Cyclists who want to go on road trips inevitably face the challenge of how to best carry the bike in the car.
Some bikes are just too big to carry in a trunk. Placing the bike in the backseat will inconvenience the passengers.
If you want to carry your bike in the car securely and safely, you will need a darn good bike rack.
Use the bike rack to secure your bicycle to the exterior of your car. Once you do, you can drive without worrying about anything.
Of course, the actual buying process can be challenging considering the number of products available on the market.
Avoid hours of research by reading our reviews for the best bike racks for cars currently available.
Our reviews detail both advantages and downsides with the most popular bike rack products. You can also read about what to look for when shopping for a bike carrier.
Features to Consider In Good Bike Racks
The bike racks currently available in the market can be categorized based on two key factors:
Mounting style and price.
However, there are many other features you need to watch out for when purchasing a bike rack.
Here is a brief list of the main features you need to keep an eye on:
- Attachment Point — Does the bike carrier attach to the rear or the roof of your car? How you can carry the bike and drive will depend on where the carrier is placed. Therefore, decide what type of bike carrier you want based on where the rack installs.
- Price — There are very expensive bike carriers out there. But most are just brand name hype. If you want the best product, compare the price against the main features the bike carrier offers, such as stability, compatibility, ease of use, and durability.
- Compatible Car Models — The manufacturer should specify what model of cars the bike rack is designed for. This will vary because not all bike carriers can be attached to vehicles.
The above are the three main considerations. To learn more about what to look for in a great car pillow, scroll to the bottom of this article for an informative buyer’s guide. Read on for our reviews of the best car pillows products you can buy online now.
When you browse products, keep the above factors in mind. Our reviews will discuss those above points in detail.
Refer to the table below for quick summaries of the bike racks for cars reviewed below:
|3-Bike Car Rack||Editor’s Rating||Weight||Dimensions||Mounting Style|
|Allen Sports Ultra Compact Folding 1-Bike Trunk Mount Rack||6.53 pounds||7.3 x 3.5 x 14 inches||Trunk|
|Cyclingdeal 1 Bike Car Roof Carrier Rack Bicycle Racks With Lock||7.4 pounds||34.3 x 9.9 x 2.9 inches||Roof|
|Saris Bones 801 3-Bike Trunk Mount Rack||4 pounds||22 x 19.5 x 8 inches||Trunk|
|Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B Deluxe Black 1-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle Carrier Rack||8.99 pounds||20 x 15 x 9 inches||Trunk|
|1 Bike Bicycle Car Roof Carrier Fork Mount Rack by CyclingDeal||5.31 pounds||31 x 4 x 9 inches||Roof|
|Swagman Upright Roof Rack||5 pounds||3 x 8 x 34 inches||Roof|
|SportRack SR4883 Upshift Roof Mount Upright Bike Carrier||9.5 pounds||56 x 5.8 x 3.8 inches||Roof|
|Hollywood Racks Express Trunk Mounted Bike Rack||10 pounds||20.5 x 5.4 x 30.4 inches||Trunk|
|Prorack Frame Mount Bike Carrier - Rooftop Upright Bike Rack||11 pounds||39.4 x 11.8 x 63 inches||Roof|
|SeaSucker Falcon Bike Rack, 1-Bike||4.35 pounds||14.3 x 10.2 x 5.7 inches||Rear Window|
Top 10 Best Bike Racks for Cars in 2018
Here is the list of our reviews you can read at your convenience:
Weighing only about 35 pounds, this bike rack is indeed quite lightweight for a steel model.
Here’s what makes it really one of the best bicycle racks for cars:
The super low price tag. This bike car rack model is great for college students and anyone else on a budget.
The Allen MT-1 bike rack is made from steel. The frame is extremely rugged and very sturdy.
The bike rack folds, thanks to the unique patented design. The rack frame is made to fit nearly all types of cars and SUVs.
When not in use, it can be easily folded and stored in the trunk. Its significantly light weight makes it easy to dismount too.
The coolest feature:
Dual compound tie-down cradles that can exceptionally secure this bike car rack to the trunk. The spine of the rack is padded, so it protects both the bike and the car.
The MT-1 is easy to carry and transport. Plus, it’s easy to install as well, mainly because the rack comes fully assembled.
When folded, the rack is indeed as compact as the manufacturer boasts. When folded, this bike rack can even fit inside a backpack.
When unfolded and installed, it’s highly stable without any wobbliness. It’s perfectly secure on the trunk and will stay still even when driving over potholes and speed bumps.
Look at this major highlight:
The tie-downs are fixated to the carry arm of the frame, but with the ability to rotate. In other words, this bike rack for cars can accommodate a wide range of bike frames.
One major inconvenience:
It never really separates the bike from the body of the vehicle. The padded legs gently hug the car, which means that a pedal or some other part would always touch the auto body.
The rack also inhibits the ability to work rear wipers on cars with trunks that don’t jut out. The mounted bike may also inhibit the ability to see through a rearview camera.
This bike rack model suits most types of cars, hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, and even minivans. When folded, it’s smaller than a shoebox, making this bike car rack truly one of the best.
The bike car rack comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. Plus, a carry bag is included.
The Cyclingdeal 1 bike carrier attached to the roof of a vehicle. It can keep your bike away from the rearview camera and free up space inside the car.
But that’s not the main reason to go crazy over this single bike car rack. This is the best reason to own this bike mode:
The super cheap price tag. This bike car rack costs less than $50!
It’s perfect for cyclist drivers on a budget. Despite the low price, it comes with a warranty for just-in-case situations.
This rooftop carrier is made of steel. Not just any steel, powder-coated steel.
While most steel bike racks for cars are sturdy, this metal has its downsides. Mainly it’s heavy and prone to corrosion.
But the already coated steel frame won’t corrode easily. You can expect this bike carrier to last a long time.
This model includes tie-down straps that secure the bike not just to the roof of the car, but to the wheels.
Extra security. You can drive on the rockiest terrain without worrying that the bike will fall off the roof of the car.
The dimension of this single-bike carrier is 1.6 inches thickness and 4.3 inches in maximum width. It’s enough to fit on top of most cars.
The Cyclingdeal 1 single bike carrier will accommodate most types of bike models. Even children’s bikes and extra-large bicycles would fit.
The most amazing part:
The security feature where the bike frame is secured directly under the wheels, and not on the rooftop bars. This will ensure extra stability when driving.
Of course, the same feature makes this bike carrier a bit difficult to install. You will have to work to get the straps under the wheels.
Plus, the bike carrier for cars is lockable. No risk of anyone stealing it in the parking lot.
This is a highly secure and affordable single bike carrier suitable for regular car owners. It has almost no downsides, and even comes with a great warranty.
Saris Bones 801 can carry up to 3 bikes on a trunk. But it’s best suited for carrying a single bike on long trips.
It’s hailed as a bike carrier where the form and function collide. It’s not just practical, it’s possibly one of the most convenient bike racks for cars available on the market.
The design of Saris Bones 801 is truly exceptional. The bike car carrier is designed by Fabio Pendrini and promises to “match your personality.”
The carrier is available in a variety of colors to choose from to match the body of the vehicle. This is unheard of in other car bike carriers.
The frame is not just about looks either. In fact, the Saris Bones 801 has one of the strongest frames in the market.
What makes this frame so strong?
It has a steel body like any other. But the arms and legs are injection-molded, where the metal is molted, rather than melted.
It leaves the steel frame stronger and more reliable than other types of bike carriers. It can carry bikes as heavy as 35lbs with ease.
This superbly designed bike rack for cars is not just sturdy, it’s very protective as well. The arc-based design separates the mounted bikes from the vehicle on multiple levels.
It means that the arc can fit over most spoilers. The mounted bike’s pedals and other jutting parts will be kept away from the vehicle where it can cause scratching.
The feet of the frame are rubberized to protect the vehicle. The straps are coated to protect the bike.
It also weighs only 11 lbs. That’s amazingly lightweight.
One major downside:
This bike rack for cars isn’t lockable. Don’t expect it to be theft resistant.
It’s also a bit expensive as well. That’s mainly because it can carry up to three bikes.
Though a bit expensive, this is a great bike rack for cars. Considering how strong the frame is, the price is well worth the value for the features offered.
The Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B trunk mounting single bike rack will suit most sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and minivans. A full list of vehicles models this bike carrier can fit is provided.
While not at all flashy, this relatively inexpensive bike carrier can benefit most budget-minded cyclists who love to go on road trips.
This trunk-mounted rack is very sturdily designed. The construction of the rack frame is very handy.
The lower part of the frame is padded to keep the bike away from the body of the vehicle. The assembly includes a safety strap.
The rack includes soft cradles, individually placed, so that the bike frame is well protected from shock and scratches.
One well thought-out feature:
The rust-resistant E-coat. The rack body is coated with OE standard material to withstand corrosion, even after being out in the rain.
The rust-resistant coating is an important feature for bike carriers made from steel. Steel is sturdy but notoriously rust-prone.
This bike rack comes fully assembled. Installation is easy peasy and can be done in a matter of minutes.
Here’s what we really love about this bike carrier:
Easy installation is accompanied by easy storage. This carrying arm of this bike rack folds for easy storage in the trunk.
The biggest downside:
This bike rack won’t fit any vehicle with a rear spoiler. It’s also not suitable for RVs, campers, trailers, or other vehicles over 10 feet long.
The downsides are somewhat mitigated by the lifetime warranty. The manufacturer offers an excellent hassle-free guarantee for this bike rack.
One more thing:
Don’t try to place heavy bikes on this rack. The metal clips that secure the straps in place would just snap.
However, plastic strap tightness will make the metal clips more secure and less likely to give into weight.
This bike rack for cars isn’t the flashiest around, but it offers essential features at a decent price. This rack is sturdy and easy to install.
It’s also well protected by a lifetime warranty and rust-resistant coating. It will do well for casual cyclists who won’t be using a bike carrier every day.
This particular CyclingDeal bike rack for cars fits on top of the roof. Note that this is an upright bike rack.
That means this bike rack would carry the bike in an upright position on the roof of your car. Not laid down like some other models.
While this type of mounting is not for all drivers, if you are looking for a roof mounted bike rack for a car, this might just be it.
The frame of this bike rack is made from steel, as usual. The model is made in Taiwan.
The bike rack can be secured on a car rooftop with crossbars. It cannot be secured onto vehicles without crossbars.
It will fit rooftop crossbars that are 1.96 inches thick and 3.34 inches wide. The package comes with all accessories needed to secure the frame and the bike.
Crossbar brands that fit:
Thule, Rhino, Ralo, and Prorack. It is designed to fit most aero and square cross bar brands.
The bike rack frame is steel powder coated. So the bike is corrosion resistant for the most part.
This bike rack, though made from steel, is amazingly lightweight. It weighs only about 5 lbs while being able to accommodate loads up to 30 lbs.
This bike rack will accommodate any bike of any size as long as it has a 9mm front quick release fork. Any bike type, even heavy bikes, can fit under the maximum capacity parameters.
What’s the catch?
This bike rack is sturdy and amazing, but it can be a pain to install. The reason is that the front wheel of the bike has to be removed for mounting.
It’s not a problem with quick release front forks. The rack has a built-in quick release for the front fork, designed specifically for bikes with quick release wheels.
But it can take some time to do this. However, once mounted, the frame will hold the bike very steadily in place.
There are many reasons we love this bike carrier, even if mounting it can be a pain. It’s inexpensive and suits carbon bikes especially.
Carbon bikes require very careful carrying because they are often too heavy for trunk mounting. In that case, this bike rack will be a godsend.
The Swagman roof-mounted bike rack comes with an eye-popping cheap price. This bike rack for cars is affordable and also highly effective.
Each rack carries only one bike. But drivers can install multiple units on a single vehicle to carry several bikes upright.
That’s a rare feature. But that’s not the only good thing about this bike rack model.
Most bike racks these days are made entirely from metal. But not this one.
The Swagman boasts a steel and plastic combo construction. As a result, the rack is more lightweight and less likely to corrode than most similar carriers.
This biker requires OEM crossbars up to 3 inches wide. It would fit Thule and Yakima models with ease.
The design includes tie-down straps that secure the bike from the wheels. However, wheel removal is not necessary to mount this bike on the rack.
The bike rack frame is very sleek. The design is minimalist and optimizes practicality.
This highly versatile upright bike rack can carry a bike weighing up to 35 lbs. It can secure the bike on crossbars that are round, oval, or even square.
This bike carrier is impressively stable. That’s mostly because the upright arm connects to the down tube.
The package comes with tie-down straps for the wheels. Securing the bike is very convenient because there’s no need to remove a wheel.
One more thing:
This bike rack is lockable. You won’t have to worry about anyone trying to steal this while it’s parked somewhere.
Installation is not easy and may take some time. However, the package comes with all the brackets and other hardware needed for installation.
Installation can be tricky if the crossbars are close to the roof of the car. Some aftermarket crossbars that are higher better accommodate this rack.
We found this bike rack to be well-worth the money. It’s sturdy and fits almost anything.
Even a 16-inch bike can be fitted to this rack. While installation is not the easiest, the securing is quite exceptional.
SportRack isn’t exactly a well-known brand name, but the SR4883 upright bike rack is suited for most bike models. If you are hitting narrow bumpy roads, this is the rack you’d want to have installed on your roof, in our humble opinion.
This bike rack model fits upright and has a wheel tray that supports additional securing. It weighs only 9.5 lbs and is very lightweight to place on the roof.
The best part:
It allows for any bike to be placed in an upright position without needing to remove a wheel. Most rooftop racks require wheel removal, which is cumbersome when you are on the road.
Each wheel tray is designed for a single bike. The overall design is optimized to provide maximum stability.
The wheel tray is adjustable. This bike carrier has a gorgeous black finish that would look stylish attached to modern car models.
This bike rack also fits on nearly any type of factory-grade roof rack system. The SportRack brand is included of course.
The brand is relatively modest, but this bike rack for cars is teeming with cool features like this:
An adjustable arm and an adjustable wheel tray. The adjustable arm holds the down tube so it can support many different types of bikes.
This bike rack can support a full suspension bike easily. However, it doesn’t support recumbent bikes.
The wheel tray is great for securing the bike in position. Installation is wonderfully tool-free.
The rack has a very ergonomic locking mechanism. The lock is keyed though.
It is easy to lock the bike rack, but the security of the lock is questionable. Still it’s better than a non-locking bike carrier.
One major downside:
There is no padding or foam tape to protect the finishes of either the mounted bike or the vehicle. Expect scratches without using a manual padding system.
We consider this bike rack a good deal given the price. It works as advertised.
More importantly, it supports many different bike sizes. Some minor downsides aside, this is a great buy for those looking for roof racks.
This trunk-mounted rack comes in two forms: two bike and three bike models. But the specifications for both are the same except for weight and capacity.
It’s intended to fit most types of vehicles. Mounting hardware is largely universal.
This trunk rack is impressive right off the bat because of one major feature:
Easy-to-use adjustment hubs. The hubs are very user-friendly too.
The bike rack comes pre-assembled. So users only need to fix the adjustment hubs for easy fitting.
The bike rack can handle up to 70 lbs. It can carry two bikes weighing 35 lbs each.
The trunk rack has six straps for securing the bike. There’s an additional tie-down strap for a bit of extra security.
The rack has soft cradles to protect the frame of the bike. It also separates the bike frames from the body of the vehicle.
We were impressed by how easy it was to adjust this bike carrier any way we wanted. When we were done, it could be folded for easy storage.
As a trunk rack for multiple bikes, it was amazingly sturdy. However, the driver has to beware that the rack lengths the car.
This trunk rack was remarkable in how it protected bike frames and the vehicle body.
There is plenty of spacing between the bike’s supporting arms and the trunk of the vehicle. The spacing is as substantial as 7 inches.
The bike rack does have a lifetime warranty, but it’s limited. If the guarantee is very important, then you might feel a bit let down.
It’s quite amazingly lightweight. While the capacity is up to 70 lbs, the actual weight of the bike rack is only 10 lbs.
The nylon straps are wonderfully long for securing. However, none were Velcro tipped for easy strapping.
All in all, the downsides are minor in this bike rack for car. Its main advantage is the economical price.
The capacity, sturdiness, weight, and other features are justified thanks to the budget price. It’s really not missing anything at this range.
We highly recommend this trunk rack for buyers who want a solid and low-cost bike rack for a car.
The Prorack Frame is a roof-mounted bike carrier. It’s designed for most vehicles.
This bike carrier can fit into Yakima roof-mounted cargo baskets. If you have luggage to haul in addition to a bike, then this carrier would come in most useful.
The tray of this bike rack has a down tube that is one to three inches long with locking jaws. It securely holds the bike there.
It locks automatically of course. And the tray can easily accommodate a bike’s thru axles and disc brakes.
This rooftop bike carrier universally attaches to crossbars. It will fit easily on any type of crossbar, including square, round, or aero racks.
Weighing roughly 7 lbs, it’s remarkably lightweight. Bikes can be secured without the need for wheel removal.
This rooftop carrier is relatively new, but it works like a pro model. Securing the bike onto the tray is not an issue.
The bike rack itself is lightweight and easy to carry and store when not in use. The problem is the capacity.
This bike carrier can only hold a bike weighing up to about 30 lbs. That would immediately exclude most mountain bikes, which weight around 35 lbs.
What this bike rack is best for:
It’s great if you have standard-sized bikes with traditional geometry. Kids bikes and women’s bikes would easily fit.
The manufacturer offers only a 3-year limited warranty. But it’s quite suitable for those who don’t often make use of bike racks.
The rack also comes with a lot of accessories that needs assembling at home. Therefore, the installation could take some time.
This bike carrier has its uses, especially if you have only regular bikes. The capacity may be limited but it offers good security.
We think the price tag of this rooftop rack is certainly steep, considering the limited number of features. But if you have a Yakima cargo basket, it may be well worth it.
Made in the USA, this single-bike carrier is exclusively for pickup trucks. But it can attach to the back of other types of vehicles as well.
It’s a unique type of rear mounted bike rack. In that, it’s not at all like the traditional bike rack.
The tray of this bike rack has a down tube that is one to three inches long with locking jaws. It securely holds the bike there.
There’s something special about the SeaSucker bike carrier we noticed right away:
It’s a rear mounted rack with no straps!
Indeed, this bike carrier attaches to the window of pickup trucks. The attaching mechanism is a vacuum seal.
Instead of having to secure the bike rack with straps or screws, you just need to get the vacuum mounts sealed on to the window.
It’s just like placing a suction cup on a window or a tile surface. To remove, just pull it back gently.
The vacuum mounts are 6-inches each. Each is exceptionally strong and can carry over 200 lbs in weight.
The rack has half an inch HDPE body consisting of a fork clamp. The width is about 12 inches.
This bike rack is definitely one of the easiest we have ever had to install. It’s literally like using a suction cup to hold your bike to a window.
But it works much better than a suction cup:
The weatherproof rack is exceptionally strong. It can carry a bike of any size or weight with the fork clamp.
So essentially you just need to open the fork clamp and place the bike there. It secures automatically.
And the downside:
It works only with pickup trucks, obviously. However, you can try using it with other vehicles, but the warranty becomes invalid then.
This bike carrier is not suited for rooftop mounting. Also, it lacks secure padding that would prevent the vehicle or the window from scratches.
We weren’t sure about how the vacuum suction system worked. But it holds exceptionally well, even on bumpy roads.
If you have a pickup and a bike, this bike rack would be perfect. The price is a bit high, however.
Best Bike Racks for Cars Buyer’s Guide
As a buyer, you will have many options to consider when shopping for a decent bike rack for a car. The sheer number of choices often overlap one another.
Your purchase decision, as always, should be based on your budget, needs, and the type of car you are driving.
Keep in mind:
Not all bike racks for cars universally fit all car models.
With that knowledge, read ahead to learn about what to look for when purchasing a bike rack for your car:
The first feature you need to seek in any bike rack is easily this:
The compatibility with your car model.
Manufacturers often provide a list of vehicle models the bike carrier is suited for. Don’t buy one without checking this first.
No bike rack universally fits all car models. Certain older bike rack models may not suit newer cars.
Therefore, check the compatibility before you look for any other feature.
Types of Bike Racks for Cars
There are different types of bike racks for cars that consumers need to consider. The most suitable rack would depend on how it installs onto the vehicle.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common types of bike carriers for cars:
Roof racks fit on to the roof of the vehicle. This type of bike rack is considered very versatile.
Roof carriers can suit many different types of vehicles. However, crossbars may be necessary or specified.
The roof-mounted systems are also considered highly secure and stable compared to most other types of carrier systems.
With a roof rack, you can get access to all car doors without any hindrance. The trunk especially would be easily accessible.
As for downsides, roof racks require hoisting for installation and fixing. Plus, roof racks give the car more height so it might not fit through low-clearance roads.
It should be noted that roof racks carry bikes in an upright position. It may not be ideal when you want to speed on the road because of wind resistance.
If you are looking for a rather cheap but useful bike carrier, then the trunk carrier would be the top option for you.
Trunk-mounted bike carriers are the most commonly available so the prices tend to be low. These carriers tend to be lightweight and highly portable.
Trunk racks are relatively easy to attach. Bikes can be mounted or dismounted without a hassle.
On the flip side, trunk racks do impede access to the trunk or the rear of the vehicle. This can be problematic when you have other luggage you need to access while on the road.
Trunk racks may also make it difficult to back up your vehicle. The stability of these racks varies depending on the make and model.
Hitch bike carriers attach with a hitch. These types of bike carriers are common for racks that support multiple bikes.
A hitch-mounted rack may be too much when you want to carry a single bike. These bike racks are quite expensive compared to trunk or roof-mounted racks.
Hitch racks are relatively easy to install, however. Certain models make it easy to access the trunk or the rear door.
But, stability is never certain with these racks. Your bike may sway or bump against the vehicle on rough terrain.
Vacuum Mounting Racks
This is a very unconventional type of bike rack. Unlike other types of bike racks, these come not with straps, but suction cups.
Vacuum mounting bike racks are a relatively new invention. They come with large suction cups that create a vacuum seal on a part of the vehicle.
Often, these attach to rear windows on vehicles. Therefore, vacuum bike carriers are not very versatile.
This type of bike carrier is easy to install and dismount. But you may not get certain types of protection, like scratch-resistant padding, that come with other racks.
Choose your bike carrier carefully after considering the different types as explained above. Essentially think about the most convenient way to carry your bike when you choose a type.
Imagine driving your car with a bike rack and bike strapped to it. You turn on to a bumpy road, and there’s some bouncing to be expected.
The bike rack may hold on if it’s sturdy, but is it rubbing up against the body of your car?
One major concern with bike racks, especially trunk carriers, is scratching.
Bike racks require padding protection to specifically prevent scratching when in transportation. It’s best for both the bike and the car.
Not all bike carriers have this protection. Therefore, make sure you look for it in the list of features provided.
Obviously, when you spend money on a bike rack, you would want it to last for more than several outings.
The durability of bike racks is largely determined by the construction of the frame.
Mainly, ask this question:
Is the bike rack well-coated to protect against rusting and the elements?
Nearly all bike carriers are made of steel. This is a sturdy metal but it will easily corrode when not protected by a rust-resistant coating.
Make sure the bike rack you buy is protected against well-known problems like this. Rust coating doesn’t make the bike carrier more expensive either.
Warranties and guarantees from the manufacturer would protect your purchase under any circumstance.
You may be able to return your order for a refund within a month or two. But if the rack runs into problems in a year or two, you would need a warranty to get the manufacturer’s help.
Bike racks come with lifetime warranties, limited lifetime warranties, and time-limited warranties.
While a lifetime warranty is the best, read the fine print to understand what’s actually covered.
Don’t bother paying for a warranty. It should be included in the overall price.
You can be assured of the safety and durability of a product when it comes with a warranty.
Price Vs. Value
Ideally, what price would be the best for a bike carrier?
It depends on the features, of course. Always judge the price tag of the bike rack based on what you can get in return.
If you are on a budget, don’t automatically choose the cheapest products. Similarly, don’t expect an expensive product to be better than a less expensive one.
Do your research and compare prices versus the features. Then you will be able to choose the best bike rack for your car.