Alta Racks Vertical Bike Rack Review

Exceptionally well built with a wide range of adjustability and compatibility, the Alta Racks vertical bike rack is the ultimate do-it-all bike rack. It’s perfectly suited for everyone from single-track seekers to average biking families.

The Alta Rack can safely carry bikes 20″ and up, as well as fat bikes and road bikes. The smallest Alta rack fits 3 bikes, while the largest 6-rack is perfect for epic group rides (or lots of kids)!

Alta vertical bike rack fully loaded

We put the Alta to the test to see how it compares to other vertical rack options on the market, testing everything from ease of loading to clearance issues and tire straps. Check out our comprehensive review below to learn what we love about the Alta Rack system and why we chose to purchase one over less expensive vertical racks.

Alta Rack Overview

RATING: Exceptional

MSRP:$759+, $1,185 as shown for 6 capacity

BEST FOR: Families or groups of riders who need to carry multiple bikes of various sizes. Especially beneficial for those with vehicles with 2″ hitches that are either really low or really high to the ground.

FITS WHEEL SIZES: 20″ to 29″, including fat bikes, mid-fat bikes and road bikes

CAPACITY: 3 to 6

RACK STYLE: Vertical

HITCH SIZE: 2″ only


  • Exceptionally well built with clean, quality welds
  • Made in the USA!
  • Tilts to allow for easier loading and unloading as well as access to rear hatch
  • Fits a wide range of wheel sizes, everything from 20″ to fat bikes
  • Angles up from hitch to provide plenty of clearance when not loaded
  • Top bar on rack has three height settings to prevent rack from riding high on taller vehicles
  • Space between wheel trays is adjustable
  • Easy to use Voile tie-down wheel straps
  • Green-footprint – entire Alta production and distribution is within a 10-mile radius
  • Optional side straps to prevent swaying and bouncing during longer off-road trips


  • High cost compared to other racks
  • No built-in locking mechanism – but includes loops for use with cable lock
  • No internal hitch stabilizer (has an external kit)

Alta Racks Video Review

Check out the Alta Rack in action in our video review. We’ll show you all of its unique features and provide visual comparisons with Velocirax.

QUICK NOTE: If this review helps you out and you decide to purchase an Alta Rack, we would greatly appreciate it if you added our name “Two Wheeling Tots” in the notes section at checkout. We are not an affiliate of Alta, but it would help us continue to share the love of Alta with others.

Alta Racks Vertical Bike Rack – Results of our Tests

We put the Alta Racks 6 capacity to the test with our family of 5 for several months and quickly fell in love with its ease of use, wide range of adjustability, as well as its minimal obtrusiveness throughout daily life when bikes are not loaded onto it.

In fact, we loved the Alta rack so much that after our demo period was over, we quickly realized how much easier it was to use than our Thule platform rack! So we went back to Alta and bought their 6 capacity rack (and yes, at full price).

Before making that investment, we did a lot of research to make sure Alta was the best rack for our family. Being one of the most expensive vertical hitch racks on the market, we wanted to make sure the benefits of the Alta Rack were worth its upgraded price!

Prior to writing this review we also had the chance to extensively test out the comparable and more affordable Velocirax 6 capacity vertical rack. All in all, both racks are great, but I’ll focus this review on why we felt the Alta Rack was worth the additional expense for our family.

For some, the benefits of the Alta may not worth the added expense, but after reading this review, we hope you’ll be able to confidently decide.

Two cars side by side with Velocirax and Alta Rack vertical bike racks fully loaded. Shown from side, with two cars backed up.
Velocirax vs. Alta Rack

How do Alta Racks work?

Before we dive into the details of the Alta Rack, let’s first briefly go over how the Alta Rack works (more in-depth info below). Like all vertical racks, Alta Racks are only suitable on cars with a Class III 2″ hitch.

Alta transports bikes vertically with their front tire pointing up above the car and the bottom tire pointing down towards the car. The bikes on the Alta are supported via wheel baskets mounted to a horizontal top bar. The front and rear wheels are then held in place with two rubber Voile straps.

When loading the Alta it is best to load the bikes largest to smallest, going right to left on the car.

alta rack 6 vertical bike rack fully loaded with a 20 inch bike

To load or unload the bikes on the rack, the rack can then be tilted down to lower the baskets. To lower the rack, the orange outer safety pin must first be removed.

alta bike rack outer safety pin and rubber stopper

Once removed, simply turn the black lever in the rear of the rack and the rack will lower until it meets the black rubber stopper.

tilt down lever on the alta vertical bike rack

Once fully loaded (or unloaded), ensure the black lever is pointed to the right, and then push up the rack via the center mast or via one of the baskets.

two girls pushing up the alta 6 capacity vertical bike rack

When the mast is upright, the rack will lock into place. For added security, always re-insert the orange safety pin before driving.

Unique Features of Alta Racks

While all vertical racks work in basically the same way (some mount the bikes via the handlebar or the crown of the bike’s fork instead of the wheel), Alta Rack does have several unique features not found on other vertical racks (that we know of).

For our family, these differences were the main reason why we justified paying more than the Alta as compared to other brands. We’ll go into more detail about each of these later in the review.

Wide Range of Adjustability

Alta rack does a great job at accommodating just about any bike wheel and tire size. Unlike other brands that “just make it work”, Alta rejects the “good enough” policy and is adamant at making their racks fully compatible to fit a wide range of wheel sizes and tire widths.

  • Adjustable spacing between bikes – All baskets can slide left or right to allow for minor or major spacing adjustments.
  • Changing bike capacity – 4, 5 and 6 racks can all hold 4, 5, or 6 bikes (as long as you have enough wheel baskets)
  • Tool-free, swappable wheel trays – you can choose any combination of 4 different wheel size baskets for your rack: standard basket (fits 24″, to 29″), 20″ bike basket, mid-fat bikes (2.9″ to 3.8″), and fat-tire bikes (3.9″ – 5.8″). These trays can easily be swapped out within minutes without tools.
  • Highest weight capacity – 300 lb. (50 lb. per bike) on all size racks (limit 2 e-bikes)

Ease of Use

We love Alta because it’s not only easy to use when fully loaded, it also a breeze to use when not carrying bikes. Considering our bike racks are on our cars for over six months of the year and only a very small percentage of that time it is actually fully loaded with bikes, ease of use when not loaded is almost just as important.

  • Angled hitch arm – a life-saver for additional clearance around town when not fully loaded
  • Quickly tilts down for rear access – Alta quickly and easily tilts down when unloaded as well as loaded. Most racks can tilt down, but often take more time or effort than the Alta, especially when unloaded.
  • Height adjustable top bar – Raising or lowering the top bar allows you to raise or lower the wheel baskets. This is a huge benefit for taller cars or trucks/SUVs with lifts!
  • Side stability straps – Minimizes swaying or bouncing when traveling off-road, also great for long road trips
  • Voile tire straps – Easy to use, easy to replace, and can even be used to strap a tube or water bottle to your bike in a pinch

General Awesomeness

While not affecting the usability of the racks, we love supporting great companies who stand behind their products. The main reason Alta Rack cost more is due to their commitment to keeping manufacturing in the US.

  • Made in the USA with exceptional quality (Lolo Racks is an exception and is also made in the USA)
  • Green footprint – Alta’s entire production, from manufacturing to shipping, is within a 10-mile radius
  • Lifetime warranty to the original purchaser – most other racks are only 2 years!
  • Available in 5 different colors – color is just the main mast, not the side bars or baskets

Quick Note: To be fair, while we have seen and admired other vertical racks at the trailhead (Lolo, North Shore and Yakima), we have not had the chance to extensively test them out like we have Alta and Velocirax. We also have not had the chance to see the similar Recon rack in person. Based on our online research, however, the features outlined above are unique to Alta, but please correct us in the comments below if we are wrong.

4 Reasons to Buy the Alta over the Velocirax

While there are a lot of vertical racks on the market, Alta and Velocirax are the most popular racks that carry via wheel baskets. Having tested both racks intensively (sadly – we haven’t had the chance to test the also similar Recon Rack), here are the four main reasons why we chose the Alta over the Velocirax (more details and pictures about each of these below).

Two cars side by side with Velocirax and Alta Rack vertical bike racks fully loaded. Shown from rear.
  1. Low clearance on the Velocirax – We bottomed out several times with the Velocirax on our 2019 Highlander with a 15 1/4″ hitch height. While both racks have similar clearance when loaded, the Alta has several inches more clearance when unloaded. Considering the rack is almost always unloaded when its on our cars all summer, unloaded clearance is just as (if not more) important than loaded clearance.
  2. Velocirax extreme height on high hitch vehicles – While too low for our Highlander, the Velocirax was way too high for our 2008 Land Cruiser with a 25 1/2″ hitch height and extremely difficult for my 5’10” self to use. Loading and unloading was hard, but doable, but pushing the rack up was essentially impossible as compared to the lower-set, height-adjustable Alta.
  3. 20″ Bikes Compatibility – Although they claim their rack fits 20″ bikes, even with padding, we only got the Velocirax to fit 1 of the 5 bikes we tested it with. We were able to make the Alta Rack work with all the 20″ bikes we tested. (Note: Velocirax is debuting a 16/20″ wheel basket in May 2022. We have not tested this and cannot vouch for it.)
  4. Wheel Straps – While this is completely based on personal opinion, I could not stand the thick rubber wheel straps of the Velocirax (nor could my husband)!

Additional Benefits of Vertical Racks

In addition to Alta’s unique features, like all vertical racks, it has several benefits over platform racks such as Thule or RockyMounts . These benefits are shared by most vertical racks.

Higher Bike Capacity

Vertical racks can hold up to 6 or 7 bikes, while platform racks max out at 4. Whether you plan on shuttling your crew or your own family’s bikes to the trailhead, bike capacity is king. After testing both styles of racks, we found that the benefits of vertical racks go beyond just capacity.

alta rack fully loaded with six bikes while in a drive way

Driver Visibility

When folded up, larger capacity platform racks typically block the rear window of the car, which can greatly limit the visibility of the driver. With vertical racks, only the main mast and the top bar on some cars inhibit the view.

image showing how a vertical rack doesn't interfere with the drivers view out the rear window very much

Visible Taillights and Turn Signals

Platform racks position bikes horizontally on the car, often in line with a car’s rear light panel. As a result, the brake lights, taillights, and turn signals on the car can be very difficult to see by the cars behind you. On a vertical rack, the rear lights of a car are much more visible through the bikes versus on a platform rack.

image showing how the tail lights and brake lights are more visible on a car with a vertical rack as compared to a platform rack

Platform racks can also block the rear lights when folded up for storage on a car, while vertical racks do so minimally.

Less issues with spacing

Vertical racks typically provide much more space between bikes when loaded. Platform racks often have issues with handlebars hitting saddles and pedals hitting frames, but for the most part, spacing issues are minimized on vertical racks (but not completely prevented).

Tilt Down for Easier Loading and Rear Access

Alta and Velocirax tilt back to lower the baskets to make loading and unloading bikes easier. There are some significant differences we will cover later, but they both tilt down.

The tilt-down feature also allows for easier access to the back of the car. Even with a fully loaded rack, the rear hatch of most cars will open when the racks are tilted back. Lolo and Yakima HangTight both tilt down to allow access when the rack is unloaded, but not when loaded or to help hang the bikes.

easy rear access on an alta rack when the rack is tilted

Vertical bike racks also tend to allow for more room between the rack and the rear bumper. This extra space makes it much easier to haul things in and out of the back of the car as compared to a platform rack whether the rack is loaded or unloaded.

Alta Racks Features and Comparisons

Now to get down to the nitty-gritty details of the Alta Rack. In this section, we’ll dive into the specifics of how the Alta Rack works and how it differs from other brands, specifically the Velocirax’s.

Two cars side by side with Velocirax and Alta Rack vertical bike racks fully loaded. Shown from side, with two cars backed up.
Velocirax vs. Alta Rack

Tow Arm Clearance

The base of the Alta rack is unique in that it bends upwards before the pivot point of the main mast. This bend allows for several additional inches of clearance when unloaded as compared to other vertical racks, including Velocirax.

When loaded, the clearance between the two racks is actually quite similar (the rear tires on the bikes hang down to similar heights on both racks), but when unloaded, the Alta was the clear winner.

Side by side comparison of angel of hitch hitch point on Velocirax vs. Alta Rack

While the unloaded clearance may seem minor, it quickly became a major point of differentiation every time I came across an unexpected dip or steep elevation changes around town. During our test period, we bottomed out with the Velocirax a few times but never had an issue with the Alta. (FYI the hitch height of these cars were both around 15″)

hitch clearance on the alta bike rack vs. velocirax

Adjustable Height of the Alta

Another unique feature of the Alta Rack is the ability to lower or raise the upper horizontal bar of the rack. With 3 different mounting positions, the vertical position of all the bikes (the entire top bar – not individual bikes) can be raised or lowered about 6 inches.

This helps the rack to easily adjust to fit low or high clearance vehicles. On cars that sit lower to the ground, the top bar can be set to the highest position to provide more clearance for the rear wheel of the bikes against the ground.

On high clearance vehicles, in which the hitch is already high off the ground, the top bar can be placed in the lowest position to lower the wheels baskets to help aid in loading and unloading bikes on a tall vehicle.

In the picture below, you can see the top bar is in the middle position on a Toyota Highlander on the left but is in the lowest position on the raised Land Cruiser on the right.

image of the main mast of the alta and how you can adust the height

The Velocirax does not have the ability to adjust the height. As a result, the taller your hitch, the taller the rack gets on your car! When loaded on a Toyota Land Cruiser, the Velocirax was ridiculously tall, which made it almost impossible to use. (As a point of reference, the boy in the picture is 5.8″)

 boy standing next to a loaded Velocirax bike rack loaded on a Land Cruiser

Even when the Velocirax was tilted down, loading bikes was quite a task on our Land Cruiser. Once loaded, however, the real challenge came when trying to push the rack back up.

Being 5’10”, I could push the loaded Alta up by myself on both the Highlander and the Land Cruiser. With the Velocirax, I could push it up by myself when mounted on our Highlander, but I could not come close to getting the Velocirax up on the higher Land Cruiser.

With help of my tall 12 and 14-year-old kids, the three of us could barely get the Velocirax up on the Land Cruiser. The main problem wasn’t the weight (I could push the rack up on other cars), it was the height. Getting the main mast upward enough to lock into place requires you to push UP, not just forward.

For reference, the hitch height on this Land Cruiser is 25.5″ versus 15.25″ on the Highlander. We also tested the Velocirax on a Ford Expedition with a 20.5″ and as expected, it was much easier than the Land Cruiser, but still not as easy as the Alta.

Basket Design and Spacing

While both the Alta and the Velocirax hold the bike in place via their front tire, the two brands’ baskets are quite different, with each design having pros and cons.

Alta Basket Wheel Size Options

Alta’s baskets are available in four different sizes, 20″, standard basket (fits 24″, to 29″), mid-fat bikes (2.9″ to 3.8″), and fat-tire bikes (3.9″ – 5.8″). Velocirax has one standard “hoop” and a fat-bike hoop that holds tires greater than 3.1″. (Note: Velocirax is debuting a 16/20″ bike basket in May 2022. We have not tested that basket and can’t say if it’s a good fit for small bikes.)

Alta’s 20″ Wheel Basket

Alta’s 20″ basket is a huge differentiator as it fits 20″ bikes much better than Velocirax. (The images below show an orange prototype. The actual basket is black.)

While Velocirax claims their standard bike baskets are compatible with 20″ bikes, we were only able to get a larger Schwinn 20″ bike to fit (with padding). The numerous high-end and mid-range 20″ bikes we tested on the Velocirax did not fit as the tire hoop of the rack rubbed directly on the bike’s fork or its brake mount.

Fit wasn’t an issue with Alta’s 20″ bike basket. 20″ bikes with skinnier tires (such as the 1.4″ wide tires on the woom 4) did require some careful alignment of the wheel in the basket to prevent the basket from rubbing on the wheel, but for most bikes it’s an ideal fit.

image showing a 20" bike mounted to Alta Racks 20" wheel basket

IMPORTANT NOTE: If your 20″ bike is particularly small with a shorter stack, you may experience difficulty placing it next to another bike when the rack is fully loaded with six bikes. For example, the Prevelo Alpha Three 20″ bike’s handlebars hit the bike next to it when we tried to carry six bikes on the rack. This was the only 20″ bike we tested that had this issue. Slightly larger 20″ bikes with a higher stack like the woom 4 OFF and the Pello Rover did not have this issue.

When purchasing an Alta Rack, you can choose what size baskets you want with your rack. If your order a 6 capacity rack, you can choose any combination of the 4 baskets. For example, you could order one 20″ basket, four standard baskets, and one mid-fat basket with your 6 capacity rack.

The 20″, standard, and mid-fat baskets are available without any additional costs, but each fat-bike basket does come with a slight upcharge.

To get a more secure fit of a 24″ and some 26″ bikes, Alta also sells optional wheel chokes. The choke consists of two metal bars with cutouts for the metal rim of the basket.

Wheel choke on the Alra bike rack 6 capacity rack

The choke is mounted onto the rear portion of the basket and is designed to allow the wheel to rest further up in the basket. This allows the wheel to be centered in the basket to ensure proper support to both sides of the wheel.

image showing how Alta Racks metal chokes help to center bike tires in the basket
24″ Wheel without and with a choke

All size baskets are available for purchase individually. When we ordered our rack, we ordered six standard baskets, as well as one fat-bike tray for my husband’s fat bike.

Each basket easily slides onto the top bar (once the end cap is unscrewed) to allow you to adjust the order and placement of the baskets very quickly and without tools.

For families with toddlers, the Alta rack has the added bonus that it’s also compatible with the Weehoo trailer cycle. While extra padding and strapping are needed for a secure fit, the rear wheel of the Weehoo does easily slide into a standard size basket. With the Weehoo loaded, however, we were only able to fit 4 additional bikes on and had to leave one basket empty.

alta rack loaded with several bikes and a weehoo trailer cycle

Alta Rack Changing Capacity

The ability to add, remove, as well as reposition Alta’s baskets on the rack allows for much easier flexibility than offered by any other rack. With the top and bottom bar of the Alta 4, 5, and 6 being the same length, one can easily order the Alta 4 rack and then purchase additional baskets in the future if needed.

With every basket added, the space between each basket gets closer, but unlike every other vertical bike rack on the market, the same rack can evenly space 4, 5 or 6 bikes on the same rack. Evenly spacing 4 baskets on the rack also provides plenty of room to add or remove bikes in any order on the rack (versus the standard right to left on the Alta).

Some users have even added a 7th basket to the Alta 6 capacity! As long as the max capacity of 300 lb. is not reached on the rack, Alta has no problems with adding more baskets. While we didn’t try this ourselves, based on our experience, this would likely only work with bikes that are all of very similar sizes.

Lastly, for those gravel and road riders, the Alta system is unique in that its 4, 5, and 6 racks can hold 4 bikes with drop handlebars, while the spacing of the Velocirax’s requires you to have their 7 capacity rack in order to fit 4 bikes with drop bars.

two road bikes with dropper handlebars loaded up on the alta vertical bike rack

Shape of the Basket

Compared to Velocirax wheel “hoops”, the Alta rack “baskets” are actually much taller and come higher up on the bike’s wheel. The taller baskets of Alta rack do provide more support for the wheels, but we saw no noticeable difference in the performance of the racks. For those with high-end carbon rims, the added support of the Alta may be beneficial.

the same bike loaded on the velocirax and alta, the alta supports more of the wheel

When both racks are tilted down, the taller baskets of the Alta does require the bikes to be lifted a couple inches higher than the Velocirax in order to overcome the upper lip of the basket.

side shot of mast extended on Velocrirax and Alta Rack. The Velocirax angles down farther.

To be fair, however, this “height” is 100% determined by the hitch height of your vehicle. The hitch of the vehicle with the Alta is less than an inch taller than the hitch of the car with the Velocirax. If you have a tall truck or SUV, be aware that these heights are drastically altered, more about this Alta’s adjustable height section below.

The Velocirax’s baskets are also built with a much steeper angle than the Alta. This steeper angle has its benefits as it helps to better stagger the handlebars when loaded and in many cases, provides additional clearance between handlebars, brake levers, and shifters. When loaded, the sharper angle of the Velocirax also prevents the front tire from extending too high above the car.

side by side shot showing how the velocirax places bikes are a greater angle on the rack than alta

The angle of the baskets also affects how you load and unload the bikes. The steeper basket of the Velocirax allows for less lifting but requires you to tilt the handlebars more in order to help guide the front tire down at the correct angle into the basket. On the Alta, the wheels drop into the basket with little to no guidance needed,

In the end, the difference is minor but noticeable. While I much preferred loading the Alta rack, our other Two Wheeling Tots mom preferred loading the Velocirax.

Tilting Racks with and without a Dampener System

The ability to tilt the racks to aid in loading and unloading bikes is one of the main differentiators between Alta and Velocirax versus other vertical rack designs. Both racks can actually be loaded and unloaded without tilting the rack down, but the tilting feature makes both processes much easier.

Velocirax’s Dampener

One of Velocirax’s standout features is its dampening system. The dampening system is designed to help gently and slowly lower a loaded rack from the upright to the tilted position. The system works beautifully as the bikes on the Velocirax do indeed slowly tilt down without any assistance.

Hydraulic dampening system of Velocirax

With the Alta rack, there is no dampener to slow the bikes’ descent. While not necessary, we found it is best to support the rack with your hand via one of the baskets or via the main mast from behind as it lowers.

If the rack is not supported while lowering, a full load of bikes can come down rather quickly (so make sure everyone is out of the way)! The rack, however, does has a rubber stopper to prevent any damage to the bikes or the rack.

rubber stopper on the alta rack vertical bike rack

The problem with Velocirax’s dampener comes into play when you need to lower the rack while empty. With no weight on the rack, the dampeners keep the rack upright even after the release is pulled. As a result, you must pull the rack in order to lower it. This process is far from effortless and requires patience to wait for it to slowly tilt down.

On the flip side, lowering the Alta Rack when empty is very quick and easy. As soon as you remove the outer safety pin, simply turn the lever and lower the rack down with one hand.

Considering I often need to access the back of my car for everyday tasks like loading and unload groceries, having to forcefully lower the Velocirax, as well as wait for it to lower, was a dealbreaker for me. Leaving the Velocirax or Alta upright is also not an option, as the rear hatch cannot be opened without the racks being tilted.

Pushing Bikes Back Up

The Velocirax’s dampener is also problematic when pushing the loaded rack back up. Many people often mistakenly think that Velocirax’s “hydraulic” system helps to raise the bikes once lowered. It does not. In fact, the dampening system actually works against you when pushing the bikes back up and actually makes it harder!

Both racks are in fact challenging to push up when fully loaded, but with the same bikes loaded onto each rack, I was able to push up the Alta Rack, but was unable to push up the Velocirax without help. Realistically, it is rare that one would ever be alone when hauling 6 bikes, so finding help to push up either rack most likely won’t be a problem.

Loading the Alta Racks

Like all vertical racks, it is best to load bikes on from biggest to smallest. On the Alta Rack, bikes should be loaded from the left to the right side.

With the handlebars tilting down to the left when loaded, loading from left to right allows the handlebars to more easily get tucked beneath the bike to its right.

Sometimes in order to prevent contact between bikes, the order needs to be switched up a bit. In the image below, the order that worked best for us (going right to left) was 27.5″ fat bike, 700c, 29″, 29″, 26″ and then 24″.

alta rack loaded with several different sizes bikes, including a fat bike, a 700c, 29", 26" and 24"

When loading bikes, spacing issues are common. Small changes can quickly be remedied by sliding the wheel baskets to the left or right. In order to slide the baskets on the Alta, you must first loosen the basket via the black plastic knob on the base of the individual wheel baskets.

Once loosened, the basket can be slid to the left or right. While it is much easier to slide the basket if you remove the bike first, you can lift up on the bike to relieve pressure on the basket and then strongly push it to one side or the other.

If contact between bikes is still a problem, the order of the bikes will likely need to be changed. In our experience, issues were much more common with 24″ and 26″ bikes than with larger adult mountain bikes. This was an issue with both the Alta and the Velocirax.

Both racks required us to alter the positions of the bikes on the rack, but the sliding baskets of the Alta provided the extra ability to fine-tune the spacing when needed.

image showing how the baskets on the alta can shift left to right

Swinging Bikes

Another difference we appreciated on the Alta Rack is how the bikes hang when being loaded. When loaded on the tilted Alta rack, the rear tires of all sizes of bikes rest against the lower bar of the rack. This prevents the bikes from swinging back and forth and easily allows you to see any need for adjustments.

When loading bikes onto the Velocirax, the rear tires of the bikes do not make contact with the rear bar. As a result, the bikes can slightly swing while on the rack. In addition to the potential for bikes to bump into each other, the swinging bikes make it challenging to spot spacing issues.

image showing how bikes on the velocirax can swing when loading

In order to clearly see spacing issues on the Velocirax, the bikes must first be fully strapped into place. Once strapped in, spacing issues can be spotted, which then requires you to unstrap the bikes, alter the order, and then restrap them in to recheck.

Wheel Straps

The straps that secure the front and rear wheels of the Alta and Velocirax are quite different and worth pointing out. Alta uses the well-known Voile rubber straps (on left), while Velocirax uses its own unique thick rubber strap (on right).

wheel straps on the alta vs velocirax vertical bike rack

I found the Voile straps on the Alta much easier to use than the thick straps of the Velocirax. The thick straps of the Velocirax require significantly more effort to extend and lock into place.

To be fair, the Voile straps on the Alta often need to be repositioned to make sure the metal hook was located towards the middle of the rim. The straps on the Velocirax never need adjustments.

As an added bonus, the Voile straps of the Alta can also be used in a pinch to strap an extra tube or water bottle to your bikes’ frame.

Arm Position and Hitch Stabilizer

The mounting arm of the Alta has three hitch pin positions to allow you to adjust how close the rack is positioned to the car. The hitch design and placement, as well as the bumper design of your car, can prevent the rack from being able to be installed in all three positions on some cars.

On our Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot test cars, the rack was installed with the hitch pin going through the middle position.

three loading positions on the alta bike rack

The Alta’s hitch stabilizer design is very different from the Velocirax. The Velocirax comes with an internal stabilizer while the Alta’s is external (the metal band around the hitch arm shown above).

hitch stabilizer on the alta rack arm

How well the racks tighten on the various cars really depends on the car’s hitch receiver. The Alta fit like glove on the Highlander with a Curt hitch receiver, while it was slightly less stable on the Pilot with its OEM Honda receiver. The Velocirax didn’t have any issues with either car.

Alta’s Anti-sway Stabilization System

For long drives on all-terrain roads, or for additional stabilization with a fully loaded rack with 300 lbs. of bikes, Alta offers a secondary stabilization system to further reduce any sway.

The system consists of two optional retractables staps screwed into the ends of the top bar. The hooks at the end of the straps can then be attached to the roof rails on a car or back to the hitch.

retractable side strap on the alta bike rack

Around town on paved roads or on well-groomed fire roads, we had no issues with sway and the rack was hardly noticeable when driving. We decided to order our rack with retractable straps for extra precaution during longer and more adventurous trips we plan to take in the future.

If you don’t order your rack with retractable straps, end caps with a loop for a rope are included.

standard end cap of the alta bike rack

Locking Bikes on Vertical Racks

Unlike some platform racks, vertical racks do not have built-in locks for individual bikes. The Alta and the Velocirax both have loops through which you can secure the bikes to the rack with a cable.

locking loop on the alta bike rack vertical bike rack system

Weight Capacity

The Alta 4, 5, and 6 capacity racks have a total weight capacity of 300 lb. with a 50 lb. max per wheel basket. Alta does, however, not recommend carrying more than two ebikes on their rack.

The North Shore 6 capacity also has a max weight of 300 lb., but their 4 capacity rack has a 200 lb. limit. The Velocirax 6 capacity has a total capacity of 230 lb.

Alta Racks are Made in the USA

While both Alta and Velocirax are based out of Utah, Alta racks are manufactured in Utah while Velocirax are manufactured in China. To help maintain a low carbon footprint, everything from manufacturing, to powder coating and shipping of Alta Racks is done within a 10-mile radius.


Alta Rack is the only vertical rack we know of to offer a lifetime warranty on all manufacturer and material defects for the original purchaser.

Alta Racks Vertical Bike Rack Bottom Line

Whether you have a vehicle with a low hitch or a high hitch, the Alta rack is a breeze to use. Offering the most adjustability of all vertical racks, the ability to confidently carry 20″ bikes, as well as an industry-leading warranty and weight capacity, the Alta Rack is an ideal rack for active families as well as adult riders.

Easy to use while loaded, as well as the 95% of the time it is unloaded while on your car, an Alta Rack is sure to keep your family or your riding crew happily riding for years to come.

QUICK REMINDER: If this review helped you out and you decide to purchase an Alta Rack, we would greatly appreciate it if you added our name “Two Wheeling Tots” in the notes section at checkout. We are not an affiliate of Alta, but it would help us continue to share the love of Alta with others.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are not included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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