How-To Guide

How to Install a Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

Sometimes local trails just aren’t enough. If you’re looking to ride further afield, a hitch-mounted bike rack can help you easily transport your bike without lifting heavy bikes onto the top of your car, or trying to cram them into your trunk. Hitch-mounted bike racks are designed to connect to your hitch tube, they’re simple to use and don’t require you to remove bike wheels.

Here, we’re using the Apex Piggyback Hitch Bike Rack to demonstrate how most hitch-mounted bike racks install. Many models are designed to provide you with trunk or rear access even when installed, and most can be folded up when not in use to minimize your vehicle’s footprint.

Check out all of our hitch-mounted bike racks for options that include tray-style and frame-mount designs.

Fit the bike rack hitch tube into your car’s receiver
1

Fit the bike rack hitch tube into your car’s receiver

It’s as simple as it sounds! Most bike racks are designed for Class III or IV 2” hitch receivers, which is typical for most car makes and models. If you’re not sure about your vehicle’s class, refer to the owners’ manual or the internet for more information. Sleeve adapters can be handy for transforming your receiver into the size you need for your bike rack. If you know you’re concerned about wobble, consider using an anti-tilt device during the installation process.


Anchor the bike rack to your vehicle’s crossbars
2

Adjust the supporting arms and tire trays

Position the support arms or trays, taking care to lock everything in place with the provided security pins. Adjust the tire trays and get the tie downs ready to accommodate the bikes.


Load bikes onto the carrier
3

Load bikes onto the carrier

Carefully place the first bike onto the supporting arms or tire trays and secure it to the carrier. Most bike racks include one or more methods to keep bikes secure, such as Velcro tie downs, rubber tie downs, and adjustable clamps. Use wheel ties as an additional safety measure. When the first bike is secured, repeat your steps with any additional bikes.


Stop and double check all attachment points during long trips
4

Stop and double check all attachment points during long trips

After driving a few miles, stop and check all connections to make sure that each bike is correctly anchored to the rack, and that the rack is still secured. When you’re driving there should be minimal wobble and vibration. It’s also recommended to review all attachment points again before highway driving, as higher speeds could loosen a weakened strap or improperly fastened hitch connection.


Remove bikes when finished
5

Remove bikes when finished

When you arrive at your destination, carefully remove one bike at a time and set them aside safely. Many hitch-mounted bike racks can be folded up when not in use, and folded down to access the trunk or rear hatch of your vehicle.