- 1 Thule Sidearm Universal Bike Mount Review
- 2 CyclingDeal 1 Bike Car Roof Carrier Rack Bicycle Racks with Lock Review
- 3 Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack Review
- 4 Yakima FullTilt 4 Bike Rack Review
- 5 Saris 805 Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack Review
- 6 Hollywood Racks F4 Heavy Duty 4-Bike Trunk Mount Rack Review
During the summer holiday migration, it is custom to catch a glimpse of bikes mounted on car roofs or hanging on racks at the back. As avid bikers ourselves, it is a ritual we can be accused of partaking in a little too zealously.
What is not forthrightly clear then is how much diversity there exists between the different bike racks available on the market, never mind other important information like what would be appropriate for what type of vehicle, the most ideal size to hold everyone’s gear, the best mounting method, a detachable versus fixed model, your style (whether you fancy slim road bikes or the beefy fatty type) and so on and so forth.
The world of bike racks for cars is a vast one, and to the untrained eye with intentions to venture into it at some point, it can be quite murky. And even for established players like us, it may be a little daunting discerning between the myriad options available before finally deciding to settle on any one capable of addressing your individual needs best.
Luckily, it’s a gruelling ride we’ve been through over the years, and are thus well placed to give counsel that should go a long way in simplifying the decision for you when you decide to hit the market in search of good bike rack.
Which is the best bike rack for me?
One of the questions we get to hear often is which type of bike rack is best to purchase.
Frankly speaking, this is as ambiguous as questions get. Because it really depends on what you need and expect from the rack. Your most ideal choice will also be heavily reliant on the type of vehicle you drive. Ditto the number of bikes you envision yourself ferrying and how often you will be using the rack.
To narrow it down for you, we have outlined the different types of bike racks for cars and the benefits and downsides you can expect from each.
Without much ado, here are the three main types you need to concern yourself with, whether you are an occasional biker or cycle junkie.
Bike Roof Racks
There was a wide-held belief that carrying a bike on the roof was the most secure method as it safeguards the bike against the many potential dangers on the road, particularly against other motorists. It is pretty obvious why, although your vehicle will need to be so high to gain passage at some points.
Bike roof racks come with the added advantage of being the more versatile options out there because with a little tinkering, they can carry other items apart from bicycles. Multisport fanatics will especially take to roof racks because they are able to hold more bikes compared to the other racks, albeit this will be dictated by the size of your vehicle.
A common downside with these types of racks is that, in addition to being more challenging to install, the driver has to heed caution when entering a low-ceiling space such as a garage, drive-thru or other areas with low clearance. It would serve you well to know your vehicle’s height when fully loaded prior to making a purchase.
Bike roof racks are also disadvantageous in the sense that they increase resistance – especially when shipping a bunch of them – which in turn has a negative impact on your gas mileage. And of course, there is always the chance of damaging a bike by accident while lifting it onto the roof of a lofty vehicle, especially in the case of heavier bikes.
Trunk racks are the most affordable bike racks for cars available, therefore they are perfect for anyone who might be on a tight budget. Typically, they work with most vehicles out there, small cars included.
Add these benefits to the fact that they are very easy to install/remove and provide for easy storage and you understand why they are a preference for many people.
But this is not to mean they are devoid of drawbacks.
They may not be weighty themselves, but these racks can weigh heavily on the body panels of your vehicle when bikes are in tow, especially in the case of heavy units. Trunk racks may also obscure the rear window if not properly installed, therefore leading to vehicle damage.
Hitch racks come fully assembled and this makes them the easiest type to install – all you need to do is insert the rack into the hitch on your car and voila!
Securing bikes is pretty straightforward, plus, unlike their trunk-mounted counterparts, hitch racks are less likely to cause damage to your vehicle. They also trounce roof bike racks when it comes to passage through low clearance areas because height here is a non-issue. However, the fact that they result in an increased overall length of the vehicle makes maneuvering challenging, and this can be daunting if you are not used to it.
You will encounter many affordable hitch racks on the market – cheaper than trunk racks even – but if you are after a good-name brand, you will have to cough out more.
As you can see, each type of bike rack has its own strengths and weaknesses which makes it hard to outrightly recommend one over the rest. The choice ultimately comes down the type of car you drive and what your exact needs are.
That in mind, hop on and let us explore some of the best bike racks for cars 2017 that are a great fit for both new cyclists and serious roadies!
With a diverse offering touching on everything from bike racks, to cargo carriers, to strollers, to camera bags, Thule does know a thing or two about on-the-go folk. When it comes to bicycle rack talks, the Swedish-based company has coined a reputation in cycling circles as a supplier of simplistic products that are both stable and secure. And the Sidearm Universal Bike Mount doesn’t veer far off from this reputation.
Granted, it is on the upper side of the price spectrum, but you can rest assured few racks can justify where every dime went as the Sidearm is bound to.
For starters, this is a wheel-mount type of rack. What this means is it holds your two-wheeled companion by securing the front wheel through what Thule calls SecureHook. The said hook only comes into contact with the wheel only, never the frame. A ratcheting wheel-strap is then used to secure the rear wheel, providing a tight and secure grip.
The bike rack itself is made from a double-wall aluminium tray which provides sufficient strength and rigidity than you need while maintaining an aspect of lightness. It is not prone to corrosion and so it should serve you for a good long while, as you would expect for that price.
The rack’s anti-theft measure includes a One-key lock cylinder which straps the bike to the carrier and the carrier to the rack. Unfortunately, this is sold separately, along with post-market roof bars for those vehicles that come with none. But if a rack system is nothing to worry about, then you can revel in the knowledge that the Sidearm Universal Bike Mount fits most proprietary rack systems, not to mention any factory-mounted or round crossbars.
It’s perfect for most 20-29-inch wheel bicycles, with tires stretching up to 3 inches wide.
If you need a roof rack and are not afraid to splash out some good dough, roof bike racks for cars don’t come any better than the Thule Sidearm Universal Bike Mount.
For Yakima diehards looking for a similar product, consider the Yakima FrontLoader Rooftop Bike Rack.
- Super secure – once you lock down that front tyre, the bike isn’t going anywhere
- Aluminium material means it is generally light
- No need to take tyres off
- Installation is easy
- Supports multiple crossbars
- Need to have rack system to avoid extra cost
- One-key lock cylinder sold separately
Roof bike racks for cars do not have to cost you an arm and a leg. If what you are after is a nice roof rack that does not blow holes in your purse, look no further than the CyclingDeal 1 Bike Car Roof Carrier.
What is immediately apparent is that the 1 Bike roof carrier does away with the need to keep removing your bike’s front wheel and reassembling it when you get to your point of call. You will appreciate just how easy it is to mount and lock your two-wheeler without going through this drill, although there usually is a common flipside to this: given the profile is taller, you are bound to have issues with clearance.
Plus, with a frame mount model like this which clamps not onto your fork or front wheel (as the Thule Sidearm Universal Bike Mount) but rather your bike’s frame, the amount of stress exerted on the frame is high. This is not good for carbon fibre frames.
This rack also comes with a lock, and although it is not 100% safe, it will at least play a part in deterring common thieves. What’s more, it has a sturdy steel powder coating which allows it to handle inclement weather conditions pretty well.
The rack is available at a tantalising price of less than 50 dollars. It might not provide the added benefits found in products that cost 3, 4 or 5 times as much, but it gets the basic job done. This rack works great with a variety of bike sizes, but best to avoid it in the case of larger bikes which may wobble. It’s especially a great option for holding kids’ bikes.
- No need to remove front wheel
- Holds frame tightly in place
- Durable steel powder coating
- It is possible to remove rack without any tools
- Not recommended for large bikes
- Small tyre tray
The Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Mount Rack is one of the most stable and durable bike racks for cars you are ever going to get, and for less than $90, it is an absolute steal.
There is enough space to carry two bikes at a time, but so you know, you can get the four-bike carrier model for just a couple of more dollars.
Customers wax lyrical about the long carry arms which secure each bike individually while folding out of the way with ease when needed. They can also hold many different styles of bikes, including road bikes and mountain bikes, and bikes of different sizes, from children to adult sizes.
The tie-down cradle system brings an added element of convenience and stability, preventing bikes from wobbling during transit even at high speeds. Couple this with a robust steel construction and an elegant (but hardy) black powder coat finish and you begin to understand why the Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Mount Rack remains a go-to choice for many a biker.
To gain access to your trunk or raise the gate when the rack is set up, all you have to do is remove the locking pin and lower the rack. When you are through, simply raise it back up and push the pin back. Easy.
A huge plus with the Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack is it fits perfectly for most vehicle types – sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, trucks, SUVs, doesn’t really matter.
We highly recommend.
- Holds multiple bikes
- Stable, stylish design
- Fits a range of vehicles
- Security is okay
- Extended vehicle length can be a challenge for inexperienced drivers
Yakima is right up there alongside Thule on the list of heavyweight brands when it comes to bike racks for cars. And with a product like the Yakima FullTilt 4 Bike Rack, it is easy to see why they are among the top contenders to lay claim to the best bike car racks 2017 bragging rights.
The FullTilt 4 Bike Rack is super easy to install and can be relied upon to provide some of the best security you are likely to get from a hitch rack. Fitting both the 1¼” and 2” hitches, this rack comes with a locking system to dissuade anyone with malicious intentions, and you are sure to appreciate the ease of access it offers, despite it being a hitch rack.
If you find it hard to distinguish between a Torx wrench and hex wrench, you will be pleased to know the rack comes fully assembled and requires zero tools to set up. Indeed, this is one of the easiest bike racks you will ever install.
The FullTilt 4 Bike Rack boasts big, beefy, padded arms that prop the bikes while ensuring they stay scratch-free, complete with an anti-sway cradle to prevent the bikes from rubbing against each other. You can always fold the arms down when not in use, and gaining access to the back of the car doesn’t involve dismounting the rack: it tilts backward allowing you to open the tailgate or hatch.
The Yakima FullTilt 4 Bike Rack features an integrated same-key lock system that employs a single key to secure the bikes to the rack and the rack to the vehicle. It weighs a tonne alright – at an average of 50 pounds, it is not the lightest of hitch racks. Then again, the last thing you need is to entrust the safety of four bikes you have painfully invested in on a lightweight rack, and we don’t mean this in terms of heaviness.
At 419 dollars, the FullTilt is also on the higher end of the price scale. Now, if you are the occasional biker who heads to the hills a few times a year, this might probably not be the best rack for you – unless, of course, you don’t mind spending a pretty penny on a good bike rack.
For the serious biker who is constantly ferrying multiple bikes, however, this is just the sort of bike rack you should be thinking of investing in. It is robust. It is secure in terms of bike safety and security. It doesn’t get in the way. The quality is of the highest level you will get from a hitch rack, and it is designed to last a lifetime – the sort of equipment you invest in and forget about.
And the coolest part about it? Well, the arms feature integrated bottle openers that remind you to celebrate your small victories with a hard-earned cold one at the end of the ride.
Hitch racks don’t come any better than this.
- Carries four bikes
- Ease of installation
- Recognised brand
- High security level
- Protective arms
If it is a trunk bike rack you are after, you will love the Saris 805 Bone 2-Bike Trunk Rack. It carries two bikes (Note: there are 3- and 4-bike models available) and is ideal for all vehicle models, from sedans, to minivans, to trucks.
Its injection-moulded arms and legs are the strongest you will find on a rack, and for this reason, the Saris 805 Bones stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of stability when you are ferrying multiple bikes.
As if that is not compelling enough a reason to opt for it, the rack – which comes straight from the Saris stables in Wisconsin – is unique in the sense that it is constructed from recyclable and non-corrosive material. 100 percent.
There is a lot to make you fall in love with this rack, and this will partly stem from its ability to securely hold the bike a good distance from the trunk and bumper without the niggling worry of damaging your paintjob.
Installing the rack is as east as A, B, C, D, plus it is compact enough to make light work of storage. Sturdy straps and an anti-sway rung provide for great security and protection of the bikes, and you can be confident they will stray strapped even when hitting speed bumps or driving at highway speeds.
If you often embark on long-distance trips and feel the need to bring bikes along, few can rival the Saris 805 Bone 2-Bike Trunk Rack in securely shipping multiple bikes over long distances. It has an arc-based design which suits most spoilers.
Coming in at 145 dollars, neither will you won’t find better value for money.
So, can such a great rack harbour any flaws?
Unfortunately, yes. And this is in the fact that the distance between the two bikes cannot be adjusted.
That’s something you can live with, though, and overall, it’s a decision you will be glad you made. Especially considering it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Light rack (weighs roughly 10 pounds)
- Stable and secure
- Injection-moulded arms provide good protection for bikes
- 100% Recyclable and non-corrosive material
- Arc design suits most vehicle types
- Installation is super easy
- Lifetime guarantee
- Value for money
- Fixed width between the bikes
Hollywood Bike Racks first made their foray into the world of bike racks in 1973. They have managed to carve a reputation for themselves in the market since, growing from a small operation located at the back of a bike shop to a renowned brand specialising in bicycle hitch and trunk racks.
Typically, small-time operations that go on to conquer the world tend to maintain a certain level of uniqueness, and this is an aspect that is evident with the Hollywood Racks F4 Heavy Duty 4-Bike Trunk Mount Rack.
As you can gather from the name, the rack is designed to carry four bikes, a feat that often puts a lot of weight on a rack and therefore calls for an exceptionally durable product. The F4 no doubt lives up to its heavyduty billing. It is constructed from extra-heavyduty steel tubing and hardware that ensure your bikes remain stable and secure during transit.
A good deal of trunk mount racks on the market employ four straps to attach the rack to the vehicle. Not with the F4. It boasts SIX, and the package contains extra straps meant to stop the bike wheels from spinning which may result to instability, complete with foam pads to protect your vehicle from scratches. It is recommended to load the heaviest bikes first in order to keep things stable.
The rack is designed in a way that the lower bar rests on the fender. The intention is to prevent the weight of the bikes from leaning on the rear window of the vehicle, but this also doubles up as a mechanism to lessen the risk of swaying when the car is in motion.
The Hollywood Racks F4 is shipped pre-assembled and installation is easy. It is surprisingly compact and allows for easy storage.
One glowing downside with this rack is the lack of a locking system which makes it easy to remove. It is for this reason you would be wise to stow it away when not using it. We also took issue with the restricted access to the boot when bikes have been mounted on the rack.
Overall, however, it’s a great rack to carry the entire family’s bicycle set.
- Can safely transport up to four bikes
- Fits a wide range of vehicles
- Extra-heavyduty construction makes it durable
- Extra straps guarantee a secure fit even for heavy loads
- Comes with day-glow safety flag
- Compact nature allows for easy storage
- Lack of locking system means it could pose a security risk
- Restricted access to the boot when bikes are mounted on the rack
With the saturation of different types of bike racks for cars on the market, the process of purchasing a bike rack may initially appear daunting.
What you can be sure of, however, is that irrespective of the type of bike(s) you need to transport, you will never be short of a good option.