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Buyer’s Guide for a Hitch Bike Rack

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If you're looking for an easy way to transport your bike, a hitch bike rack is a great option.

A hitch bike rack attaches to the hitch which is affixed to the frame of your vehicle and holds your bike securely while you drive. This is by far the most convenient and easy way to carry bikes on your vehicle. Of note is the requirement for a hitch which is sold separately from the hitch bike rack.

There are a variety of hitch bike racks on the market, so it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. This guide will walk you through the different types of hitch bike racks, what to look for when purchasing one, and product suggestions.


Are hitch bike racks worth it?

Hitch bike racks are a great investment for anyone who wants an easy and convenient way to transport their bikes. There is no need to break your back lifting your heavy bike onto your roof like what you would expect from a traditional rooftop rack. Secondly, you can easily store and access your hitch bike rack in minutes when compared to the other styles available.

Of note is the need for purchasing a hitch itself which can be several hundreds of dollars depending on your vehicle and the type of hitch you've selected. This is usually the biggest sticking point with vehicle owners shying away from this type of bike rack.

From experience, we've had both rooftop and hitch mount and did have to purchase a hitch separately. The logic was simple, if you plan to keep your vehicle over the long term, then the investment in a hitch is worthwhile and makes up for it in the convenience of ease-of-access and installation.

If you're looking for an easy way to transport your bike, a hitch bike rack is a great option!

Hitch Mount Bike Racks

What is a car hitch?

A car hitch is a metal frame that is bolted to the frame of your vehicle and provides a platform for attaching other accessories, such as a bike rack. Hitch sizes are standardized and are either 1.25" or 2".

If you only ever plan on using the hitch for your bike rack then the 1.25'' is the way to go. If there is ever any consideration for towing a trailer or anything of significant weight then go with the 2'' receiver.

It's also best to have a professional auto technician install the hitch to ensure it's properly secured to your vehicle.

Benefits of a hitch bike rack

There are several benefits of using a hitch bike rack:

  • Hitch racks are typically very easy to use and install, making them a great option for anyone who wants an easy way to transport their bikes.
  • Hitch racks can accommodate a variety of bike sizes and types, making them a versatile option for transporting multiple bikes.
  • Many hitch bike racks include an integrated locking feature for security.

How does a hitch rack work?

Hitch bike racks attach to the hitch which is affixed to the frame of your vehicle. The rack then holds your bike securely while you drive. For anybody who wants a simple approach to transport their bicycles, hitch bike racks are ideal.

For security, most premium brands (Thule used as an example in this article) have a locking feature on the hitch where the rack connects, as well as on the arms of the rack. This enables both the rack and bikes to be locked securely and offers you peace of mind when out enjoying the fresh air!

Types of hitch bike racks

There are two main types of hitch bike racks:

  1. tray-style
  2. hanging-style

Tray-style hitch bike rack

Amazon Your Garage

This is the most common type. These racks typically have two trays on which your bike rests. Typically you can hold two bikes with the two tray format. Alternatively, some brands such as Thule offer up to four trays that accommodate four bikes -- great for families or going riding with friends! They are easy to use and provide good protection for your bike.

Benefits of tray-style bike rack

  • usually, zero frame contact when the bike is secured to rack
  • fits a variety of bike types - road, mountain, hybrid
  • most racks include an integrated locking feature for security
  • simple and easy to install

Thule T2 Hitch Bike Rack

The versatile design of the T2 Thule rack means it will work with nearly all styles and sizes. It can easily hold up to 60 pounds per bike, so even heavy mountain biking or fat bikes won't be an issue!

Hanging-style hitch bike rack

This style of hitch bike rack secures your bike by its frame and is more budget-friendly in comparison to the tray style. These racks can be more difficult to use, but they can be a great option if you have a tight fit on your vehicle.

Benefits of hanging-style bike rack

  • less expensive than tray-style racks
  • a wonderful rear rack for someone with a budget bike
  • fits a variety of bike sizes and styles

Thule Apex Bike Rack

This premium bike rack is perfect for growing families. The anti-sway cradles prevent bikes from making contact and the arm folds down when not in use, making it easy to store away without taking up too much space or compromising your vehicle's backend storage area! With four sturdy cradles that can accommodate different size bikes. 

How to install a hitch bike rack?

Installing a hitch bike rack is a relatively simple process, but it's always best to follow the directions outlined by the bike rack manufacturer.

For the sake of simplicity, below we offer a general overview for installation:

  1. Purchase a Hitch Bike Rack that corresponds to the Hitch Receiver size you have determined.
  2. Open the Hitch Bike Rack box and remove all contents.
  3. Follow instructions to install Hitch Bike Rack to your vehicle.
  4. Place bikes on Hitch Bike Rack and secure with provided mechanisms (straps/arms).
  5. That's it! You're now ready to hit the open road with your bikes.

Frequently asked questions about hitch bike racks

What are the different hitch sizes?

Hitch sizes are standardized and come in either a 1.25" or 2" receiver.

Can I use my hitch for anything else?

If you only ever plan on using the hitch for your bike rack, then go with the 1.25''. If there is ever any consideration for towing or using a heavier duty hitch in the future, then go with the 2''.

Can I use my hitch bike rack with a bike trailer?

No. Hitch bike racks are not compatible with bike trailers.

How do I know what hitch size I need?

The Hitch size you need is based on the receiver on your car.

Are hitch racks easy to steal?

Most hitch bike racks come with an integrated locking feature, making them difficult to steal. Additionally, if you have a cable lock, you can secure the rack to your vehicle. This will deter any would-be thieves!

Can a hitch rack damage your car?

No, a hitch bike rack will not damage your car. They are designed specifically not to cause any harm. Additionally, most premium brands have a lifetime warranty on their racks!

Do you need lights on the bike rack?

It is not necessary to have lights on the bike rack, but it is a good idea to have them. This will allow other drivers to see you when driving at night.

What are the weight limits for hitch bike racks?

Most premium hitch bike racks have a weight limit of around 60 pounds per bike. Make sure to check the weight limit of the rack you are considering purchasing.

Factors to consider when purchasing a hitch bike rack

Because you now have a better idea of what a hitch bike rack is, it's worth looking at some more factors to consider that will assist you to make an informed purchasing decision.

  • How many bikes will the rack hold?
  • What type of bikes will the rack accommodate?
  • Is there an integrated locking feature?
  • Is the rack easy to use?
  • How easy is it to install?
  • Is the rack adjustable?
  • What is the weight limit of the rack?
  • Do I need lights on the rack?

These are all important factors to consider when purchasing a hitch bike rack and will help you to find the perfect one for your needs. Hitch racks vary in their design and features, so you must take all of these into account before making a purchase.

Final thoughts

Hitch bike racks are a great option for anyone looking for an easy way to transport their bikes without having to worry about damage or theft. They are versatile, affordable, and easy to install. So, if you're in the market for a new bike rack, be sure to consider a hitch bike rack!

As you can see, there are a few important factors to consider when purchasing a hitch bike rack. These include how many bikes the rack can hold, what type of bikes it will accommodate, and whether or not it has an integrated locking feature. Additionally, you'll want to consider how easy the rack is to install and whether or not it is adjustable.

If you're looking for a new bicycle rack, hitch bike racks are worth considering. They are cost-effective, simple to use, and provide a fantastic means to transport your bicycles. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

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