Update: Hitch racks are becoming the preferred bike transport method of choice as the advantages of convenience and fuel efficiency are being realized by many. We received the latest racks from Saris, Yakima and 1Upusa and are evaluating them right now. Stay tuned for updates to this developing category.
Part of the mountain bike investment is a proper bike rack. Sticking a bike in the trunk or cargo area gets old once you have more than one bike and the bikes get very dirty. Hitch racks have become the rack of choice for ease of use and better vehicle mileage and safety.
There are many variations of racks but we'll focus this part of the Bike Rack Series aon the most advanced, the highest enthusiast level, hitch racks. Hitch racks transport the bike behind the vehicle and its made possible by hitch mounts, common in all trucks and SUVs and no offered in most passenger cars as OEM or as an add-on.
They are by far the best way to transport mountain bikes but they cost a little more than other options. But if you're serious about the sport, these racks offer the greatest utility and versatility to transport your prized possessions.
Tray or hanging hitch rack?
The primary cons of hitch racks are that they require a hitch receiver, and bike specific rather than serving a dual-carrying purpose. But if you have the need to regularly haul bikes, those negatives quickly fade away. It then comes down to which style makes the most sense: a horizontal tray or vertical hang?
Horizontal tray racks are far more common and are the optimal style for most riders. They support the bike on its own tires, generally, do not touch the frame, and can transport a wide variety of bike types. They also require a lower capacity receiver, so many options exist for cars and small SUVs. However, horizontal tray racks typically have less capacity than vertical hang hitch racks.
With vertical hang racks, the type of bikes to be transported is an important consideration. Some styles are incompatible with road bikes and others don't work with kid bikes. On the upside, this style of hitch rack has a high capacity, usually up to six bikes.
- Tilt handle easily accessible
- Very compact and easily removable
- Yakima quality and warranty
- Not ideal for mountain bikes that don't have traditional top tubes to hang on
- Weight capacity is not the highest so caution has to be taken on rough roads
- Reduces ground clearance
This is a good starter rack for families. It's compact, gets out of the way and get st the job done for four bikes. It's light and fairly affordable. For hardcore enthusiasts taking long trips, the other style racks are more appropriate.
More info: www.Yakima.com
Saris SuperClamp EX
- Tilt handle easily accessible
- Compact design enhances rear visibility and parking ease
- Low weight at 35 pounds or 63 lbs for 4 bike
- Bike interference can occur
- Loading/unloading is not as easy since arms are shared
- Reduces ground clearance
Mtbr has always been impressed by the quality of Saris bike hitch racks that are made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty. But functionality and appearance weren't quite dialed with the SuperClamp that we tested in the past. With the new SuperClamp EX, however, they may have a best-in-class four-bike hitch rack on their hands.
This rack has been fascinating with its unrivaled utility and compactness. The 63 lbs has been a godsend for taking the rack on and off our vehicles. Comparable hitch racks are about 100 lbs so they are heavy and dangerous for some to move by themselves. 63 lbs and almost half the size makes it manageable to lift and maneuver.
Bike Attachment: Front and rear wheel arms plus straps
More info: www.saris.com
Superclamp EX2 2-bike price: $490
Superclamp EX4 4-bike price: $765
Thule T2 Pro XT
- Best in class tilt lever
- Broad tire/wheel size compatibility
- Reliable security system
- Sliding arms could be tighter and wobble free
- Limited side-to-side rail adjustability
- Not as sleek looking as competitors
The Thule T2 Pro is the update we've been waiting for to address compatibility with bigger wheel sizes. But not only did capacity get upped, the T2 Pro is now sturdier and easier to operate. The frame has been beefed up significantly, moving parts have been retooled, and even the lever to tilt and fold up the hitch rack has been significantly improved.
More info: www.thule.com
1UP USA 2" Super Duty Double
- Good ground clearance, as each stage increases height, also reducing bike-to-bike contact
- Hitch rack and bikes do not protrude far from vehicle, compact and modular
- Exceptional construction, nearly all metal and LOOKS DIALED
- Cam system can loosen over time, with no thru-bolt safety
- Color black is an upcharge
- Heavy bikes can be wobbly
The greatest testament to this rack's build is we've seen many examples that are five years or older. They look about the same as when they were a month old. Quality construction and quality materials joined forces on this one.
More Info: www.1up-usa.com
RockyMounts Backstage Swing Away
- Swings to the side to allow easy access to rear compartment
- Robust construction
- Excellent ground clearance
- 2" receiver required
- 2 bikes only
- Heavy at 60 pounds
This is a quality hitch rack from a fine Colorado company that has recently improved their designs and quality. If you want a swing-away rack that gets out of the way so you can access your hatch or tailgate, this is a great option.
More Info: rockymounts.com
Lowdown: Küat NV 2.0 Hitch Rack
Küat changed the game a few years ago, introducing a hitch rack that looked as good as it performed. Now they've launched v2.0, which like its predecessor includes a bike stand. We're not sure how much use it actually gets, but Küat went ahead and improved the usability of the stand in the second version of this hitch rack. They've also learned a lot about current needs and trends, including building in compatibility for all the new wheel and tire sizes. To learn more check out the full review below, starting with this video demo.
Check out our Küat NV 2.0 first look here.
- Incredible quality and finish
- Compatible wide array of bikes
- Includes workstand and locks
- Most expensive in category
- Paying for workstand you may not need
- Heavy at 55 lbs
The Küat NV 2.0 is a significant improvement over the first version in terms of features, fit and finish. Wheel size compatibility is the most noticeable update, but every feature of this hitch rack has been improved. It also continues to be a standout in the looks department. And its other unique feature, an integrated bike work stand, has been improved as well.
Rocky Mounts SplitRail 2-Bike Platform Hitch Rack
The Rocky Mounts SplitRail 2-bike platform hitch rack is built with both dedicated cyclists and and recreational enthusiasts in mind, offering a sleek design and a lightweight chromoly/aluminum build. Fits from skinny road tires to up to 3 in. wide, 20 - 29 in. wheels, and plus-size tires; accommodates a max wheelbase of 48 in.
- 60lb. capacity per bike for 120 lbs total
- No frame contact and tires slot in the rails safely
- 3 bike max expandability only
- Can onbstuct visibility
Price: $374.73 (marked down from $499.95) save 25%
Lolo Racks 4-Bike
- Easy to load multiple bikes and even has 6-bike option
- Separates bikes well with solid bar mount that prevents bikes from rotating
- Transports mountain and road bikes
- Requires additional adapter to haul dual crown bikes
- Requires 2" receiver
- Heavy at 68 pounds
More Info: www.loloracks.com
What do you look for in a bike hitch rack and what are your favorite brands and models? Let us know in the comments section below.
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