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 bike racks but we'll focus this round-up on the most advanced, the highest enthusiast-level hitch bike racks. Hitch racks transport the bike behind the vehicle in hitch receiver, common on all trucks, SUVs and crossovers. If your vehicle doesn't have a hitch receiver, they're available for most makes and models as an add-on.


Hitch bike racks are by far the best way to transport mountain bikes, but they cost a little more than other options. If you're serious about the sport, these racks offer the greatest utility and versatility to transport your prized possessions.

Here's a look at some of the best hitch bike racks on the market.

Best Hitch Bike Racks
Yakima Ridgeback
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The Yakima Ridgeback is great for families.
Pros:
  • Tilt handle easily accessible
  • Very compact and easily removable
  • Yakima quality and warranty
Cons:
  • 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
Bottom line:
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.

Price: $379.99 (four bike version)
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Saris SuperClamp EX
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The Superclamp EX comes in 2-bike or 4-bike version pictured above.

Pros:
  • Tilt handle easily accessible
  • Compact design enhances rear visibility and parking ease
  • Low weight at 35 pounds or 63 lbs for 4 bike
Cons:
  • Bike interference can occur
  • Loading/unloading is not as easy since arms are shared
  • Reduces ground clearance
Bottom line:
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. However, with the new SuperClamp EX, 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-weight has been a godsend for taking the rack on and off our vehicles. Comparable 4-bike hitch racks are about 100 lbs and can be cumbersome to move for some people. At almost half weight and the size makes it manageable to lift and maneuver.

Superclamp EX2 2-bike price: $499
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Superclamp EX4 4-bike price: $999
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Thule T2 Pro XT
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The T2 Pro XT is a highly evolved version of a tray mount classic.
Pros:
  • Best in class tilt lever
  • Broad tire/wheel size compatibility
  • Reliable security system
Cons:
  • Sliding arms could be tighter and wobble-free
  • Limited side-to-side rail adjustability
Bottom Line:
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.

Price: $750
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1UP USA 2" Super Duty Double
Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers
1 UP's racks are US-made and incredibly sturdy.
Pros:
  • Good ground clearance, as each stage increases height, also reducing bike-to-bike contact
  • Hitch rack and bikes do not protrude far from the vehicle, compact and modular
  • Exceptional construction, nearly all metal and LOOKS DIALED
Cons:
  • Cam system can loosen over time, with no thru-bolt safety
  • The anodized black color comes with an upcharge
  • Heavy bikes can be a bit wobbly
Bottom Line:
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
Price: $625-$679

RockyMounts Backstage Swing Away
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The side-swing function is great for accessing gear in the back of your car or truck.
Pros:
  • Swings to the side to allow easy access to rear compartment
  • Robust construction
  • Excellent ground clearance
Cons:
  • 2" receiver required
  • 2 bikes only
  • Heavy at 60 pounds (for a 2-bike rack)

Bottom Line:
This is a quality hitch rack from a fine Colorado company that has recently improved its 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.

Price: $749.99
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Küat NV 2.0 Hitch Rack
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Küat changed the game a few years ago, introducing a hitch rack that looked as good as it performed. Check out our Küat NV 2.0 first look here.


Pros:
  • This rack has looks that match high-end cars and SUVs
  • Compatible with wide array of bikes
  • Includes workstand and cable lock
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Paying for workstand you may not need
  • Some users report issues with racheting arms after extended use (great warranty support, however)

Bottom Line:
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.

Price: $849.99
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Rocky Mounts SplitRail 2-Bike Platform Hitch Rack
Hot Deals from REI
This rack can carry your skinny-tired road bikes as well as massive fat bike tires with ease.

Pros:
  • Wide tire range compatability
  • No frame contact and tires slot in the rails safely
Cons:
  • 3 bike max expandability only
  • Can obstruct visibility more than other racks
Bottom Line:
The Rocky Mounts SplitRail 2-bike platform hitch rack is built with both dedicated cyclists 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.

Price: $579.99
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Lolo Racks 4-Bike
Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers
Lolo makes versions of its rack for 4 or 6 bikes so you can bring all your friends.
Pros:
  • 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
Cons:
  • Requires additional adapter to haul dual crown bikes
  • Requires 2" receiver
  • Heavy at 68 pounds
Bottom Line: The Lolo rack is sturdy and comes in versions to haul four or six bikes vertically. The racks are constructed in the United States and are made to take a beating.

More Info: www.loloracks.com
Price: $745

Hitch Bike Rack FAQ: What to look for in a hitch bike rack

What size receiver should I use for a hitch rack?
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The two most widely available hitch sizes on passenger vehicles are 1-1/4" and 2"
Trailer hitches come in a range of sizes, depending on the application. The two most widely available sizes on passenger vehicles in the United States are 1-1/4" and 2". The smaller diameter 1-1/4" hitch standard is suitable for racks that carry one or two bikes. If you plan to carry more than two bikes, or if you have a heavier e-MTB, the 2" standard is the better option. We suggest sticking with a 2" receiver whenever possible, as they allow the widest range of carrying options and are more stable. Note that some makes and models are only rated to 1-1/4" receivers, so do your research before buying.

Hitch rack versus roof rack, which is better?
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Roof rack, hitch rack, or both?
The primary cons of hitch racks are that they require a hitch receiver, which you might not have for your vehicle, and they can reduce your ability to view cars approaching from behind. But if you have the need to regularly haul bikes, those negatives quickly fade away.

When compared to a roof rack, hitch racks don't impact your gas mileage as much, they're easy to load and unload from your vehicle-especially if you own a tall SUV. Last but not least, a hitch rack is much safer than a roof rack when it comes time for a stop at the drive-thru or driving into your garage. Check our forums for countless horror stories of mountain bikers forgetting to unload bikes from their roof racks before parking in their garage-it's not a pretty sight.

Will a hitch bike rack impact my gas mileage?
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Unless you're carrying bikes inside your vehicle, they will result in excess drag and lower miles per gallon. The exact reduction in MPG will vary based on vehicle type and speed (city versis highway). Most Mtbr users report a drop of 1-5 MPG when hauling bikes. Hitch racks position the bikes in the vehicle's slipstream, so they have a significantly lower impact on gas mileage than bikes mounted to the top of a vehicle.

Tray or hanging hitch rack?

Two of the high-end hitch rack configurations are seen here.
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.

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