the bike to hold it securely to the rack, and a thick plastic strap ratchets around the rear rim to keep the other end from bouncing. Purchaser David S on attests to the rack's sturdiness in his five-star review titled “Beautiful and Outstanding Rack,” writing: “This solid, no-wobble work of art is so relieving. I no longer have to worry that the rack will snap off my car—this rack does not move.”

The Sherpa 2.0 will fit just about any bike with a wheelbase of 47 inches or smaller (the distance between where the two tires touch the ground), which includes most bikes out there aside from some freeride and downhill mountain bikes. The wheel trays can accommodate tires up to three inches wide, which is also a super generous range that only really excludes fat tire bikes. Additionally, the rack comes with a swing-arm adapter that allows you to carry a one child-sized bike. The rack’s weight limit is 80 pounds, which means it could hold some electric bikes, but only one at a time.

A foot-actuated lever lets you adjust the rack’s position easily, so you can store vertically against the back of the car when you’re not using it. Another great perk of this rack is the semi-integrated locking system. The rack comes with a thick cable that allows you to loop it through the bikes and attach the end directly to the rack, and unlock it with a key when you’re ready to remove them. The overall light, strong construction of the Sherpa 2.0 combined with all the thoughtful touches that make it easy to use places it square on the top of our list.

Not all racks are approved for use behind an RV. The shape of an RV, with the back extended well beyond the rear axle, which can create a lot of movement on the hitch and bike rack. RV-approved bike racks are built to withstand this extra stress, which usually wouldn’t occur on the hitch of a standard passenger vehicle. The Saris SuperClamp HD is built to be sturdy enough to withstand these forces.

This is not to say you can’t use it on a regular car hitch—you can. The SuperClamp HD is particularly ideal for users who will be transporting e-bikes. With a maximum weight of 60 pounds per bike, this includes many electric bikes on the market. Two adjustable arms clamp down over the front and rear wheels of each bike to secure it to the platform and ratcheting plastic straps add extra security. The arms and wheel trays are designed to fit a wide range of bicycles with wheelbases up to 50 inches long and tires up to four inches wide, which does include a range of fat tire bikes on the narrower side.

Like the Sherpa 2.0, a tilting feature allows you to fold the rack up against the back of the vehicle when not in use, as well as tilt away from the vehicle to allow trunk access even with the rack fully loaded. In terms of security features, the rack has a locking hitch pin that keeps it safely attached to the vehicle's hitch and an integrating locking cable that allows you to secure your bikes to the rack.

The Saris SuperClamp HD earned a high average rating of 4.7 out of five stars on Reviewer Eric from Washington touts the rack’s ease of use, writing, “This thing is worth every penny. Bikes go in and out in no time. They ride securely with very little or no wobble on the road. It's not too heavy, if you need to pull it off and store it in the garage.” This super-duty rack makes hauling your heaviest bikes safer and easier, which can go a long way towards improving your whole RV trip.

Buy Saris SuperClamp HD 2-Bike Hitch Rack

If you’ll be using a truck to haul mountain bikes, a tailgate pad is the best rack for you. Whether you’re transporting the whole family’s bikes to the trailhead, or shuttling your friends up the mountain for downhill runs, a tailgate pad is a quick and secure option to carry a lot of bikes at once without scratching up the frames or the bed of your truck.

The pad drapes over the tailgate of your pickup and cinches around the bottom with three webbed straps. You can hook up to seven bikes over the closed tailgate (five on a small size) with the fork and front wheel hanging outside of the bed. A microfleece lining on the bottom side helps protect the finish of your truck, and a recycled polyester top side with UV/weather-resistant coating keeps it protected from the elements. Individual bike anchor straps on the top side keep the bikes from sliding side to side—gravity and physics does the rest of the work to keep them in place.

The Pickup Pad is most compatible with traditional tailgate designs—for newer tailgate designs, check out the Pickup Pad DLX. Since it comes in two sizes, Dakine offers a sizing guide to help you decide which one will fit your truck. Dakine added other thoughtful features, too: stiffened webbing ends for easier installation, a grommet to lock the pad to your truck and a center flap that allows you access to the tailgate handle. The Pickup Pad earned an average of 4.8 stars from the 27 reviews on Dakine’s website. Verified buyer Peter A. sums this low-tech, effective rack well: “Simple, well made, fits great, does what it’s supposed to, protects my truck and even more important, my bikes. Oh ya looks great too!”

Buy Dakine Pickup Pad DLX

If your vehicle doesn’t accept a hitch rack, it probably still has a roof—and that’s enough for the SeaSucker Talon. This single-bike rack uses four powerful vacuum cups to attach to the roof, trunk or hatchback of your car; anything metal, glass or fiberglass is fair game. The front three suction cups sit in a triangle shape and hold a fork mount that secures your bike with a quick release skewer or thru-axle (the front tire goes inside the car). The independent rear cup is there for stability and has a 22-inch strap that secures the back tire. Extra straps that go around the crank arms help prevent the pedals from striking the roof during transit.

Because there are so many different kinds of hubs and dropouts, SeaSucker offers a universal fork mount system that will work with any kind of quick-release skewer your bike has. Thru-axle accessories are not included, but SeaSucker does offer them for an additional price. And the entire system is small, making it ideal if you’re going to be flying with your bike and renting a car, for example—you can pack it along in your bike bag or suitcase.

If you’ve never heard of SeaSucker, you might be skeptical of the idea of a suction cup bike rack. But these aren’t your shower-door suction cups; they’re made of half-inch thick strong thermoplastic called high density polyethylene and have a pull strength of 210 pounds. On SeaSucker’s website, the rack has 71 reviews with an average rating of a full five stars, as well as photos of SeaSuckers attached to all types of vehicles, including a ‘70’s Firebird. Its owner, verified reviewer Joel, writes, “I was skeptical about how the cups would hold, considering they require almost no strength to remove when you want to take them off. After a 50-mile trip and a couple hard pulls…the SeaCucker and bike hadn’t moved.”

Buy SeaSucker Talon One-Bike Rack

Large, hefty e-bikes can be a challenge to transport. A hitch rack like the Sport Rider with a high weight capacity and space for bigger bikes can make it easier. This rack holds two bikes and can accommodate a maximum weight of 80 pounds per bicycle. The wheel trays fit tires up to five inches wide, which includes the fattest of fat bike tires, and widen to fit a wheelbase of up to 60 inches.

Instead of clamping down over the wheels, the arms on this rack cinch down and hold the bikes by their frame. This allows you to easily attach bikes with fenders without worrying about denting them. For bikes with a low step-through frame, you can purchase an adapter to make it compatible with this rack. Once they’re cinched down atop your frame or adapter, the padded hooks can be locked in place on the arm to help deter theft. The hitch pin itself also locks, so no one can remove the entire rack from your vehicle without the key. Also included with purchase is an eight-foot cable that can be used with a padlock for extra security.

When not in use, the arm folds down along the tray to allow you to store the rack flat against the vehicle when not in use. Even with bikes on it, the tray can tip outwards to create space to open a trunk, which can be a relief when you’ve got the bikes packed and then find one more suitcase to stuff in the trunk. The hitch itself features Hollywood Racks’ proprietary No Wobble-No Tools tightening system that’s designed to eliminate any play in the connection without any wrenches required: Just insert a locking pin and crank a handle. Verified reviewer Patricia Wilkinson on Hollywood Racks’ website attests to the simplicity of the rack installation despite the weight, writing, “Straightforward and easy to assemble. I am a 67 year old woman and assembled and installed by myself.” On Hollywood Racks’ website, the Sport Rider earned an overall average rating of five stars out of the 395 reviews and an average of 4.8 stars from 474 reviews on Amazon. With all these customers raving, it’s hard not to feel confident in the strong, capable Sport Rider bike rack.

Buy Hollywood Racks Sport Rider 

For cyclists who prefer the stability of a platform style rack and want the security of clamping the bike down by both tires, the Inno Tire 2 Hold is a great option. They’re also popular among riders with carbon-framed bikes to help avoid scratching the delicate material. Designed to be smooth-operating and user-friendly, this rack features two sets of sliding arms that lock into place and adjustable wheel holders that accommodate wheels ranging from 20 to 29 inches in diameter. The platforms that hold the individual wheels can also slide from side to side, which can be used to offset the bicycles when you’re trying to fit two wide-handlebar mountain bikes beside each other without touching.

A quick-release handle allows you to tilt the rack up against the vehicle when not in use, down to a 45 degree angle for trunk access, a 90 degree angle to carry bikes and then even further away from the vehicle for trunk access when loaded up with bikes. Each tray is designed to carry up to 60 pounds, which includes a good number of electric bikes (you might need to remove the battery for heavier ones to meet the weight requirement). In terms of security, the rack includes a locking hitch pin to attach the rack to your vehicle, as well as locking security cables to attach the bikes to the hitch itself. Both the cables and hitch pin unlock with the same small key, so it won't clutter your key ring.

The Inno Tire Hold 2 only has five reviews on and none on the company’s website, but we did read promising things from purchaser Inday from Maine, who writes, “I've had this bike rack for almost two years and it has been a safe and solid rack. It's easy to load and unload. I've driven hundreds of miles with my bikes on it with no problems.” An all-around solid, thoughtful rack, the Inno Tire Hold 2 also comes with a limited lifetime warranty to back up your investment, which covers your replacement as long as you are the original owner and have the receipt.

The Malone Runway BC2 is a trunk-mounted rack, best for hatchbacks, sedans or other small vehicles without a hitch mount. It uses six sturdy webbing straps around your trunk door to secure the rack against the body of the vehicle: two on top, two on the sides and two on the bottom. It’s the lowest-priced model on this list, partially because the design doesn’t involve any heavy-duty trays or hitch connection points. The bikes hang via their top tube across two steel arms and attach with two rubber straps each. There is an adapter available for bikes with angled top tubes, allowing the bicycle to still hang straight and balanced. To assure you attach the bikes with the weight distributed evenly, you can adjust the angle of the arms to ensure they’re parallel with the ground (rather than sitting at a fixed angle in relation to the rest of the rack frame, which aligns with the trunk).

The arms and frame are made from a powder-coated steel tubing, which means its light, durable and corrosion resistant. Padded sections protect your car from all the points where the frame rests against your car, and also help prevent slipping. In order to avoid excess sway and keep the wheels from swinging or rotating, an extra cam buckle strap is included to loop around the frames and wheels themselves. It also folds flat to store easily inside your trunk or a closet when not in use.

On, the Malone Runway BC2 has 20 reviews with an average rating of 4.4 stars. Reviewer Terry mentions that “ It fits nicely and is easy to install. It’s also easy to mount the bike on the rack,” and additionally, “it’s a “great value for the cost.” If you’re not trying to drop more than you paid for your bike on the bike rack, this might be the rack for you.

Another popular style of bike rack mounts them to your vehicle’s crossbars, which run parallel across the roof. While it’s not the most aerodynamic option (it uses more gas), it’s still a safe and secure way to transport your bicycles. To set it up properly with the bikes facing directly forward or backward, you need crossbars that run side-to-side, rather than just the ones that run front to back. To mount the rack, screw both ends of the tray down around the crossbars (the universal mountain hardware is compatible with most crossbar models). Your bike mounts to the rack via a quick release skewer through the fork, so you have to take off the front wheel and stash it inside the vehicle. A ratchet strap secures the rear wheel, and can be situated along the rack to accommodate bikes with a range of wheelbases from as small as 34 inches up to 48 inches.

The rack comes with a magnetized cable lock for security, and you can add locking cores to the quick release skewers that lock them in the closed position for $20. Depending on the size of your vehicle and the width of the bikes you want to transport, you could potentially fit up to four of these racks atop a single car. If you have Thule or Yakima crossbars, the rack can hold up to 45 pounds, and if you’re working with the crossbars your car came from the factory with, they recommend a limit of 35 pounds. Another reason this rack is a great investment is the availability and comparatively low cost of replacement parts on Rocky Mounts’ website. The fork mount accommodates both quick release and all size thru-axles (except for 12x110mm), and according to reviewers on Rocky Mounts’ website, it's easy and quick to swap between the two in order to carry all your different bikes. Michael L writes, “This rack fits everything from QR to DH bikes and it is very easy to swap between inserts.” If you want the versatility of a switch hitter—a rack that can do both—this might be the roof rack for you.

Take the whole squad for a ride with the Swagman XTC4. This hitch-mounted platform rack can hold up to four bikes at one time, making it easy to plan a day trip to your favorite trail system. Similar to the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 and the Hollywood Racks Sport Rider, a single padded swingarm hooks around each bike frame to keep it nestled in place on the wheel trays. As far as bike compatibility, the XTC4 can support bikes that weigh up to 35 pounds each, and accommodate wheels as big as 29 inches (or as small as 20 inches for kids bikes and BMX bikes), and tires as wide as 2.5 inches. If you want to use this rack to haul your fat bike, you can buy bigger wheel trays for the XTC4.

When you’re not using the rack, the swingarms fold down to allow access to the trunk, and you can fold the platforms up perpendicular to the ground and out of the way for driving around. A locking threaded hitch pin keeps it securely attached to your car.

On Amazon, the Swagman XTC4 earned a 4.2-star average out of 363 ratings. It also scored over four stars in the categories “Sturdiness,” “Easy to assemble” and “easy to install. In his five-star review, purchaser Michael G. notes that the rack is “Amazing quality for its price point,” which seems to be the consensus among many reviewers. So if you want to become the carpool captain without breaking the bank, the Swagman XTC4 might be for you.

There are quite a few styles of bike racks on the market, all of which are designed for the same general function of safely transporting your bike. The main differences between them include where they mount to your car, and how they hold on to the bicycle. The two most popular mounting styles include attaching to a hitch mount below the rear bumper so the bikes ride behind the car, or securing to the crossbars on the roof of the car so the bikes sit atop the roof. Other variations secure the rack to the outside of the car using straps, like the Malone Runway BC2, or heavy-duty suction cups like the SeaSucker Talon. Within these categories of mounting styles, there are many varieties of attaching the bike to the rack itself. Generally speaking, most racks clamp down around the bike’s frame or wheels, or require the removal of the front wheel in order to secure to hole found at the junction between the front wheel and the frame.

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Choosing the right bike rack for you will depend on a few factors, namely the type of car you have, which racks your bike is compatible with and personal preference. So first, consider what kind of rack your car can accommodate. Does it have the capacity for a hitch mount? Are there crossbars on top for a roof rack? Can I reach the roof of my car easily? Is it a pickup truck? None of the above? This will give you a sense of what options you physically have. Within the options your car is compatible with, consider the features in terms of personal preference and bike compatibility, like clamping location, hanging versus supported by a platform, product pricing and number of bikes you want to transport. In some cases, certain styles of bikes will necessitate a more specific style of rack because of their size or weight, like electric bikes, fat tire bikes or very heavy mountain bikes.

The primary reason to buy a bike rack is to make your life easier. For one, bike racks increase the carrying capacity of your vehicle. With bikes on the outside, you have more room inside for people and gear. You also eliminate the frustrating process of trying to wrestle a big bike inside of a car. They also give you the opportunity to ride in more places than just your neighborhood, since you can load up the bike and take it to a new trailhead or a new city for a ride. And they do all of this safely and securely, so you can have peace of mind while you’re driving that your bike is not going to go bouncing down the highway.

To use a bike rack, the first thing you need to do is attach it to your vehicle. You can choose to do this just once and leave it on your car from then on out (which most hitch racks and roof racks are designed for) or to remove it when you’re not using it and reinstall it as needed. Once it’s secured to the vehicle, then you can attach your bike to the rack. On long trips, it's a good idea to periodically check the attachment systems of the bike to the rack and the rack to the car, just in case something rattles loose. When you get to your destination, you can pull your bike off the rack while leaving the rack attached to the car.

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One detail you want to ensure you’ve double checked is the capacity of the rack to handle the type of bike you want to carry. Most racks have a weight limit, and also designate a maximum weight per bike they can hold. Most hybrid bikes, road bikes and smaller bikes like kid’s or BMX bikes weigh around 30 pounds or less, but if you’re riding an e-bike, odds are it's heavier than that and you might need a rack with a higher weight capacity. Also, you should check what size wheels, wheelbase and tires it accommodates before purchasing. Most wheels and tires are accommodated by standard bike racks, but if you have a fat tire bike or a bike with an extremely long wheelbase, you might need to purchase an extension or adapter, or choose a rack designed for your style of bike.

The style of rack you choose will depend largely on the type of vehicle you have. If your vehicle accommodates a hitch mounting rack, those are generally the easiest type of model to use since you don’t have to lift the bikes up over your head to get them on a roof. If you have a smaller car with no hitch capacity but an easy-to-reach roof, a roof rack might be the right choice for you. If you drive a sedan or another vehicle without crossbars or hitch mounts, trunk racks or SeaSuckers are great options.

Most bikes lend themselves to any kind of attachment style, but there are few features your bike might have that might make it less-ideal for a certain type of bike attachment method. If your bike has fenders, over-the-wheel clamps that you see on hitch or roof racks won’t be the most secure option because the fender prevents the rack from holding the tire as snugly as possible—and using a rack on a fender can damage the fender too. If your bike frame has a low step-through, it might be incompatible with frame-clamping platform racks or hanging-style racks that require the top-tube of the frame to rest on the main rack support. Sometimes this can be remedied with an adapter, or avoided by buying a rack that clamps over the wheels instead. If you’re interested in a fork-mounted rack, ensure that the system can accommodate the type of quick release or thru-axle on your bike (if you’re not exactly sure what your bike has, a bike shop employee can usually clue you in).

The weight of your bike rack really only comes into play when you’re installing it onto your vehicle. Check the manufacturer’s claimed product weight to get an idea of whether or not you might need a hand lifting it into place.

Some bike racks come with a few extra features to make your experience a bit smoother. A common addition is an integrated or semi-integrated lock. The way the manufacturers execute this differs between models, but most commonly, bike racks allow you to lock them in the clamped position so bikes can’t be removed. Some come with a reinforced cable that locks directly to the rack itself for added security.

Some hitch racks also have a trunk-access feature, which allows you to tilt the platform of the rack further than 90 degrees away from the back of the vehicle so you can open a trunk without removing the bikes. This can be valuable on longer road trips where you need access to gear more frequently.

The bike racks on this list range from $120 to $650. The cost of a bike rack varies based on the materials used, and usually the higher-priced ones are much more heavy-duty, sturdy and stable.

A hitch rack is generally regarded as the easiest to use because it's closest to the ground and doesn’t require removing any part of the bike.

They can—and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re about to fall off. Most often, this is a function of a lower-quality rack or a poorly-fitting hitch adapter. It’s much less common in high-end racks that have a hitch-tightening system.

Depends on the trunk and the rack. Some platform racks are designed to extend further than 90 degrees away from the back of the vehicle, which will usually tip the bikes further away from the back of the car so you can open a trunk that lifts upward (if your trunk opens like a door then that’s a different story). If you have a roof rack, your trunk might hit the tray before it can extend as far up as it can, but you can usually get some sort of access. With a trunk rack, you usually have to remove the bikes before accessing the trunk because the weight of the bikes makes it very difficult to open.

They can. Attaching something to the outside of your vehicle tends to increase the air resistance against your car, requiring it to work a bit harder to get further and go faster. Generally speaking, racks on the rear of the vehicle don't cause quite as much drag as roof racks.

If it is installed properly, a bike rack shouldn’t damage your car.

There are a lot of bike rack options out there, and the right one can make all the difference in your biking experiences. Take your bike to new places, ride with more people, and keep your bike safe and secure during transit with a quality bike rack.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.

The 9 Best Bike Racks of 2022 - SI Showcase - Sports Illustrated

Load Binder Riley Missel is a writer, editor, and digital storyteller based in the American Southwest. She spent three years on staff at Runner's World and Bicycling magazines.