Best bike racks for cars 2023: Transport your bike by car safely and

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The best bike racks for cars mean that you’ve got the flexibility to take your bike with you to ride further afield, be that for events and races, for a vacation, a trip to the trailhead or bike park, or simply because you want to ride somewhere different.

Whichever you choose, you’ll need to be able to attach your bike easily enough that you’re not spending ages mounting and dismounting it, but securely enough that it won’t work loose on rough roads. You also need to ensure it’s not easy for a thief to remove if you stop for a break.

It’s worth thinking about how much lifting you need to do too. If you’ve got a lightweight bike, lifting it onto the roof of a car might not be too much effort, so one of the best roof bike racks might be a good option, but if you’re riding an electric bike and driving an SUV, roof mounting could be back-breaking work. In this case, a hitch-mounted rack might be a better option. Of course, those whose cars don’t have a tow hitch will be best served by the best trunk bike racks.

Whichever you choose, there are a lot of things that separate the best bike racks from the rest, so making a decision might at first feel overwhelming. Luckily for you, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. We’ve spent years testing all bike racks to find which offer the best build quality, security, ease of use and more, and we’ve rounded up what we think are the best bike racks available for each different type of mount.

After compiling our list of bike racks we fitted them and took some time to get a grasp of just how they worked. We fitted different bikes to them and spent a good amount of time testing each one.

Fear not, if you get through our list and you’re still a little unsure, at the bottom of the page there’s a buyer’s guide and comparison table to help you make the best decision based on your needs

  • Skip to: Hitch bike racks
  • Skip to: Roof bike racks
  • Skip to: Trunk bike racks

Best bike racks that mount to a hitch or tow-ball

Tow ball or tow hitch – racks are not the cheapest option but they are often the most convenient and accessible to most people. Trucks and larger vehicles will come with a 2in receiver tube. However, even if your vehicle doesn’t have anything from the factory, there’s almost always a retrofit kit available. You’ll want to look for a quality system that mounts to the frame rails and not the bumper and what’s available will depend on the tow ratings for the vehicle in question.

Keep in mind that in the US, a 1 1/4 receiver tube can be one of two different types of receivers. Both class 1 and class 2 hitches use the same size but they are different. You’ll want to search carefully to see what the rack manufacturers rate their racks for. A class 1 hitch limits the insertion depth and, in some cases, even if a rack is the right size, it won’t mount.

Once you’ve figured out what will work for your car and sorted the vehicle side, there are some distinct advantages. Choosing a hitch option from our list of one of the best bike racks for cars will often mean a tray-style rack with no possibility of bike, or vehicle, damage. If your vehicle is tall, you don’t have to lift a bike over your head and if you leave it on, many will tilt out of the way for access. When you’d rather remove the rack, it’s usually easy.

Another consideration for this style of rack is local laws and regulations. In Australia for example, if the rack obscures your licence plate, you’ll need an official accessory plate from the RTA; similar rules apply in Europe. The rack will also need to illuminate the plate to ensure visibility from at least 20m away in poor light conditions. In the eyes of the law, the classic photocopy or piece of cardboard with your plate number scribbled in sharpie will earn you a hefty fine. That’s not all; you may also cop a fine for driving around with an empty hitch rack on the back of your car. The moral of the story is to do your due diligence about what’s required in your country before making a purchase.


  • Hitch-mount racks are easy to fit and remove from your car
  • Some are foldable when not in use
  • Their position means you needn’t lift bikes far from the ground
  • Some tilt away from the car, allowing access to the boot/trunk
  • They are typically compatible with all styles of bike, without axle compatibility concerns


  • Vulnerable to a crash
  • Requires your car to have a tow ball/hitch
  • They can obscure your vehicle registration plate and lights, which if left unresolved, can be illegal
The Rockymounts MonoRail Solo hitch tips the scales at around 25lbs. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Not everyone needs to carry a bunch of heavy bikes. Also, not everyone wants to leave their rack attached to the car when not in use. If you only occasionally use a bike rack and you tend to ride alone, or at least drive to the ride alone, then the Rockymounts MonoRail Solo is a perfect choice.

The price is lower than other options and it’s exceptionally light at only 25 lbs. Taking it off the car and storing it is an easy one-handed affair. It also doesn’t lock you into your current situation. If you decide you need to start carrying a second bike the MonoRail add-on allows adding capability.

A few screws and a five-minute transformation will have you ready to double your load capability. For the times when you aren’t using the MonoRail add-on, it’s just as light and easy to handle as the base unit.

You can also take a look at our in-depth review of the Rockymounts MonoRail Solo hitch bike rack here

The Kuat NV 2.0 even has an integrated allen wrench holder (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Kuat makes some of the best-looking car bike racks on the market. It uses a half-wheel loop design similar to the Thule Pro XT as well as a ratchet strap meaning it can accommodate a range of wheel sizes and tyres of up to 4.8in width. The wheel cradles are adjustable to avoid bikes bumping into each other on the rack and there are removable cable locks.

The installation process is tool-free and an expanding adaptor takes up space in your car’s hitch receiver to eliminate wobbles. The tilt switch can be engaged hands-free and there is even a brilliant bike repair stand built-in for adjustments and repairs.

You can find our in-depth review of the Kuat NV 2.0 here.

The Yakima FoldClick 2 can easily carry two e-bikes (Image credit: Yakima)

Yakima’s FolkClick 2 car bike rack utilises the towbar instead of the hitch receiver and has a surprisingly high weight limit — you can easily carry two e-bikes and still have weight left over. Not only is the rack quick and easy the install but it weighs just 14kg. The big selling point here, however, is its ability to quickly fold away, not to mention the inclusion of a ramp to help you get your bike in place come loading time.

Its design features two wheel-trays as well as arms and clamps to grab onto your bike’s frame. A foot pedal unclips the base of the rack to tilt it out of the way so you can quickly get into your trunk. The setup also includes a locking system for both the bikes and rack itself.

Best roof bike racks

Most roof racks attach to crossbars. For some vehicles that will mean factory rails that come pre-installed but even if you’ve got a flat roof, there are options. Aftermarket brands offer a range of bars to fit the flat roof of most vehicles with options that range in price and style. There are less expensive square bars or sleek aerodynamic offerings.

Bikes are then secured to the roof using the frame, front wheel or front axle. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages; however, the key thing to consider is will you be able to lift your bike onto the roof in the first place. If you’re driving a tall SUV, consider a hitch or towbar car bike rack, as getting heavy bikes onto the roof can be precarious. For ebikes the weight means this style of rack isn’t going to work at all.

As long as you are comfortable getting your bike up on the roof, there are a few options for how they stay there. Wheel-off systems keep the bike a little lower and make it a little easier to lift up on the roof. The challenge with using the axle to secure the bike is that there are a lot of variations. Different axle standards and hub spacing might mean easy-to-lose adapters.

The other option is a wheel-on system. This style uses a retention system like what you see on hitch racks but it’s up above the car. There are a few that instead grab the downtube but we would tend to steer away from this style. They can scratch your paintwork and, in the worst case, crush the frame. Wheel-on roof-mounted car bike racks are great if you’re transporting bikes with various hub and axle standards. They don’t touch the frame but they are a bit less stable, more expensive and require you to lift the bike higher.

The biggest advantage of a roof system is that it’s not something you have to think about when it’s not in use. The crossbars are either part of the car, or easy to live with always installed. The racks themselves are much lighter than a hitch system since they separate the bike retention from the car retention. It’s also worth considering that if you’ve got a flat roof the initial investment of a rail system opens your roof up to all kinds of add-ons for different uses.

As far as bikes go, the roof keeps them safe from backing into something. Bikes on the roof are also safer from other drivers should you get into a fender bender. Don’t forget the bike is up there though. There are a lot of sad stories about driving into a garage or a height limiter bar for a car park with bikes still attached.


  • Easy access to car boot/trunk
  • Widely compatible with car types
  • Unrestricted view through rear window
  • The best roof bike racks offer can cater for the most bikes


  • The high position makes it harder to load bikes
  • You may need to buy roof bars if you don’t already have them
  • Be careful driving into height-restricted multi-storey car parks

We’ve covered the best roof bike racks in a standalone guide, but here are our top picks.

The Kuat Piston SR has a system to lock the bikes wheels (Image credit: Future)

The high end Kuat Piston SR rack comes with an automated, button-actuated system to lock to your bike’s wheels. Called One Tap, it’s clever but makes the rack about double the price of many other bike racks. There’s an accessory to adapt it to work with a bike with mudguards.

The system also makes the rack heavier than other options, so it’s not such a good choice if you regularly mount and dismount your bike rack.

The Yakima High Speed required the bikes front wheel to be removed in transit (Image credit: Future)

The Yakima HighSpeed mounts to Yakima’s separate roof bars and has the advantage that it’s designed to work with mudguards. You need to remove the front wheel and the fork is secured with a thru-axle which has a torque limiter to guard against overtightening.

The rear wheel is secured with a strap, although we found that to be a little lacking in padding if you want to avoid damage to expensive carbon wheels.

The Thule Upride lock is integrated into the rack itself (Image credit: Josh Ross)

There are a lot of similarities between the Thule Upride and the Yakima HighRoad. We’ve decided to include them both because they are both high-quality wheel-on options for mounting a bike on top of a car. The front mount of the Yakima is a little bit easier to use while the rear strap on the Thule is a little bit nicer and it’s more protective of the rear wheel.

When it comes to locking, the Thule has the advantage in that there’s no cable and instead it’s integrated into the rack. The biggest point of differentiation though is going to be the larger system. A key advantage of a roof rack is that it can extend beyond just a single bike rack. If you think you like the other pieces in one system vs the other, you’ll want the matching bike rack for that system.

The Rockymounts Tomahawk works with a range of bike and wheel sizes (Image credit: Josh Ross)

The Tomahawk is simple to use and works with a wide range of bike sizes and wheel sizes, using a front-wheel loop and a wheel stop to secure the bike upright, with a strap around each wheel to keep it secure. It can handle everything from road bikes to fat bike tyre width, covering all the likely requirements.

The main issue with the rack is that the mount comes into contact with the fork legs, so there’s the chance of rubbing your bike’s paint, particularly if the bike is dirty. It’s not a dealbreaker for us, but whenever we use it, we add in a bit of helicopter tape to protect things.

Best trunk bike racks

Trunk and boot racks attach to the back of your car using straps, with feet stabilising the whole thing against the car. With trunk/boot racks, installing the rack correctly is paramount. If you don’t have something in the right place or pulled tautly, it can damage the paint on your vehicle.

The other challenge with these types of racks is that they work best with a traditional style of bike. The ideal bike for going on a trunk, or boot mount rack has a flat top tube and plenty of room in the main triangle. Any bike with a big slope in the top tube, or something heavier, is going to be much more difficult to mount.

The advantage of trunk mount racks is that they are super light and inexpensive. If it’s rare that you use a rack and you just need to occasionally transport an older road bike then these might be worth a look. The price is going to be well below what you will pay for any other type of rack and they are so small you can keep one in the car for emergencies.


  • Usually the simplest and cheapest option
  • Simple ratchet-strap fitting so no specific fixings are needed
  • Position means it’s relatively easy to fit and remove bikes


  • Restricted view through the rear window
  • Restricted access to trunk/boot
  • Can be hard to fit bikes without a horizontal top tube
  • Can obstruct your car’s registration plate and lights, meaning a separate number and light board is required
  • The contact points can damage car paintwork

We’ve rounded up a longer separate list of the best trunk bike racks, but here are some of the standout picks.

The Saris Bones 2 has a well tested design (Image credit: Saris)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That is the mantra Saris has used with its Bones 2-Bike trunk/boot car bike rack. The design was first introduced in 1996 and hasn’t changed all that much since.

It’s available in two- and three-bike versions and is made from 100 per cent recyclable materials and everything from the articulating feet to the arms are adjustable to make the rack fit onto just about any car — including those with small spoilers.

The arm that supports the bikes is curved which provides extra clearance, and the seatpost strap prevents the bikes from wobbling around too much when everything is mounted. Unfortunately, the front wheel is still free to move around, although this is something that even the best car bike racks of this style fail to efficiently address.

The Thule Outway Platform 2 brings bikes up above the cars number plate (Image credit: Thule)

The Thule OutWay bike rack sits the bikes on a platform, rather than the normal system which suspends the bike from the top tube. That means that the bike is immobilised better and it’s also lifted above the car’s numberplate, so you don’t need a separate plate to stay legal.

There are steel cables that attach the rack to a car to help increase security and peace of mind. It’s still also possible to open your boot or trunk with the bikes removed but the rack still attached to the car. Which will make grocery runs and the like a lot easier on a trip for example.

On the flip side, the rack is heavier and more expensive than other trunk-mounted options.

The B’Twin 320 Car Bike Rack has room for up to three bikes (Image credit: Decathlon)

This affordable and foldable bike rack from Decathlon can carry up to three bikes, and is designed to sit high up so it doesn’t get in the way of your registration plate or rear lights. When not in use it folds flat and can be easily stored away until you need it again.

It features adjustable straps for a good fit, and the feet that come into contact with the car are rubberised to protect the paintwork. It does come with some padding to protect your bike frames from damage, however, we’d also recommend supplementing it with a bit extra to be safe.

Bikes that don’t feature a horizontal top tube will need an adapter to hold them in place.

The Hollywood Express 3 is a simple, budget friendly option (Image credit: Hollywood)

If you’re looking for something simple and budget-friendly, the Hollywood F9 Express E3 bike rack could be the ticket. Able to transport up to three bikes at a time, it’s super sturdy and capable, as long as you use all six of its straps to achieve adequate grip on a solid area of your car. Without this there’s a risk of wobbling.

To keep things as simple as possible, the rack arrives readily assembled, so there’s no need to scratch your head with an instruction manual (as many of us are loathe to do), and when it’s not in use you can fold it neatly away into the boot for storage.

Rubber tabs keep the car’s paintwork protected, while the bike frames are shielded from each other with rubber separators.

How to choose the best bike rack for you

There are quite a few things to consider when choosing the best bike rack for your needs. The main issue is whether a rack will work both with your car and with your bike, as we explain below. You also need to consider how easy it is to mount and dismount your bike from the rack. If it’s a two-person job and you usually travel solo with your bike, that’s a problem. If you are making a sizeable investment, it’s a good idea to consult your car manufacturer and the rack manufacturer to ensure the model you like will actually fit your car.

Here’s what to think about when choosing the best bike rack for you.