10 Best Hitch Bike Racks

Finding a hitch bike rack that accommodates your bikes, as well as your budget, can be a challenge. But not to worry, we’ve spent hundreds of hours testing and researching for you! Over the past seven years, we’ve personally tested hitch racks of all styles – hanging racks, platform racks, and vertical racks – to learn the ins and outs of each style and brand.

From kids bikes to electric mountain and city bikes, we’ve loaded all sizes and styles of bikes onto each of these hitch racks. We know what makes them great, and we also know their limitations. Which hitch bike rack is best for you will depend in large part on what size and type of bikes you’ll be carrying, how much you want to spend, and your vehicle (SUV, crossover, van, etc.)

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

Best Hitch Bike Racks

A few notes about our recommended hitch racks. A more complete buying guide (click to jump down) is provided later in this review.

  • All racks that hold 4 or more bikes require a 2″ hitch receiver (4 bike MSRPs listed)
  • All racks listed are compatible with 20″ to 29″ bikes
  • The 1Up and Yakima HangTight are the only racks compatible with 16″ bikes without any issues. Several others can carry 16″ bikes with accommodations, see individual rack outlines below for more details.
  • The Thule EasyFold XT is the only rack listed that is compatible with front and rear fenders
  • Racks with a * next to their name are ebike compatible for at least 2 bikes (at least 60 lb. per tray)
Model Why We Love It Price
HANGING - HORIZONTAL: Up to 5 bike capacity
Thule Apex XT Best Hanging Rack $449
Allen Deluxe Hitch Rack Best on a Budget $189
PLATFORM: Best Under $1,000 - 2, 3 or 4 capacity
Saris SuperClamp EX* Best Rear Window Visibility $999
Thule EasyFold XT* Folds for Storage, Ramp Included (2 max) $999
PLATFORM: Best Under $1,500 - 2, 3 or 4 capacity
RockyMounts GuideRail* Easiest to Use, Versatile (3 max) $1,129
1up Super Duty* Fits wheel sizes 16"+, Durable $1,210
Thule T2 Pro XTR* Fits up to 5" wide tires $1,350
Kuat NV Base 2.0* Optional Built-in Repair Stand $1,447
HANGING - VERTICAL: High capacity, 5-bike, 6-bike, and 7-bike
Velocirax* Easy to Load, Damper Assist Lowering $860
Yakima HangTight* Best for 12", 14", 16" bikes $849
Alta Rack* Robust and Customizable $1,079
*High weight capacity - suitable for at least 2 ebikes


Unlike platform racks, hanging hitch bike racks carry bikes via their frame rather than their tires. Bikes typically hang horizontally via their frame’s top tube on the rack’s two support bars.

Hanging racks are available in capacities ranging from 2 to 5 and can often accommodate bikes with wheel sizes 16″ and up.


If you are on a tighter budget, especially if you need to haul 3 or 4 bikes, hanging racks are your best bet.

Compared to platform and vertical hitch bike racks, hanging bike racks are significantly lighter, making them much easier to install and remove. As a result, if you don’t want to leave your rack on your car for an extended period of time, a hanging rack is a solid choice.


Bikes on hanging hitch racks are spaced much closer together and make significantly more contact with each other compared to platform and vertical racks. Scratches are common and should be expected.

If you are hauling higher-quality bikes (especially larger adult bikes), we’d advise you to skip a hanging rack. But if you can only afford a hanging rack, be sure to buy a rack with more capacity than you need you so can leave extra space between the bikes when loaded.

Bikes with carbon frames should never be carried on a hanging rack! If you have a carbon frame, platform and vertical are your only options. Heavy ebikes are also typically over the weight limit for hanging racks.

Thule Apex XT

Best Overall Hanging Hitch Bike RackExcellent Quality and Easy to Use

thule apex XT hitch bike rack loaded up with bikes

MSRP (4 bike): $449

CAPACITY: 2, 4, or 5 bikes

FEATURES: Lightweight, tilts for hatch access, low profile, integrated bike lock, anti-wobble hitch system, more spacing between bikes than other hanging racks


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 hitch 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 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

Allen Deluxe Locking Hitch Rack

Best on a Budget

Allen hitch bike rack with 4 bikes hanging from it

MSRP (4 bike): $189

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


Often on sale for way under $200, the Allen Deluxe 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.

While we didn’t test the 5 capacity rack, we’ve heard from several of our readers that its the only hanging 5 bike hitch rack that can actually accommodate 5 bikes!

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


On platform bike racks, the bike sits upright on the rack with its wheels resting on wheel trays. The bike is then secured to the rack with either a “shepards” hook over the front wheel, dual ratcheting arms over the front and rear tires, or a clamp directly onto the frame of the bike.

Different designs work best with different styles of bikes. Carbon frames are best suited for platform rack with no-frame contact, while bikes with fenders are typically only compatible with racks that clamp directly to frames.


With minimal (if any!) frame contact, platforms racks are great for bikes with carbon frames, carbon wheels, as well as full-suspension mountain bikes with non-traditional frame designs. Most platform racks also have a higher-weight capacity per bike, so many are able to carry ebikes as well (weight limits listed below for each rack).


Platform racks are typically very heavy! Don’t count on easily taking them on and off your car. The smaller 2-capacity racks are easy to manage though, especially the Thule EasyFold XT.

Kids bikes under 20″ also do not fit on many platform racks. If you need to haul bikes smaller than 20″, your options will be limited, which is why we typically recommend just trying to make room for them in the trunk of your car.

While almost all racks block your license plate when in use, platform racks can be problematic as they also block your plates when folded up on your car when not in use. If blocking your license plate in an issue in your state, a hanging or vertical rack is your best bet.


Saris SuperClamp EX 4

Best for Rear Window Visibilitylow profile when folded

Saris SuperClamp EX platform hitch bike rack

MSRP (4 bike): $1,000

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

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 60 lb. first two trays, 35 lb. third and forth trays (with racks 190 lb. max capacity)

FEATURES: Most lightweight platform 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 the 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.

If you’ll be hauling mountain bikes, there’s a caveat. The Superclamp worked great for us when we were carrying two 29ers, a 27.5″ and a 26″, but became pretty difficult to load without scratching bikes if we had three 29ers to transport.


  • 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
  • Can’t accommodate 3 29er bikes easily

Thule EasyFold XT

Folds for Easy Storage, Compatible with eBikes and Bikes with Fenders

Woman loading e-bikes onto the Thule EasyFold XT 2-bike rack.

MSRP (2 bike): $999

CAPACITY: 2 capacity only – holds 16″ to 29″ wheels

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 65 lb. for each tray (130 lb. max capacity)

FEATURES: Holds two bikes by the frame, making it suitable for bikes with fenders; comes with ramp to help load heavy bikes; tiltable (even when loaded); super easy to put on and take off the car; stores compactly; wheels for easy transporting

The Thule EasyFold XT solves the most common pain-points of platform racks. From loading to storing, the Thule EasyFold XT is significantly easier to manage than other platform racks, and would be an especially great choice for those with heavy e-bikes (with or without fenders).

When it comes to loading bikes, the EasyFold XT’s onboard ramp makes loading up heavier ebikes significantly easier as it allows you to roll them up and onto the rack, rather than needing to deadlift a 50lb.+ bike!

The rack clamps onto the bike’s frame, rather than the wheels, which allows you to transport bikes with fenders without issue. Fenders have to be removed to load onto other platform racks as well as vertical racks.

Another helpful feature of the EasyFold XT is its simplicity of attaching to your car. Because it’s so lightweight, it’s a breeze to attach to your hitch receiver, and then is secured without the need of tools.

When not in use, the EasyFold XT folds up for compact storing, has wheels to roll around, and takes up a very small footprint in your garage or house.


  • Works great with front and rear fenders, and rear racks
  • Comes with a ramp (with onboard storage) to help load heavy bikes
  • Works great with ebikes – can haul bikes up to 65 lb.
  • Ridiculously easy to mount and take off hitch
  • Easy to store – folds down into a compact rectangle and even has wheels to help you move it around!
  • Extended wheel straps available to make it compatible with fat tire bikes
  • Works with most kids bikes 16″ and up


  • Has more plastic parts than most racks
  • Maxes out at 2 capacity
  • Not suitable with carbon frames without Thule’s carbon frame protector
  • Not compatible with bikes with wheelbases over 1300mm


RockyMounts GuideRail

Easiest to Use, Best Locking System

MSRP (3 bike): $1,129 ($849 2-bike base + $299 single tray add-on)
RockyMounts also offers a 2-bike rack with identical platforms to the GuideRail, but with a swing out arm called the “AfterParty” which MSRPs for $1,099

BIKE CAPACITY: 3 bikes max, 2 bike base + single tray extension

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 60lb. first two trays, 45 lb. third tray (within racks 120 lb. max capacity)

STANDOUT FEATURES: Very easy to load and unload (no wheel straps to fiddle with), bike spacing is easy to adjust in the event of bike contact, comes with robust chain lock, frame-free contact, full metal construction for excellent durability.

Just about everything is easier on the RockyMounts GuideRail. From loading bikes and unloading bikes to making small adjustments in order to prevent contact between bikes, the GuideRail is the easiest platform bike rack we have ever used.

With the ability to haul bikes with long wheelbases (up to 55″! – the Thule T2 and the Kuat NV are limited to 50″) as well as smaller kids bikes, we’ve yet to find a combination of bikes that doesn’t work together on the GuideRail.

Beyond ease-of-use, the GuideRail also stands out from the crowd for its well thought out features. Starting off, the GuideRail is essentially plastic free! With no plastic parts to snap off or get melted by your exhaust, the GuideRail is built to last.

To prevent contact between bikes, each bike tray is tiered to offset handlebars when loading. In the event of handlebars hitting each other (only an issue if you use the third tray), bikes can quickly be adjusted by moving them side to side on its tray. The trays are longer than other brands, providing more room for adjustments.

For cars with low-placed hitches, the GuideRail is designed for optimal clearance as the bottom of the rack swoops up to prevent bottoming out when the rack is folded on a car, or in use.

Lastly, although RockyMounts states that the GuideRail is not compatible with bikes smaller than 20″, we were able to make the rack work with both 12″ and 16″ bikes. Compared to other wheel sizes, the arms of the GuideRail don’t cradle the smaller wheel sizes as much, so to ensure security, we wrapped a Voile strap around each wheel and the rack’s front and rear arm to prevent any possible movement of the bike during transport.


  • Very easy to use – fast and simple to load and unload
  • Bikes can be adjusted on the rack without removing them in order to prevent interference
  • Can hold 12″ to 16″ bikes in a pinch (we used Voile straps around each tire for extra security)
  • Full metal construction for years of durability
  • No finicky wheel straps to deal with
  • Rack comes with a robust 10mm square chain lock that secures into rack (for use when car is stopped)
  • Easy to pull lever allows the rack to fold up when not in use or tilt down for trunk access when loaded
  • Plenty of clearance to prevent bottoming the rack out on low hitch vehicles
  • Also available with a swing out platform (2 bike max capacity)


  • Only available as a max three capacity
  • Tools needed to adjust arms to fit wheel sizes smaller than 27.5″
  • Not compatible with tires sizes wider than 3.0″
  • Not compatible with front or rear fenders

1up Super Duty

Fits Wheel Sizes 16″+, Durable Build

1up super duty bike rack

MSRP: $1,210 ($680 base rack + two $265 extension trays)

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

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 75 lb. first two trays. 3rd and 4th trays can only be used if all four bikes are under 50 lb. each.

FEATURES:  Anti wobble, rapid tilt & folding, easily holds 16″ wheels

We have several friends who have 1up racks and they all love them! Built with full metal construction, the racks last for years, even when stored outside during the winter months.

As the original rack to feature dual “u-shaped” arms that cradle the front and rear wheel of the bike, 1up quickly grew in popularity, but with a recent expiration of their patent, may other bike rack companies have adopted their design.

Although many “copy cats” exists, 1up Rack’s robust build is still without question as they have the highest weight capacity as well as the ability to hold four bikes. The 1up Super Duty can hold up to 75 lb. on the first two trays while other racks max out at 60 lb. Durability wise, the other racks still have years to prove the same durability as 1up.

For easy storage, the individual trays of the 1up also fold for easy storage. Once removed from the rack, the arms of each tray fold in, greatly reducing the footprint of the rack, making it easy to squeeze into the corner of the garage during the off season.

For families with small kids, the 1up also stands out with the ability to easily haul bikes with smaller wheel sizes. All 1up racks can haul 16″ bikes without any modifications. While we were also able to get a 16″ on the RockyMounts GuideRail, it required us to add wheel straps for extra security.


  • Can hold up to 4 bikes (as long as all bikes are under 50 lb. each)
  • Hauls 12″ bikes and up without any modifications
  • Spacing between bikes (side to side) can be adjusted without removing the bikes
  • Extremely durable metal construction
  • No wheel straps to deal with


  • Folding lever easily gets jammed
  • Metal on metal ratcheting is loud and can irritate users

Thule T2 Pro XTR

Fits a wide range of Tire Widths, Wheels on Base for Easy Moving

thule t2 pro bike platform bike rack

MSRP (4 bike): $1,350 (2-capacity rack + 2-capacity extension)

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

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 60 lb. for all trays (within the racks 120 lb. total max capacity)

FEATURES: Easy, no-reach folding mechanism, individual bike locking cables, top-quality construction, tilt-down for hatch access, anti-wobble hitch system, wheels on base of rack to help move it to and from vehicle, extra clearance for low-hitch vehicles (as compared the Kuat NV)


Thoughtfully designed to handle everything from 20″ kids bikes to road bikes, 29ers, fat bikes, and even e-bikes, there is a lot to love about the Thule T2 Pro.  With 12″ of space between each tray, the T2 Pro XTR offers ample spacing to prevent bikes from making contact with each other. These extra inches can really come in handy when loading up bikes of different sizes!

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 XTR 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.

Compared to the RockyMounts GuideRail and the 1up, the Thule T2 Pro XTR excels in that it can haul a wide range of tire widths (up to 5″!) without any adjustments made to the rack. As a comparison, the 1up and the GuideRail. are only compatible with tires up to 3″. The 1up, however, can be modified with a spacer kit.

NOTE: The Thule T2 Pro XTR replaces the discontinued Pro XT. The only difference between these racks is that the XTR has Rolling wheels to help move it to and from the vehicle.

***FYI: The extension kit for the T2 Pro XTR is named the T2 Pro XT Extension (no “R”)


  • 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)
  • Base has wheels for easy transport to and from your car
  • Each tray has a 60 lb. max capacity (but rack as a 120 lb. max capacity


  • Heavy
  • Does not fit with 27.5″ fat bikes
  • Not compatible with bikes with wheelbases longer than 50″

Kuat NV Base 2.0

Optional Built-in Repair Stand

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

MSRP (4 bike): $1,347 (2-capacity rack + 1 or 2 capacity extension)

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

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 60 lb. for first two trays, 40 lb. for third and fourth

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 rugged 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 gauge cable lock system, the Kuat is a great choice for adventurous riders on the go.

The one downside to the Kuat is that it needs an adapter to fit 20″ and 24″ bikes.  The adapter costs $15, 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 go
  • 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
  • Swing out pivot arm available


  • 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 adapters hold strong, but not as strong as other racks
  • Adapter rubs off paint on the fork of kids’ bikes over time
  • While installation is tool-less, locking hitch pin is still required


Vertical hitch bike racks position bikes perpendicular to the ground with the front tire pointed up and the rear tire pointed down. Bikes on vertical racks can either hang via their front tire, the handlebars, or the headset of the bike and make no contact with the frame of the bike.

Capacities range from 3 to 7, and between all the brands available, vertical hitch racks can accommodate all types and sizes of bikes. Fit does vary between brands, especially in regards to kids bikes 20″ and smaller, so be sure to double check compatibility before purchasing.

If you’re interested in this style of rack, check out our full comparison article – 9 Best Vertical Racks for Cars with a Hitch.


Those who need to haul more than 4 bikes. While all vertical hitch racks typically do a great job with mountain and hybrid bikes, some brands fit road and gravel bikes with dropper bars better than others.

Unlike the other hitch rack styles, vertical racks don’t obstruct a car’s tail lights and rear blinkers nearly as much as platform and hanging racks. In addition to being safer, in many areas blocking tail lights is a legal issue as well.


While not as heavy as some platform racks, most vertical bike racks are not easy to get on and off, so once it’s on, plan on having it stay there for a while.

Due to ground clearance issues, not all vertical hitch racks are suitable for cars with low-set hitches. Either the rack itself will bottom out when driving up steep inclines (especially in and out of driveways), or the rear tires of longer wheelbase bikes will be too low to the ground to be safe.


Easy to Use, Damper Assist Lowering

Shown from side, loaded Velocirax vertical hitch bike rack

MSRP (6 bike): $935

CAPACITY: 3 to 7

WHEEL SIZES: 20″ to 29″, fat bike tray upgrade available. (16″ wheel sizes in a pinch with a pool noodle and a bungee cord)

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 55 lb. per bike, 230 lb. total weight capacity

FEATURES: Tilt-down damper-assisted hinge for lowering bikes, models can hold up to 7 bikes, converts to a wall-mounted garage bike rack (necessary accessory parts included), optional light bar for added visibility


Velocirax in that “Goldilocks” vertical bike rack – not too basic, but not so luxurious that it’s out of your price range. It’s also one of only two car bike racks that can carry 7 bikes. So if you’ve got lots of friends or lots of kids, the Velocirax may just be your perfect solution.

If you only need to carry 3, 4, 5, or 6 bikes, the Velocirax is still a high-quality and rugged option. Its primary selling point is the damper-assisted hinge that lowers a fully loaded rack slowly to the ground for unloading, or for accessing the rear hatch of your car.

While this certainly is a very cool feature, unfortunately, it makes it more difficult to push the fully loaded rack back up to vertical position because the damper works against you. This is really only an issue if you have 5 or 6 bikes loaded and you don’t have another person to help push.

With its front tire baskets, we found the Velocirax considerably easier to load than vertical racks like the Yakima HangTight which carry the bikes by the handlebars.

Based on Velocirax’s design, you need to consider the height of your car’s hitch. Really low and really high hitches can be problematic. With really low hitch vehicles (like mini vans), it’s quite easy to bottom-out on steep driveways and scrape the bottom of the rack. With really high hitch vehicles, it’s hard to push a fully-loaded rack back up to vertical position unless you have a lot of upper body strength.

We’ve seen Velocirax racks successfully used with vehicles of all hitch heights. However, if you have the extra money, Alta Racks’ design is easier to use for both low and high hitch vehicles. All of this is explained in great detail in our full review.


  • Available in a wide variety of bike capacities (3 – 7)
  • Hydraulic dampening system lowers a loaded rack slowly
  • Rear hatch access, even with a fully loaded rack
  • Low profile – can see out the rear window when loaded or unloaded
  • Can convert to an on-wall garage storage rack


  • 90 degree angle between hitch arm and vertical post make bottoming out in steep driveways more likely for low-hitch cars (vans, smaller SUVs)
  • Lower total weight capacity than other vertical racks (will only matter if you have ebikes)
  • Rack lowering lever is hard to engage

Yakima HangTight 6

Best Rack for Small Kids Bikes

16" bike hanging from the Yakima HangTight rack

MSRP: (6 bike) $1,199, (4 bike) $999

CAPACITY: 4 or 6 bikes; 12″ wheels +

WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 37.5 lb. per bike

FEATURES: Rear wheel cradle rotates for a better rear-wheel fit, telescoping mast can be lowered for more compact storage, easy foot pad to lower the mast for rear hatch access while bikes are unloaded

COMPLETE REVIEW: Yakima HangTight 6

If you’re a family with young kids and small bikes, finding a rack that’s a great fit for 20″ bikes is difficult. And if you want to carry 16″ bikes and smaller, your options are slim. The Yakima HangTight is one of only three vertical or platform hitch racks we know of that can accommodate a 16″ bike. (Lolo Racks and 1-Up are the other two.)

While the HangTight isn’t technically designed for 16″ bikes, we were able to get it to work with many of the 16″ bikes in our fleet. (Read the full review to see which bike handlebar styles might not work.) Balance bikes too!

If your fleet includes road or gravel bikes, the cradles of this 6 bike hitch rack can be repositioned to just 4 to perfectly accommodate those dropper bars.

It’s important to know that the HangTight is a pretty tall rack. If you’re short or your car is tall, you may need a step stool to help you load your bikes. Additionally, the weight capacity per bike is lower than other racks – heavy mountain bikes and fat bikes may not work. Ebikes are probably a no-go.


  • Can easily carry 20″ bikes and even some balance bikes and 16″ bikes
  • Works with bikes with fenders
  • Carries 6 MTB and standard bikes or 4 bikes with dropper bars
  • Wider spacing than other vertical racks allows you to remove a bike from the middle of the rack


  • May need a step stool to load bikes on taller cars
  • Tall rack – car may not fit in your garage
  • No rear hatch access when bikes are loaded (unless you use the BackSwing with the 4 capacity only)

Alta Racks

Most Customizable, Robust Build

alta vertical bike rack tilted down to show access to rear hatch

MSRP (4 bike): $1,185


WEIGHT CAPACITY (for ebikes): 50 lb. per bike (with a 2 ebike limit), 300 lb. total weight capacity. Alta’s Superior line has a 60 lb. limit per bike with a 350 lb. total weight capacity with no ebike limit.

WHEEL SIZES: 20″ to 29″ standard wheels, 24″ to 29″ mid to fat-tire bikes

FEATURES: Angled hitch to prevent bottoming out, height-adjustable top bar to allow for additional clearance on low vehicles or to prevent difficult loading and unloading on tall vehicles, tool-free wheel tray spacing, 4 different swappable wheel trays to accommodate a wide range of wheel sizes, tilt-away feature for rear hatch access


Out of all the vertical racks on our list, the Alta is by far the most versatile. Whether your car’s hitch receiver is low to the ground or high off the ground, the Alta can easily be adjusted to make loading and unloading easy. If you need to carry your kids’ and their friends’ mountain bikes one day and your bike and your friends’ fat bikes the next, Alta’s various sized wheel trays are quickly and easily swapped out.

Around town, the Alta is exceptional as its angled hitch arm design provides plenty of much-needed vertical clearance. From steep driveways to dips and bumps in the roads around town, you never have to worry about bottoming out with the Alta. Whether loaded or unloaded, the Alta also easily tilts down for rear hatch access.

Beyond the bikes, Alta offers a wide range of accessories including a rolling base for garage storage, retractable straps for extra stabilization on off-road trails, adapter bars for use with a ski and snowboard carrier, a hammock stand, a table, and a work stand.


  • 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 ground 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
  • Can hold up to 4 road bikes on a 6 bike capacity
  • Swing out pivot arm available


  • 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)


While these hitch bike racks didn’t make our top 10, we’ve tested and thoroughly vetted them. We are happy to recommend them if they fit your situation and budget better.

Yakima HoldUp or EVO+2

Best Value Platform Hitch Bike Rack

Yakima Hold Up EVO platform bike rack

MSRP (4 bike): $939 ($550 2-capacity rack + $389 2-capacity extension)

CAPACITY: 2 or 4 bikes; 20″ wheels +; max tire width 4.8″ for EVO (original Hold Up doesn’t accommodate fat tires)

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! If you’re on a budget, definitely go for it! But if you’re open to considering any brand, check out one of the other racks on this list.

Lolo Rack

Vertical Hitch Rack for Small Kids Bikes

LOLO vertical hitch bike rack loaded with two adults bikes and two kids bikes

MSRP (6 bike): $899

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 throwing small bikes in the car or into a car topper to get your whole crew where they need to go! If you need to haul SEVEN bikes, check out our review on the Velocirax.


  • Holds all wheel sizes and frame sizes, from balance bikes to 29″ fat bikes!
  • Tilt-away feature for access to rear hatch when bikes are unloaded
  • Made in the USA!
  • Accomodates bikes with front fenders (rear fenders will require a pad)
  • Can hold up to 4 road bikes on a 6 bike capacity


  • Can scratch a bike’s handlebars with extended use
  • Requires more lifting to load bikes as compared to other vertical racks

What to Look for in a Hitch Bike Rack

RockyMounts SplitRail LS platform 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 car or fleet of bikes. Here are a few key factors you need to consider when determining which hitch bike rack is best for your car, your bikes, and your family’s needs.

Hitch Rack Style: Hanging, Platform, and Vertical Car Racks

There are three main types of hitch racks: (1) hanging, (2) platform, and (3) vertical.  Each rack type has its pros and cons.  Platform and hanging racks are much more common than vertical, but vertical racks are quickly gaining in popularity (and for good reasons!).

Types of Hitch Bike Racks

examples of hanging, tray-based and vertical hitch bike racks

Platform Hitch Bike Racks

Platform racks rest the tires of the bikes in their own individual tray, which is why they are often called tray bike racks. The bike is then secured to the rack with a shepards hook over the front tire or a dual arms that cradle both wheels. Wheel straps are also often used to secure the bike to the tray.

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 RockyMounts GuideRail, Thule T2 Pro, and the Saris SuperClamp.

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 cradles and straps 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 platform 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 hang bikes vertically on the rack versus horizontally.  Because the front and rear wheels are secured, the bikes don’t sway and there’s little risk of damage to your bike.

Vertical hanging racks 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 6 or 7 bikes.  While there are several brands that make vertical racks, Lolo, Alta Racks, and the Yakima HangTight are the best for use with small kids’ bikes.  Other racks, like the Yakima Hangover, require bikes to have a suspension fork to mount.

Velocirax Vertical Hitch Bike Rack

Fully loaded Velocriax, shown from rear angle

Vehicle Type – Best Bike Rack for SUV, Van, Crossover, etc.

We commonly get questions about car compatibility: What type of bike rack is best for an SUV? Is it different for a van or a sedan?

If your car has a hitch, or one can easily be added, hitch bike racks are much easier to use than trunk racks and roof racks often seen on smaller cars that don’t have a hitch.

But when deciding which style of hitch rack is best for your style of vehicle, the most important thing to consider is how far off the ground your hitch receiver is. This affects (1) ground clearance of the bikes and (2) how high you have to lift the bikes for loading.

Ground Clearance – Platform Hitch Rack

One huge advantage of platform racks is that they carry the bikes at a set distance from the ground – no matter the size of your bike. With a platform rack, you won’t have issues with ground clearance for the bikes.

Saris Superclamp 4 platform bike rack attached to a bike

Ground Clearance – Vertical and Hanging Bike Racks

Hanging and vertical hitch racks hang your bikes, meaning that larger or longer bikes will hang lower to the ground than small bikes. As a result, you could have issues with the bikes hanging too low to the ground – there should always be at least 12″ of space between the lowest rear tire and the ground.

Two cars side by side with Velocirax and Alta Rack vertical bike racks fully loaded. Shown from side, as examples of SUV bike racks

Because SUVs generally have higher hitches, you are less likely to have issues with ground clearance because the bikes are hanging higher off the ground.

With low hitch vehicles like sedans or minivans, the hitch is lower, so the bikes hang lower to the ground. You are much more likely to have ground clearance issues if you have a vehicle with a low hitch.

So how do you know before you buy? We have individual reviews of many hitch bike racks on our site. Be sure to read our full reviews on individual racks for more information on these issues.

Loading Bikes on High Hitch Vehicles like SUVs

thule t2 pro bike rack loaded with bikes on an SUV with high hitch

While the higher hitches on SUVS are an advantage with ground clearance for a bike rack, this can make it more difficult to lift bikes to load them because the rack is higher off the ground.

A platform hitch rack like the Thule T2 Pro XTR requires you to lift the full weight of the bikes high enough to place them on the wheel trays. (see above)

For vertical bike racks with wheel baskets like Velocirax or Alta Racks, you roll bikes into the rack, and if your hitch is higher, it’s pretty simple to use your knee against the saddle to help boost the bike’s front wheel into the wheel basket.

woman rolling 29 inch mounting bike into the tire hoop on Velocirax on an SUV

We have used all styles of bike racks on our SUVs and have been able to make all of them work. A platform rack or vertical rack with wheel baskets are both great options for an SUV bike rack and there are pros and cons to each choice. (Read our individual reviews of these racks for all the details!)

Hitch Size

Knowing your car’s hitch size is essential before you select a bike rack.  Most smaller cars will have a 1.25″ hitch 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 horizontal 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, vertical 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″, 14″, or 16″ bike, they are not compatible with a tray-based system (except 1-UP), but may 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

Almost all racks can carry 24″ bikes and larger, but smaller kids bikes, fat bikes, and ebikes aren’t as universally compatible.

Platform Hitch Racks: Generally a best fit for 24″ bikes and larger, although some racks have 20″ bike adapters. The 1up is the only platform rack that can carry a 16″ bike without any adjustments. The RockyMounts GuideRail can haul 16″ bikes, but we recommend using backup straps on the wheels to ensure a secure fit.

Most platform racks either come with trays that can accommodate fat tires, or have optional fat tire trays.

Horizontal Hanging Racks: With a lower weight limit, you’ll need to be more careful about carrying heavy bikes – kids or adult! So while those fat tires won’t come into play because you’re hanging the bike by the frame, make sure that fat bike isn’t too heavy!

While most hanging racks can accommodate 20″ kids bikes and larger, Allen racks are really the best option if you need to carry a 16″ bike.

Vertical Hitch Racks: Wheel size compatibility is really dependent on brand. Some brands can carry 12″ bikes, while others can only go as small as 24″.

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. 

Platform hitch racks and vertical hitch racks are significantly heavier than hanging hitch 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 most 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 racks include the RockyMounts AfterParty (platfrom rack – 2 bike max) and the Alta Swinger (vertical rack for 6 bikes).

Many platform, 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 platform 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, especially when you get to 4-bike racks.

hanging versus tray-based bike rack folded up

Platform 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 safe, especially while traveling.  The styles of locks vary from rack to rack, but most platform or hanging systems have a cable that wraps around the frame.

Not all racks have locks. And quite candidly, the cables provided could easily be cut by a thief who is intent on stealing your unguarded bikes.

The lock on the RockyMounts GuideRail is an exception as it consists of a nylon fabric covered 10mm square link chain lock that locks directly into the rack (not with a padlock).

rockymounts guiderail chain lock

Dealer Rack Fit Guides

Concerned about properly fitting a hitch bike 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:

10 Best Bike Storage Ideas

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