Unless you drive a van or a pickup, putting a bike in your car is a bit of a hassle. It normally requires taking the wheels off, folding down the seats, and shoving the pieces into the cabin until the trunk lid closes. There’s a good chance you’ll end up with grease or mud stains on your nice upholstery. The simple solution is getting a bike rack.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of racks: Carriers mounted on top of your car, those that hang from the back with straps, and those that attach to your hitch. Which route you take depends on the type of car you drive, how often you need to carry a bike, and, of course, how much you want to spend. Regardless, these are your best options.
Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike ($40)
The Allen Sports Deluxe is the lowest common denominator in the bike rack world. It won’t break the bank, it takes seconds to install, and it’s designed to fit a wide variety of cars, including SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, and minivans. The manufacturer notes that the 12-inch-long arms make it easy to accommodate just about any type of bike. And, like all strap-style racks, it won’t take up much space in your garage.
Tyger Deluxe Black 1-Bike ($109)
Tyger’s Deluxe Black 1-Bike is great if you’re the lone rider in your household. It’s a sturdy, compact unit built to carry a single bike on the back of a car. Individual soft cradles protect the bike’s frame, while a protective coating ensures the rack won’t rust to pieces after just a year’s worth of use. Note that bikes without a top frame bar will require an extra-cost adapter bar before they’re mounted to the rack.
Saris Bones EX trunk carrier ($230)
Saris claims the Bones’ arms are among the strongest ones on the market, so users don’t need to worry about the rack bending under the weight of three bikes, and it fits 90% of America’s bestselling cars. It’s built entirely with recyclable materials, and it’s guaranteed not to rust. Its arc-shaped design means it can even be mounted on cars equipped with a trunk-mounted spoiler. It’s more of a premium product than basic options like Allen’s rack, but it will make your life considerably easier if you’re a frequent rider.
Thule Camber ($270)
The Swedes take bike racks seriously. Sweden-based Thule is one of the biggest names in the rack industry; it’s the company that manufactures the bike racks you see on the front of buses in some cities. The Camber is a hanging carrier that attaches to your car’s hitch. That means you need a hitch, of course. It tilts down when users need to open the trunk, and it features clever anti-sway cradles that prevent the bikes from rubbing against each other.
Allen 2-Bike Hitch Rack ($100)
Allen’s hitch-mounted Sports Deluxe is a good option for users who occasionally need to carry bikes. It’s similar in design to other hitch-mounted racks, but it’s a more basic product with a wallet-friendly price tag. You get a lot for the money: It can carry up to 70 pounds, it’s powder-coated, and it boasts a no-wobble bolt. It fits 1 1/4-inch and 2-inch receivers. For extra peace of mind, Allen offers locking and non-locking models.
Tyger 3-Bike Hitch Mount ($150)
The Tyger hitch-mounted bike rack is a step up from Allen’s comparable unit, due to its features and price. Both companies built these mounts with the same idea: The rack mounts directly into the hitch. It tilts down to provide unobstructed access to the trunk. For added convenience, the arms fold down when they’re not in use. This rack includes a cable lock to ensure no one steals your bikes in addition to a hitch lock to ensure no one steals your rack. The Tyger mount can hold three city bikes, but only two mountain bikes.
Kuat Sherpa 2.0 ($498)
This rack certainly isn’t cheap, but the Kuat Sherpa is the ideal hitch-mounted rack for serious riders. This rack, made entirely out of aluminum, is one of the lightest among its competitors and was recently redesigned to include more user-friendly features. For example, it now comes with a foot-actuated pivot lever that allows users to lower the rack even if their hands are full. This rack comes in three colors, and Kuat promises a tool-free installation process.
CyclingDeal 1-Bike Roof Carrier ($40)
The CyclingDeal roof-mounted bike carrier is as simple as it gets. It’s essentially a metal rail that allows users to secure their bike onto the crossbars of your car’s roof. If your vehicle doesn’t come equipped with crossbars, you’ll need to buy a set (and not just for this carrier, virtually all roof carriers need crossbars). The rear wheel remains on the bike, while the front wheel will need to go in the trunk.
Thule UpRide ($240)
Thule’s UpRide rack lets you carry a bike on your car’s roof without taking it apart. Clamps secure the bike on both wheels, which means no risk of damaging the frame, and it can carry up to 44 pounds. Like all roof-mounted bike racks, you’ll need to install it on crossbars. You can use the factory-fitted bars, buy a set from Thule, or order aftermarket bars. Be careful not to forget about this rack when driving into parking garages or other structures with low ceilings.