Types of Bike Racks for Your Car or Truck

Truck bike rack

There are several different ways to transport your bicycle from your garage to your favorite scenic bike trail, and using a bike rack means you can save your energy for your planned ride! Bike racks come in different price points, styles, and mount types, each with their own pros and cons. We’ve put together a quick list of each type, some of their main advantages, as well as our preferred choices in each category. If you would like personalized help finding a bike rack to suit your vehicle and needs, please reach out to our experts at 888-651-3431 and they would be happy to assist you.

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch-mounted bike racks attach to your hitch and vary in how many bikes they can carry. To determine your hitch size or to learn now about hitches, click here. Because of their simplicity, accessibility and bike capacity, they are quite popular with families who are looking to transport up to five bikes. One nice advantage to hitch-mounted bike racks is that you are not required to remove a wheel to mount them onto the rack, and because they’re placed at a small distance from the vehicle, there is a smaller chance of scratching your car or minivan as you position them.

Hatchback and Trunk Bike Racks

Hatchback & Trunk Bike Racks

If you want to transport one to three bikes, then a hatchback or trunk bike rack is both a practical and economical for your needs. Designed with straps that hold tension at multiple points on your trunk or rear deck, this bike rack is easy to attach and fasten. Rubber-coated hooks or foam pads are usually included to help protect your car from scratches and dings as you load the bikes. These trunk bike racks are usually inexpensive, and they’re great for individuals who will be making short trips, or only need to transport their bike occasionally.

  • We recommend the Apex Scout Trunk Bike Rack as a great hatchback bike rack option. It can carry up to three bikes, and attaches with six straps and it can fold flat for storage when not in use.

Roof-Mounted Bike Racks

Roof-Mounted Bike Racks

The biggest advantage to a roof bike rack is that it will not obstruct your rear view while you’re driving. They’re also nice on longer trips if you only have one or two bikes because they will only take up half of your cargo roof space, which means you’ll have plenty of room to haul coolers or use your kayak racks in addition to your bikes. Some models are lockable, and roof bike racks are generally better set up to handle unusual bike designs. The only caveat is that you’ll have to remember that your bike is up there, and take care areas with low overhead clearance such as parking structures and quaint backroads with low-hanging branches. As with mounting anything on the roof, keep your own personal strength limitations in mind as sometimes bikes can be a pain to lift and position, especially if you're loading it alone and your vehicle is tall.

  • Our top pick is the Apex Roof Bike Rack, which doesn’t require the removal of the front tire, and includes different sized hardware for a more universal fit to your vehicle.

Truck Bed Bike Racks

Truck Bed Bike Racks

There are some specially products designed to turn the bed of a truck into a simple bike-hauling machine. Quick and easy to install, truck bed bike racks are an efficient, stable way to transport your bike that will be more aerodynamic than a roof-mounted option. You can carry one to four bikes, and most truck bike racks can be installed without drilling. Depending on the height of your bikes, please keep in mind that if your truck has a cap, it may need to be removed.

  •  Our recommendation is the Apex Truck Bed Bike Rack, which can carry up to four bikes and requires no drilling to install.

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Although the rear-mounted spare tire design is being phased out of newer models, there are some older vehicles and off-road models (looking at you, Jeep Wrangler and older Toyota RAV4s) that allow for spare tire back racks. Relatively inexpensive, these types of racks can usually hold up to two bikes. One downside is that the spare tire cover does have to be removed in order to attach the bike rack correctly.