How To Choose A Car Bike Rack

For bikers of all shades, bike and sport racks are the most important accessory that enables their adventure journeys that begin where the road ends.

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If you are looking for a reliable and sturdy bike rack that meets your requirements, we will help you find one. In this article, we have gathered the necessary information on the subject. Read it and choose the bike rack that will go a long way in fulfilling your biking dreams.

What Type of Bike Rack should You Select?

This is subjective. Consider the following points before you begin to explore the range.

  • The type of vehicle in which you will be traveling to your biking destination
  • How many bikes you will be carrying with you
  • The types of bikes that you will transport
  • How often will you use the bike rack

Next, remember the rule of thumb -- There are no good or poor bike and sport racks, only appropriate ones. In general, it is the one that fits well with your vehicle and also holds your bike or bikes firmly during the car journey. 

That said, we explain below the main types of bike and sport racks to explore. There may be variants, but the basic functions and model design remains unchanged.

What Are the Main Types of Bike Racks To Check Out?

Below, we have covered the main types. 

Roof-top bike racks

These racks are advisable for vehicles of low height since they straight away increase the overall height of your vehicle significantly. This will create certain concerns:

  • Driving and parking in urban areas and drive-throughs
  • Driving on county roads with height barriers
  • Incidental damage to your bike by trees or other overhangs
  • Forgetting that your bike is roof-mounted and creating accidental damage to it

Apart from this, also keep in mind that you will have to carry the bike on your head to place it on the roof-top rack attachment. Is your build and height compatible with this necessity? Consider this type of rack if your answer is yes, and you are ready to go through this rigor repeatedly. 

The above points prompt us to make a point -- roof-mounted bike racks are not meant for tall vehicles such as SUVs, mini-trucks, vans, and the likes. They will only increase inconvenience, risks, and hazards.

Rooftop Bicycle Carrier Rack Racks with Lock
Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier with Ratchet Arm
Car Roof Bike Carrier Rack Clamp
Car Roof Bike Rack
Car Roof Bicycle Carrier Rack

That said, they are good, versatile options which offer multiple benefits:

  • Scalability: You can have one, two or three bikes attached to a single unit by adding attachments to it. Conversely, you can also remove attachments when not needed. 
  • If you are a group of bikers, you can even fix two racks on the roof to accommodate more bikes. This scalability is difficult to achieve in a single vehicle with side or rear-mounted bike racks. 
  • No need for additional cross-bar reinforcement. Carmakers offer extra-strong roof crossbars with the consideration that owners will often need to store luggage and other accessories on the vehicle roofs. Hence, you will not need to add after-market crossbars to carry your bikes on your vehicle's roofs. In case you need this, you can easily avail after-market crossbars and fit them on their roofs. 
  • No need to detach or uninstall bike racks. Since these racks are installed on the roofs, they will not come in the way of horizontal activities such as vehicular traffic or pedestrians passing by. Hence, you can leave these racks installed on the roofs and save yourself the trouble of detaching or uninstalling them at every stoppage. 
  • Ideal for open urban traffic. Nothing compares with roof-top bike racks while driving on open-to-sky urban roads. You will not be hindering other traffic in any way. 

However, note that you will have to take off the front wheel of the bike and secure it to the roof-mounted rack with the rear wheel and front axle. So, some amount of knocking-down is required with these bike racks. 

Roof-top bike racks are good for you if you have a low-height car, you will be traveling under mixed urban-country conditions, and you want to carry multiple units of bikes with you.*

Hitch-mounted racks

A towing hitch is a must for these racks since they attach to it. Most vehicles provide factory-made hitches, or they can be easily installed as an add-on accessory. 


  • Protects the bikes against the force of headwinds, snowfall, rain, frost, and even bugs that infest many countryside roads. 
  • Collapsible and foldable models, hence they can be easily detached and stored in the boot when not required. 
  • Avoids additional load on the vehicle armature and parts such as roof crossbars and side panels. Hence, they usually don't upset the vehicle ergonomics or strength parameters. 
  • You can attach more than one bike on a single platform. Besides, since it is a projected rack, it makes no contact with the vehicle's body, thus preventing it from scratches, denting, and other damage. The bikes too remain undamaged under various driving conditions. 
  • Versatile, they can carry bikes of any design and weight
Hitch Mount Bike Rack
4 Bike Hitch Racks


  • Heavy units, so when more than one bikes are attached to them, the combined weight can affect the rear suspension strength and performance.
  • Limited access to the rear and boot openings
  • Vehicle length increases when bikes are mounted on them so reverse-gear maneuverability and vehicle parking is difficult in tight parking spaces
  • More expensive than roof-top bike racks

There are two models of hitch-mounted racks:

Tray or platform style, which offers the resting space for bikes. Its benefits are:

  • It can accommodate more than one bike on its broad platform. Some models offer the facility to attach three to four bikes with add-on features. 
  • Projected rack, so it makes no contact with the vehicle body. This prevents scratching, denting, and other damage to the vehicle. 
  • Bikes are attached firmly on a broad tray, so they don't detach under various driving conditions. 
  • Foldable design, so storage is easy

You can think of buying tray type hitch-mounted bike rack if you need to attach multiple bikes with utmost safety, you don't want to increase vehicle height with the rack, and you want to prevent your bikes from the impact of headwinds and frost.

2 Bike Carrier Platform Hitch Rack
Car Hitch Mount Tray Bike Rack
Hitch Mount 2 Bike Carrier
2 Hitch Bike Rack
2 bike Hitch Rack

Projected arm style

This model has a stretched arm to attach bikes instead of a tray or platform. The design has two or three pivots from where you can increase or decrease the length and height of the rack. The uppermost arm has multiple stands on which you can rest one or more bikes. 

Since this rack style uses the full bike frame to attach, it can potentially damage the bike. Also, this rack does not support heavy mountain bikes and bikes with unusual shapes. We would advise against the arm style hitch-mounted bike racks unless you want them for their height and length scalability through the multiple pivots.

Sports Deluxe 2 Bike Trunk Mount Rack
3-Bike Capacity Hanging Bicycle Carrier
Hitch Mounted 2 Bike Carrier

Trunk or hatch-mounted bike racks

These are the racks that you can easily install at the rear of the vehicle. The fixing is with strong nylon leashes or cables with fastening hooks. Since they expand when in use, these racks increase the vehicle length considerably. 

Benefits of trunk-mounted bike racks are their interchangeability between vehicles, their foldable design that can fit into a small corner of the trunk, and its rear-mounting that does not increase vehicle breadth. 

The disadvantages of this rack design are their relatively unstable (loose) fixing with straps or cables. It may cause rattling, friction, and damage between bikes. They may also cause difficulty in opening the trunk and accessing boot space.

2 Bicycle Spare Tire Mounted Bike Rack
Trunk Bike Mount Bicycle Rack Carrier
Trunk Mounted Bike Rack

With the above information, it will be easy for you to choose the type of bike and sport rack most suitable for your bike expeditions.

Good luck!