The Best Bike Racks and Carriers for Cars and Trucks

The Best Bike Racks and Carriers for Cars and Trucks

Although we think this tray-style hitch rack is the easiest to load and use overall, we also have picks for cyclists with other needs. These include the less expensive Kuat Beta, the Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike, and the e-bike-friendly Thule EasyFold XT 2, as well as the Saris Bones trunk rack, the Yakima HighRoad roof rack, and the Inno Velo Gripper pickup-bed carrier.

Our pick

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

The best bike rack

Of the tray-style hitch racks we tested, this is one of the easiest to install and use. It’s lightweight, holds one or two bikes securely, and lets you access your vehicle even when the rack is loaded.

Buying Options

$460 from REI
Buy from Amazon

The Sherpa 2.0 hits a sweet spot in performance and price that makes it stand out. This lightweight model is easier to mount on your car and to stow away than most other tray racks. It’s also easier than most to secure in the hitch, and its low lift height makes mounting bikes easier. The Sherpa 2.0 holds most types of bikes (up to 40 pounds each), tilts out of the way (even when fully loaded) so you can get in your vehicle, and folds up compactly when you aren’t using it. And for style-conscious riders, the Sherpa 2.0 looks great, with its metallic powder-coat finish and anodized accents. There are versions available to fit both 1¼-inch and 2-inch receiver tubes.

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Budget pick

Kuat Beta

Kuat Beta

Less expensive, harder to use

This hanging-style, two-bike hitch rack costs less than our top pick, is light and simple to install, and easily folds flat for storage. It’s not as easy to use overall, though.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $195.

If you have budget constraints or storage space is at a premium, the two-bike, hanging-style Kuat Beta is a good, less expensive alternative to the Kuat Sherpa 2.0. Because it’s a hanging rack, it isn’t as easy to load as the Sherpa 2.0, and you must unload your bikes to tilt the rack down for vehicle access. But the Beta is solidly constructed and holds bikes securely, and it’s one of the lightest hitch racks we’ve tested, at only 18 pounds, which makes it easy to install on or take off a vehicle. And unlike most hitch racks, the Beta folds completely flat when it’s not on the car, making it simple to store anywhere—you can hang it on a garage wall hook or stash it in the back of an apartment closet. It’s available for 1¼-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers.

Upgrade pick

Thule EasyFold XT 2

Thule EasyFold XT 2

The best rack for electric bikes

This rack, which is super-easy to install, load bikes onto, and store, can carry two bikes up to 65 pounds each. It’s great for electric bikes, but it is quite a bit more expensive than our top pick.

Buying Options

$780 from Amazon

Whether you need to transport heavier bikes, such as electric models, or you just want a rack that’s easy to load and store, the Thule EasyFold XT 2 is hard to beat. It’s one of the most expensive models we’ve tested, but its premium price includes luxury-like features that also make it one of the best overall racks we’ve tested. The EasyFold XT can hold bikes up to 65 pounds each, and it comes with a foldable ramp that lets you roll bikes onto it instead of having to lift them up. It’s lighter than other heavy-duty racks, and when it’s off the vehicle, it folds up to the size of a large airline carry-on bag. The EasyFold is also quick to install and lock to the vehicle, and integrated cable locks let you secure bikes to the rack. The EasyFold holds bikes by the frame, rather than by the wheels, however, which some riders don’t prefer, and the clamps can be a little awkward to use. It fits 1¼-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers.

Also great

Saris Bones 2-Bike

Saris Bones 2-Bike

The best trunk rack

The versatile design, sturdy construction, light weight, and affordable price make it a great value.

Buying Options

$160 from Amazon

The two-bike Saris Bones 2-Bike stands out because it’s solidly built, lightweight, easy to mount (and store when you aren’t using it), and affordably priced. Made of lightweight molded plastic, the Bones is easier to lift onto the back of a vehicle and strap on than its competitors. Despite its light weight, it was sturdy and stable during our driving tests, even at higher speeds and with quick stops. The fully adjustable curved arms fit over all but the most massive rear trunk spoilers, and the whole contraption folds flat for storage. The Bones also garnered one of the highest ratings from bike owners in a survey we fielded to more than 20 bike clubs across the country. (We tested the Bones 2-Bike, but a Bones 3-Bike model is also available.)

Also great

Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike

Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike

If you need to carry more than two bikes

This tray-style hitch rack is lighter than most similar models and is easy to use, and it’s reasonably priced for a four-bike rack.

Buying Options

$854 from Amazon

We recommend the Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike if you need to carry three or four bikes (or ones that are heavier than the Sherpa 2.0 can hold). The SuperClamp EX is one of the lightest four-bike tray-style hitch racks available, and it can accommodate two bikes up to 60 pounds each, along with two others up to 35 pounds each. You can easily fold the rack up when it’s empty, using a handle at the rear, or tilt it down when loaded to gain access to a vehicle’s cargo area. It isn’t as easy to secure in the hitch as the Kuat is—you need to tighten a lockable bolt in the hitch receiver, instead of turning a knob—and it’s available only for 2-inch receivers.

Also great

Yakima HighRoad

Yakima HighRoad

The best roof rack

This roof rack is another option if you don’t have a hitch mount. It’s easy to install, holds the bike securely without contacting the frame, and allows easy access to your car. Like all roof racks, though, the HighRoad is harder to load bikes onto than our other picks, and it can reduce your car’s highway gas mileage.

Buying Options

$220 from Amazon

Although they’re more expensive than trunk racks and not as easy to use as hitch racks, roof racks give you unimpeded access to your vehicle’s rear compartment, and they’re the only option for some car designs. Of the roof racks we tested, the Yakima HighRoad was the easiest to work with—both when mounting it on the vehicle and when loading bikes. It holds your bike solidly by the front wheel, which we like better than fork-mount designs because the rack doesn’t contact your bike’s frame, and you don’t have to take off the bike’s front wheel and carry it separately. The HighRoad fits a wide variety of bikes, and it lets you lock your bikes to the rack as well as lock the rack to the vehicle’s roof, which not all roof racks do. Your vehicle needs to have roof rails to mount the rack onto (something that’s true of all roof racks). If your car didn’t come with them, you can buy them from Thule or Yakima (this also gives you the option of carrying other gear, from skis to canoes to a cargo carrier).

Also great

Inno Velo Gripper

Inno Velo Gripper

The best bike carrier for pickup-truck beds

A simple design, easy portability, and low price make this the best choice for carrying a bike in a pickup truck’s bed.

Buying Options

$80 from eTrailer.com

Trunk and roof racks won’t work on a pickup, and you may want to keep the hitch free for towing. The Inno Velo Gripper is easy to install, and it secures a bike to the side of a pickup truck’s bed. This position keeps the bike safe and, unlike other pickup carriers we tested, out of the driver’s rear line of sight. The Velo Gripper’s clamps are also compact enough that you can simply toss them in a toolbox when you aren’t toting a bike. You don’t have to remove the front wheel, but if your bike won’t fit in your pickup’s bed with the wheels on, you may have to lower the tailgate. The Velo Gripper doesn’t come with a way to lock the clamps or the bike, although you can often lock your bike to the truck directly. The Velo Gripper is available in two versions: The RT201 is designed to fit regular pickup-bed sides, and the RT202 is designed for use with C-channel bed-rail systems.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

The best bike rack

Of the tray-style hitch racks we tested, this is one of the easiest to install and use. It’s lightweight, holds one or two bikes securely, and lets you access your vehicle even when the rack is loaded.

Buying Options

$460 from REI
Buy from Amazon

Budget pick

Kuat Beta

Kuat Beta

Less expensive, harder to use

This hanging-style, two-bike hitch rack costs less than our top pick, is light and simple to install, and easily folds flat for storage. It’s not as easy to use overall, though.

Buying Options

Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $195.

Upgrade pick

Thule EasyFold XT 2

Thule EasyFold XT 2

The best rack for electric bikes

This rack, which is super-easy to install, load bikes onto, and store, can carry two bikes up to 65 pounds each. It’s great for electric bikes, but it is quite a bit more expensive than our top pick.

Buying Options

$780 from Amazon

Also great

Saris Bones 2-Bike

Saris Bones 2-Bike

The best trunk rack

The versatile design, sturdy construction, light weight, and affordable price make it a great value.

Buying Options

$160 from Amazon

Also great

Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike

Saris SuperClamp EX 4-Bike

If you need to carry more than two bikes

This tray-style hitch rack is lighter than most similar models and is easy to use, and it’s reasonably priced for a four-bike rack.

Buying Options

$854 from Amazon

Also great

Yakima HighRoad

Yakima HighRoad

The best roof rack

This roof rack is another option if you don’t have a hitch mount. It’s easy to install, holds the bike securely without contacting the frame, and allows easy access to your car. Like all roof racks, though, the HighRoad is harder to load bikes onto than our other picks, and it can reduce your car’s highway gas mileage.

Buying Options

$220 from Amazon

Also great

Inno Velo Gripper

Inno Velo Gripper

The best bike carrier for pickup-truck beds

A simple design, easy portability, and low price make this the best choice for carrying a bike in a pickup truck’s bed.

Buying Options

$80 from eTrailer.com

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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