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In case you haven’t noticed, cycling is at an all-time high. And while riding around town may be fun, there’s a good chance you’re itching to take your bike to a more scenic location—and that requires loading it onto a vehicle. Whether it’s a quick drive to a county park or a cross-country road trip, if you’re planning to transport your bike in a vehicle, you’re going to need a bike rack. Sure, simply throwing your bike in the trunk is sometimes an option, but using one of the best bike racks can save your steed from scratches, bent wheels and broken components.

When choosing the best bike rack, keep in mind that there is no single best option for every person, every bike, or every vehicle. The type of rack that will work best for you is determined not only by the type of car you have and your budget, but also what kind of bike you have, how many bikes you want to carry, and physical limitations you might have related to lifting a bike high off the ground. Using our experience and expertise, we’ve collected seven of the best bike rack options available today. Read on to see which one you should get for your own vehicle.

Best Rooftop Bike Rack

Set It And Forget It

Weight: 9.25 pounds | Bikes: 1 | Capacity: 44 pounds

Roof racks are a great option if you want full access to the trunk—or don’t want to bother with a rear hitch. And yet, not all roof racks are cut from the same cloth. For example, here’s an important consideration: some rooftop racks require you to remove the front wheel, while others are designed to accommodate the full bike.

The Thule ProRide 598 rooftop rack conveniently allows you to leave the front wheel in place. Thanks to a uniquely designed frame holder and wheel tray, the bike centers itself on the rack, ensuring it stays well-positioned for the road ahead. The form-fitting, rubberized mounting straps fit most any wheel size, from beach cruisers to fat bikes, and a torqued claw extends upright to support the frame. Unlike previous iterations of this rack, the 598 features soft rubber padding on the jaws of the frame arm, and a torque limiter ensures you don’t secure it too tightly against fragile carbon or aluminum frames. Weighing just under 10 pounds, it’s easy to assemble and the sleek design remains quiet at high speeds.


Best Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack

Finally, A Rack Fit For Your Sedan

Weight: 9 pounds | Bikes: 2 | Capacity: 35 pounds per bike

Trunk-mounted racks are typically the cheapest, lightest, and most portable styles you can buy. But because they traditionally allow the wheels and pedals to wiggle freely, unlike other rack styles, you run the risk of scratching your bike’s paint job (or your car’s) if the bike isn’t properly secured.

To eliminate such unwelcome possibilities, the Saris Bones 2-Bike Rack features fully adjustable curved arms that elevate your bike away from your vehicle. Lightweight and easy to install, it’s made from 100 percent recycled plastic that’s capable of supporting up to two bikes of 35 pounds each. A series of spring buckle straps and hooks lock the bike in place on the road, and ratcheting straps hold tight to the frames. At nine pounds, it’s incredibly easy to install whether you’re gearing up for a weekend away or an afternoon ride.


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Best Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack

Get To The Trunk Without Removing Your Bike

Weight: 32 pounds | Bikes: 2 | Capacity: 40 pounds per bike

While some hitch-mounted bike racks require the bikes to be removed before you can access the trunk, many newer models employ clever features that allow you to easily access your trunk without removing your precious cargo. The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is one of such racks, and at 32 pounds, it’s incredibly easy to install without a second set of hands, or a set of tools. The two-bike design tips away from the rear of your car, even when fully loaded, offering enough space to access the trunk at a moment’s notice. And when it’s not in use, the Sherpa folds up compactly to safe space.

With the ability to accommodate up to two bikes (up to 40lbs each), Kuat’s take on the hitch rack is surprisingly handsome. Its metallic powder-coated finish and anodized accents look sleek, but it’s also capable when the time comes to load it up. A foot-actuated pivot lever lets you unfold the rack hands-free, and the design uses tire cradles to secure wheelbases up to 47 inches and tires as large as three inches. A semi-integrated bike lock secures bikes with an included cable, and the rack comes in both 1.25-inch and 2-inch receiver models.


Best Tailgate Pad

Protect Your Truck From Unwanted Scrapes And Scuffs

Weight: 4.3 pounds | Bikes: 6 | Capacity: None

For most pickup truck owners, a tailgate pad is the easiest and quickest way to transport bicycles without damaging your rig. Just throw the pad on the gate and rest your bikes over the edge—easy peasy. According to Travis Brown, the Program Director of Arrowhead Bike Farm in Fayetteville, West Virginia, “tailgate pads can often fit 5 or 6 bikes, which is more than most other bike racks,” making them perfect for anyone who likes to ride with family and friends.

The Fox Racing Tailgate Cover (available in two sizes—small and large) will fit most midsize and full-size beds. But more importantly, it can accommodate up to six bikes, so you might as well invite a few friends along for the ride. The pad is affordable, has a plastic outer shell that’s easy to wipe down, and can be attached and removed in only a few minutes.


Best Bike Rack For Electric Bikes

Finally, A Capable Heavy Hauler

Weight: 52 pounds | Bikes: 2 | Capacity: 60 pounds per bike

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, electric bikes are everywhere, but transporting an electric bike from one from location to the next isn’t easy, especially when you consider the fact that they can weigh up to 80 pounds. For that reason, the Kuat NV 2.0 is overbuilt to handle the extra weight and bulk of these up-and-coming two-wheelers. It supports up to two 60-pound bikes, or four bikes when you purchase the add-on rack. The max tire width of five inches should fit most wheels from 20 to 29 inches, and security cables integrated into the rack keep your out of unwanted hands.

Again, Kuat finishes the NV 2.0 with premium gloss metallic powder and water transferred logos that look good on the road. The no-tool installation makes it easier to set the rack up, and a foot pivot engages the rack to dissuade you from bending over and fumbling with the hitch. Strong enough for any bike and built for the long haul, consider this when you finally take the leap and upgrade to an electric ride.


Easiest Bike Rack to Install

Easy On, Easy Off, Built-In Security

Weight: 23 pounds | Bikes: 1 | Capacity: 37.5 pounds

Regardless of whether the rack goes on the roof, trunk, hitch or gate, some models are easier to install than others. For instance, Thule’s Helium Platform Hitch bike rack, made from lightweight aluminum, makes the rack easy to install or remove (without tools) in minutes. Bikes are secured via ratcheting wheel loops, and putting bikes on (and taking them off) is also a breeze thanks to the folding arms. The rack’s HitchSwitch lever allows the rack to tilt down, even when fully loaded, for easy access to the trunk.

The rack can accommodate bikes that are up to 37.5 pounds with three-inch-wide tires. Thankfully, the rack comes with an integrated locking cable as well for a little peace of mind. The Helium 1 is the lightest model version with a rated load of 23 pounds, but the Helium 2 can handle up to 43 pounds and accommodate two bikes.


Best Budget Bike Rack

Capability Without Compromise

Weight: 0.6 pounds | Bikes: 1 | Capacity: 45 pounds

These vacuum-powered suction cups may not look—or function—like a traditional bike rack, but they’re an affordable, easy-to-install option that works with just about any hard-top vehicle. Just wipe the surface clean, place the “rack” on the roof or trunk, then (repeatedly) press the plunger down until the cup mechanism firmly seals. The ultra-compact design can easily fit in the trunk or behind the back seat to be used with rental bikes on a trip.

According to the company, Kupper Mounts “will fit most any car, truck, van, convertible or rental car in the world,” and because the rack only weighs a few ounces, you could literally toss it in your suitcase or a large backpack. One thing to keep in mind, though: While you might technically be able to attach the mounts to a rental car, you may want to check with the car company first to make sure you’re not going to violate the rental agreement.

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