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Buyer's Guide

The Complete Guide to Bike Carriers for Roof, Hitch, Trunk, Bed, Spare Tire and RV

 Posted on: June 30th, 2021

The Complete Guide to Bike Carriers for Roof, Hitch, Trunk, Bed, Spare Tire and RV
Multiple examples of bike carriers for Hitch, Bed, RV and Roof

Transporting bicycles to your preferred riding spot has been perfected over the years. Today, you can shop between a myriad of options and price points to find the carrier that works best for your vehicle and bike. This guide will break down some of the most common styles and mount locations so that you can make an informed shopping decision and hopefully learn a bit along the way!

Some bike rack designs are specific to particular makes and models, however most are universal for vehicles that share similar features, such as roof bars or a hitch. If you are curious about how to install a certain style.

Mounting Location:

  • Hitch
  • Trunk
  • Truck Bed or Tailgate
  • Spare Tire
  • RV
  • Roof

Carrier Style:

  • Platform or Tray
  • Frame
  • Fork

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

These are among the most popular types of bicycle carriers for several reasons:

  • Fits: Any make or model with a matching receiving hitch (usually 2”)
  • Installation: Very easy to fit on a hitch receiver
  • Safety: Plenty of options for securing wheels and frames
  • Versatility: Several styles available, including with a storage carrier to truly maximize your cargo space
  • Ease of Use: They don’t require removal of a bike tire and they don’t require lifting bikes high above your head

Most hitch-mounted carrier are designed to support bicycles either by their tires or their frame, and usually have options for transporting 2 to 4 bikes at a time. Securing methods include arms or levers to hold the bike frames in place, as well as ratcheting or Velcro straps to lash the wheels or frame in place.

Platform Style

Elevate Outdoor Platform Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

  • Two bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 80-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty
  • Fits all bike sizes/styles

Elevate Outdoor Platform Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

 Temporarily Out of Stock
  • Two bikes
  • Three bikes 50” – 76” L
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 100-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty

Elevate Outdoor Piggyback Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

 Temporarily Out of Stock
  • Four bikes 50” – 76” L
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 132-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty

Malone Runway Hitch-Mounted Platform Bike Carrier

 Temporarily Out of Stock
  • Four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 132-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty
  • Fits wheels 20” – 29”, tires up to 3.5” wide
  • Lockable

Frame Style

Elevate Outdoor Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

  • Two or four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 150-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty
  • Fits frames up to 1.625” D

Malone Runway Hitch-Mounted Bike Carrier

  • Three bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 99-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty

Elevate Outdoor Bike Rack with Basket Carrier

  • Two or four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • Carrier: 300 lb (4-bike model) or 400 lb (2-bike model)
  • Rack:120 lb (4-bike model) or 80 lb (2-bike model)
  • Foldable when empty

Let’s Go Aero BikeWing-T4

  • Four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 160-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty

Trunk-Mounted

For smaller cars and crossovers without a hitch, trunk-mounted bicycle racks are a blessing. Using straps, pads and tension, they offer similar stability to a hitch-mounted unit and are also available in two main styles – frame or platform.

Elevate Outdoor Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack

  • Three bikes
  • Aluminum
  • 100-lb Capacity

Apex Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack

  • Two bikes
  • Aluminum
  • 66-lb Capacity
  • Foldable when empty

Truck Bed

If you have a truck, there’s not much need to add length by adding on a hitch-mounted bike carrier. Instead, truck bed bike racks function much the same way as outside a school or public building – the front wheels are rolled into slats, then secured in place to prevent movement. It’s an organized way to transport multiple bikes in your bed without creating a dogpile.

  • Fits: Ford, GMC, Dodge and other trucks with open bed. Will work with tonneau covers. Only caveat is that the bed should be long enough to fit all of the bike.
  • Installation: Very easy to place and secure into your truck bed
  • Safety: As safe as transporting any other item in your truck bed
  • Versatility: Not particularly versatile unless you can use the wheel wells for securing other items
  • Ease of Use: They don’t require removal of bike tires, however you do have to be able to lift the bikes into the truck bed

Elevate Outdoor Truck Bed Bike Rack

  • Four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • No set weight capacity
  • No drilling required for installation
  • Fits truck beds 52.75” – 73” W

RV

You’ll be hard pressed to find hitch-mounted carriers that are intended for use on RVs, camper vans and similar larger vehicles, which is why an option like this RV bike rack is so convenient. It bolts into place with a section for each tire for maximum stability, and is available in 2 or 4-bike configurations.

Elevate Outdoor RV Bumper Bike Rack

  • Two or four bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • No set weight capacity
  • Includes installation hardware
  • Fits 4” – 4.5” RV bumpers

Roof Rack

The biggest advantage to roof bike racks is that your vehicle’s footprint remains the same. The downside is that you need to be strong enough to get your bike up and down from the rack. Just about all of the designs start with a platform bike mount, but it diverges from there. Some racks mount the bike’s front fork, secure the frame, or immobilize the tires before requiring you to lash the wheel/wheels with ratcheting or Velcro straps.

  • Fits:Cars, crossovers, SUVs or trucks with side rails
  • Installation: Most roof bike racks are light and easy to install. Requires existing crossbars.
  • Safety: Properly securing bikes to the rack, and the rack to the crossbars is essential for this style to be safe
  • Versatility: Styles vary slightly, however the design and use is quite fixed
  • Ease of Use: Possibly the most challenging to load and unload, as it requires lifting bikes above your head and onto the roof of your vehicle, and sometimes you will need to remove a tire

Elevate Outdoor Premium Roof Bike Rack

  • One bike
  • Aluminum
  • 35-lb Capacity
  • Requires front wheel removal

Elevate Outdoor Roof-Mounted Bike Rack

 Back ordered 5/28
  • One bike
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 25-lb Capacity
  • Comes with two different size U-mounts to fit most crossbars

Spare Tire

Now almost a legacy product for most vehicles except for Jeep Wranglers and Mercedes G-Class, spare tire mounts bolt directly to the spare tire for convenient access.

Elevate Outdoor Spare Tire Bike Rack

  • Two bikes
  • Powder-coated steel
  • 75-lb Capacity
  • Mounts on spare tire mounting bolts

Specialty Bike Racks – SeaSucker Vacuum Racks

Different than other bike rack on today’s market, the SeaSucker brand utilizes special vacuum cup technology to create a rack with firm suction that holds up time after time, with up to 200 pounds of pull strength! They also make the only bike rack suitable for convertibles.

SeaSucker Hornet Bike Rack

  • One bike
  • Back window of hatchback, SUV or minivan
  • 35-lb capacity
  • Includes zippered carrying case

SeaSucker Talon Bike Rack

  • One bike
  • Roof, trunk or hatchback
  • Includes spare pump and maintenance lube

SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

  • Three bikes
  • Roof, trunk or hatchback
  • Includes spare pump and maintenance lube

SeaSucker Komodo Convertible Bike Rack

  • One bike
  • Convertibles
  • 45-lb weight capacity