VelociRAX Bike Rack Review

Looking for the best way to transport a lot of bikes? The VelociRAX bike rack should absolutely be on your list! In addition to looking pretty spectacular as you cruise down the road (#redracknation), the VelociRAX easily hauls up to 7 bikes without breaking a sweat (as long as they are under the total weight capacity of 230 lbs).

Over the last three years, we have put the VelociRAX to the test with a wide range of bikes as well as on many different vehicles. From 20″ kids bikes to 29″ eMTBs, we’ve thrown our fleet of bikes at the VelociRAX and it did not disappointed.

Fully loaded Velocriax, shown from rear angle

Whether you’re shuttling friends to the trailhead or NICA team athletes to a race, the VelociRAX offers exceptional value, performance, and durability.

To make sure we didn’t leave any stone unturned, we also put the VelociRAX in a head-to-head challenge against the more expensive Alta Racks vertical rack. As a result, you can rest assured that by the end of this extensive (aka long, but worthwhile) review, you’ll know everything you need to know about VelociRAX so you can confidently click that buy button!

VelociRAX Overview

stars

RATING: Exceptional

MSRP$799 – $985 (3 capacity – 7 capacity)

BEST FOR: Anyone looking to haul more than 4 bikes sized 20″ and up

CAPACITY: 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 bikes

WHEEL SIZE COMPATIBILITY: 20″ and larger wheels without fenders. 20″ wheels require a small basket upgrade. Fat tires (3.1″+) require a fat basket upgrade

HITCH SIZE: 2″, Class III only (minimum 500 lb. load)

AVAILABLE ADD-ONS: Light Bar, Winter ski/snowboard conversion kit, Rolling Base, Integrated Cable Lock

PROS:

  • Available in a wide variety of bike capacities (3 – 7), currently one of only two racks to hold 7
  • Hydraulic damper system lowers a loaded rack slowly
  • Roll-in bike loading for most 29″ bikes
  • Rear hatch access, even with a fully loaded rack
  • Doesn’t impede view out the rear window when unloaded
  • Can convert to an on-wall garage storage rack
  • SkiRAX attachment converts rack to a ski/snow board rack!

CONS:

  • 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 plan on carrying 4+ e-bikes)
  • Rack lowering lever can be hard to engage

VelociRAX Video Review

Check out the Velocirax in action in our video review!

**NOTE: This video reviewed was filmed in 2021 and is missing info on the following notable updates:

  • VelociRAX now offers a Small Wheel Basket for 20″ bikes which we found to work great on all 20″ kids bikes. While not suggested by VelociRAX, the Small Wheel Basket can work in a pinch with 16″ bikes with the help of a pool noodle. For those hauling 20″ adult BMX bikes, VelociRAX also offers a special BMX basket (call VelociRAX for more info)
  • Alta Racks has since upgraded their line and offers a “Superior” model rack that can hold up to 7 bikes. The new rack has no e-bike limit within its 350 lb. weight capacity, but costs significantly more than the VelociRAX 7 capacity.

VelociRAX Review Table on Contents

There is a lot to love about VelociRAX, but also a lot to learn! As a result, this review is pretty long, but well worth you time. To help you quickly answer any questions you may already have about the VelociRAX, please use the click-through Table of Contents below. Clicking on any of the section titles or individual bullet points will jump you down to that section of the review.

VelociRAX Review – General Information

Who is the VelociRAX best for?

  • Anyone who needs to easily haul 3 or more bikes (size 20″ and up) and has a vehicle with a 2″ hitch receiver
  • Those who want an exceptional quality rack, but don’t want to pay over $1,000. For example, the Thule T2 Pro XTR 4-capacity is $1,450, while the VelociRAX 6-capacity is only $935.
  • Large biking families (with kids on 20″ or up) as well as those with riders on NICA teams (high school MTB teams get a discount)
  • Those who has fallen out of love with standard shepard’s hook platform racks. Vertical racks haul more bikes for less money, are usually easier to load, and are lower profile as to not block the rear window of your car.

Who is the VelociRAX not the best fit for?

  • Those who want to regularly carry 16″ kids bikes or smaller on their bike rack. VelociRAX’s Small Wheel Basket, will work with 16″ bikes when padded with a pool noodle for short distances. With the short wheelbase of any 16″ preventing the bike’s rear tire from reaching the bottom bar, the bike isn’t fully supported, but works fine around town. (More about this later in the review)
  • Those who don’t have a 500 lb. Class III 2″ hitch receiver on their car
  • Road or gravel bike riders with more than five bikes (five dropper bar bikes will only fit on the 5X and 7 capacity VelociRAX)
  • Families with steep driveways and lower placed hitches – the rack may bottom out, even unloaded
  • Those wanting a rack that is easy to take on and off or easy to store (the VelociRAX is challenging on both accounts – as are most high capacity racks)
  • People who need to haul ebikes weighing more than 55 lb., bikes with front fenders (although they typically come off easily), or tricycles
  • Anyone who cannot carry ~100 lb. in order to install or uninstall the rack (unless you have a friendly neighbor who can help you out)

What makes the VelociRAX stand out?

High Capacity: The VelociRAX comes in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 bike capacities for customization to your specific needs. It’s one of only two bike racks on the market to offer a 7 bike option. (The Alta Superior is the other option, but is significantly more expensive.)

Damper System: The unique damper system at the rack hinge point provides resistance so that the bikes lower slowly for unloading or access to your rear hatch.

Roll-in Loading: When the VelociRAX is tilted down, 29er bikes can be rolled into the wheel baskets – no true lifting required on many cars (like you must do on a Lolo or or Yakima vertical rack). Some lifting is required, however, on trucks with higher hitches as well as on all cars when loading bikes with shorter wheelbases.

No suspension fork required: Because the bike’s tire is the only point of contact, bikes with and without front suspension forks can be carried. (Some vertical racks hang by the suspension fork, like the Yakima Hangover and North Shore Racks.)

Wide Spacing: While all VelociRAX racks offer at least 10″ to 12″ between bikes, VelociRAX 3X and 5X capacity racks are available with 15″ of spacing! This makes getting middle bikes out more practical. 15″ spacing is also a much better fit for transporting multiple bikes with dropper bars (road bikes, gravel bikes).

On-wall Garage Bike Storage: Every VelociRAX comes standard with a wall mounting bar to convert your car rack into a wall-mount garage rack during the off-season. If you don’t have wall space, VelociRAX also offers a rolling Floor Stand.

Optional Light Bar: For extra visibility, the VelociRAX’s light bar attaches to the rack to ensure your vehicle’s brakes lights and turn signals are easily visibility with a fully loaded rack. (Requires your car to have a trailer harness, and is only available on larger capacity racks.)

Optional Integrated Cable Lock: For added security for quick pit stops while on the road, VelociRAX’s built-in cable lock helps keep your bikes secure. When not in use, the cable lock retracts into the top bar.

What types of bikes are compatible with the VelociRAX?

All VelociRAX racks come shipped with their standard baskets that fit 24″ to 29″ bikes with tires up to 3.1″ wide. The rack is designed to best fit bikes with the standard flat “mountain bike style” handlebar, but racks with 15″ spacing (3X and 5X) provide plenty of room for bikes with dropper bars.

a wide variety of bike sizes loaded up on a VelociRAX
Wide variety of bike sizes loaded up on a VelociRAX 6 capacity

If you want to carry bikes smaller than 24″ or with tires wider than 3.1″, you will need to swap out the standard basket for VelociRAX’s Small Wheel Basket or Fat Tire Basket. Switching between basket sizes is relatively quick and easy. It does take a 6mm Allen wrench to loosen the bolts as well as a wrench in the back to hold the nut in place, but from start to finish, each basket takes about 5 minutes or so.

Fat Tire Basket Option

If you have a bike with fat tires ranging from 3.1″ – 5.0″, you’ll need the optional Fat Bike Tire Baskets, which worked great for both our 20″ and 27.5″ fat bikes.

20" fat tire in Velocirax's fat tire basket
20″ fat tire in Velocirax’s fat tire basket

Small Wheel Basket Option

The Small Wheel Basket does a great job properly supporting 20″ kids bikes without the basket touching the fork. While we had problems with VelociRAX’s previous small wheel basket, the updated 2023 version works great and we had no problems with the fork touching the basket.

20 inch bike loaded on the VelociRAX via their small wheel basket

Their older version (available prior to 2023), worked great on adult 20″ BMX bikes, but not on kids bikes. If you do want to carry adult BMX bikes, these older baskets are still available through their customer service.

While not designed to fit 16″ bikes, when modified with a pool noodle, the Small Wheel Baskets work fine in a pinch. Simply cut the noodle and tread it through the lower end of the loop, making sure the noddle wraps around the end of the basket. With the noodle in place, set the bike in the hoop making sure the foam is properly placed to prevent any contact between the fork and the basket.

a 16 inch bike loaded up on a VelociRAX Small Wheel Basket using a foam pool noodle

After securing the bike with the straps, double check the position of the foam. We found it was easy for the foam to shift out of place when strapping the bike down. As a result, we wouldn’t recommend using this method for longer road trips as the foam could wiggle out of place over time.

Due to the short wheelbase of 16″ bikes, the rear tire won’t be able to reach the lower bar, so the strap will need to be stretched up to reach the rear tire. Alternatively, to better support the rear wheel, you can install the Small Wheel Basket near the center mast and strap the rear tire to the mast with a bungee cord.

VelociRAX Models Comparison

Velocirax tire loops shown empty from rear

VelociRAX offers multiple racks with various capacities and spacing options. The first number of the rack refers to the racks capacity (3 through 7), while the following number refers to any additional spacing between the baskets on the rack.

For example, the VelociRAX 5 Bike hold 5 bikes with the standard 10″ between all the baskets while the Velocirax 412 holds 4 bikes and has 12″ between the baskets. The X in the 3X and 5X models, however, refers to their 15″ of space (not sure why they aren’t called 315 and 515🤷‍♀️).

VelociRAX ModelSpacingTop Bar WidthRack Weight
3X15″42″73 lb.
41212″49″80 lb.
510″53″89 lb.
5X15″73″94 lb.
610″ and 12″65″98 lb.
710″73″107 lb.

Every VelociRAX has the same weight capacity. 55 pounds per tire basket, but only 230 pounds total. If you ride regular analog bikes, this weight capacity is more than enough. If you ride ebikes, you’ll need to watch that weight capacity and when possible, remove the battery from the bike when loaded on the rack.

Also remember that ebikes are heavy and may decrease the total number of non-ebikes you can carry. Your 5, 6, or 7 capacity rack could easily decrease in total bike capacity if carrying ebikes. If you need to carry 6 full size ebikes, your best bet the 350 lb. weight capacity of the Alta Superior.

For road or gravel bikes with drop bars, VelociRAX recommends the 5x capacity rack which has 15″ of space between bikes. Four bikes with dropper bars will also fit on the 7-capacity rack, but not on the 6-capacity.

If are unsure of what size rack you need for your specific combination of bikes (fat tire bikes, road bikes, MTB etc.), be sure to reach out to VelociRAX’s customer service as they can talk you through your best options.

CHANGING RACK CAPACITY: If you decide you want to be able to carry more bikes after purchase, it is not possible to add another tire basket to an existing rack. However, you can purchase a set of new upper and lower cross bars with holes drilled for a different bike capacity.

IMPORTANCE OF SPACING ON THE RACK

One of the major differences between several of the VelociRAX models is the inches of space between the baskets. While easily overlooked, the space between the baskets does play a role in how easy it is to load bikes.

Throughout our tests we did run into a few instances where a handlebar or brake lever would touch the frame of the bike next to it, especially with mountain bikes with wider handlebars. Below you can see the handlebars of a 26″ bike resting on the frame of a 29″ bike. These bikes are placed on a 6-capacity rack on baskets that are 10″ apart.

Handlebar and bike frame contact using a vertical hitch bike rack

By moving the smaller 26″ bike in the third tire basket (which has 12″ space between it and the fourth basket on our 6-capacity rack) the bikes no longer made contact.

After testing out over 20 different bikes on our 6-capacity rack in different combinations, we found the standard 10″ spacing was only an issue when hauling different wheel sizes or styles of bikes.

As a tip, if you have one bike that is smaller than all the rest, we found it often easiest to load it as the last bike on the right. That way, its shorter outer handlebar (where contact is very likely), doesn’t have a bike next to it.

If you do plan on regularly hauling bikes of different wheel sizes or different styles, when possible we recommend going with the 5X rack with 12″ of space between all baskets to essentially prevent bike contact. The extra space also allows you to pull a bike out of a center basket without having to remove the bikes around it.

A wide variety of different bikes loaded up on a 5X VelociRAX
Wide variety and sizes of bikes loaded on a VelociRAX 5X rack

Using the VelociRAX Bike Rack

If you have never seen a vertical rack in person, it can be hard to comprehend how the bikes load. While some styles of vertical racks load bikes by the handlebars or suspension fork, the VelociRAX loads via the front tire.

How to Load the VelociRAX

(1) Lower the bike rack towards the ground by pulling the black rack hinge lever on the rack’s vertical post to release the lock, and then pulling down on the red tire baskets. (When empty, the rack will not drop on its own, you need to really pull on it!)

Lever that you pull on the vertical post to lower the Velocirax

(2) After rolling your bike up into a wheelie, roll the front tire into the tire basket. With most bikes, you will need to push up on the saddle with your knee to give a bike a “boost” into the basket. The lower your hitch and longer your bike’s wheelbase, the easier it will be to “roll” the bike into the rack. The taller your car’s hitch and shorter the wheelbase, the more “lifting” will be required.

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

(3) Secure the rubber tie down straps to the top, then bottom wheels.

Top tire tie down on Velocirax bike rack

(4) Put rubber bands over the brake levers to help minimize bikes bouncing during travel (every rack is shipped with these bands)

Rubber bands placed over the brake levers of a bike loaded on the VelociRAX

(5) Push the rack back up so that it is parallel with the back of the car.

Fully loaded VelociRAX loaded up on an SUV

(5) Move the hinge locking pin into the lowest position to prevent the rack from tilting while you’re driving. (More on this below.)

Tips for Using a VelociRAX Bike Rack

After spending many, many hours loading and unloading a variety of bike combinations, here are a few tips that will help make your experience as easy as possible.

LOADING THE RACK

  • Load the bikes largest to smallest and from left to right. (Unload from right to left.) This is the order that is most likely to prevent spacing issues once the bikes are loaded.
  • Don’t secure the tie down straps until you have all the bikes loaded. You may have to adjust the order of your bikes if handlebars make contact with one another. Be aware, however, that when you do tighten the bikes down, it can shift the wheel a bit and change spacing slightly.
  • To help eliminate some “bouncing” of the bikes while on the rack, don’t forget to use VelociRAX’s rubber bands (or cut up old bike tubes) on the brake levers to engage the brakes on the bikes and prevent any minor rolling of the tires while on the rack
  • After you’ve loaded your VelociRAX with four or more bikes, pushing the fully loaded rack up may likely require two people
  • When attaching different size baskets on the rack, we found it best to load the small baskets on the far right-hand side of the rack and the fat tire basket on the far left-hand side of the rack. In the image below, from left to right, the baskets are 1 fat tire basket, 3 standard baskets, and then 2 small tire baskets.
Velocirax fully loaded with fat bikes, mountain bikes and kids bikes

UNLOADING THE RACK

  • Be sure to release the rubber band straps on the brake levers prior to unloading. We typically leave the small band on our grips and just push them towards the inside of the grip so they are out of the way when riding.
  • When attempting to lower a fully loaded rack, it’s helpful to pull the rack’s vertical post toward you to relieve the weight load as you engage the black rack hinge lever. Even when you do that, the lever can still be hard to engage.
  • Make sure to lower the loaded rack away from you, while you are positioned between the rack and the car, with your back to the car. (As shown below.)
  • Be ready to engage the rear brake of a bike when rolling it out of the basket. With heavier bikes (especially ebikes), it’s very easy for the bike to want to quickly fall forward onto its front tire once the rear tire hits the ground. By activating the rear brake once the rear tire has touched the ground (when still in wheelie position), it is much easier to be in control of the bike and begin to wheel it over to where you want it.
Pulling the hinge lever on the Velocirax from behind

Installing the Rack

The VelociRAX can be installed on the car by just one person… in a matter of minutes. However, the 6 capacity weighs just under 100 lb., so you do need quite a bit of upper body strength.

man inserting Velocirax hitch arm into the car's hitch

Once the receiver arm has been inserted into the hitch receiver, there are two steps to lock it in place:

  1. Insert the hitch pin through the rack arm and hitch receiver and lock it.
  2. Tighten the rack’s anti wobble wedge in the receiver with a wrench.
Hitch lock and anti rattle bolt tightening on Velocriax

Don’t lose the keys! We were told by VelociRAX that the keys are each unique and if you lose them, you’d have to cut the hitch pin off to remove the rack!

Home Garage Parking – Will it fit?

Side shot of the Velocirax on a car, unloaded

The VelociRAX bike rack extends 29.5″ out from the hitch lip of our Honda Pilot, giving us just enough space to park in our standard-sized garage and close the garage door.

The VelociRAX is 58 inches tall from the bottom of the hitch bar to the top of the tire basket. On a Honda Pilot (which has a relatively low hitch), the max height of the VelociRAX is approximately 70″ from the ground, which is a few inches taller than the cross bars on the car’s roof. This also provides us just enough room to get in the garage from a vertical clearance perspective.

Whether or not you can park in the garage with a VelociRAX is of course dependent on the length and height of your vehicle and your garage.

Features of the VelociRAX

Hydraulic Damper Slows Down Rack Descent

One of the most talked about features of the VelociRAX is its hydraulic hinge damper system. The damper provides resistance so that when you lower a loaded rack it descends slowly – unassisted.

Hydraulic dampening system of Velocirax

When fully loaded, we can honestly attest to the “coolness” factor of the VelociRAX’s damper system. After pulling the lever, just step back and watch the rack carefully lower over 200 pounds unassisted!

Other racks, such as the Yakima HangTight and Lolo Rack, cannot be lowered while bikes are loaded. The Alta Rack needs to be supported (by you!) when lowering.

velocriax vertical bike rack lowered on SUV

It’s important to note that the damper only helps you on the way down with a loaded rack. It does not assist in relieving the weight load as you’re pushing the rack back up.

The damper is designed to resist any movement, which it absolutely does when lowering a loaded rack. But on the flip side, it also resists movement when pushing the rack up, as well as when lowering an empty rack.

Since pushing up a loaded rack is already pretty hard to do, the added resistance of the damper isn’t extremely noticeable. But the added resistance when lowering an empty rack certainly is. While lowering an empty rack isn’t hard, it just takes some time and effort and requires you to pull down firmly on the red tire baskets and continue to do so as the rack lowers.

Besides getting ready to load up bikes, needing to lower an empty rack is pretty common, as it is necessary to access the hatchback on your car (i.e. when loading up groceries), or in order to fully lower the tailgate of a truck.

Rear hatch of car open with girl putting bike in the back of the car. Velocriax is tilted forward, offering plenty of space for the hatch door.

Adjusting the Level of Tilt

The degree at which the VelociRAX is able to tilt down can be adjusted. The rack can be set to fully tilt (about a 45º) , to a medium tilt (about 60º), or to not tilt at all (prevents any potential tilt while traveling). The level of tilt is easily changed by swapping out the hinge stop pin (as shown in the full tilt position in the image below).

The three different pin positions on the VelociRAX

Full tilt is standard as it lowers the baskets closest to the ground to allow for easier loading and unloading. With the bikes lower to the ground, using the full tilt option does make the rack a bit harder to push up when fully loaded as the bikes have a greater distance to travel.

Medium tilt doesn’t allow the rack to drop as close to the ground, so the rack it easier to push up when loaded, but in turn the baskets are higher, which makes it a bit harder to load and unload bikes.

Medium Tilt vs. Full Tilt

Full and medium tilt settings on Velocirax. Side by side comparison.

In addition to being easier to push up, the medium tilt setting can make it easier to load bikes when the vehicle is parked on an uphill plain, like a driveway. When in full tilt mode, the angle of the driveway can cause the rear tire to swing out away from the bottom bar when loading the bikes. As a result, the bikes can swing side to side, causing the rear axles of the bikes to bump into one another.

Rear tire of a mountain bike not making contact with the bottom bar of the Velocirax
Rear wheel of 29er not making contact with the bottom bar while rack is in full-tilt mode

Setting the rack to medium-tilt mode will keep the bikes more upright on the rack and prevent axles from hitting. Strapping down the rear tire of each bike as you load can also prevent the swinging issue, but can quickly become a pain when you realize you need to reorder bikes on the rack due to contact points between bikes.

Camping Mode: As another option, the tilt mechanism can be completely disengaged for “camping mode”, which allows the VelociRAX to be lowered all the way to the ground. This would be necessary if you needed to load very long items in the back of your vehicle. It also allows you to use the lowered rack as floor parking for your bikes while camping. The process for lowering the rack to the ground is a bit more complicated, but can be seen in this video.

Velocirax extended all the way to the ground in camping mode

Transporting eBikes on the VelociRAX

With a 230 lb. total weight capacity, VelociRAX is more than capable of hauling multiple ebikes as long as each individual ebike is less than 55 lb. While 55 lb. can seem like a lot, be sure to double check the weight of your bike.

Most eMTBs weight less than 55 lb., but many city/commuter ebikes, especially those with rear hub motors, can easily weigh more than 55 lb. In our fleet of city ebikes, only 1 out of our 6 bikes fell under the 55 lb. weight limit.

two different ebikes loaded up on the VelociRAX 5X rack

Also, it is important to remember that while the rack does have a 230 lb. weight capacity, pushing up a rack with 230 lb. of bike weight can be VERY HARD, especially on a high-hitch vehicle. As a result, make sure you and your buddies get your push-ups in so you’ll be ready to work together to push up that fully loaded rack!

When possible, removing the batteries from ebikes can help to reduce the weight on the rack, BUT if your bike doesn’t have a cover to protect the bike’s electrical internals when the battery is removed, DO NOT transport the bike with the battery removed. Water or dust getting on bike’s wiring can quickly lead to issues.

Due to the heavy weight of the bikes themselves, we highly recommend making sure you use the rubber bands over the brake levers to minimize bouncing while on the rack. It is very easy to forget this step, but is well worth your time to minimize any movement on the rack when hauling up to 230 lb. pounds of dead weight on your car’s receiver.

When unloading ebikes from the rack, be sure to activate the bike’s rear brake as soon as the rear wheel touches to ground. This will prevent the heavy bike from unexpectedly falling forward, which is less than ideal.

Also be mindful of the rear tire’s air pressure prior to removing the bike. If the tire’s PSI is low, when lowered from the basket, the heavy weight of the ebike coming down on a flat or low tire can potentially damage the bike’s rims.

Using the VelociRAX as Garage Bike Storage

Every VelociRAX comes with a wall mounting bar that allows you to hang your VelociRAX on the wall. This can be used to free up garage floor space when you’re not using the rack. However, it has the additional benefit that you can hang your bikes on it, and use it as a garage on-wall bike storage solution.

In full disclosure, we didn’t test this because we don’t have room in our garage! However, this short video by Velocirax shows how it’s done.

This innovative solution is great as it allows you to store your rack and your bikes in the same footprint in your garage! The downside, however, is that during prime riding season, you are likely to leave the rack on your car for an extended period of time, which can leave you without a bike rack in your garage all season.

For those who leave their racks on their car all season long and hence need a separate solution for bike storage, VelociRAX’s new Tilt and Pivot rack is a great solution. The Tilt and Pivot rack uses the same wall footprint as the included garage storage wall mount, which allows you to store your bikes in the same location in your garage whether the VelociRAX is loaded on your car or mounted in your garage.

As a third option, VelociRAX also offers a rolling Floor Stand that allows you to easily store your VelociRAX in the garage loaded up with your bikes. If you don’t have a dedicated wall space, the Floor Cart allows you to store bikes on your rack while also having the ability to easily move the loaded rack around in your garage.

VelociRAX rolling Floor Stand loaded up with bikes

Problems with Low or High Hitch Vehicles

While many people take the time to research the differences between racks, they often forget to take their vehicle into consideration. Vehicles with really low hitch receivers (especially after-market receivers mounted below the frame of the car), as well as tall trucks and SUVs with lifts, can both bring their own unique set of challenges when using the VelociRAX.

Low Hitches and Bottoming Out

One problem we ran into with the VelociRAX on our low-hitch cars (Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander) was that the rack can bottom out and grind on the ground when driving in and out of steep driveways.

90 degree hitch on Velocirax almost bottoming out on sidewalk of steep driveway

The hitch arm and the vertical post form a 90 degree angle that extends a good distance from the vehicle. On steep-ish driveways we had to drive in and out very slowly to avoid bottoming out, even when the rack was unloaded. If our car was fully loaded with people, we bottomed out almost everytime.

When the VelociRAX was fully loaded, we couldn’t pull into our driveway at all. Because of the added weight of the bikes, the bottom of the rack would grind on the street. As a result, we had to load and unload our bikes with our car parked on the street.

While many vertical racks have this 90 degree hinge angle, the Alta Rack angles upward to prevent the bottoming out issue with low-hitch cars.

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

Remember, these potential issues are only for cars with low hitches. We tested this with a 2018 Honda Pilot and 2019 Toyota Highlander. Additionally, the clearance issue with steep driveways while the rack is loaded is not specific to VelociRAX. We have this problem with our 4 capacity platform racks as well.

Difficulty with High Hitches

While we did most of our testing on a Honda Pilot and a Toyota Highlander, we also put the VelociRAX on a Toyota Land Cruiser with a 2″ lift. Its hitch height was 25″ versus the 16″ hitch height on our Honda Pilot. (Hitch height is from bottom of the ground to the top of hitch receiver opening.)

While the high hitch certainly alleviated the “bottoming out” issue, raising the overall height of the rack that much created a few potential problems.

If you’re out adventuring with a crew of shredders with great upper body strength, you’ll be just fine. But if you’re a family where just mom takes the kids out regularly, the higher rack will be more difficult to load, and considerably more difficult to push a fully loaded rack back into vertical position.

Mom and two teenagers pushing up fully loaded Velocirax on a Toyota Landcruiser
VelociRAX on Land Cruiser with 25″ tall hitch

We realize a 25″ hitch height is pretty extreme, so for reference, we also measured our friend’s Toyota 4 Runner (19.25″), and Ford Expedition (22.25″), which are more common.

Lowering Hitch Receiver

If you do fall into this category, VelociRAX now makes a receiver adaptor that lowers the rack by 3.5″ while also extending the rack an additional 4″ away from the hitch.

Hitch lowering adapter installed on the Velocirax.

Be aware that lowering the hitch receiver requires a considerable amount of space directly below your car’s hitch receiver. Many factory installed hitch receivers that are located within the rear bumper do not provide enough room to mount the lowering hitch.

This was the case with our red 200 series Land Cruiser shown above. The receiver, however, was a great fit on our 100 series Land Cruiser with a Slee bumper.

VelociRAX loaded on a Land Cruiser with a spare tire on the back

With the lowering hitch receiver installed, the rack was still tall, but we found those extra 3.5″ to be helpful when pushing the rack back up, as well as when loading up bikes with shorter wheelbases.

The lowering adapter also pushes the rack out 4″ farther from the car. The extra 4″ allows truck tailgates to fully lower when the rack is installed, and also provides extra room for rear-mounted spare tires. We actually found that the rack fit on our 100 series Land Cruiser without the need for the lowering hitch, but space will certainly vary from car to car.

In the image below, you can see how the adapter pushes the rack farther from the car (yellow arrow) while also lowering it (the logo drops in relation to the yellow arrow at the top of the spare tire).

Velocirax with hitch lowering adaptor on SUV
VelociRAX w/o and w/ lowering hitch adaptor

Just be aware that if using the hitch adapter, the rack extends further away from the car. As a result, the rack will have more leverage against the car when loaded, so you are likely to “feel” the rack more when you are driving.

VelociRAX Add Ons

Integrated Locking System

To help keep your bikes secure while on the go, VelociRAX now makes an integrated locking system that is easily installed inside the rack’s upper horizontal bar. The system consists of two cable locks that extend out of each end, which are then locked together once threaded through the bikes’ frames.

Velocirax Integrated locking system on fully loaded rack

Like all bike locks, the VelociRAX lock should not be used to lock up your bikes for any significant amount of time. It’s really there to “keep honest men honest” and prevent quick crimes of opportunity.

VelociRAX Light Bar

While vertical bike racks typically allow you to see the rear lights of a car much better than platform racks, they still limit visibility. In fact, in some areas, bike racks that block rear lights can be illegal!

To help increase your car’s visibility, VelociRAX’s Light Bar adds a panel of LED lights below the rack’s bottom bar. Once connected, the Light Bar acts as an extension to your tail light, brakes lights, and turn signals.

image showing the difference between a VelociRAX with and without a light bar attached

The LED bar connects to your vehicle via a standard 4-prong flat plug (7-way round Standard SAE connection adapter included).

SkiRAX Winter Sports Attachment

Fan of winter sports? The VelociRAX’s new SkiRAX attachment easily converts your bike rack into a ski or snowboard rack! Compatible on the VelociRAX 412, 5, 6 and 7 models, the $299 SkiRAX attachment kit holds up to 6 pairs of skis or 6 snowboards or a combination of both. Each kit comes with 3 attachments sets (one upper post and one lower post) that each hold 2 pairs of skis of 2 snowboards.

VelociRAX SkiRAX winter sports attachments

The ski and snowboards are held onto rack via rubber straps and rubber ski bumpers along the attachments. The rack is limited to snowboards no wider than 30cm and ski’s and boards no longer than 90cm.

Converting the rack requires removing the individual tire baskets and replacing them with the upper snow attachment. The lower attachment also needs to be bolted onto the bottom bar of the rack.

VelociRAX SkiRAX attachments

Due to the position of the lower SkiRAX attachment in relation to the upper SkiRAX attachment, the SkiRAX attachments cannot be mounted to the farthest right position on the rack.

VelociRAX vs Alta Rack

There are many great vertical racks available on the market, but VelociRAX and Alta Racks are the most similar. They are also both quite popular. So if at this point you’re wondering… VelociRAX or Alta Rack… we tested them both to figure out how they’re different, and when or if those differences matter. 

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

While there are many minor differences between them, they are both exceptional vertical bike racks. Here are the differences that we found to make the biggest impact when trying to choose between the two.

Reasons to Choose the VelociRAX

Price: The most obvious difference is the price. A 6-capacity VelociRAX costs $849. A 6-capacity Alta Rack costs $1,185. (A difference of $336.)

Total Bike Capacity: The VelociRAX can carry up to 7 bikes. In order to fit 7 on the Alta, you need to upgrade to the much more expensive Superior line.

Damper System: When you have a fully loaded rack, the damper system of the Velocirax is a huge help when lowering the rack.

Garage Storage: The VelociRAX comes with the wall-mounted hooks that easily allow you to convert the rack into garage storage.

Optional Light Bar: VelociRAX’s light bar adds much needed visibility to your car when the rack is fully loaded.

Reasons to Choose Alta Racks

Ground Clearance with Low-Hitch Cars: The design of the hinge mechanism on the Alta angles up, rather than at a 90 degree angle on the VelociRAX. This makes the Alta Rack less likely to bottom out on steep driveways.

Its top crossbar is also height adjustable, with three settings. If you are having issues with bikes bottoming out, you could raise the crossbar. However, that does make the tire baskets higher and thus harder to load, and also affects vertical clearance.

Vertical Clearance (Rack Height): The Alta Rack has three different height settings for the top crossbar, up to 6″. As a result, you don’t need an adapter in order to lower the rack when placed on high-hitch vehicles (VelociRAX’s optional adapter lowers the rack 4″).

“Feel” of the Rack Behind the Car: We ran several tests with the two racks on the same car, loaded with the same bikes, and with different drivers. We found that you can “feel” the VelociRAX behind the car more than the Alta. Not significantly so, but enough that several drivers pointed it out without prompting. This is most noticeable with higher speeds, bumpy roads, and turns. We found the difference to be greater on cars with unibody construction (like minivans, mid-size SUVs) versus body on frame cars (trucks, full-size SUVs).

High Weight Capacity: With the growing popularity of heavy ebikes, the 350lb. weight capacity on the Alta Superior line (120 lb. more than the VelociRAX) is much more generous to ebikes.

Made in the USA: If you’re a champion of “Buy American”, Alta is the rack for you. Built in the USA is a huge reason Alta Racks are more expensive.

Differences that Don’t Make Much Difference

We want to point out the following differences between VelociRAX and Alta, because these are things you may have heard about from other reviews or rack users. But we want to stress that in our opinion, these differences shouldn’t carry much weight when deciding between the two.

Ease of Loading: When the vertical posts are lowered for loading, the VelociRAX tilts down farther, resulting in the tire baskets on the VelociRAX being slightly lower than the Alta Rack for loading. (Given the hitch height of the car remains constant.) In our opinion, this made the VelociRAX slightly easier to load, but not drastically so (tested by two moms, both 5’10).

Bike Spacing: The Alta Rack’s tire baskets can move left or right to adjust spacing between bikes. This is certainly a cool feature, but in head-to-head testing of the Alta 6 and the VelociRAX 6, we were able to fit the same combination of bikes on both racks, without contact. Due to the extra spacing on the VelociRAX 5X, we found it to be the easiest to load.

Tire Strap Tie Downs: The VelociRAX straps are thicker and stiffer, making them much harder to pull down and more difficult to fasten. However, the thinner straps of the Alta Rack flap in the wind quite considerably when the rack is empty.

VelociRAX Bike Rack Bottom Line

When it comes to vertical bike racks, VelociRAX is an exceptionally solid option for a very attainable price. For families or bike crews that need to haul a lot of bikes (up to 7!), the VelociRAX is easy to load, easily accommodates wheels 24″ and larger (20″ with Small Wheel Basket add on), and will easily stand up to years of use and abuse.

Be aware that for lower-hitch vehicles, bottoming out is a strong possibility on steep driveways or deeper dips in the road.

To get a full rundown of all the car bike racks that we’ve tested, be sure to check out our Best Vertical Hitch Rack and Best Hitch Racks articles.

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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