There are times when you have no choice but to bring your bike along with you by vehicle instead of riding it, and for such situations it becomes imperative to look for a safe, easy, and fast way to transport your mountain bike
. Of course you may consider just loading the bike in the back seat or tying it onto the roof or trunk of your vehicle with a rope - but there is
a better option. The hitch bike rack is a specially designed frame that lets you transport your bike with your car safely and easily while freeing up space in the vehicle.
A hitch bike rack is one of the three main styles of bike racks. The other two are the rooftop mount rack
and the trunk mount rack
. The rooftop mount rack requires the removal of the front wheel of your bike for better mounting, while the trunk mount rack holds the bike to the car trunk with lots of straps which may not be as secure as required. That leaves the hitch bike rack style as the most convenient and expedient option out of the three with its superior bike securing options and ease of operation.
The hitch bike rack is a simple and functional bike rack that mounts at the rear end of your vehicle to the hitch receiver, which oftentimes comes pre-installed in the vehicle. It lets you secure your bike for the trip or adventure ahead in an easy and safe manner. It comes with numerous types of security systems
, depending on the brand, for the safety of your bike and the rack itself.
If you’re transporting several bikes with different frame styles, most hitch bike racks are designed to adequately carry bikes with different frame sizes and shapes at the same time. Whether you’re out biking alone or going for a weekend camping trip
with family or friends, a hitch bike rack is the best equipment to transport your bike in one piece and undamaged.
Before investing in a hitch bike rack, there are some factors that one needs to consider, such as the type of the hitch bike rack, the security afforded by the rack, manufacturing material, capacity, ease of use, installation, and even the cost implications. Now let’s take a look at some of these important factors, to help you shop for a suitable hitch bike rack.
When it comes to costs, most products always have the high-end and low-end category, with the high-end usually having more features and naturally costing more than the low-end category. For some products like the hitch bike rack, you’ll need to take into consideration the features that would best serve its purpose for you. This means that you’ll not want to cut corners and go for a hitch bike rack that’ll dislodge or damage your bike on the way.
Our review covers products from different price ends, but be rest assured that whichever item you choose from our review, you’ll be getting a good quality product from a reputable manufacturer.
The price range for the hitch bike racks reviewed here are between about $120 and $440. Of course during the course of our research, we came across several cheap hitch bike racks, but we overlooked them because they’re usually built from low-quality materials and flimsy parts that are sure to fail in no time.
Hitch bike racks are special units that are designed to safely carry your bike as an attachment to your car, and as such, care should be taken when choosing one. Understanding some important features that come with hitch bike racks will help you make the right decision.
These features include:
- Security and locking system
- Ease of use
Construction and Design
There are two types of hitch bike racks – the tray hitch mount and the arm support hitch mount. The tray hitch mount provides support for the bike weight in a base tray and locks it by clamping the front wheel. It has a low loading height, making it extremely easy to load and can hold almost all types of bicycles, from heavy downhill bikes to normal road bikes. The arm support hitch bike rack also has a low loading height, but in this case, the bike is supported or attached at the frame and the unit’s support arms don’t usually fit full-suspension mountain bikes or bikes with certain frame styles.
A hitch bike rack is usually installed onto the hitch receiver that comes pre-installed on your vehicle. In the event that your vehicle doesn’t have a hitch receiver, you can check with the manufacturer or an aftermarket store to get a hitch receiver installed for your vehicle.
The hitch bike rack can be installed onto a 1 ½-inch or 2-inch receiver, but the 2-inch receiver is typically preferred because it has a higher weight capacity and gives you more latitude when it comes to choosing a compatible rack. Some hitch bike racks have a no-tools, no-wobble installation design that lets you easily install the rack, while some require only a simple no-wobble bolt to hold the rack firmly to the receiver.
Hitch bike racks have different carrying capacities depending on the type. The tray type hitch rack is usually designed to carry two bikes, but some of them have the capacity to expand to a four-bike carrying rack. The arm support hitch rack, on the other hand, can carry from between two and five bicycles. Whichever type you choose to buy, be sure that it can comfortably accommodate the number of bikes you have or will need to transport at any given time.
Performance and Ease of Use
Different hitch bike racks are equipped with different types of security and locking systems to help keep your precious bike safe both in transit and from theft. The tray type hitch rack firmly locks the bike to the rack at the base of the wheel with the aid of a hook securing the front wheel. The arm support hitch rack usually comes with straps or strips that hold the top tube of the bike firmly in place.
The hitch bike racks we featured in our review all have some kind of locking mechanism to ensure the safety of your bike. Also, some of them are equipped with a locking hitch pin that secures and locks the rack to your vehicle so it can’t be removed.
Hitch bike racks mount on the back of the vehicle and as such, may cause some minor obstructions and annoyances, especially when you want to park or back up. To alleviate the problem, most racks are equipped with a folding mechanism or lever that lets them fold flat and out of the way when not in use. It folds in such a way that it doesn’t have contact with the body of your vehicle, so as not to scratch or damage it.
For better value, most hitch bike racks can be made to lean away from the back of the vehicle, even with bikes attached, so you can have uninhibited access to the rear storage.
Generally, setting up the hitch bike rack isn’t rocket science; it takes just a few steps, and then you’re all good to go. A few of the hitch bike racks come fully assembled, thereby eliminating the need for any coupling of parts or pieces. For these, all that’s required of you is to attach it to the hitch receiver on your vehicle and then load up the bikes.
The hooks that come with the tray type hitch rack are usually adjustable to accommodate different bike frame styles. They’re also cushioned or covered with a rubber material, so as to protect the frame finishing of your bike from scratches or damages that may result from the hook’s firm hold.
Choosing the right hitch bike rack is a big decision, and having gone through our buying guide, we believe you now know the features that you should look out for. To ensure you get the best hitch bike rack for your specific needs, take a look at the products we reviewed in our review section and pick the model that best suits you.
Thank you for reading to the end. Now we’re quite sure that you’re well-informed and can conveniently choose a hitch bike rack that will suit your needs. So, go ahead and place that order today.