Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022… that you can buy right now!

The best way to transport your bike is with a tray-style, hitch-mounted bike rack on the back of your car, truck, SUV, or van. Second only to that is a hanging-style hitch-mount bike rack.

The common denominator? Both types are connected to your car at the hitch. And yes, if you don’t have a hitch on your car, it’s worth getting one installed if you regularly carry bikes…especially heavier e-bikes.

Here, we’ve found some of the very best hitch mount bike racks that are available right now from brands that we’ve personally tested and use for our own road, gravel, and mountain bikes.

What’s in this Buyer’s Guide:

  • Types of hitch bike racks explained
  • Best Tray hitch bike racks
  • Best Hanging hitch bike racks
  • Best Upright hitch bike racks
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Note that while supply chains have improved, these are still selling fast, so if you click through one of our links and it’s out of stock, check one of our similar recommendations. At the very least, narrow your search on that site to one of the brands listed here. After all, if your bike costs a few grand, skimping on a no-name brand simply isn’t worth it.

What type of Bike Hitch Rack do I need?

We have a detailed FAQ section at the bottom of this post to help you find the best hitch bike rack for your needs. The TL;DR version is this: You need to choose between Tray style and Hanging style, how many bikes you want to carry, and whether you need features like a folding or swing-away design, integrated locks, etc. Let’s start with the best type for your bikes…

Tray Hitch Bike Racks

Thule T2 XTR Hitch Rack Locked and loaded with bikes
Thule’s T2 XTR tray-style rack.

Choosing between a Tray or Hanging style is the biggest decision, and our pick is always the Tray style. The bike’s tires rest in a tray, then arms typically capture the front wheel while the rear wheel is strapped into place. Some models use arms to capture both the front and rear wheels. Tray hitch racks are the most secure, and some models allow for left-right adjustments so you can avoid handlebar-to-seat interference between bikes.

PROS: The benefit to Tray racks is that they don’t touch your bicycle’s frame, so it won’t get scratched or rubbed raw. They also tend to have more space between bikes, making it easier to load bigger bikes and fatter tires. They’re the only choice for heavier e-bikes.

CONS: Usually maxes out at 4 bikes, and they’re expensive. Adding a 2-bike extension to a 2-bike rack is even more expensive. They’re also much bigger and heavier, making storage harder if you don’t just leave them on your vehicle.

Hanging Hitch Bike Racks

thule bike rack on a car
Hanging bike racks range from 1 to 5 bike capacity (photo c. Thule)

Hanging bike racks typically hold your bike’s frame by hanging the top tube across two arms that jut out from its support beam, and one that you slot your fork into so your bike hangs vertically. You simply slide your bike over those arms, rest it on them, then strap it into place. Better models have more/better padding and some method of preventing your bikes from swaying back and forth.

PROS: Less expensive, easier to store (especially if the arms fold down), lighter weight.

CONS: More likely to scratch or rub your bike’s paint; non-traditional frame shapes (like step-through frames), really small (kid’s) bikes, or full suspension mountain bikes where the rear shock runs parallel to the top tube can be hard to properly secure or require an adapter. (We’ve seen some people mount these types of bicycles upside down…please don’t do that!) Hanging racks are nowhere near as secure as a Tray rack.

Upright / Vertical Hitch Bike Racks

yakima hangover vertical hitch bike rack
The Yakima Hangover (photo c. Yakima)

The vertical hanging bike hitch rack is most commonly used for shuttling mountain bikes, especially when you need to carry 5-6 bikes safely. These are actually some of the easiest to load, but some versions will only work with mountain bikes because they hold the fork’s crown. Other models have angled trays for the tires and will hold road, gravel, and mountain bikes.

PROS: Holds a LOT of bikes; quick and easy to load bikes.

CONS: Huge, heavy, and you have to load and unload the bikes in order. Usually not rated for e-bikes or compatible with RVs.

Here’s our list of the best hitch bike racks in each category, followed by an FAQ section and a few other things you should know to get the best bike rack for your car.

Best Tray Hitch Bike Racks

Best Overall – Thule T2 Pro XTR

Thule T2 Pro XTR 2 Bike Hitch Rack

At least one of us has been using some version of the Thule T2 rack at all times for the past 13 years. And the only reason we pass the old one on to a friend is that we’re getting a newer model in to test. These things just last and last, and the latest T2 Pro XTR is a beast of a bike rack. Honestly, the new Kuat Piston Pro X is poised to take over this position – though we don’t have enough time using one to make that call just yet. For now, the Thule T2 is a solid choice, but Kuat is coming for the crown.

With a rock-solid, tool-free mounting system that locks the rack into your hitch and an oversized build that’s basically bombproof, the T2 Pro XTR is probably the best overall tray hitch rack out there.

Features like tooled side-to-side adjustments, extra space between bikes, 5″ tire capacity, 20-29″ wheel compatibility, and a generous (e-bike friendly) 60lb bike weight limit mean it will work with almost anything you ride. Bonus points for the built-in wheels to help you roll it in and out of your garage when not in use, too.

  • MSRP: $899 (base) + $549 2-bike extension
  • RACK WEIGHT: 52lbs (without extension)
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 60lbs
  • SECURITY: Integrated locking hitch knob and cable locks
  • HITCH SIZES: 1.25″ and 2″
  • EXPANDABLE TO 4-BIKE: Yes (2″ version only)

Easiest to Own – 1UP USA 2″ Heavy Duty Double

Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022... that you can buy right now!

The 1UP USA 2″ Heavy Duty Double Rack is a super popular tray rack option. It is one of the most compact options on the market, so you get a big bang for your buck. The Heavy Duty Double sits close to the vehicle and does not protrude far outward, however, it still leaves enough room for two bikes. It fits 16” – 29” wheels, up to 3.1” wide (and you can use their spacer kit for tires wider than 3.1”). You can add on additional trays to extend the rack’s capacity to 3 or 4 bikes, too. It uses ratcheting arms that close over the tires, so the rack will not touch your bike’s frame and risk damaging the paint. Also, the trays do not have a designated direction, so you can place your bike in the rack either way. When not in use, you can fold the rack up so it sits tighter to your vehicle. If you need to access your trunk while your bike is on the rack, you can fold the rack downward so you can open the hatch.

This rack is even compatible with Jeep Wranglers that have the tire on the back and the swinging tailgate. You can call 1UP to place an order on a rack that has flipped side plates so you can still open the tailgate all the way when the bike is not on the rack. Even if the bike is on the rack, you can still tilt the rack down and open the door wide enough to access the trunk.

The rack is fairly lightweight at 46lbs, so if you like to take the rack off in the winter to put it away in storage, it is not as cumbersome as other racks. The trays can fold inward so you can store the rack away more efficiently and save space. The hitch bar equips a locking ball mechanism that helps reduce rattling. You can also purchase an additional locking hitch pin for added security. The one downside is that there is no integrated cable lock for your bikes, so you’ll still have to carry one with you.

  • MSRP: $650-$700 ($265-$295 for add on)
  • RACK WEIGHT: 46lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 50lbs per tray
  • SECURITY: Locking hitch pin
  • EXPANDABLE TO 4-BIKE: Yes, with add-ons.

Sleekest & Lightest – Kuat Sherpa 2.0

kuat sherpa lightweight tray hitch bike rack for two bikes

Kuat’s made a name for themselves with gorgeous looks that seem just as appropriate on a sportscar as on a beater pickup. The Sherpa 2.0 uses stealth tire trays and a minimalist design to give it sleek looks and a paltry 32lb weight. Yet it can hold two 40lb bikes with up to 29×3.0″ tires, and it’s packed with all the features you’d expect – integrated cable lock for each bike, locking hitch handle, tool-free installation, and tilt-away liftgate access.

The only downside is that the release lever is located at the hinge, closer to the car. So, to drop it down with bikes loaded, you’ll have to reach under the bikes to access the lever.

  • MSRP: $629
  • RACK WEIGHT: 32lb
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 40lbs
  • SECURITY: Integrated locking cables, locking hitch knob
  • HITCH SIZES: 1.25″ and 2″

Most Accessible – Thule EasyFold XT

thule easyfold 2-bike hitch rack with ramp for e-bikes

The challenge with e-bikes is that they’re heavy. Like 50+ pounds heavy. So having an integrated ramp and wide base makes it possible to roll your bikes onto the rack, then secure them individual arms that clamp onto one of the bike’s main tubes.

The Thule EasyFold XT is also a perfect rack for those with limited strength, making it super easy to transport up to two bikes without ever having to lift them off the ground. And when it’s not needed on your car, the platform folds up and wheels on the bottom let you roll it into your garage with ease.

  • MSRP: $995
  • RACK WEIGHT: 45lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 65lbs
  • SECURITY: Hitch lock, integrated bike lock
  • HITCH SIZES: 1.25″ and 2″

Best Value – Kuat Transfer V2

kuat transfer hitch mount bike rack

Using a simpler one-piece oblong steel tube with an oversized, oblong shape, the Kuat Transfer Hitch Rack handles virtually any type of bike you could own. It fits up to 5.0″ tires, supports two bikes up to 60lbs each, up to a 50″ wheelbase, and 18″-29″ wheels. It even includes a cable lock for light security.

The Transfer is also available in a one-bike ($349) and three-bike ($549) versions. Add the 1-bike extension ($139) to any of them and you can get up to four bikes on this model for about the same price as many 2-bike models listed here. Just make sure you buy the 2″ hitch version if you plan on adding the extension.

The only real downside to this rack is that, like Kuat’s larger racks, the hinge release lever is at the front of the rack, making it harder to reach once bikes are loaded or when an extension is added.

  • MSRP: $449 (2-bike)
  • RACK WEIGHT: 44lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 40lb (1-1/4″ hitch) to 60lb (2″ hitch)
  • HITCH SIZES: Dedicated 1.25″ and 2″ models

Best Swing-Away Rack – Rocky Mounts BackStage Swing Away

Rocky Mounts BackStage Swing Away Platform 2-Bike Hitch Rack

While many brands now offer swing-away attachments that push your rack up to 12″ farther out from your car, Rocky Mounts integrated this awesome feature directly into the rack so it remains safely close to your car when closed. This lets you keep two bikes securely on the rack without limiting access to your tailgate, liftgate, or trunk.

It uses the same tray mechanism as their MonoRail (which is $540 if you don’t need the swing-away feature), offering fold-up tire cradles for extra stability and room for the biggest 29er and 5.0 fat bike tires…but also holds skinny road bike tires just as well.

  • MSRP: $770
  • RACK WEIGHT: 63lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 60lbs
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only

Slimmest 4-Bike Rack – Saris SuperClamp EX

Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike Hitch Rack

Unlike every other 4-bike rack listed here, the Saris SuperClamp EX is purpose-built to carry four bikes. That makes it lighter than the rest, and it protrudes from the back of your car less than the others, too.

The tradeoff is that the bikes sit closer together, which could make it difficult nesting all four bikes into place without something touching. That said, we’ve been testing it and it’s proven quite adept at fitting a family’s worth of four different size and style bikes on it all at once.

Bonus points that it’s compatible with their new Cargo Platform, which lets you swap the front tray for a basket that’ll carry a giant Yeti cooler (or whatever else you want to put on it).

  • MSRP: $1,000
  • RACK WEIGHT: 63lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 60lbs
  • SECURITY: Locking hitch pin, integrated cable locks
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only
  • EXPANDABLE TO 4-BIKE: Distinct 2-bike & 4-bike versions are available

Best Hanging Hitch Bike Racks

While our everyday preference is definitely the tray-style racks above, there are times when a hanging rack is the better (or only) option. If you need to carry 3, 4, or 5 bikes but your car only has a 1-1/4″ hitch, your options are limited outside of these hanging options. And if you’re on a tighter budget, hanging racks are definitely more affordable. Fortunately, our picks below have come a long way from the cheap stuff we used in college!

Most Affordable – Saris Bones Hitch 2-Bike

saris bones 2-bike hitch mounted bike rack

Saris’ Bones bike racks are unique in that they elevate the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bikes (depending on which model) to make them easier to nest closely together. Their Bones trunk racks are some of the best-selling models, and the design translates very well to this hitch-mounted bike rack, too.

Dual straps hold your bike’s top tube, and a third strap stabilizes the seat tube so your bike won’t sway. The cradles are locked into place, so your bikes can’t migrate rearward at highway speeds…which brings us to this: There are cheaper racks out there, but the Bones Hitch 2-Bike is one of the most affordable models that will actually take care of your bikes as you barrel down the freeway. Even if you’re not riding $5,000 titanium bicycles, this should be your minimum entry point to the world of hanging bike racks.

It comes pre-assembled, uses composite arms that fold down and won’t scratch your bike, and tilts down for tailgate access.

  • MSRP: $240 (two-bike version)
  • RACK WEIGHT: 15lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 35lbs each
  • SECURITY: none included.
  • HITCH SIZES: 1.25″ with 2″ adapter included

Best for Vehicle Access – Thule Apex XT Swing

thule apex xt swing away hitch mount bike rack

There’s nothing that’s more annoying when you’re car camping than having to remove all the bikes just to pull stuff out of your vehicle. Fortunately, Thule’s Apex XT Swing has a built-in swing-away mechanism to get it out of the way quickly and easily. And because the swing mechanism is integrated, it keeps the rack closer to your car for more stable transport.

The otherwise simple design uses alternating support cradles to capture your seat tube, preventing the bikes from swaying and banging into each other. Soft, compact cradles are spaced 7″ apart, which is a chasm for the category, and the arms fold down when not in use.

  • MSRP: $749 ($479 without swing-away option)
  • RACK WEIGHT: 42lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 35lbs (140lb total capacity)
  • SECURITY: Locking hitch knob, integrated cable locks
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only

Best for Big Families – Yakima FullTilt 5

The FullTilt 5 manages to fit five full-size bikes on the rack and keep them all stable. It’s a tight fit, so you may need to load, assess, and reload to make it all work, but getting this many bikes on a 1.25″ hitch is impressive. A 2″ adapter is included so it works with larger hitches, too.

Even more impressive is how small it folds down, minimizing its footprint when not needed. And it folds all the way down so you can open your tailgate or liftgate with ease. The main beams are fully covered in a soft rubber coating and use their removable ZipStrips for easily strapping the bikes into place.

  • MSRP: $519
  • RACK WEIGHT: 41lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 40lbs
  • HITCH SIZES: 1.25″ with 2″ adapter included

Best Upright Hitch Bike Racks

north shore 6 bike hitch mount rack on a sprinter van
Photo c. North Shore Racks

Here’s where we split off from the major brands. Upright racks are a niche, and usually only found on vans and trucks used for shuttling riders up the mountain, six at a time. The three dominant players in this category are Alta Racks, Northshore, and upstart Velocirax. While we haven’t personally tested these on our own vehicles, we know several folks that have been using them for years and speak very highly of them. And the reviews out there are equally solid.

One important thing to note about upright racks: They’re bigger and put more weight higher up, so they can sway a lot more, particularly on long-wheelbase vehicles or vans with extended rear ends. Some models use straps to stabilize them when fully loaded, and others are not warrantied (or recommended) for use on trailers or RVs. All require a frame-mounted hitch to support them, not a bumper-mounted hitch.

Most Stable & Durable – Alta Racks Six Pack

Alta Racks 6-bike upright hitch mount bike rack

Featuring a lightweight, made-in-the-USA, offroad-tested and mostly-welded construction, the Alta Racks Six Pack is a versatile, adjustable option for toting a lot of bikes pretty much anywhere your vehicle is capable of going. They’ve even given it an angled hitch beam to dramatically improve ground clearance, something minivan owners will appreciate when they aren’t scraping their way into a driveway.

Choose from three different tire tray widths and you get the ability to fit 20″ to 29″ wheels with tires from 700c road bike wheels up to massive 5.8″ fat bike tires.

It’s available in 3, 4, 5, and 6-bike versions, and all but the 3-bike model use the same base. The 5- and 6-bike models simply add more tire trays, and the position of each is adjustable. So, while there are fewer clearance issues on upright bike racks, being able to fine-tune the position of the bikes, or add more later, is a nice bonus. Oh, and it comes in five colors.

  • MSRP: $1,279
  • RACK WEIGHT: 82lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 40-50lbs depending on tire basket selection
  • SECURITY: None included
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only

Easiest to Load – VelociRAX

velocirax 6-bike upright hitch mount bike rack

VelociRAX brings the most bikes with 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7-bike versions of their upright hitch bike rack. What sets this brand apart is their easy “roll in” design. Simply tilt the rack down and the tire trays get low enough that you can simply roll most full-size mountain bikes into place. Then just lift the rack and strap down the rear wheels and you’re ready to roll.

Out of the box, it’ll fit anything from 700c road tires up to 29×3.0″ mountain bike tires. They sell wider fat bike tire cradles separately to fit up to 5.0″ tires.

When it’s time to remove the bikes, a “hinge assist damper” helps lower the weight of 6+ mountain bikes under control. Then just roll the bikes out as easily as you rolled them in. They’re some of the most affordable upright racks on the market, and the price includes a garage mount, so you can safely stow it upright when not needed on the car and use it to store your bikes in a compact space!

  • MSRP: $935
  • RACK WEIGHT: unknown
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 55lb per bike, up to 230lb total
  • SECURITY: None included

Most Compact – North Shore Racks

north shore 6-bike upright hitch mount bike rack for mountain bikes

North Shore is one of the originators of the category and is trusted by a lot of mountain bikers. They offer 2, 4, and 6-bike versions and are the only ones with a folding design to save space when not in use. It’s also height, angle, and setback adjustable, so you can fine-tune the position to work with your vehicle.

North Shore uses a fork cradle rather than a wheel tray, meaning they’re designed primarily for mountain bikes. It may be a bit trickier to fit gravel bikes on it, though they say any fork with 3″ of clearance between the legs and 3/4″ from the tire to crown will work. Road bikes are pretty much a no-no for now, but they say an adapter is on the way.

  • MSRP: $839 ($749 for non-folding)
  • RACK WEIGHT: 72lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 60lb per bike, up to 300lb max total
  • SECURITY: Includes a lockable hitch pin, but not the lock
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only on the larger racks, but there is a 2-bike rack with a 1.25″ receiver available

Easiest to Buy – Yakima HangOver 6

yakima hangover upright six bike mountain bike hitch mount bike rack

The only major rack brand to offer an upright hitch rack is Yakima. Its HangOver Vertical Hitch Rack comes in 4- and 6-bike versions, and is designed only for mountain bikes with suspension forks. It wraps a rubbery strap around the forks’ crown and captures the rear tires to prevent any unwanted movement.

The upsides are you can find this at local REI shops (or get it delivered there free) and it has a built-in bottle opener. The downsides are it won’t carry your road or gravel bikes, or your eMTBs…max bike weight is just 37.5lbs.

  • MSRP: $748-$948
  • RACK WEIGHT: 70lbs
  • MAX BIKE WEIGHT: 37.5lbs
  • SECURITY: Hitch lock, integrated lock loop for your own cable lock
  • HITCH SIZES: 2″ only

Frequently Asked Questions about Hitch Bike Racks

There are a lot of choices up there, which one should I buy?

It really depends on your needs. If you have to store it somewhere off the car (like your garage), pick one that folds down small or isn’t too heavy. If you have a lot of different sizes and shapes of bikes, get one with arms on both sides. Otherwise, go with whichever one fits your budget and your style…they’re all really good.

Why are hitch bike racks so expensive?

Because of all that testing, plus premium materials, legitimate engineering and design, and more. Here’s the deal: We’ve tested some pre-production racks before and found issues, so these name-brand brands push back the release date and fix the problems. If brands that are experienced in making hitch racks don’t always get it right on the first try, would you trust that no-name online-only brands will? We wouldn’t.

Why should I get a name-brand hitch bike rack?

Do you want your bikes to arrive at the same destination as you? If yes, then know that all of the brands listed here extensively test their racks for strength, durability, and longevity. They test the coatings and hardware against road salt and other corrosive elements. They go through rigorous tests in the lab and out in the wild. We’ve toured some of their headquarters and seen the testing firsthand…it’s unlikely you’ll put these racks through the same torture, but it’s good to know they can take it.

For standard tray and hanging hitch bike racks, here are the best brands we recommend:

  • Thule
  • Yakima
  • Saris
  • Kuat
  • Rocky Mounts
  • Inno

We didn’t pick one from each brand for every category, but with many items going in and out of stock so quickly, we wanted to give you a list of high-quality, trustworthy brands to choose from if you need to find an alternate. For the upright, vertical racks, go with one of the four brands shown.

Can I just leave it on my car all the time?

Probably. Some of us do, and have literally left the same rack on a vehicle 24/7 for more than three years. These racks see a lot of rain, cross-country road trips, and bake in the sun, and they’re fine. That said, we don’t live on the coast, and those of us who live further north and drive in snowy conditions where there’s road salt and spray tend to wash them off and store them in the garage when not in use.

Most of these racks use an aluminum frame, but the hardware and hitch beam are usually steel. So, use your judgment. If everything else metal is rusting around you from salt air or salt spray, you should probably hose it off and store it somewhere dry when not in use.

Which size trailer hitch should I get?

If you don’t already have a trailer hitch on your car, always go with a 2″ hitch if it’s offered. Some smaller cars will only find 1-1/4″ hitches available because manufacturers assume you won’t be towing bigger, heavier loads, so they don’t offer 2″ hitches for many compact cars.

If you plan on adding any extensions to your rack and carrying more than two bikes, you’ll need a 2″ hitch to handle that weight. You’ll also need a 2″ hitch if you plan on adding a swing-away adapter or anything else that extends or expands your carrying capacity.

Where do I get a trailer hitch installed?

We usually go to U-Haul, but a quick Google search will give you local options. Here’s the trick: If you’re only ever going to use this for a bike rack, tell them you only need the hitch, not the wiring harness. The wiring harness is only for hooking up to a trailer to activate its brake and signal lights, but you don’t need that for a bike rack…unless you’re in Europe, or getting one of the newer racks that include lights. Many European bike racks have brake lights and turn signals on them, and there’s some U.S. models getting those now. But if you’re looking to save a few bucks and don’t plan on towing anything, you don’t need that for now.