How to choose a car bike rack that fits your vehicle

How to choose a car bike rack that fits your vehicle

There’s something eternally refreshing about road trips.

But, road trips with your bike are like a next level mental and physical refresh. A car bike rack makes it all possible.

Traveling with a bike gives you the versatility to discover new places, soak in your surroundings at your own pace, and have a little “me” time to unplug.

But, how do you know which rack is right for your vehicle?

Take a look at the below information to help narrow your options. As you think about your choices, ask yourself the following questions:


  • How often do you plan on using your car bike rack?
  • What type of bike(s) do you want to transport?
  • Will you need a rack with security features?
  • What kind of storage space will it take up when not in use?

Trunk Mount, Hitch Mount, or Roof Mount?

Most sedans and hatchback style cars don’t have a hitch receiver so your best bet is either a roof rack or a trunk rack.  If your car does have a hitch receiver, you have a much wider set of options including both hanging and platform style racks.

Hitch racks tend to be more expensive than the trunk racks but many have found them to be easier to work with when securing bikes and are less likely to scratch your car.

One of the nice features of a roof rack is the unobstructed views out of your rear window. You don’t have to worry about bikes making contact and flapping in the wind and it’s less hassle securing your bikes.

Bike rack compatibility

After you begin narrowing your choices, make sure your car is compatible with the car bike rack you are considering purchasing. I’ve provided links below to fit guides for each of the major manufacturers including popular brands like Thule, Yakima, & Saris.

How to set up each type of car bike rack

To get a better sense of the set up involved for each type of rack, take a look at the videos below:

Trunk Mount Car Bike Rack

Hitch Mount Car Bike Rack

Roof Mount Car Bike Rack

Common questions

How much can I expect to spend?

If you are budget conscious, trunk racks tend to be less expensive (roughly $90 to $160) than hitch and roof racks options.

How do I make sure my bikes are secure?

There will be times when you will leave your bikes unattended. There are many racks with a security feature that locks your bike and the rack to your vehicle. In my opinion, it’s well worth the extra cost.

How easy is it to install and remove?

See the videos above to get a sense of the installation process for each type of rack

How do I ensure my bikes stay firmly in place while driving?

Many racks come with a no-sway accessory to keep your bike stable. If you purchase a trunk rack, it’s important to realize that you re-tighten the straps AFTER loading the bikes as the weight of the bikes will cause some slack to occur.

How do I prevent scratches and nicks to my car?

If this is a big concern for you and if it’s an option, I’d recommend looking into a hitch or roof rack. From reviews you read, many  people who own trunk racks have experienced some wear and tear over time so extra precaution is necessary if you own a trunk rack.

Which rack makes the most sense for me?

How frequently do you bike? If you bike often, I’d suggest getting a rack that stays on all the time. In this case a roof rack is ideal. If it’s less frequent a trunk or hitch rack will suffice.

Do I need any tools to install the rack?

All manufacturers include tools you need with the car bike rack you purchase

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