Car and Truck Bicycle Racks

Plenty of cycling enthusiasts put their two-wheelers on their vehicles to enjoy a ride in a distant location. Bike racks eliminate the hassle of loading a bicycle into a trunk or back seat and manufacturers have racks for virtually every kind of car.

Does the type of bike matter?

It can. Mountain and road bikes use different tires and the frame styles. If you use both kinds, consider buying a rack that will hold either. The racks are also available for tandem and recumbent bikes.

What kinds are available?
  • Trunk racks. Trunk racks fit on the trunk and work well for people who transport one to two bikes at a time. They’re easy to access, since they’re low to the ground. It is possible to open the trunk with bicycles on the rack, but it will be heavy. Most use nylon straps to secure the rack to the car.
  • Roof racks. Roof racks keep the trunk more accessible, but before choosing this type, evaluate your ability to load the bikes and measure whether there will be enough garage door clearance to fit the vehicle inside after loading the bikes.
  • Hitch racks. These bicycle carriers attach to hitches.
  • Truck racks. These sit inside the bed and can be attached to its base or a tool box.
  • Tailgate mounts. These racks hold up to six bikes. The front tire normally hangs over the back of the truck bed.
  • Spare tire racks. Such bicycle carriers attach to the frame of the tire holder and allow the vehicle’s rear door to swing open.
What's the right kind for my vehicle?

The type of car you drive limits your choices for bike carriers. Whichever you choose, it cannot block the view of your license plate or rear tail lights.

  • Sedans. You can use trunk- or roof-mounted racks.
  • Pickup trucks. A bicycle carrier that fits onto the hitch is an option, as well as bed or tailgate mounts.
  • SUVs, vans and mini-vans. Roof and hitch racks work well with SUVs.
  • Compact SUVs. Use a spare tire or roof rack.
How many bikes do they hold?

The racks will hold from one to five bicycles. When choosing based on bike count, be sure to take into account the size of the bicycle. Hitch racks can hold up to five bicycles and tailgate mounts up to six.

Total bike weight is also a limiting factor. Be sure to check your vehicle’s owner manual or look it up online to find its maximum weight capacity, known as load capacity, or in the case of trucks, its payload. Exceeding it causes safety and mechanical problems.

Do they lock?

Some manufacturers put locks on bike racks that hold the frames or wheels in place.

Does installation require a mechanic?

If you have the tools and experience to work on your vehicle, you may be able to install the bike rack. If not, a mechanic should do the work for you.