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Bike Rack Basics
With so many
options and styles to choose from, choosing the right bike rack for you
can be a difficult process. Here at FastTrackRacks, we've made it
simple by providing you with resources to help you select a bike rack
that will fit your needs. In the Bike Rack Basics guide, we will review:
- Bike Rack Categories
- Top Five Considerations for Selecting a Bike Rack
Bike Rack Categories
is a brief review of the main types of bike racks to give you a better
understanding of what choices are available. You'll want to decide
first whether you want to carry your bikes on the roof or rear of your
- Hitch bike racks
are one of the most common ways to carry your bikes. Hitch bike racks
are designed to attach to your vehicle's 1.25" or 2" receiver hitch.
Keep in mind that some smaller vehicles are not rated for a hitch.
Check the manufacturer's guide for your vehicle's maximum tongue weight
capacity. For more information on hitches, visit our Trailer Hitches Basics section or the CURT Hitch Finder.
- Roof bike racks are
a great option for smaller cars that are not rated for a hitch. Roof
bike racks are designed to attach to the horizontal crossbars (bars
that run from the driver's side to the passenger side) of your
vehicle's factory or aftermarket roof base rack. Please keep in mind that some roof bike racks will fit factory and aftermarket roof base racks while some are brand-specific.
- Trunk-mount bike racks are
the most affordable way to carry your bikes. Trunk-mount racks are
designed to attach to your vehicle's trunk. Some trunk bike racks are
designed to fit over spoilers, while some are not. Some trunk racks
include adapters so they can be attached to glass trunks, be sure to
check the manufacturer's fit guide for an accurate fit. Our trunk mount category also includes spare tire mounted racks.
Top Five Considerations for Selecting a Bike Rack
- Capacity: Your first consideration is how many bikes do I need to carry?
Hitch bike racks provide the most capacity at 5 bikes per rack, while
trunk-mount biker racks are limited to 4 bikes per rack. Roof bike
racks carry 1 bike per rack, but depending on the capacity of your
roof, you may carry up to 4 bikes with 4 roof bike racks. Specialty
bike racks vary in capacity, but some models can carry up to 4 bikes
with one rack.
- Mounting: Next, decide which bike rack is best suited to fit my vehicle?
The answer to this question depends on what type of vehicle you have,
what it is currently equipped with, and/or the cost of equipping it
with the correct mounting pieces. If you are considering a hitch bike
rack but you do not have a hitch, you will be looking at an additional
$140 to $200 for an aftermarket hitch. If you are considering a roof bike rack but you do not already have crossbars, a roof base rack
is required, which will cost between $250 to $400. Trunk bike racks
simply require a clear trunk (as mentioned above, some models can fit
to spare tires or glass trunks). Specialty bike rack designs vary, but
they are generally mounted to a spare tire, RV ladder, or tow bar.
- Ease-of-loading: Another factor to consider is how easy will it be to load and unload my bikes?
Trunk-mounted bike racks, hitch bike racks, and specialty bike racks
all offer easy, waist-level loading and unloading. Roof bike racks are
more difficult, especially on taller vehicles, because the bikes must
be lifted onto the roof.
- Rear vehicle access: Also consider, do I need to access the rear of my vehicle? Easy
access to the rear of your vehicle (e.g., for luggage or other gear) is
provided with a roof bike rack, most hitch bike racks (swing-away or
tilt-down), and some specialty bike racks such spare-tire bike racks.
You will not be able to access the rear of your vehicle when using a
trunk-moutned bike rack without removing the bikes and rack from your
- Price: As
with any purchase, price is an important consideration. In general,
trunk-mount bike racks are the most affordable bike rack, following by
hitch bike racks, and then roof bike racks. Specialty bike racks vary
in price depending on the application. The bike rack
price comparison chart below gives the average cost of each type of
rack as well as the average cost per bike carried. Bike racks are
compared based on a 3-bike capacity.
|Price Comparison Chart |
| Bike Rack Type (3-bike capacity)||Average Rack Cost ||Average Cost per Bike |
| Trunk Bike Rack|| $113.04|| $37.68|
| Hitch Bike Rack|| $245.43|| $81.80|
| Roof Bike Rack|| $384.15|| $128.05||