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Bike Rack Guide

A car with bikes on a mountain road

There are many different ways to carry a bike on your vehicle, we can help you get the right product for your needs.

select a category below to browse, or keep scrolling to learn more:

Hitch Mount Bike Racks

Hitch Mount Bike Racks REQUIRE that your vehicle already has a 1.25" or 2" receiver hitch installed. Hitch Mount Bike Racks can be a very convenient option, provided the hitch is capable of handling the load.

We have two styles of hitch racks available: hanging and platform. Hanging racks sling the bikes by their frame and hold them in place with rubber or Velcro straps. With platform racks, the bike tires sit in a tray similar to an upright roof rack and are held in place with a hooked arm over the frame or front tire. Most models have security features as standard or optional. Here are the pros and cons of each style:

Hitch Mount Bike Rack Pros

  • Loading/unloading bikes at a lower height than roof-mounted racks
  • A trailer hitch may also be used for towing (trailer wiring is also required)
  • Vehicles can still access low-clearance areas like garages and parkades
  • Keep your roof rack free for cargo boxes, watersports, or ski racks

Hitch Mount Bike Rack Cons

  • Access to the rear of the vehicle may be impeded
  • Vehicle hitch required
  • Bikes and/or racks may obstruct the rear of vehicle visibility
  • Increased overall vehicle length

Hitch Mounted Rack Styles

Car with a hanging style hitch bike rack



Hanging Rack Pros

  • Carry up to 5 bikes with appropriate hitch, provided the hitch and vehicle are rated for it
  • Easily removed from trailer hitch and reasonably compact during storage
  • Chest-level bike load height on most vehicles
  • Some models tilt down or pivot away from the vehicle to allow access to the trunk or hatch
  • Some models allow for ski carrier add-ons to be attached


Hanging Rack Cons

  • Bikes might make contact with each other
  • Some bike frames have unusual geometry and can be challenging to mount. However, top-tube adapters are available to alleviate the issue on most bikes
  • Bikes on the back of a vehicle are susceptible to road grime
  • On lower vehicles, bikes could possibly make contact with the ground, causing bike damage in extreme circumstances
A platform style hitch bike rack



Platform Rack Pros

  • Carry up to 4 bikes with appropriate hitch, provided the hitch and vehicle are rated for it
  • Quick to load/unload bikes
  • Accommodates virtually any bike, including downhill, kids, and some recumbents depending on wheelbase
  • Platform protects bikes by keeping them better separated from each other and gives better protection from the ground compared to hanging racks
  • Some models are generally heavier-duty compared to hanging racks


Platform Rack Cons

  • Rack tends to be bulkier and heavier than hanging style
  • Access to hatchbacks can be challenging; however, bikes can be quickly removed
  • Two bikes maximum on light-duty hitches

Roof Mount Bike Racks

All Roof Mount Bike Racks will REQUIRE your car to have a Base Roof Rack, which can be factory installed or aftermarket.

Roof bike racks come in two styles: fork mount (front tire removed) or upright (front tire left on). There are several roof bike rack models available in each style, and almost all models have optional locks to keep your bike secure to the rack and the rack secure to the vehicle. Here are some pros and cons of each style:

Roof Mount Bike Rack Pros

  • Bikes do not obstruct road visibility
  • Bike roof racks can be swapped out seasonally with ski, watersports, or cargo racks
  • Depending on the size of the vehicle, it may be possible to carry more bikes on the roof than on the rear of the vehicle
  • Access to the trunk/hatchback is not compromised

Roof Mount Bike Rack Cons

  • Additional noise & drag caused by the bikes on top of the vehicle
  • Requires lifting the bike onto the top of vehicle
  • Added height can cause conflict with garages, drive-throughs, tree branches, etc.

Roof Mounted Rack Styles

Car with a fork mount roof bike rack



Fork Mount Pros

  • The bike's profile is lower with the front wheel removed, and the weight is lighter with the wheel off
  • Locking forks into the rack is the most secure and stable option
  • Fork mount racks tend to be less bulky than uprights and use less space on your crossbar


Fork Mount Cons

  • You must put the front wheel in the vehicle or purchase a roof mount wheel holder
  • It may not be compatible with some bike fenders
  • It may not be compatible with some forks; however, axle adapters are available for many new mountain bikes
A car with an upright roof mount bike rack



Upright Mount Pros

  • Compatible with almost any bicycle from 20" tire to 29" tire
  • No need to remove the front wheel
  • Some models can accommodate unusual frame geometry and full-suspensions


Upright Mount Cons

  • The rack is bulkier than the fork mount and uses more crossbar space
  • Must lift the entire weight of bike since front tire stays on
  • Vehicle & load height is generally taller compared to using a fork mount

Truck Bed Mount Bike Racks

The choice of trail-bombers and mountain climbers alike, sometimes all you need is to throw the bike in your truck and head off. Kick it up a notch and protect your expensive downhill bike and your truck with a tailgate pad or a fork mounting block before you head off!

Truck Bed Mount Bike Rack Pros

  • No additional vehicle height or length
  • Keep your racks and trailer hitch available for more gear
  • Easy to use, lots of room to stand while you secure your gear

Truck Bed Mount Bike Rack Cons

  • Truck bed space is taken up by bikes
  • Existing tonneau covers may interfere with bike loading

Truck Bed Mounted Rack Styles

A truck with a tailgate pad and bikes



Tailgate Pad Pros

  • High capacity - up to six bikes generally
  • Inexpensive
  • Near universal fit - only a couple sizes to choose from


Tailgate Pad Cons

  • No locking features
  • Bikes can move around 
  • Not suitable for Carbon bike frames
A truck with two bikes in the pickup bed



Forkmount Pros

  • Secure mounting
  • Carbon bike compatible
  • Locakable options available


Forkmount Cons

  • Drilling is often required to mount carrier
  • Front wheel must be stored separately
  • Some models are specific to bike axle size

Trunk Mounted Bike Racks

Trunk Mount Bike Racks are the most basic way to carry bikes on most vehicles. This type of rack clamps to the vehicle with 4-6 rubber-dipped metal hooks and has rubber or foam pads that press against the bumper, trunk, or rear window for support. These racks tend to be less expensive than the other options, but the user must be cautious so as not to scratch the vehicle's finish during installation/removal.

Trunk Mount Bike Rack Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to store when off the vehicle, and can even be stored in the trunk of many vehicles
  • May be able to move from one vehicle to another with minimal adjustment
  • A great option for rental cars

Trunk Mount Bike Rack Cons

  • Many points of contact on the vehicle
  • Least secure, though some models include passive security features
  • Maximum of 2 or 3 bikes, depending on the vehicle
  • It may not work if the vehicle has a spoiler at the top of the hatchback

More burning questions? Give us a shout or come see us in person!