The best bike racks for cars allow cyclists the freedom to take their bikes to new roads or trails, without having to cycle there in the first place. Whether you’d like to bring your bike with you on vacation or you’re traveling over state lines to a race, a high-quality bike rack will make sure all of the machines in your life (cars and bikes alike) make it to your destination safely.
As there are multiple different types of bike racks and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, our team ordered and physically tested a range of bike racks for cars to truly find the best of the best. We highlight what makes each type of bike rack unique, as well as detail car and bike compatibility for each style of bike rack in our buyers guide. Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive, we are confident that one of the bike racks we recommend will fit your needs and will be compatible with your car.
5 Best Bike Racks For Cars
- Best Hitch Mount Bike Rack: Kuat Sherpa 2.0
- Best Hanging Bike Rack: Thule Apex XT
- Best Roof Mount Bike Rack: Yakima HighRoad
- Best Trunk Mount Bike Rack: Yakima FullBack
- Budget Pick: Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack
How We Tested
The bike racks in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Amazon, RealTruck, and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors like durability, reliability, bike capacity, customer ratings, and prices.
Our product testing team then ordered the bike racks that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a car, taking notes on material quality, ease of setup, ease of installation, and bike stability. Installed bikes were taken on a short test drive. Each bike rack was given a rating out of 5 stars based on these criteria.
Why You Can Trust Us
Since 2020, we have published over 200 auto product reviews in an effort to make shopping for auto products easier. Our team of writers, editors, researchers, and product experts collaborates to thoroughly vet top products. We try to perform in-house testing on real vehicles whenever possible before making our recommendations.
When testing is not feasible, however, our aim is to make your life easier by doing all the online research for you and presenting that research in the form of easy-to-read product comparisons and buyers guides, rather than outright recommendations. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.
#1 Best Hitch Mount Bike Rack: Kuat Sherpa 2.0
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is lightweight and extremely easy to operate. A kick lever allows you to use your foot to lower the rack. This bike rack is among the most stable of those we tested and is one of the best-looking bike racks as well.
This is a premium bike rack that’s a good pick if you’re looking for the most stable, reliable option. The aluminum frame is rust-resistant, and you can expect this hitch rack to hold up for a long time.
- Cost: About $590 – $630
- Weight: 32.0 pounds
- Bike capacity: Two bikes
- Bike rack type: Tray hitch mount
|Overall Rating||4.8 out of 5|
|Ease of Use||5|
Unboxing the Kuat Sherpa 2.0, it is clear that a good deal of thought was given to the user. Even the design of the box is shaped to help with assembly. The included instructions are not difficult to follow, and Kuat also made an assembly video to follow along when assembling this rack.
There are many parts, so the Sherpa does take some time to build. However, once constructed, the Sherpa couldn’t be easier to install and use. It can tighten in the hitch receiver to ensure that there is no wobble, and the lever arms clamp firmly to the bike.
The Sherpa is so easy to operate that there is little room for user error. It is foldable and so can be pushed up against your car when not in use.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 1,300 ratings
Most are pleased with the Sherpa because it is easy to use and has a sleek appearance. Many choose to leave the rack attached to their vehicles, even when not in use. Reviewers confirm our experience that this bike rack does not wobble. Many comment that it is the most stable among any bike racks they have tried.
One downside that several reviewers point out is that the Sherpa is not compatible with all bicycles. There is no adapter kit for fat-tire bikes, and those with very long bikes find that they don’t fit very well.
#2 Best Hanging Bike Rack: Thule Apex XT
The Thule Apex XT is another hitch-mounted bike rack. Unlike the Kuat Sherpa, the Apex XT has a hanging design. This means that bikes are secured via the top tube. This isn’t recommended for carbon fiber bikes, but this design is secure and allows you to mount more bicycles.
If you need to carry three or more bikes, the Apex XT is your best bet. It is stable and compatible with a wide range of frame sizes. The XT also includes an integrated cable lock for added security.
- Cost: About $400 – $700
- Weight: 35.0 lbs.
- Bike capacity: Two to five bikes
- Bike rack type: Hanging hitch rack
|Overall Rating||4.7 out of 5|
|Ease of Use||4.5|
Like the Kuat Sherpa, the Thule Apex XT has a useful tightening mechanism to ensure a snug fit in your trailer hitch even without a hitch adapter. Less expensive hitch bike racks without this feature tend to shake a lot. This hitch rack is also difficult to steal as it includes an integrated lock, and a key is required to detach the XT from your vehicle.
The Apex XT requires little setup and is almost ready to use out of the box. It is constructed of high-quality metal and has a load weight capacity of 150.0 lbs. The straps used to secure bikes to the rack are made from a thick rubber.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on over 700 ratings
Some reviewers claim that the Apex XT is the best bike rack that they have owned. It is secure and doesn’t bounce or wobble on the road. It is easy to assemble and install, and most are easily able to mount bikes onto the rack.
At least one reviewer claims that the mounting points can break or wear away. This is the piece of rubber that cradles your bike’s top tube when it is mounted on the rack. Cradle deterioration does not appear to be a common issue, but should one of these mount points fail, you will not be able to attach as many bikes on the Apex.
#3 Best Roof Mount Bike Rack: Yakima HighRoad
The Yakima HighRoad is a secure roof rack for one bicycle. It’s a good choice for carbon fiber bikes because there is no bike frame contact. The HighRoad can accommodate bikes with tires between 26.0 and 28.0 in. and wheelbases as long as 48.0 in.
We think the HighRoad is a good pick if you have a vehicle with crossbars and only need to transport a single bike. It offers the stability and quality of a $500 rack in the $300 price range (what is sacrificed is additional bike capacity).
- Cost: About $280
- Weight: 10.0 lbs.
- Bike capacity: One bike
- Bike rack type: Roof mount
|Overall Rating||4.5 out of 5|
|Ease of Use||4|
What makes the HighRoad slightly difficult to install and operate is that it attaches to the top of your vehicle. We had no problem with installation by standing on our car’s tires, but shorter cyclists may have difficulty using this bike rack without a stool or ladder (our tester is 5.0 feet, 10.0 in.).
Aside from accessing the roof, the HighRoad is exceptionally easy to install and use. The instructions are straightforward, and any needed tools are included in the box. We found the tightening mechanisms easy to operate.
The bike mounting system makes the HighRoad stand out. Not only does it not touch the frame (which can damage carbon fiber bikes and bikes with custom paint), but the securing and tightening mechanisms work flawlessly.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars based on around 400 ratings
Reviewers agree that this bike rack is easy to install. Those who aren’t able to use a hitch rack like the HighRoad as an alternative. Most say it feels very secure and give this bike rack 5 out of 5 stars.
Some complain about the high price, though we’ve found that most other bike racks of this quality typically cost upward of $500. Another complaint is that the rack doesn’t come with a lock. Reviewers have also noted that it can be difficult to hoist your bike on top of a tall car.
#4 Best Trunk Mount Bike Rack: Yakima FullBack
The Yakima FullBack is our favorite trunk-mount bike rack. While trunk-mounted racks like the FullBack take more time to set up, they are also small and portable. Those that don’t have a car with a hitch or roof rails will need to use this type of bike rack, and the FullBack is among the best of this kind.
- Cost: About $300
- Weight: 23.5 lbs.
- Bike capacity: Two bikes
- Bike rack type: Trunk mount
|Overall Rating||4 out of 5|
|Ease of Use||3.5|
The FullBack is easy to install (for this type of rack). Fit may vary some by vehicle, but the metal buckles are high-quality, and the tightening buckles work smoothly. Once the FullBack is attached, securing a bike is simple. The tie-down system is easy to manage, keeping your bike secure while being easy to remove when it’s time to unload.
The FullBack bike rack is also very lightweight and during our test drive did not impair the handling of our vehicle. This rack doesn’t wobble or shake either, and we felt confident using it to carry a bicycle.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on over 250 ratings
Those who appreciate the FullBack mention the solid construction and straightforward installation. The compact design allows for easy storage, and it can even fit in most trunks when not in use. When properly installed, cyclists note that this bike rack is very stable.
Even those that give the FullBack high marks comment that attaching the FullBack can be time-consuming. To ensure a snug fit, this does require some effort and adjustment. That said, the installation process doesn’t take more than 10 minutes – this is just a longer time compared to other types of bike racks for cars.
#5 Budget Pick: Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack
Think of the Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack as the low-cost version of the FullBack. It has several of the same advantages: easy storage and compatibility with many vehicles. The Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack is our budget pick because of the cost – however, this is still a stable rack that you can trust. The drawbacks are that it takes a long time to install and the components can rub against your car.
- Cost: About $50
- Weight: 7.5 lbs.
- Bike capacity: Two to four bikes
- Bike rack type: Trunk mount
|Overall Rating||3.5 out of 5|
|Ease of Use||3.5|
For a trunk rack, installing the Allen Sports bike rack is not too difficult. There are a large number of straps to adjust. Tightening the straps is not hard, but the buckles are made of plastic (compared to the metal buckles found on the FullBack).
Once fully tightened, the Allen Sports bike rack feels secure with little risk of slipping off on the road. Bikes connect to this rack with straps and buckles that don’t feel quite as snug as those on the FullBack. That said, our bike did not shake or bounce, and the straps did not come loose during our test ride.
Our biggest concern with the Allen Sports bike rack is its longevity. This may be a good starter bike rack if you aren’t sure if you will use a bike rack or are on a budget. If you can afford the FullBack, we would recommend that instead. But if your budget is under $100, this bike rack is a reliable pick that may not last for decades but is one you can trust to hold your bike.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on over 39,000 ratings
Reviewers praise the Allen Sports bike rack for being small and compact. It is highly adjustable and both simple and reliable. While it doesn’t match the quality of higher-end bike racks, it is a good choice for short-distance transport.
Some note that the rack can scratch the car’s paint, particularly where the buckles fasten to the trunk and fenders. It can also be difficult to load multiple bikes onto the Allen Sports bike rack. It claims to be able to hold two bikes, but depending on the size of those bikes, mounting multiple bikes may not be possible.
Car Bike Rack Buyers Guide
A cyclist can spend anywhere between $50 and $500 on a bike rack. More expensive bike racks for cars offer improved stability, long-lasting materials, and ease-of-use features. You can still find workable bike racks in the low-cost range, though there are tradeoffs.
Even the best bike racks for cars will be useless if it is incompatible with your vehicle and your bike. Trunk bike racks are the most versatile and fit most vehicles. These are good for sedans without hitches or roof racks, though they are also compatible with hatchbacks and SUVs. Roof racks will typically fit any vehicle that has crossbars. There are two standard sizes for trailer hitches: 1.25 and 2.0 in. Hitch mount racks must be designed to fit a specific hitch size.
In addition to vehicle compatibility, you will also need to pay attention to bicycle compatibility. The relevant details to consider are wheel size, tire width, bike length, and crossbar style.
- Wheel size and tire width: This is important for tray hitch racks and roof racks. These types of racks will have a maximum wheel size and tire width that they can accommodate. Many (though not all) of these types of racks are incompatible with large mountain bikes and fat bikes.
- Bike length: Especially long bikes may be incompatible with certain tray hitch and roof mount bike racks.
- Crossbar style: Hanging hitch racks and trunk-mounted racks have poles that must fit between your bike’s crossbars. If your bike is especially small or has a narrow crossbar opening, it may not fit on these types of bike racks.
Additionally, consider your bike rack’s capacity: tray hitch racks and roof racks typically hold no more than two or three bicycles, while hanging hitch racks can accommodate up to five. Some racks have add-on options to add additional capacity if you decide you need it later.
It can be nerve-wracking to have your bikes shaking and wobbling while you drive, especially at highway speeds. Among the most important features of a bike rack is that it is stable.
Roof-mounted racks typically offer the most stability, followed by tray hitch racks. Trunk-mounted racks vary the most when it comes to stability, and this stability is often dependent on user competence. You’ll need to secure many straps and can get a very stable fit, but there is much more room for user error with this type of bike rack.
Ease Of Use
Trailer hitch bike racks are the easiest to use. They are the easiest to attach to your car, and often the easiest to mount bikes. Roof racks can be difficult to use, especially for shorter people as you must access the roof of your car.
Trunk racks are often the most difficult type of bike rack to use. This is because they require the user to secure several straps to the trunk every time the bike rack is used. This leaves more room for user error and potential catastrophe. Trunk racks also impede access to the trunk.
High-quality bike racks are made from metal that won’t corrode and can stand up to the elements. If any straps or cords are used to secure the rack or bicycles, it is important that these be made of durable nylon or rubber to ensure your bikes don’t fall off.
Types Of Bike Racks For Cars
Broadly, there are three types of bike racks for cars: trunk-mounted, roof-mounted (also called roof racks), and hitch mount bike racks. Hitch mounts are often the most expensive, but also offer the best stability and can be the easiest to use. However, these are not compatible with all vehicles. Trunk mount and roof mount bike racks have their own advantages, and finding the best bike rack for your car starts with deciding which type works best for your needs.
Trunk mount bike racks will fit on almost any vehicle except for those with a truck bed. They are inexpensive and a good option if your car lacks roof rails or a trailer hitch.
As the name implies, roof mount bike racks attach to your vehicle’s roof. These are often very stable, though they require a vehicle with crossbars to install. One thing some don’t like about roof mounts is that they significantly raise your vehicle’s clearance. This prevents drivers from parking in a garage or passing under a low bridge.
Hitch mount racks attach to a trailer hitch. Typically they can tilt out of the way to allow for trunk access. These are more secure than trunk-mount bike racks and easier to use than roof-mount bike racks.
Hitch-mount bike racks either feature a tray or hanging design.
- A tray hitch rack cradles your bike in a set of shoes. A clamp stabilizes the bike, gripping it by the top tube near the fork. Tray designs are a bit more secure than hanging racks but can’t hold as many bikes.
- A hanging hitch rack (also called a platform rack), grips the bike underneath the top tube. You rest your bike in a saddle and secure it with a piece of plastic or rubber.
Hanging hitch racks are not suitable for all types of bikes, as they may cause damage to e-bikes and carbon fiber bicycle frames.
Bike Racks For Cars: Bottom Line
We think that the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is the best overall bike rack. It is extremely stable, easy to use, and made from high-quality materials. However, if you don’t have a car with a trailer hitch, you won’t be able to use this bike rack.
The Yakima FullBack is a good alternative for those without a trailer hitch or roof crossbars. Those looking for an inexpensive bike rack might consider the Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack.
Bike Racks At A Glance
|Kuat Sherpa 2.0||$590 - $630||2 bikes||32.0 lbs.|
|Thule Apex XT||$400 - $700||2 to 5 bikes||35.0 lbs.|
|Yakima HighRoad||$280||1 bike||10.0 lbs.|
|Yakima FullBack||$300||2 bikes||23.5 lbs.|
|Allen Sports Deluxe Bike Rack||$50||2 to 4 bikes||7.5 lbs.|
Bike Racks For Cars: FAQ
*Data accurate at time of publication.