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Top 4 Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2019

Best hitch bike rack reviews of 2019

Best-in-class
Thule T2 Pro

Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack

Superb design and functionality

An outstanding hitch bike rack designed to be compact on your car but big enough to hold up to 4 bikes.

#1: Thule T2 Pro Review

Whoever said that hitch bike racks have to be unsightly additions to your car’s aesthetic appeal was wrong. The Thule T2 Pro XT 2 is a superb example of what can be achieved when designers and engineers work together.

Designed to never scratch the paint work on your car nor the one on the bike, this rack will keep your two-wheels in regal splendor and extends to accommodate up to 4 bikes.

It has a total load capacity of 120 pounds; it’s easy to install and easy to use. It also has a hefty price, but if you don’t mind dropping more on something that’s superlative quality than this rack must be on the head of your shopping list.

Best value
Swagman XC

Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack

Best for all bikes

Upright ratcheting arms make it easy to adjust the rack to accommodate different types of bikes.

#2: Swagman XC Review

If you don’t feel like spending your weight in gold on the bike rack, but still want outstanding quality, the Swagman XC is the best hitch bike rack you can find. It doesn’t excel from an aesthetic standpoint but packs plenty of features that made it our favorite.

What we like best are the upright ratcheting arms that can easily adapt to hold different types of bikes. A centerfold arm is another nice feature designed to give you access to the trunk without having to take off the rack.

It’ll also keep the paint on both your car and bike in good conditions, and can hold up to 35 pounds per bike. Easy to assemble and easy to use, this rack can accommodate up to two bicycles. But it’s unbeatable feature is the perfect balance between value and money, and the price that won’t break the bank.

Also great
Swagman XTC2

Swagman XTC2 Hitch Bike Rack

Excellent, but more expensive

Wheel hoops with secured rubber straps enhances grip without scratching the frame.

#3: Swagman XTC2 Review

The Swagman XTC2 is almost identical in functionality and features with the XC model, but it’s slightly more expensive due to an additional feature you might like. We’re talking about rubber tire straps designed to secure the wheels to hoops and improve the overall grip and safety.

Apart from this feature, from an aesthetic point of view, the XTC2 has sleeker lines and more refined finishing touches. In terms of functionality and specs though, it is identical to our best-value.

Expect it to carry up to two bikes up to a weight of 35 pounds each, while the adjustable ratcheting arm gives you plenty of wiggling room to accommodate various sizes.

The model is also compatible with a hitch pin and security cable as well as Fat Bike tire trays that come separately, so it can easily address all needs.

Best budget
Allen 542RR-R

Allen Sports 542RR-R Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack

Best budget hanging bike rack

A cheap alternative to the other bike racks on this list, it makes a great choice for cyclists on a budget.

#4: Allen 542RR-R Review

If you need an inexpensive solution compatible with most cars and SUVs, the Allen Sports 4-Bike can be the right one. It can accommodate four standard frame bikes, secured and protected by individual tie-down systems, but you will have to use an adapter bar if you want to transport any other type of bike.

The rack itself is easy to mount in under one minute and tilts on its side to provide easy access to the trunk.

It doesn’t excel in terms of appearance, and you shouldn’t expect any outstanding features either. However, it serves its purpose beautifully, and it’s cheap. Just what you need if you want to save money on gear and spend more on the trip.

Trunk vs. roof vs. hitch-mounted bike racks

Your quest to finding the best bike rack for you should start with an important decision, which type of rack you need. Your choices pretty much fall into one of the three categories:

  • Trunk-mounted bike racks: Have been the most popular type for a long time, mainly due to their affordability. They can also be installed and removed relatively quickly, they come preassembled and are compact enough to store in your trunk when not in use. Because they are easy to dismantle though, they can get stolen easily and may also block your rear vision.
  • Roof bike racks: Their name is quite self-explanatory; these racks go on your vehicle’s roof, and they are more or less difficult to install, depending on the model. They are harder to access by thieves and will not hinder your rear vision. However, getting your bike up and down the roof can result in countless scratches on both your bike and your car.
  • Hitch bike racks: The hitch bike racks are relatively new and can replace all other types with success as long as your vehicle has a trailer hitch. They snap directly into the receiving end on the hitch and provide a stable transport solution for your two wheels. They are great for most vehicles, and perhaps the best bike racks for SUV.

Types of hitch bike racks

Since you’re here reading this guide, we’re assuming your vehicle has a hitch. But not all hitch-mounted bike racks were created equal, and you must find the most suitable type for you. In essence, you’ll have three options.

  • Hanging style racks: Consist of one or two arms designed to hold the bike from its top tube. Due to this design, they work best with standard diamond-style bike frames. Manufacturers also sell top tube adapters for non-standard frames, but they rarely provide the secure fit you’re aiming for. If you have a standard frame bike though, these racks are an affordable solution. They are also lighter than the platform style and can hold up to 5 bikes.
  • Platform style racks: Consist of a platform used to secure the bike from its wheels rather than the top tube, a design feature that makes them compatible with almost all bikes. They also have no sway problems like the hanging style do, and make minimal contact with the frame, which translates into fewer scratches. These racks are also easy to load and unload, but are heavier (thus incompatible with some hitches) and can only hold up to 4 bikes.
  • Specialty racks: These are usually platform style racks designed for non-traditional bikes. You can find them for trikes, tandems, recumbent, Fat Tire, and other specialty bikes that won’t fit on a standard rack.

Which hitch mount bike rack should you choose?

While each type comes with pros and cons, the best hitch mount bike rack according to us is the platform style. This type is the most efficient, it is compatible with most bikes, and it usually provides easier access to the trunk.

However, if you have a standard frame bike and want to save some bucks, a hanging style could be a better choice.

Vehicle compatibility

One essential aspect to keep in mind is that not all hitches are the same. Therefore not all racks are compatible with all vehicles that have a hitch. There are five classes of receiver hitches, but bike racks are usually compatible only with the first three.

Hitch class

Towing capacity

Max tongue weight

Vehicle type

Max n° of bikes

I

2,000 lbs.

200 lbs.

Passenger cars

2

II

3,500 lbs.

350 lbs.

Passenger cars

4

III

Up to 8,000 lbs.

Up to 800 lbs.

Passenger cars, SUV, trucks

5

IV

10,000 lbs.

1,000 lbs.

Full-size trucks

V

Up to 20,000 lbs.

Up to 2,000 lbs.

Full-size trucks

Carrier type

Another crucial thing to weigh in is the type of carrier the rack comes with. The carrier design determines how fast you can access your trunk, and you can essentially pick from three models.

  • Swing-away carrier: Literally swings away from your path and provides unlimited access to your trunk. They come with a pin and clip that are easy to operate, and you can keep the bike on the rack while accessing the rear of your car.
  • Folding carrier: Also provides unlimited access to the rear of your car by simply folding down. However, you must take off the bike first, which could be inconvenient sometimes.
  • Tilting carrier: Another intuitive name, this one is designed to tilt away. It is the cheapest system but comes with a series of disadvantages. On the one hand, it provides only limited access to the rear of the vehicle. On the other hand, you must take off the bike before tilting it.

Supported load

The supported load refers to the weight the rack can withstand and also the number of bikes it can accommodate.

Depending on your needs, you can find racks that can accommodate up to 5 bikes, and most of them can withstand up to 35 lbs. per bike (or 175 lbs. in total). Because those racks that can accommodate multiple bikes come with individual fasteners and mounting systems, it is essential to respect the maximum weight per bike mentioned by the manufacturer even if you don’t plan to load the rack at full weight capacity.

Other essential features

Here are a few other essential features you should look for in the best hitch mount bike rack.

  • Tool-free attachment: The tool-free attachment on a hitch bike rack is like the tool-free adjustment on a cordless drill or impact driver chuck. It will let you mount the rack in seconds and without using any tools. A feature that makes these racks perfect for those with no or limited handyman skills.
  • Bike clearance: If you plan to carry more than one bike, make sure that the rack provides sufficient clearance between them. Road vibrations and friction can otherwise result in scratches and damaged frames.
  • Soft grip: Some of the best hitch bike racks come with a soft grip that protects the paintwork on the bike and keeps the frame intact during transit.

The best hitch bike rack for the money

Best value
Swagman XC

Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack

Best for all bikes

Upright ratcheting arms make it easy to adjust the rack to accommodate different types of bikes.

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