Looking for the best way to transport a lot of bikes? The Velocirax bike rack should be high on your list! This vertical hitch bike rack can carry anywhere from 3 to 7 bikes, with a total weight capacity of 230 pounds.
In this review we’ll cover how the Velocirax works, and weigh in with our opinion on its much talked about hydraulic dampeners. We’ll also show you the results of our testing with 20 inch kids bikes and ground clearance with low-hitch vehicles.
We’ve spent hours loading and unloading this rack with all sorts of bike combinations to help you determine if the Velocirax bike rack is the best solution for your car, your bike, and your crew!
- RATING: Exceptional
- MSRP: $699 – $895 (3 capacity – 7 capacity)
- BEST FOR: Families who need to haul more than 4 bikes
- CAPACITY: 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 bikes
- BIKE SIZE: 24″ and larger wheels (some 20″ may fit with padding)
- HITCH SIZE: 2″, Class III only (minimum 500 lb. load)
- EXPANSION KIT: Fat tire bracket required for fat tires > 3.1″
- Available in a wide variety of bike capacities (3 – 7), currently the only rack to fit 7 bikes
- Hydraulic dampening system lowers a loaded rack slowly
- Roll-in (no lift) bike loading for 29″ bikes
- 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
- Doesn’t easily fit 20″ kids bikes
- 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
Velocirax Video Review
Check out the Velocirax in action in our video review!
Velocirax Review – Results of our Testing
We spent two weeks daily testing the Velocirax with two different families, three different vehicles, and a whole host of bikes in our testing fleet. XL 29er, L 29ers, M 29ers, 27.5 women’s mountain bike, 26 inch kids bikes, 24 inch kids bikes, road bikes… Basically we do the testing so you can buy with confidence!
What makes it stand out?
High Capacity: The Velocirax comes in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 bike capacities for customization to your specific needs. It is the only bike rack on the market to offer a 7 bike option.
Dampening System: The dampening system at the rack hinge point provides resistance so that the bikes lower slowly, and will never come crashing down.
Roll-in Loading: When the Velocirax is tilted down, 29er bikes can be rolled into the wheel baskets – no true lifting required. 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.)
Fits 24″ Bikes: The front tire hoops on the Velocirax easily work with 24″ kids bikes. (Alta Racks requires a small adapter to use with 24″ and 26″ bikes.) While some 20″ bikes may fit, we wouldn’t transport our 20″ bikes this way. (More on that below.)
Wide Spacing: While all Velocirax racks offer at least 10″ to 12″ between bikes, Velocirax 3 and 5 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.
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.
Who is the Velocirax best for?
- Anyone who needs to haul more than 4 bikes, which is where traditional platform (tray) racks max out
- Families with 5 kids! The Velocirax is the only 7 capacity bike rack on the market.
- Those who want an exceptional quality rack, but don’t want to pay over $1,000. For example, the Thule T2 Pro XT 4-capacity is $1,030, while the Velocirax 6-capacity is only $850.
Who is the Velocirax not the best fit for?
- Those who want to carry 20″ bikes or smaller on their bike rack
- People with cars that don’t have a 2″ hitch receiver
- Road or gravel bike riders with more than five bikes
- Families with steep driveways and lower placed hitches – the rack may bottom out, even unloaded
- People with cars with very high hitches – makes loading rack and pushing loaded rack up more difficult
How the Velocirax Bike Rack Works
The Velocirax is one of the most popular hitch mount bike racks in a newer and growing category – the vertical bike rack. While traditional bike car racks store bikes horizontally, vertical bike racks hang bikes… vertically.
Loading and Unloading
Vertical bike racks have several different styles of hanging bikes – by the handlebars, the front fork, or the front tire. The Velocirax bike rack uses front tire hoops (wheel baskets), so that the only point of contact with your bike is the tire and the rim. This style of hanging minimizes rack contact with your bike and is also very easy to load bikes onto the rack.
Here are the 6 quick steps required to load your bike rack:
(1) Make sure that the hinge locking pin is set to medium or full tilt. (Much more on that below!)
(2) 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 on the red tire hoops.
(3) After rolling your bike up so it’s standing vertically, roll the front tire into the tire hoop. Load the bikes from left to right. (Unload from right to left.)
(4) Secure the rubber tie down straps to the top, then bottom wheels.
(5) Push the rack back up so that it is parallel with the back of the car.
(6) Move the hinge locking pin in the lowest position to prevent the rack from tilting while you’re driving. (More on this below.)
SERIOUSLY EASY! To unload, basically do these steps backwards.
After spending 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.
Tips for Loading the Velocirax Bike Rack
- Load the bikes largest to smallest. This is the order that is most likely to prevent bike interference once the bikes are loaded. If you find that two bikes are touching, you will need to re-adjust your order, even if they end up not being loaded largest to smallest. (More on this below)
- 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 interfere 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.
- After you’ve loaded your Velocirax with four or more bikes, pushing that fully loaded rack up may likely require two people
- 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.)
Hydraulic Dampeners Slow Down Rack Descent
One of the most talked about features of the Velocirax is its hydraulic hinge dampening system. These dampeners provide resistance so that when you lower the rack for loading and unloading, the rack descends slowly. This feature is awesome because obviously, you don’t want over 200 pounds of bikes crashing down.
It’s important to note that the dampeners only help you on the way down with a loaded rack. They do not assist in relieving the weight load as you’re pushing the rack back up. In fact, they actually provide a bit of resistance that makes it harder to push back up.
The dampeners also make lowering an empty rack a very slow process. After releasing the black rack hinge lever, it’s best to pull on the red tire hoops from the front to help the rack come down.
How Low Can You Go?
There are several different rack tilt settings on the Velocirax bike rack, determined by where you insert the hinge stop pin.
No tilt: For travel, it’s advised for you to insert the hinge stop pin in the lowest hole. In this setting, the rack cannot tilt at all, even if the black rack hinge lever is engaged. This prevents any possibility for the rack to lower itself while you’re on the road. (Although realistically, this would be highly unlikely.)
Full tilt: When inserted in the highest hole, the rack will tilt forward to lower the bike tire hoops for easiest loading and unloading. This is how it is inserted in the photo above.
Medium tilt: When inserted in the middle hole, the Velocirax will tilt forward, but not to its full capability. While this makes the bikes slightly harder to get in and out, it makes it easier to push a fully loaded rack back into place.
As a woman with admittedly weak upper body strength, I was unable to push a fully loaded rack back up by myself when it was tilted fully. But when tilted at this medium position, I could do it.
Additionally, my 5’3 son was still able to load a 29er into the rack with the tire hoops at the higher position of the medium tilt.
Medium Tilt vs. Full Tilt
Camping/Garage mode: Camping mode allows you to lower the Velocirax 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.
Rear Hatch Access
Whether empty or fully loaded with bikes, the Velocirax is designed to tilt toward the ground. This provides ample room for opening your rear hatch.
Attached to our Honda Pilot, we were able to open the trunk with the Velocirax set to the full and medium tilt settings as seen above.
The ability to tilt down a fully loaded rack is such a bonus. While most racks easily tilt down when unloaded to allow for rear trunk access, not all racks can tilt down when loaded.
We love love love that the Velocirax allows for easy trunk access even when it is fully loaded with bikes. We forget pretty often to put something in the trunk, and don’t realize it until we’ve spent all the time loading the rack. No one wants to unload a rack just to put something in the trunk. Velocirax to the rescue!
Bike Compatibility with Velocirax
How many bikes and what size bikes work with the Velocirax? This vertical bike rack is highly versatile, so most likely it will fit whatever bike combination you need. (As long as your bikes are 24″ or larger.)
Velocirax comes in a wide variety of bike capacities – 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. All standard models have between 10″ and 12″ of spacing between bikes.
The 5-capacity rack actually comes in two different versions. The 5x model has wider 15″ spacing between each bike to make bike interference virtually impossible, and also to allow for unloading bikes out of the middle.
If you decide you want to be able to carry more bikes after purchase, it is not possible to add another front tire loop to the existing rack. However, you can purchase a set of new upper and lower cross bars with holes drilled for a different bike capacity.
Bike Spacing on the Rack
We tested the 6-capacity Velocirax, which has 10″ of spacing between front tire loops, but 12″ between the two middle loops. That wider spacing in the middle will come in handy if you’re having difficulty loading a specific bike without hitting another bike.
We tested a wide variety of 24″, 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ bikes and did run into a few instances where a handlebar or brake lever would touch the frame of the bike next to it. We were always able to fix the issue by re-ordering the bikes.
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.
We also had success loading it in the third tire hoop which as two extra inches of space between it and the fourth hoop. (With the 6-capacity.)
For road or gravel bikes with drop bars, Velocirax recommends the 5x capacity rack with has 15″ of space between bikes.
Wheel Size and Tire Width
The front tire hoops of the Velocirax easily accommodate wheels ranging in size from 24″ to 29″, with a width of up to 3.1″. If you have Fat Tires ranging from 3.1″ – 5.0″, you’ll need the optional Fat Bike Tire Brackets.
What about 20″ bikes? Velocirax states that you can carry 20″ bikes (padding may be required), but this is going to be highly dependent on the bike. We tested four different 20″ bikes and were only comfortable with a cheap and large 20″ Schwinn, while using padding.
With our high-end woom 4 (neighborhood bike) and woom 4 OFF (mountain bike), there was too much contact with the front fork to make us comfortable, even with padding.
On our budget-friendly Btwin 20″ Rockrider mountain bike, there was contact between the tire hoop and the front brakes. Once again, even padded we’re not comfortable transporting that bike this way.
So what’s our verdict? Don’t count on the Velocirax being a solution for carrying your 20″ bikes. It’s possible that it could work, but less likely than likely.
Bike Weight Capacity
Every Velocirax has the same weight capacity. 55 pounds per tire hoop, but only 230 pounds total. If you ride regular bikes, this weight capacity is more than enough.
If you ride ebikes, you’ll need to watch that weight capacity. The Velocirax website states that its racks can carry four ebikes. However, we spoke with them and it’s completely dependent on the total weight of your specific ebikes.
If you have lighter ebikes or you take out the batteries for transport, you may be able to carry five ebikes, as long as you stay under 55 pounds per hoop and less than 230 pounds total.
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 capacity if carrying ebikes.
Velocirax and Your Car
Minimal Profile for Better Rear View
One huge advantage of a vertical bike rack is that it has a very small profile when unloaded. If you’re like us and you ride around with your rack on the car all summer, it gets really annoying if you can never see out your back window.
Almost every 4 capacity platform rack will totally cover your rear window when folded up and not in use. Thumbs down. With the Velocirax, you really just see the center mast out the rear window. A huge improvement!
Even when loaded, you have pretty good visibility out your rear window. Because the bikes are hung vertically, you can see through the spacing between them.
Home Garage Parking – Can you do it?
The Velocirax bike rack extends 29.5″ 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 hoop. On our 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 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.
Low Hitches and Bottoming Out
One problem we ran into with the Velocirax on our low-hitch Honda Pilot was that the rack can bottom out and grind on the ground when driving in and out of steep driveways.
The hitch arm and the vertical post form a 90 degree angle that extends a good distance from the vehicle. We have a steep-ish driveway and had to drive very slowly in and out of our driveway to avoid bottoming out when the rack was unloaded. If our entire family of 6 was in the car, we did bottom out from time to time.
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. That said, when we had an XL Santa Cruz Hightower loaded on the Alta, we still couldn’t pull into our driveway because the bike was so long that the tire actually bottomed out, not the rack.
Remember, these potential issues are only for cars with low hitches. We tested this with a 2018 Honda Pilot and the new and much smaller 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 Extra High Hitches
While we did most our testing on a Honda Pilot and a 2020 Toyota Highlander, we also put the Velocirax on a slightly raised Toyota Land Cruiser. 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 extra 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.
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.
While it is certainly possible to use a Velocirax on all of these vehicles (and people happily do it all the time!), just remember that the higher the hitch, the harder it will be to use if you aren’t tall or don’t have great upper body strength.
Other Velocirax Features
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.
In our opinion, this is an innovative solution for the off-season when you won’t be needing your car bike rack or your bikes. Get that rack on the wall and put your bikes out of the way!
During biking season, taking our rack off our car so we can store our bikes on the wall isn’t something we would do since we basically leave our rack on the car spring through fall! (Removing once in a while so it doesn’t get stuck in the hitch receiver.)
Installing the Rack and Locking Mechanisms
Once assembled, the Velocirax can be installed on the car by just one person… in a matter of minutes. However, the 6 capacity does weigh about 90 pounds, so you do need quite a bit of upper body strength. (I can’t do it, but my husband can.)
The easiest way to install the rack is to carry it on your shoulders like the image below.
Once the receiver arm has been inserted into the hitch receiver, there are two steps to lock it in place:
- Insert the hitch pin through the rack arm and hitch receiver and lock it.
- Tighten the rack’s anti wobble wedge in the receiver with a wrench.
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!
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.
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. The Alta Rack can carry up to 6.
Lots of Ebikes: Velocirax can carry as many ebikes as you can fit under its max weight capacity, which is 230. Alta Racks only recommends up to to 2 ebikes.
Reasons to Choose Alta Racks
20 Inch Kids Bikes: The Velocirax doesn’t do a good job with 20″ kids bikes. We’d say don’t count on it as your 20″ bike solution unless you have a chance to try it before you buy it. The Alta Rack has an optional 20″ kids bike basket that is a great fit. If you want to carry 20″ bikes, Alta is a better bet.
Ground Clearance with Low-Hitch Cars: The design of the hinge mechanism on the Alta angles up, rather than at a 90 degree angle with the Velocirax. This makes the Alta rack less likely to bottom out on steep driveways.
Its top cross bar 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 cross bar. Loaded and unloaded, the Velocirax and Alta Rack are pretty similar when the Alta Rack is at its highest setting.
For most vertical clearance issues, there won’t be an issue. However, if you are concerned and unsure about a specific height clearance issue, you may want to strongly consider the Alta since you can lower the top crossbar up to 6 inches. (This does of course lower the ground clearance of the bikes’ rear tires.)
Lowering the top crossbar is also a great option for vehicles with really high hitches. It will lower the baskets, making bikes much easier to load.
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 (tested by two moms, both 5’10), but not drastically so.
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.
Lowering the Rack: Because the Alta Rack doesn’t have a hinge dampening system like Velocirax, when you lower the loaded rack, it bounces a bit when it reaches full tilt. Does it hurt the bikes or the rack? No… it just a tiny bit jarring each time.
Raising the Loaded Rack: The Alta Rack is easier to push forward once loaded. The Velocirax’s hinge dampening system works against you when pushing up, making it feel a bit heavier.
Tire Strap Tie Downs: The Velocirax straps are thicker and stiffer, making them harder to pull down. However, the thinner straps of the Alta Rack flap in the wind quite considerably.
Total Weight Capacity: The Alta Rack has a total weight capacity of 300 pounds versus Velocirax’s 230 pounds. While this speaks to the overall quality of build of the Alta, it won’t make much functional difference if you are just carrying standard bikes. Also remember that you can only carry 2 ebikes on an Alta Rack, so the extra weight capacity won’t help you there either.
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, 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 all the car bike racks tat we’ve tested, be sure to check out our 9 Best Car Racks for Families.