Best Overall
Kuat Sherpa 2.0

A snug-fitting, easy-to-use platform hitch bike rack.

Best Hanging Rack
Thule Apex XT

A hanging bike rack that holds up to five bikes.

Budget Pick
Swagman XC2

A two-bike hitch rack that’s inexpensive and lightweight.

Most Versatile
RockMounts Monorail

A tray hitch bike rack able to accommodate a broad range of bike sizes.

Also Consider
Curt Premium

A relatively low-cost hanging rack that’s simple to assemble.

A hitch bike rack is among the most essential tools for a regular cyclist. Unless you plan to always bike from your house, you’ll need some type of bike carrier for your car. A hitch bike rack is one of the best tools for carrying bikes, though it isn’t your only option.

5 Best Hitch Bike Racks

Best Hitch Bike Rack

  1. Best Overall: Kuat Sherpa 2.0
  2. Best Hanging Rack: Thule Apex XT
  3. Budget Pick: Swagman XC2
  4. Most Versatile: RockyMounts Monorail
  5. Also Consider: Curt Premium Hitch Mount Bike Rack

#1 Best Overall: Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

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The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a versatile and well-designed hitch bike rack. It will fit snugly in any hitch receiver and is very easy to use. The Sherpa can fold down to allow for truck access when installed, and it will securely grip any compatible bicycle. It also has integrated locks for added bike security.

If you’re looking for a reliable hitch rack to carry one or two bikes, we recommend the Sherpa 2.0. You may be able to find a less expensive hitch rack, but with a lower cost, you also sacrifice stability and longevity.

Pros Easy to use Made with durable, high-quality materials Wobble-free
Cons Won’t fit long bikes

Key Features

  • Cost: About $590 – $630
  • Weight: 32.0 pounds
  • Bike capacity: Two bikes
  • Receiver size: 1.25-inch, 2.0-inch

Our Experience

Kuat Sherpa 2.0_Assembly

Overall Rating4.8 out of 5
Ease of Use5
Stability5
Durability4.5

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 was among our favorite car racks to assemble and install. Even the packaging is designed to assist with assembly. Because there are so many parts, it does take some effort to build the Sherpa. Even so, the instructions are clear, and all the components fit together well.

Once installed, the Sherpa is extremely secure with no wobbling whatsoever. The tightening mechanism ensures that it will fit snugly in your trailer receiver. The tilt design allows for trunk access after this hitch is attached, and it is very easy to load bikes. The platform design is stable and secure.

Engaging the pivot system is simple thanks to a foot-assist lever. This means you can raise and lower the hitch rack without using your hands.

Among the hitch racks that we tested, the Kuat Sherpa felt the most secure and was the rack we would first choose to carry our own bikes.

Kuat Sherpa 2.0_Installation

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 1,300 ratings

Most love the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 because it is exceptionally sturdy and does not wobble. Many like the look and that it tightens in the hitch receiver for a perfectly snug fit.

One downside of this hitch bike rack is that it will not fit especially long bikes. The platform-style bike rack does not allow for much adjustment, so make sure your bike is compatible before buying this bike rack. The Sherpa can hold bikes up to 40.0 lbs. with wheelbases up to 47.0 in. and tires as large as 3.0 in.

#2 Best Hanging Rack: Thule Apex XT

Thule Apex XT

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The Thule Apex XT is a hanging-style rack that fits snugly into your hitch receiver. While a hanging rack isn’t compatible with bikes that have a small crossbar gap, they are good for carrying a large number of bicycles. Choose the Apex XT if you’re looking for the most stable hanging rack or if you need something capable of carrying a large number of bikes.

This rack also includes an integrated cable lock for a bit of added security.

Pros Snug, secure fit Can fold away Easy to mount bikes
Cons Won’t fit certain frames

Key Features

  • Cost: About $400 – $700
  • Weight: 35.0 lbs.
  • Bike capacity: Two to five bikes
  • Receiver size: 1.25-in., 2.0-in.

Our Experience

Thule Apex XT_Installation

Overall Rating4.7 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5
Stability5
Durability4.5

The Thule Apex is the only bike rack we tested that matched the stability of the Kuat Sherpa 2.0. The Apex also has a tightening feature that ensures a snug fit with the hitch receiver. It is simple to install and even has a special key to secure it to the tailgate and prevent theft.

Unlike the Sherpa, the Apex features a hanging rack design, which allows for more bikes to be attached. That said, the hanging design is not compatible with all bikes, and you’ll need to be sure that your frame can fit.

The Apex’s securing straps are made from thick, quality rubber and can be tightened to prevent sway or rocking.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on over 700 ratings

Many reviewers are happy with the Thule, and feel that it is more secure than any other option. It can fit any size hitch receiver and is totally stable once tightened. Reviewers often comment that it is not difficult to attach and remove bikes.

Some have had trouble assembling the Thule, as the included instructions don’t explain the locking system very well. If you’re struggling to install this hitch rack, you can find videos to guide you through the process. Another issue is that the securing mounts (where you attach your bike to the rack) can wear down over time.

#3 Budget Pick: Swagman XC2

Swagman XC2

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The Swagman XC2 is a lightweight tray hitch bike rack. It costs considerably less than the Thule and Kuat racks we recommend. This does come with a tradeoff, as it does not fit as tightly in the hitch receiver and the Swagman is made from a lower-quality metal that may rust over time.

However, this is a secure bike rack that is also very lightweight. It has a maximum weight capacity of 70.0 lbs. but is a good pick for those who only need to carry one bike or two light bikes. You might consider the Swagman if you have a small car and are worried about extra tailgate weight.

Pros Inexpensive Easy to install and use Lightweight frame
Cons Wobbles in larger (2.0-in.) hitches Can only hold up to 70.0 lbs. of bike

Key Features

  • Cost: About $100
  • Weight: 28.0 lbs.
  • Bike capacity: Two bikes
  • Receiver size: 1.25-in., 2.0-in.

Our Experience

Swagman XC2_Assembly

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Ease of Use4
Stability4
Durability4

We like the cradle design of the Swagman, and it was able to firmly secure our test bikes. However, this rack did wobble in our (2.0-in.) hitch receiver. The Swagman locks securely with a hitch pin, but shakes and makes noise on the road. This can be fixed by using shims or stabilizing inserts. The Swagman may fit more securely in a 1.25-in. hitch.

Mounting bikes onto the Swagman can be difficult for one person, but removing the bikes is no trouble at all.

Swagman XC2_Installation

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars based on over 4,900 ratings

Amazon reviewers like the Swagman because it is lightweight, easy to use, and inexpensive. Some opt for this type of bike rack because of the low cost, while others prefer it over premium racks due to its weight. While the written instructions aren’t the best, the Swagman is not too difficult to assemble.

Some don’t like this rack because of the low weight limit. For this reason, it’s not a good option for those with heavy bikes. One person has commented that their Swagman began to rust after exposure to the elements.

#4 Most Versatile: RockyMounts Monorail

RockyMounts Monorail

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Those who need to carry a range of bike sizes – child’s bikes, road bikes, full-suspension mountain bikes, fat bikes, e-bikes – should consider the RockyMounts Monorail. The design allows it to hold most bike sizes comfortably. It has wide wheel saddles and includes straps for securing fat tire bikes.

The Monorail’s design is similar to the Kuat Sherpa, though the materials, stability, and look are a slight downgrade. That said, this is still a premium bike rack and a good pick in the $500 range.

Pros Easy to assemble and use Lightweight Versatile
Cons Wobbles

Key Features

  • Cost: About $540
  • Weight: 39.0 lbs.
  • Bike capacity: Two bikes
  • Receiver size: 1.25-in., 2.0-in.

Our Experience

RockyMounts Monorail_Assembly

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5
Stability3.5
Durability4

The Monorail has a similar design to the Kuat Sherpa 2.0. However, it does not tighten at the hitch and is therefore less stable. We were able to adequately secure our bikes, but they were noisy during our test drive. This is another rack that would benefit from stabilizing tape.

Assembling the Monorail is not difficult, nor is loading and unloading bicycles. The rack can tilt up to 30 degrees to allow for trunk access once installed.

RockyMounts Monorail_Installation

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on around 200 ratings

Reviewers praise this rack for its versatility as it can carry a range of bike sizes.

“Carries my kids[‘] small 20” bike, my XL 29er, [and] also my XL fat bike.”

– EPhoto, via Amazon

Others note that RockyMounts has responsive customer service that will help with installation. Overall, the RockyMounts Monorail is described as sturdy, well-designed, and easy to store (as it folds up).

One thing to note is that this rack can be damaged by your vehicle’s exhaust. Make sure to check your exhaust pipe and that it doesn’t blow directly onto the tire saddle. For this reason, the Monorail is incompatible with certain vehicles (such as the Subaru Forester). Unfortunately, RockMounts has not made a list of such vehicles.

#5 Also Consider: Curt Premium Hitch Mount Bike Rack

Curt Premium Hitch Mount Bike Rack_Installation

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The Curt Premium Hitch Mount Bike Rack is a low-cost alternative to the Thule Apex. It has a high weight capacity and can hold up to five bikes. Choose this bike rack if you plan to carry several bikes and don’t want to shell out more than $500 for your hitch bike rack.

Note that this mount is only designed to fit a 2.0-in. receiver.

Pros Carries several bikes High weight rating Easy to assemble
Cons Only fits 2.0-in. hitches Wobbles

Key Features

  • Cost: About $330 – $360
  • Weight: 43.0 lbs.
  • Bike capacity: Four to five bikes
  • Receiver size: 2.0-in.

Our Experience

Curt Premium Hitch Mount Bike Rack_Complete

Overall Rating3.8 out of 5
Ease of Use4
Stability3.5
Durability4

The Curt is one of the easiest hitch racks to assemble because it only has three pieces to connect. There is a good amount of bolt-tightening involved, but this isn’t complicated. While the Curt fit into our receiver hitch, it wobbled. This is another hitch rack with no hitch-tightening mechanism.

As with any hanging bike rack, bikes with a small crossbar gap cannot fit on the Curt. This was the case with our smaller test bike. While attaching bikes to this rack is easy, our test bike felt imbalanced once attached. It takes more time and care to properly attach bikes to this rack.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.1 out of 5 stars based on over 200 ratings

According to customer reviews, most find that the Curt bike rack provides excellent value. It is easy to assemble and doesn’t sway in the hitch. Though it may bounce a bit, it is stable enough and the materials are high-quality.

It can be difficult to mount five bikes on the Curt, and the hanging system isn’t compatible with some bikes. That said, this hitch bike rack secures nicely and doesn’t leave a residue where it makes bike frame contact.

Should You Get A Hitch Bike Rack?

There are three common types of bike racks: trunk mount, roof mount, and hitch mount. A hitch bike rack is often the most expensive type of bike rack, but also the most versatile. That said, there are some benefits and drawbacks to each type of bike rack that may make other types of racks a better fit for your needs.

Trunk Mount

Trunk mount bike racks are typically the least expensive type of bike rack and are compatible with most vehicles. You might want this type of bike rack if you only need to transport one or two bikes and are on a budget. These make good bike racks for cars without roof rails or a trailer hitch.

Pros Inexpensive No crossbars or hitch required Will fit the broadest range of vehicles
Cons Less secure Takes a long time to set up Rubs against your car and can scratch paint over time

Roof Mount

Roof mount bike racks attach to your vehicle’s crossbars. This is the most secure type of bike rack, though they can be difficult to access. Choose this type of rack if you don’t want to impede trunk access or don’t have a hitch. The biggest drawback of a roof mount is that it significantly raises clearance, preventing you from driving into a garage or under low bridges.

Pros Doesn’t impede trunk access Highly secure
Cons Causes drag Raises clearance
(bad for tunnels and low bridges)
Difficult to mount bikes

Hitch Mount

Hitch mount racks are the easiest bike racks to use and install. They can typically accommodate several bikes, though they are expensive. Choose this type of bike rack if you have the budget to afford it, have a car with a hitch, and prefer the most convenient type of bike rack.

Pros Easiest to use Can carry many bikes
Cons Expensive Requires hitch

If you don’t have a hitch, you can install one on your vehicle, but this can cost hundreds of dollars. A hitch mount may not be the best choice for small vehicles, which are more affected by the additional tailgate weight. Low-profile vehicles are also not compatible with this type of bike rack.

Hitch Bike Rack Buyers Guide

Hitch bike racks generally come in one of two designs: tray or hanging.

  • A tray hitch rack (also called a platform rack) has a shoe or saddle for bike wheels and a clamp that connects to the top crossbar near the fork. A bike tray design is more secure and easier to use than a hanging rack.
  • To attach your bike to a hanging hitch rack, you rest the crossbar over the hitch posts and secure the bike with a strap. This type of hitch rack can often hold more bikes than a tray rack, though is less secure. It is not recommended to use a hanging rack for carbon fiber bikes, as it can cause damage to the frame.

To select the best hitch bike rack, you’ll also want to consider stability, durability, ease of use, and compatibility.

Stability

A bike rack is useless if it doesn’t properly secure your bike. But even secure hitch racks can be unstable, wobbling as you ride. This shaking can be nerve-racking and a distraction on the road. The best hitch bike racks have some mechanism to ensure a tight fit. However, most bike racks under $500 have some wobble. You can stabilize your hitch bike rack and reduce wobble with a hitch adapter or specialized inserts.

Not only do you want your hitch rack to be secure at the point it attaches to the car (the hitch), but be sure that your bike attaches securely to the hitch rack.

Durability

If you plan to get a lot of use out of your bike rack, select one made from durable, heavy-duty metal. Not only metal that won’t rust and corrode in the elements but also that has quality-made joints and latches.

Ease Of Use

One of the biggest benefits of a hitch bike rack is that it is easy to use. While some hitch racks take a half hour to put together, most all are easy to attach to a car. The best hitch bike racks allow you to load and unload your bikes with ease. Many even have convenience features that allow you to access your trunk even after bikes are mounted.

Compatibility

Be aware of your bike rack’s compatibility with your hitch and with your bike. You’ll need to pay attention to the following:

  • Receiver hitch size: Most trailer hitches are 1.25 or 2.0 in. Some bike racks are available in only one size, and others offer multiple sizing options.
  • Wheel size and tire width: This is relevant for platform-style hitch racks. Make sure your bike’s tires and wheels will fit into the shoe.
  • Frame compatibility: This is relevant for hanging-style hitch racks. This type of rack requires that you hang your bike by the top tube, but if your bike has a short or small crossbar opening, it may not fit with this type of rack.
  • Capacity: A hitch bike rack can hold anywhere from one to four bikes. Some can hold even more. Pick one that is able to accommodate all the bikes you plan to transport. Some bike racks are compatible with extenders that add extra capacity.

Other Features

Some hitch racks have convenience features such as tilt and pivot designs that allow you to move the rack out of the way of your trunk. If this is important to you, pick a hitch rack with this feature.

A few have added security parts like integrated bike locks and straps. That said, no bike rack will be as secure as bringing your bike inside for the evening. If you have an especially expensive bicycle, this is highly recommended.

Hanging hitch bike racks sometimes offer add-on extenders that increase the number of bicycles they can carry.

Hitch racks don’t add much drag, so many people choose to leave them attached even when not in use. This is an option, but if you don’t use your rack often, it may be easier to store when not in use. In this case, you might consider a storage mount for your rack like the 1UP USA Rack Stash Hitch.

Hitch Bike Racks: Bottom Line

Having tested several hitch bike racks, we found that the most stable is the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 and the Thule Apex XT. Both racks are likely to cost upwards of $500. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, consider the Swagman XC2, which only costs around $100.

The RockyMounts Monorail is a good pick for those with a wide range of bike sizes or who have a bike with fat tires. We found that this hitch rack can wobble in larger hitches, so should be paired with specialized inserts to reduce shaking.

How We Tested

The hitch 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 bike capacity, materials, brand reputation, customer ratings, and prices.

Our product testing team then ordered the hitch bike racks that best met these standards. A team member assembled and mounted each bike rack onto a truck. Bikes were then installed onto the hitch rack, and stability was tested by hand and over the course of a short test drive.

The hitch racks that we tested were evaluated based on ease of use, stability, and durability. Each hitch bike rack was given a rating out of 5 stars based on these criteria.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more.

Hitch Bike Rack: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.