10 Best Bike Racks for Cars: Family-friendly Racks

Finding the best car bike rack can get complicated very quickly, and when you’re looking for racks that also accommodate 20″ or 24″ kids’ bikes, it can be even trickier. We’ve sorted through all the major brands and can confidently recommend these racks for families.

While there are certainly other options out there, we’ve personally used these car bike racks ourselves. We’ve loaded our bikes on them. We’ve loaded our kids’ bikes on them. We know what makes them great, and we know their limitations.

For a detailed explanation of all the features to consider when buying a car bike rack, be sure to check out our “What to Look For When Buying a Car Bike Rack” section below.

saris super clamp ex 4 hitch rack loaded up on the back of a family car

Best Bike Hitch Racks to Use with Kids’ Bikes

All racks listed will fit 20″ bikes on the rack and hold at least four bikes.  There are very few racks that will accommodate a bike smaller than 20″. Balance bikes and 12″ to 16″ bikes typically fit just fine in the trunk of the car. Also to note: when transporting four bikes, a 2″ hitch is usually required.

ModelWhy We Love ItMSRP (4-bike)Capacity Options
Thule T2 Pro XTBest Overall$1,0302 or 4
RockyMounts SplitRail LSMost Flexible Capacity$1,0402, 3 or 4
Saris SuperClamp EXBest for Rear Window Visibility$8804
Thule Apex XTBest Mid-Priced$3992, 4, 5
Kuat NV Base 2.0Best Bullet-Proof$1,0082 or 4
Thule T2 ClassicBest Bang for Your Buck$8302 or 4
Allen Deluxe Locking Hitch RackBest Super Budget$1402, 3, 4, or 5
Yakima HoldUp EVO Honorable Mention$9482 or 4
Lolo RacksBest for 6 Bikes$7504 or 6
1UP Super DutyBest for 16" Kids' Bikes$1,0772, 3, or 4

Best Bike Rack Hitch Overall

Thule T2 Pro XT

thule t2 pro bike rack loaded with bikes

MSRP (4 bike): $1,030


CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes; 20″ wheels +; max tire width 5″

FEATURES: Easy, no-reach folding mechanism, individual bike locking cables, easy ratcheting shepherd’s arm design, top-quality construction, tilt-down for hatch access, anti-wobble hitch system


From top to bottom, the T2 Pro XT is our favorite Thule bike rack hitch as it is thoughtfully designed to handle everything from 20″ road bikes to 29ers and fat bikes.  With 12″ of space between each tray, the T2 Pro XT offers plenty of space to prevent bikes from making contact.

Even if your handlebars hit each other upon initial loading, with your toolkit handy, the tire trays can be adjusted left to right up to 4″ to help offset the bikes.  What you won’t need your toolkit for is essentially doing anything else with this rack.  Even installation is tool-free!

Our favorite feature of the Thule T2 Pro XT is its easy-to-use and even easier-to-reach folding handle.  Located at the tail end of the rack, the rack is a breeze to fold up when not in use as well as tilt-down to allow for hatch access while fully loaded. We’ve used this rack for years and have no plans to give it up!


  • With the add-on kit, can easily switch from 2 or 4 capacity as needed
  • Folding lever is located at the end of the rack (even with the extension kit)
  • Accommodates 20″ bikes without any adapters
  • Can accommodate bike tires up to 5″ wide without adapters
  • Provides 12″ of space between each bike!
  • Trays shift up to 4″ side to side to help offset bikes
  • Tool-free installation and integrated hitch locking system (no separate bolt that can get lost)


  • Heavy
  • Does not fit with 27.5″ fat bikes

Most Flexible Capacity Hitch Rack

RockyMounts SplitRail LS

Rockymounts Splitrail tilted down

MSRP (4 bike): $1,040

CAPACITY: 2, 3 or 4 bikes; 20″ wheels +; max tire width 3″

FEATURES: Slim, sleek design, 3-bike option, integrated bike locks, tilts for hatch access, anti-wobble hitch system

COMPLETE REVIEW: RockyMounts SplitRail LS

Clean, sleek and easy to use, the RockyMounts is very adjustable and versatile to fit a wide range of bikes. This high-quality rack  (same quality level as the Thule T2) comes standard as a 2-tray rack and can be upgraded to a 3 or a 4-tray rack. 

In fact, it is the only tray rack on our list that offers a 3-bike option. Swapping between 2, 3 or 4 trays is also pretty easy, so there’s no need to keep extra trays on if you aren’t going to use them regularly.

As an added perk, the trays on the RockyMounts can be adjusted left to right to allow for plenty of offset between handlebars.  If you’ve never used a bike rack before, the handlebars often create problems, but the SplitRail has the option of repositioning each tray independently from the others. We found the trays easy to adjust, so no problems there!


  • Can be used as a 2, 3 or 4 bike capacity
  • Ample spacing between bikes
  • Trays can be offset left to right to prevent handlebars from rubbing together
  • Low and sleek profile when folded up
  • Can accommodate 20″ bikes without an adapter
  • 20 lbs. lighter than the Thule and Kuat


  • Does not hold tires wider than 3″
  • Not compatible with 1.25″ hitch (even the 2-tray rack)
  • Tools needed to tighten/loosen hitch pin when installing and uninstalling

Best Mid-Priced Bike Hitch Rack

Thule Apex XT

thule apex XT bike rack loaded up with bikes

MSRP (4 bike): $399

CAPACITY: 2, 4, or 5 bikes

FEATURES: Lightweight, tilts for hatch access, low profile, integrated bike lock, anti-wobble hitch system


For families that don’t want to deal with the weight or price of a platform rack, hanging racks are the best alternative. Much lighter weight and much less expensive, hanging racks are easier to take on and off the car, and are easier on the pocketbook.

The Thule Apex XT stands out from the crowd of hanging racks for its sleek design and ample spacing between bikes. Hanging racks place bikes much closer to each other than platform racks. This causes interference between the bikes, making it harder to load a full rack and also potentially causing damage to the bikes.

With 7″ of spacing between bikes, the Apex kills the competition – most of which have only 5″ to 6″ of spacing between bikes. This is the the rack of choice for one of our mom testers, who especially loves that she can get the rack on and off her van in just seconds – no help needed!


  • More spacing between bikes than other hanging rack brands
  • Ratcheting straps and anti-sway cradles are easy to use
  • Lightweight – easy to take on and off the car
  • Integrated locking cable to secure bikes while on the go
  • Lightweight
  • Accommodates 20″ bikes, and even some 16″ bikes
  • No tools needed to install!


  • Potential for bike contact and damage
  • Most women’s and kid’s bikes need a top tube adapter, which increases the cost of the rack

Best Hitch Rack for Rear Window Visibility

Saris SuperClamp EX 4

Saris SuperClamp EX 4 rack folded up on the back of an SUV

MSRP (4 bike): $880

CAPACITY: 4 bikes (or separate 2 bike option); 24″+ wheels; max tire width 4″ (or buy the Fat Tire Tray)

FEATURES: Most lightweight tray rack (just 63 lbs!), tilts for hatch access, super low profile, integrated bike locks, anti-wobble hitch system


After years of hauling our bikes on the Saris SuperClamp EX, we still have conversations about how much we love this rack! With SuperClamp’s easy-to-adjust shepherds hooks and tire trays, loading and unloading is about as simple as it gets – even our 8-year-old can do it!

With a shorter profile than most hitch racks, the SuperClamp is less bulky and makes keeping your rack on the car unobtrusive. (In the picture above, that’s a 4 bike rack that doesn’t block our rear window!)

We’ve found that when we already have the rack in place, we’re much more likely to go on those spur of the moment rides. We basically keep it on our car all summer because it doesn’t block our rear view!

The SuperClamp accommodates any number of 24″ bikes with ease. However, you can only load up a 20″ bike if it’s alone on the rail. Because you have to line up a bike’s wheels with the bike sharing the shepherd’s hooks, a 20″ bike is a bit too small and too short to match up with another bike.


  • When folded up without bikes, you don’t see it out the back window
  • Dual shepherds hooks = extra secure ride
  • Two bikes per horizontal bar makes the rack very low profile when loaded and unloaded
  • Folding up and down is a breeze
  • Lightweight compared to other tray racks
  • Accommodates 24″ bikes without an adapter


  • With two bikes on each rail, can only accommodate a 20″ bike securely when carrying a max of 3 bikes
  • Always a 4-bike rack, cannot remove rails for 2-bike option (unless you purchase the 2-bike rack)
  • Bikes are spaced more closely together – handlebars can touch
  • Tools needed to tighten/loosen hitch pin when installing and uninstalling

Best Bullet-Proof Bike Rack

Kuat NV Base 2.0

Man standing next to the Kuat NV 2.0 rack installed on the back of his SUV

MSRP (4 bike): $1,008

CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes; 20″+ wheels with separate adapter; max tire width 3″ (or optional Phat Bike Kit)

FEATURES: Rock solid construction, integrated locks, fits essentially any wheel/tire size, optional bike stand attachment, anti-wobble hitch system

Sturdy and solid, the Kuat 2.0 is one tough rack that is certainly built to last.  From its overall rigid build to its powder coat finish, the Kuat will still look new after years of abuse!  With an optional bike stand attachment for on-the-go tune-ups and a wide gage cable lock system, the Kuat is a great choice for adventurous riders on the go.

The one downside to the Kuat is it needs an adaptor to fit 20″ and 24″ bikes.  The adapter is free (even if you bought the rack through a 3rd party retailer), but even with the adapter, 20″ and 24″ bikes don’t fit quite as snug as they do on other racks.


  • Rock solid construction and stability
  • Optional “Trail Doc” bike stand attachments for easy tune-ups while on the trail
  • Ample 11.5″ spacing between bikes
  • Accommodates tires up to 4.5″ wide (fat bike kit available for wider tires)
  • Front wheel trays have three height positions to help prevent handlebar/saddle conflicts
  • Front wheel tray is lower than back tray wheel to keep bikes sturdy and secure in the shepherd’s hook
  • Easy foot pedal to lower rack when folded
  • Cable on integrated bike lock is notably thicker than on other racks


  • Wheel trays do not move side to side to offset bikes (front moves up and down), so less flexibility in bike placement than other racks
  • Accommodating 20″ and 24″ bikes requires a separate (but free!) adapter
  • Bikes with adapter hold strong, but not as strong as other racks
  • Adapter rubs off paint on the fork of kid’s bike over time
  • While installation is tool-less, locking hitch pin is still required

Best Bang for Your Buck Rack

Thule T2 Classic

T2 classic bike rack in action

MSRP (4 bike): $830

CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes; 20″+ wheels; max tire width 5″

FEATURES: Easy ratcheting shepherd’s arm design, tilt down access, top-quality Thule design

While not as fine-tuned and finessed as the T2 Pro XT, the Classic provides the same basic functionality while saving you a few dollars.  Like the Pro, the Classic has 11″ of space between the trays as well as the ability to shift the trays from left to right if needed.  Each tray comes with its own ratcheting shepherd’s hook that easily clamps down on the front tire and releases by a click of a button.

The Classic, however, does not come with individual locking cables. And while it still folds up and tilts down, the folding lever is located near the receiver, so it’s more challenging to reach.


  • With the add-on kit, can easily switch from 2 or 4 capacity as needed
  • Accommodates 20″ bikes without an adapter
  • Separate tray and hook for each bike makes loading any configuration of bikes a breeze
  • Can accommodate bikes with tires up to 5″ wide
  • Provides 11″ of space between each bike


  • Heavy
  • Folding lever is above the hitch and requires you to reach across the entire rack to pull
  • Does not fit with 27.5″ fat bikes
  • Tools needed to tighten/loosen hitch pin when installing and uninstalling

Best Super Budget Rack

Allen Deluxe Locking Hitch Rack

Allen hitch bike rack with 4 bikes hanging from it

MSRP (4 bike): $140

CAPACITY: 4 bikes (2, 3 or 5 bike options as well); 20″ wheels +

FEATURES: Super lightweight, locking hitch, quick installation & removal, tilts for hatch access, anti-wobble hitch system


At under $150, the Allen Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Rack is an incredible deal for families on a budget. While not as “high-end” as other racks we normally use, we were quite impressed with the quality this rack offers for the price, and how easy it was to use.

Not only is it affordable, but this lightweight rack can be installed or removed from the hitch without breaking a sweat and in less than three minutes.  This makes impromptu trips to the trails a no-brainer.

Because the bikes are stored very closely to one another, it can be a bit of a Tetris game to get them all to fit initially. However, once you figure out the best configuration for your family’s bikes, just stick to your plan and it’s a much quicker process. We’ve also found that if you need to transport four bikes, it’s much easier if you get the 5-bike capacity rack.

The arms of the rack can fold down when not in use, and the vertical post easily tilts back for hatch access.  Its slim design adds just 7.75” of length to your vehicle so you can likely still park in your garage if you want to leave it installed. If you remove it for storage, it takes up less space than one of our toddler’s bikes! 


  • A fraction of the cost of higher-end brands, but good-quality build
  • Lightweight (just 26.6 lbs.) – one person can easily install it
  • When unloaded, it doesn’t obscure your view out the back window
  • No additional tools needed to secure into the receiver, and tightening knob eliminates any wobble


  • Bikes are spaced pretty close together, so initially figuring out the best configuration can be a challenge
  • Bikes are easily scratched or damaged due to their closeness, and they bang into each other during the drive
  • Adaptors needed for sloping top tubes (as with all hanging racks)
  • Bikes look “messy” when mounted

Best Rack for Teams or Big Families

Lolo Rack

LOLO Racks 6 capacity vertical bike rack

MSRP (4 bike): $750

CAPACITY: 4 or 6 bikes; 12″ wheels +

FEATURES: Tilt-away feature to access hatch, lockable anti-rattle hitch bolt

Lolo Racks are top on our list to get our hands on to test! One of few car racks we know of that can carry up to SIX bikes (including kids’ bikes), Lolo Racks are the solution we’ve been looking for larger families.

Because the rack holds the bikes by the handlebars, rather than the frame or wheel like every other rack, wheel size does not matter! Lolo Racks can hold everything from 12″ kids’ bikes to BMX bikes and fat bikes! No more taking two cars and two racks just to get your whole crew where they need to go! If you need to haul SEVEN bikes, check out our review on the Velocirax.

Honorable Mention Rack

Yakima HoldUp EVO+2

Yakima Hold Up EVO rear and side view

MSRP (4 bike): $948

CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes; 20″ wheels +; max tire width 4.8″

FEATURES: Expandable from 2 to 4 bikes, integrated locks, easy tilting mechanism with Kick Start foot lever, works with 27.5″ fat bikes


No list of car bike racks would be complete without a Yakima rack! While Yakima is a top-notch brand with lots of different car rack options, if you’re looking for a Yakima rack that can easily accommodate kids’ bikes, the HoldUp EVO is their rack of choice. 

While the Hold-Up is a solid quality rack, there was nothing about it that really stood out to us during our testing process. If you love Yakima, go for it! But if you’re open to considering any brand, check out one of the other racks on this list.

Best Rack for Carrying 16″ Bikes

1up Super Duty

1UP tray car bike rack mounted to the back of a truck

MSRP: $1077 (base rack + 2 extension trays)

CAPACITY: 2, 3 or 4 bikes; 16″ wheels +; max tire width 3.1″ or use spacer kit

FEATURES:  Anti wobble, rapid tilt & folding, only tray rack to fit 16″ wheels

We’ve had several readers recommend 1up bike racks to us, and even our local bike shop uses a 1up rack. They’ve specifically made our list because they’re the only tray rack system that can accommodate a kid’s bike as small as 16″! 1up racks feature a unique system not found on any other car bike rack where both the rear and front wheel are secured in place by tilting rack arms.

While we haven’t used the platform hitch rack, we do have a 1-up roof rack that is designed with the same functionality. We were even able to get it to securely carry some of our 14″ kids bikes!

What to Look for in a Family Car Bike Rack

RockyMounts SplitRail LS 4-bike rack mounted to the back of Land Cruiser with family's bikes

Like any product, not every car bike rack will work for every family. Here are a few key factors you need to consider when determining which rack is best for your car, your bikes, and your family’s needs.

Car Mounting Style – Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

First and foremost you need to determine where you want the rack placed on the car.  For this list, we only highlighted racks that fit on the hitch of a car, but racks can also be placed on the roof of a car, over the trunk, or in the bed of a truck.

We focused only on hitch racks, because quite honestly hauling 4 or more bikes (with two or more being kid’s sized) with a roof or trunk-mounted rack is quite the challenge.  From loading all the bikes on the roof, to squeezing them all onto a trunk rack, it’s not fun or easy to do.

As a result, if at all possible, we highly recommend getting a hitch installed on your car. If that’s not an option, Thule’s or Yakima’s fit guides should help you find a roof or trunk rack that works with your car.

If you have a truck, finding a suitable rack should be a breeze (take a look at Thule’s and Yakima truck bed options), as fitting four or more bikes in the bed shouldn’t be a problem.

Tray-based, Hanging, and Vertical Car Racks

There are three main types of hitch racks: (1) hanging, (2) tray-based, and (3) vertical.  Each rack type has its pros and cons.  Tray-based and hanging racks are much more common than vertical, so we are mainly focusing on those two types.

Types of Hitch Bike Racks

examples of hanging, tray-based and vertical bike racks

Tray-Based Racks

Tray-based racks rest the tires of the bikes in their own individual tray, and usually secure the tire in place with a shepherd’s hook.  The main benefit of tray-based systems is that they provide ample room between bikes to prevent bikes from banging into each other and being damaged while on the rack.  Examples include, the Thule T2 Pro and Classic, the Yakima HoldUp EVO, the Saris SuperClamp, and the RockyMounts SplitRail LS.

Yakima HoldUp EVO, RockyMounts SplitRail, and Saris SuperClamp EX

Side by side images of three different tray hitch racks mounted to cars - Yakima, RockyMounts, and Saris.

Hanging Racks

Hanging racks “hang” the bikes by their frames.  While bikes have individual clamps holding them in place, the bikes are placed much closer together and can be more difficult to load as a result.

Because they are hanging, the bikes tend to swing and bang against each other while on the rack. Hanging racks, however, are much cheaper and lighter than tray-based racks.  Examples of hanging racks include the Yakima Ridgeback, Allen Deluxe Locking, Thule Apex XT and Yakima Doubledown.

Allen Deluxe Locking, Yakima DoubleDown and Thule XT

Three examples of hanging racks mounted to cars - Allen, Yakima, and Thule

Vertical Racks

Vertical racks place bikes vertically on the rack versus horizontally.  They do require lifting your bike up much higher to load as compared to the other styles, but they are the ONLY system able to hold up to 7 bikes while still protecting the bikes from being damaged.  While there are several brands that make vertical racks, Lolo and Alta Racks are the best for use with small kids’ bikes.  Other racks, like the Yakima Hangover, require bikes to have a suspension fork to mount.

Lolo Racks and North Shore Racks

lolo bike rack and north shore bike vertical rack

Hitch Size

Knowing your car’s hitch size is essential before you select a bike rack.  Most smaller cars will have a 1.25″ htich while larger cars will have a 2″ hitch.  2″ hitches are beneficial over 1.25″ as it opens you up to a lot more rack options.

If you do have a 1.25″ hitch and you want to haul more than two bikes, just be aware that a tray system (versus a hanging system) will not be an option for you. 1.25″ hitches don’t have the strength to hold 3+ capacity tray-based systems versus much lighter and smaller 3+ hanging systems.

Capacity and Expandability

How many bikes do you need to transport now?  How many bikes will you need to haul in a couple years?  Growing families should consider purchasing a rack that will accommodate their future needs or a rack that is expandable.

Also be aware that regardless of your receiver size, most hitch racks max out at four bikes.  If you need to haul more than four bikes, the Lolo or North Shore hanging racks are your best bet as they are the only 5+ racks we’ve found that work with kids’ bikes.

If you plan on hauling a 12″ to 16″ bikes, you need to be aware that they are not compatible with a tray-based system (except 1-UP), but can be compatible with hanging systems.  Luckily, 12″ and 16″ bikes are usually pretty easy to throw into the trunk for those who prefer the ease of a tray-based system.  Some tray-based systems are also not compatible with 20″ bikes.

RockyMounts 2 and 4-bike Capacity

RockyMounts Splitrail bike rack mounted on a car as a 2 capacity and then as a 4 capacity. Can't really see out the back window with the 4 capacity.

Most tray-based systems, however, are expandable, coming standard as a 2-bike capacity that can be expanded to hold up to four bikes.  These racks are ideal for growing families who don’t need to invest in a full 4-bike system now, but likely will in the near future.  Expandable racks can also be switched back to a 2-bike capacity if needed.

Wheel Size and Tire Size

As mentioned previously, tray-based systems have limitations on wheel sizes, while hanging racks typically have none. As long as the bike has a frame, you can attach almost any bike to a hanging rack (as long as it is within the rack’s weight limit).  Tray-based systems typically hold bikes with 20″ wheels and up.

The width of the tire is also a limitation with tray-based systems.  All standard kid’s bike tires will fit on any tray-based rack. Tire width is only an issue with “fat bikes” and some plus-size mountain bike tires. If mom or dad (or a really ambitious young grom) has a fat bike with tires more than 4″ wide, a rack compatible with fat tires or that offers a fat tire adapter will be required.

Ease of Install and Removal – Total Weight of Rack

Installing and removing a bike rack is challenging.  With many of the racks weighing more than 80 lbs., they typically require more than one person to install or remove.  Tray-based racks are significantly heavier than hanging racks.  If you plan on installing or removing the rack on a regular basis, a hanging rack is likely a better option for you.

Access to the Trunk or Rear Hatch

The ability to access the rear hatch of your car while the rack is fully loaded is another great feature available on higher-end racks.  To allow access without removing bikes, several hanging racks have a 180-degree swing out as shown in the first picture below. The swing-out access is not available on tray-based or vertical racks.

Many tray-based, hanging, and vertical racks have the ability to tilt down about 30-degrees below upright (as shown in the second picture below).  This tilt typically provides plenty of room for a rear hatch to open.

Swinging and tilting features of car hitch racks

Rack Folding

Almost all tray-based and hanging racks fold up against the rear of the car when not in use.  Hanging racks, however, take up much less “window” space as compared to tray-based racks, which are much longer and wider.

hanging versus tray-based bike rack folded up

Tray-based racks also almost always block your car’s license plate when folded up.  Be sure to know your local laws to ensure blocking a plate with a car rack isn’t an issue.

Integrated Rack Locks

A great feature often overlooked with bike racks is integrated locks.  These locks help keep your bikes secure, especially while traveling.  The styles of locks vary from rack to rack, but most tray-based systems have a cable that wraps around the frame while hanging racks have clamps that adhere to the frame.

Dealer Rack Fit Guides

Concerned about properly fitting a rack to your car?  All of the major brands have easy-to-use “rack fit” guides that allow you to input your car and bike information to make sure that the rack you’re eyeing will actually fit your car and bikes. Check out these guides below:

Allen, Kuat, Saris, Thule, Yakima

Car Bike Racks for Families

MSRP and weights (lb.) provided are for 4-rack capacity

ModelMSRPFit 1.25" HitchMax Cap.Min Wheel SizeMax Tire WidthFat Tire Tray?WeightBike LockMax Load
Thule T2 Pro XT$1,030Yes420"5"No96Yes160
RockyMounts SplitRail LS$1,040No420"3"No76Yes160
SuperClamp EX 4$880No4 24"4"Yes63Yes190
SuperClamp EX 2$499Yes224"4"Yes35Yes120
Thule Apex XT$399Yes520"N/AN/A35Yes150
Kuat NV Base 2.0$1,008Yes420"3"Yes100Yes200
Thule T2 Classic$830Yes420"5"No85No160
Allen Deluxe Locking Hitch$140No520"N/AN/A26.6No140
Yakima HoldUp EVO$948Yes420"4.8"No87Yes
LOLO Racks$750No612"N/AN/A
1 UP Super Duty$1,077No416"3.1"Yes84275

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