This guide provides our choices for the best bike racks available now. Inside, you’ll find options for trunk-mounting bike racks, trailer hitch bike racks and rooftop bike racks.
Whether you’re headed on a weekend trip, to the local trail system for a lunch ride or the top of your favorite descent, a good bike rack is crucial. It’s no fun to have to fold down your back seat to wrestle your bike into the back, twisting the handlebars and taking off the front wheel in the process. Just returned from a particularly muddy ride? Hopefully, you have a tarp.
The bike rack is your space-saving alternative. It’ll free up your car’s interior for the rest of your gear, your dog, or a riding partner, or two, depending on the capacity of your rack. There are many types of bike racks, and the ones that follow here are, in our opinion, the best available.
The Best Bike Racks of 2018
Thule T2 Pro XT
Best Overall Bike Rack: The T2 Pro XT is Thule’s premium tray-style, hitch-mount bike rack. It’s pricey but offers best-in-class features in a very user-friendly build. Front wheel ratcheting arms and rear wheel straps secure bikes that weigh up to 60 pounds without any frame contact. If you need to access the trunk space while the bikes are on the rack, the double-jointed mechanism can tilt your load away so that your car door is free to swing up and open. Best of all, if your crew is more than two people you can get an extension that adds two more bikes.
Saris Bones 3
Best Budget Option: Saris’ Bones bike rack is an awesome affordable option that’ll work for most riders’ needs. The rack attaches to almost any vehicle with rubberized, paint-friendly contact points and ratchet-equipped straps. It’s made from strong injection-molded plastic and has space for three bikes. If your car doesn’t have a trailer hitch and you don’t want to spend too much on a rack, this is the one to get.
1Up 2″ Super Duty Double
Best Hitch Rack: There’s a reason that virtually all luxury SUVs in Jackson, Wyoming (and many other mountain towns) can be spotted kitted with 1Up racks on the back. They are the top of the line when it comes to hitch-mount bike racks. They’re built in Dickeyville, WI from lightweight aluminum and like tyhe Thule T2, features an expansion bolt that eliminates virtually all wobble that many hitch-mount bike racks suffer from. 1Up Super Duty Double racks are also compatible with tire sizes from 16″ to 29″ and up to a 52″ wheelbase.
For riders who want a rooftop rack but are intimidated by the prospect of having to lift a bike high to strap it down, there’s Kuat’s Trio bike rack. The Trio is sleek and easy to use, with an intelligent fork mount system that will adjust to hold bikes of all sizes. The rear wheel secures with a ratchet strap, and the rack includes a built-in bike lock that deploys from the end. It’s also quite affordable.
Thule’s newest single-bike roof rack is an award winner, and rightly so. The UpRide lets riders leave the front wheel attached, securing it with two adjustable arms that hold it firmly in place. It does this without any contact with the frame, so it’s a good option for owners of pricey carbon bikes. With this system, the UpRide can accommodate frames of all shapes, sizes and suspensions.
Yakima Dr. Tray
The Dr. Tray is, hands down, one of the most stable hitch-mount bike racks we’ve ever used. The mechanism that attaches the rack to the hitch receiver utilizes a built-in wedge that eliminates any unwanted movement and sway. The trays are also infinitely adjustable, allowing you to position both bikes exactly where you want them and eliminate any chance of them rubbing against each other. When not in use, the tray folds up and locks in place with the squeeze of its handle.
North Shore NSR 4-Bike
North Shore Racks’ NSR offers a vertical alternative to the hitch-mounted rack, positioning up to four bikes upright and next to each other behind nearly any vehicle. The front wheel hangs tilted from a rubberized fork while the rear wheel locks to the frame with an easy-to-use rope and knot system. This way, the bikes can be positioned as close as possible without touching, and less space is used overall. This rack was designed for mountain bikers by mountain bikers, and as such it’s best for mountain bikes (read: not road bike compatible).