The 10 Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2021

Be ready for your next biking adventure with these racks

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Thule Hitch Bike Racks

Tripsavvy / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown

Best Overall: Kuat Sherpa 2.0 at Amazon

"Kuat's Sherpa bike rack has been recently redesigned with a pivot lever that can lower the rack hands-free."

Best Budget: Thule Camber 2-Bike Hitch Rack at REI

"Boasts a friendly price tag and fits 1.25-inch and 2-inch receivers."

Best for Serious Riders: Thule T2 Pro XT 2 at REI

"Leaves enough space between locked cycles so they don’t get tangled up in each other."

Best for Two Bikes: Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack at Amazon

"Features adjustable frame grips to accommodate wheel sizes measuring 20 to 29 inches."

Best for Three Bikes: Allen Sports 3-Bike Hitch Racks at Walmart

"The rack sets up in less than five minutes, decreasing your garage-to-trail time."

Best for Four Bikes: Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack at REI

"Has a 160-pound weight limit and comes with anti-sway cradles the keep bikes from touching."

Best Ultra-Light Hitch Rack: Thule Helium Pro 3 at REI

"Despite weighing just 20 pounds, this aluminum rack lets you haul up to 112 pounds."

Best for City-to-Mountain Biking: Tyger Auto TG-RK3B101S at Amazon

"Holds three city bikes and two mountain bikes with a 1.25- or 2-inch receiver."

Best for SUVs: Kuat NV Base 2.0 at Backcountry

"The foot-assisted pivot system makes getting into the back of an SUV easier."

Best Rear Cargo Access: Kuat NV 2.0 at Amazon

"The clever design of the rack allows for super-easy rear cargo access."

There’s so much freedom to be found cycling: the open road, the horizon before you, the miles behind you. At some point, however, the adventure is going to take you away from your front door, and getting your bike to the start of the adventure can be a challenge—especially if you’re still maneuvering your bike around folded back seats to stuff it in the car. For those taking their bikes out on the road or trail often, it’s important to get a bike rack, whether it’s one that mounts to the top of your car or, the often easier option: a hitch bike rack that attaches to the back of your car.

Plenty of easy-loading bike racks pop right into Class II hitches, making it easy to transport bikes and access them once you’re at your destination. Just be aware: the more feature-packed a rack is the more it’s probably going to run you—but there are definitely trade-off costs to spending your day struggling with rack installation and unlocking your bikes. Not sure which setup suits your needs? We’ve rounded up the top options in the industry, taking into account compatibility, bike capacity, and more.

Read on to learn more about the best hitch bike racks available.

Best Overall: Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Amazon

What We Like
  • High-quality materials

  • Easy to install

  • Heavy duty

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for weighty e-bikes

  • Lower ground clearance

The Kuat Sherpa wins our best overall pick for a few reasons. It’s a little lighter than other models at around 45 pounds and it's made out of aluminum, which makes it as light as it can be for all the features it brings to the table. It’s also tool-free, so you don’t have to mess around with a time-consuming installation. The rack’s been redesigned recently with user experience put first, with a few key improvements in the design, like a foot-assisted, hands-free pivot lever that lets users lower the rack without having to set all their gear down first. Kuat’s also designed the front tire ratchet to make releasing the wheel much easier, while in the back, a co-molded strap keeps wheels protected. 

Weight: 45 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. | Locking: Yes

Best Budget: Thule Camber 2-Bike Hitch Rack

Thule Camber 2-bike Hitch
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Lightweight

  • Bikes stay put

What We Don't Like
  • Installation requires tools

  • Not great for heavy e-bikes or fat tire bikes

The Thule Camber 2 bike hitch-mounted rack boasts a friendly price tag, especially for occasional users. It fits both 1.25-inch and 2-inch receivers and has arms that fold down when the rack is not in use. The cradle design is good for accommodating a wide variety of bike sizes (though particularly large fat tire bikes and e-bikes might be challenging to get on).

The cradle extension is meant to offer more stability, so even when you're driving on bumpy mountain roads you can rest assured that your bikes aren't going anywhere. The rack can tilt back so you can get in your trunk without having to dismantle the entire operation. The installation isn’t completely tool-free, though it’s not terribly difficult: there are only three bolts needed to put the hitch rack together. For two bikes, there’s a maximum capacity of 75 pounds, which should be fine for most. 

Weight: 37.5 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Locking: No

Best for Serious Riders: Thule T2 Pro XT 2

Thule T2 Pro XT 2

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Can stay on your car 24/7

  • Easy to use

  • Keeps bikes secure

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

Yes, this one has a pretty hefty price tag, but this new upgrade on an old favorite is top-of-the-line for a few reasons, not least ease of use. It requires no tools to install into a 2-inch hitch—the AutoAttach knob takes care of that—and when it’s not in use, the HitchSwitch lever tilts the rack up against the trunk of your car. Need to get into the trunk? The lever can also tilt the rack down so you can get into the back, too.

The rack is also great at keeping bikes secure: the ratcheting arm locks in bikes without touching their frames, and the 2-foot cable lock secures bikes firmly to the rack. When it’s not in use, the cable just retracts into the ratcheting arm. Best of all, the system leaves enough space between locked cycles so they don’t get tangled up in each other, and you can be assured your bikes will remain stable even when you hit the highway—or a bumpy gravel road.

At 51 pounds, this is heavier than some racks, but it definitely gets the job done. Just be warned: don’t install this rack on a trailer or a similar towed vehicle. For an additional price, you can get an extension (view at Amazon) that lets you throw another two bikes on this for a total carry of four. 

Weight: 51 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. | Locking: Yes

Best for Two Bikes: Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack

What We Like
  • Compact

  • Fits many different frame sizes

  • Folds down to allow access to the trunk

What We Don't Like
  • Locking hitch pin and security cable sold separately

  • Assembly required

The Swagman XC2 makes taking multiple bikes on the go stress-free. This affordable bike rack can hold two bikes and carries a maximum weight of 70 pounds. Reviewers loved how well-made this rack is and noted that setup was easy. They also liked how quick it is to put their bikes onto the rack and go. The bikes are secured at the wheels via ratchet arms, and the frame grips are adjustable to accommodate different sizes. The frame grips also have a soft coating so they won't scratch your bike while it's in transit.

When it's not in use, this rack folds up vertically for compact storage. The Swagman XC2 Hitch is compatible with 1.25 and 2-inch receiver hitches and works with 20 to 29-inch wheel sizes.

Weight: 28 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. |
Locking: Yes, sold separately

Best for Three Bikes: Allen Sports 3-Bike Hitch Racks

Allen Sports 3-Bike Hitch Racks

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Carry arms fold out of the way when not in use

  • Individual tie-down system

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for children's bikes

This three-bike mount by Allen, one of the best in the business, fits cars that have either a 1.25- or 2-inch trailer hitch. Allen’s patented tie-down system is an integral part of the design, with 16-inch long carry arms that individually secure each bicycle to the rack. The rack sets up in less than five minutes, decreasing your garage-to-trail time, and the carry arms drop out of the way when the rack isn’t in use.

It also comes in two- and four-bike variations if you need a little more or a little less room.

Weight: 28 lbs. | Capacity: 3 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. | Locking: No

Best for Four Bikes: Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack

Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack

 Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Safety features protect bikes

  • No assembly required

  • Folds flat for storage

  • Includes bottle opener

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavier

With a four-bike capacity and a 160-pound weight limit, there's plenty of spots for your family or caravan when you use the RidgeBack Rack by Yakima. Cyclists love this rack because it protects their bikes using its safety features. It comes with anti-sway cradles that prevent bikes from coming into contact with each other and secures them while you're en route. You can also secure your bikes to the rack using zip ties, which are perfect for blocking would-be thieves from getting access to your bikes.

The RidgeBack easily attaches to your car using a knob that tightens the rack into your hitch. To remove the rack, simply untwist the knob to loosen it. There's also a lever that tilts the rack down so you can still access your trunk. Best of all, this rack doesn't require any assembly.

Weight: 32 lbs. | Capacity: 4 bikes | Wheel Sizes: Any | Locking: No

Best Ultra-Light Hitch Rack: Thule Helium Pro 3

Thule Helium Pro 3
Courtesy of L.L. Bean
What We Like
  • Easy to access rear of vehicle

  • Lock included

  • Accommodates many kinds of bikes

  • Tool free installation

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Straps can be hard to use

Despite weighing just 20 pounds, this aluminum rack lets you haul up to 75 pounds on the two-bike version of the rack, making the Thule the winner for the best ultra-light hitch rack. For its price, it comes with a ton of features that make installation and loading (and their opposites) extremely easy: the brand’s patented hold-fast cradles with proprietary road-dampening technology absorb shock from bumps on the road before they can jostle your bike around—plus, the ratchet strap cradle straps and integrated anti-sway feature protect bike frames when on the go. Bikes are kept as far apart as they could possibly be with this rack's design, while the locking cable securely fastens the bike, rack, and hitch together. 

Weight: 20 lbs. | Capacity: 3 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. | Locking: Yes

Best for City-to-Mountain Biking: Tyger Auto TG-RK3B101S

What We Like
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Soft cradles to protect bikes

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't work on campers

  • Not a lot of clearance from the ground

Built with versions for both three and four bicycles, this Tyger rack is great for those who both bike around town (it holds three city bikes) and in on the trails (it holds two mountain bikes). It fits with a 1.25-inch or 2-inch receiver, but an extender might be needed for some cars and trucks. Bikes are protected by the soft cradles, which help to keep bike frames from scratching and scraping against the rack’s steel construction. It comes with a cable and hitch lock, as well as security straps to keep bikes in place—all of which are usually extras, especially at this price point.

Like more expensive models, this rack comes with a tilt-down arm so that you can get into your trunk without the rack getting in your way. Cyclists love just how firmly this rack keeps bikes in place, even on bumpy gravel roads, though the few who experience wobbling add some shims to the receiver, which helps immensely.

Weight: 20 lbs. | Capacity: 3 bikes | Wheel Sizes: Any | Locking: Yes

Best for SUVs: Kuat NV Base 2.0

Kuat NV Base 2.0 Bike Hitch Rack

 Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Can accommodate heavy bikes

  • Handy foot-assisted pivot system

  • Tilts for rear access

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

From industry-leading brand Kuat, the NV Base 2.0 is a workhorse of a hitch rack. It's the result of a process that took the best from Kuat's NV 2.0 model and removed the Trail Doc, leaving you with only the extremely useful essentials. This rack features a convenient foot-assisted pivot system, which lets you drop the rack down by pressing on a lever with your foot. This spec comes in handy when you're loading your bike onto the rack and makes getting into the back of an SUV easier. The NV Base 2.0 can hold two bikes up to 60 pounds each and fits with an 1.25 or 2-inch hitch receiver. You can add two more bikes on this model with purchase of an additional adapter. Bikes are kept safely on the road no matter where you're going with a hand-tight cam system, integrated cable locks, and adjustable tire cradles. This model includes a lifetime warranty, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Weight: 51 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Wheel Sizes: Any | Locking: Yes

Best Rear Cargo Access: Kuat NV 2.0

What We Like
  • Comes with integrated repair stand

  • Easy to use

  • Sturdy

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

  • Can be hard to assemble

This platform-style Kuat holds bikes by their tires so their frames don’t come into contact with each other on the road—and the clever design of the rack allows for easy rear cargo access, too: you can flip it up when you’re hauling bikes or tilt it down 45 degrees so you can get in the back of a car or truck bed easily. It also handily comes with an integrated repair stand, making it easy to inspect your bike and do any quick fixes before you hit the trail. The same design geniuses made this the closest thing to wobble-free we’ve come across.

Weight: 52 lbs. | Capacity: 2 bikes | Wheel Sizes: 20-29 in. | Locking: Yes

What to Look for in a Hitch Bike Rack 

Compatibility

Make sure that the rack you’re looking at is compatible with your car’s hitch receiver size before you buy—you don’t want to wind up with a rack that won’t fit your car (and find out the day you’re trying to leave for a day on the trails). There are plenty of guides available on manufacturer sites, but if you’re unsure, it’s always best to email or call them. 

On that note, if having access to your trunk is important for your travel, make sure the rack will clear it. Some styles don’t let you access the trunk while the bikes are loaded: instead, look for models with racks that swing away from the car or tilt down.  

Bike Capacity

Hitch bike racks come in a variety of sizes, and there’s a pretty wide selection for racks ranging from a capacity for one to those built for four or five bikes. Of course, it’s better to buy once than twice, so if you’re thinking about investing in a bike rack but also growing your family, you might look into an expandable bike rack you can adjust to add another bike to in the coming years. 

Price

Hitch bike racks come in a variety of price points, and as usual, the best place to be is somewhere in the middle. The most sophisticated models cost a lot; the cheapest aren’t usually the most well-designed. Also, consider how much you’re using it and try to visualize the cost on a per-use basis: if you’re someone who goes on a road or trail ride after work a few nights a week, it might be worth it to invest in a better-built rack with a few more features. However, if you’re someone who heads out with the family a few times a year, you’ll probably be just fine with a well-regarded but less-expensive model.

FAQs

What are the different kinds of hitch bike racks? 

There are two main types. Hanging, or mast-style, racks tend to be the cheapest option: they support bikes by their frame. "They're good for families that need to haul a bunch of bikes and are budget minded," says Ryan Stunkel, General Manager of Rack Attack in Denver, Colorado.

While they can haul in quantity, they can’t handle a diversity of bicycle styles. Stunkel said that "hanging racks generally don't work with carbon frame bikes, eBikes, and fat tire bikes." For those, there are platform-style bike racks, where your bike essentially rests in a tray that holds two to four bikes by their tires and keeps them in place as you drive. They can accommodate a lot of different types of bikes—there are models out there for everything from standard road bikes to electric ones. 

Which types of cars should use hitch bike racks?

Many types of personal vehicles can use hitch bike racks, including cars, SUVs, and trucks—basically, as long as it has a receiver for a trailer hitch, the car should theoretically be able to carry a hitch bike rack. This versatility makes hitch bikes racks one of the most popular styles out there. 

How should hitch bike racks be stored when not in use?

As a general rule of thumb: the better a bike rack is treated, the longer it will last. If the bike rack isn't being used regularly, it's a good idea to take it off the car. Store it somewhere dry and clean—don't just leave it out in the backyard. When storing for winter, make sure to wash the seasonal gunk off first (but don't take it through the car wash, as that can damage it).

Why Trust TripSavvy

Author Krystin Arneson spent four hours researching bike racks for this article and sourcing recommendations from expert reviews, customer feedback, and industry publications.

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