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What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Mar 8 2024

If you don't live in an area where you can embark on a nice bike ride just by walking out your front door, you'll probably need a bike rack to get your bike or bikes to a safe place to ride.

Depending on your vehicle, you might be able to get one bike in without a rack, but in most cases, a bike rack is the safest and most convenient way to transport a bike or two.

This is where bike racks for cars, trucks, and SUVs come in. The problem is that there are quite a few different types of bike racks available, and some are vehicle-specific, like a truck bed bike rack. Let's take a look at what to consider when buying a bike rack, including the different types and what vehicles they work best for.

Types of Bike Racks

Before you consider anything else, it's important to figure out which type of bike rack will work best for your needs and vehicle. As mentioned above, there are several types to choose from, so let's explore the pros and cons of each.

Hitch Bike Rack

Hitch bike racks come in tray and mast-style mounts and are designed to be installed on the tow hitch of your vehicle. These tend to be one of the most popular choices in a bike rack for a car.

They're versatile, easy to load, and easy to install. They're also very secure with a locking mechanism that attaches the rack firmly to the vehicle and the bikes to the rack. Hitch bike racks tend to be more expensive than other types due to their more advanced design.


- Easy to install on any vehicle with a hitch

- Easy to load and access

- Good level of security

- Better for fuel economy


- Tend to be expensive

- You'll need to buy and install a hitch if your car doesn't have one

- Some basic models hinder trunk access

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Roof Mount Bike Racks

As you might expect, roof mount bike racks are installed on the roof of your vehicle. This gives you more flexibility to load your bike without blocking access to your trunk or liftgate. Some models require the front wheel of each bike to be removed before loading. The models that don't tend to be more difficult to load and are less stable, but it's a tradeoff for not having to remove the front wheel of your bike every time. Roof racks can be used for other things besides bikes as well.


- Secure and stable

- Won't block access to liftgate or trunk

- Can be used for other things besides bikes


- Adds drag to your vehicle's aerodynamics

- Adds substantial height to your vehicle

- Can be difficult to load and unload due to height

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Trunk Mount Bike Rack For Cars

This type of bike rack uses straps to attach it to the lip of your car's trunk. This is a good choice if you have a car that perhaps doesn't have a hitch and you're on a budget. Trunk mount bike racks tend to be the least expensive. However, they do have some downsides. They're not particularly secure and most don't come with locking mechanisms. They can also damage your car's paint when installed.


- Inexpensive compared to other types

- Portable and convenient

- Easy to load

- Small and easy to fold for storage


- Not very secure

- Can damage your paint

- Interfere with trunk access

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Truck Bed Bike Racks

These bike racks are only for trucks as they are mounted in the bed of a pickup. Some types mount to the bed rails of your truck, while others attach to the tailgate area. Truck bed bike racks have hooks and straps to attach the racks to your bed and the bikes to the racks.


- Usually inexpensive

- Usually universal fitment in truck beds

- Easy to load and access

- Can be used for multiple bikes


- Bikes may sway

- Might interfere with bed or tailgate use

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Spare Tire Bike Rack

This type of bike rack is similar to a trunk bike rack for a car, but it works for SUVs that have a spare tire carrier on the rear of the vehicle. These racks either rest on the spare tire or securely attach to the tire mount. They're usually inexpensive and are quick and easy to install.


- Easy to install and remove

- Affordable price range


- Can usually only hold two bikes

- Tire cover must be removed

- Adds a few extra feet to the length of your vehicle

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

RV Bike Rack

RV bike racks are bike racks that have been designed and approved for use on an RV, motorhome, or fifth wheel. These are typically installed on the rear of the RV. Depending on the type of RV you have, you might not want to install a rack on your RV at all, but on your tow vehicle.


- Easy and convenient way to haul bikes with an RV

- Frees up tow vehicle for other things


- Adds length and weight to your RV

- May be expensive

What Type of Bike Rack Do I Need?

Other Factors to Consider

Depending on your vehicle, you should be able to narrow down the type of bike rack you need with the above options. The next things to consider are your budget, how many bikes you need to carry, the security you need, and how much work you're willing to do when loading and unloading your bike.

For example, roof mounts work on almost every vehicle, but lifting your bike onto your roof every time might not be feasible. Trunk mounts are easy and cheap, but they don't provide a lot of security. The bike rack you choose should take your specific needs into account.

Popular Bike Rack Brands

There are quite a few different bike rack brands, including Enthuze, SportRack and CURT. Probably the most popular brand is the Thule bike rack. Thule makes truck bed bike racks, van bike racks, roof-mounted bike racks, upright bike carriers, tailgate carriers, and many more. Thule is a popular and trusted brand by cyclists all over the world.

Bring your bike to any trail or campsite with ease when you install a bike rack on your car, truck, or SUV. Action Car and Truck Accessories offers a wide selection of quality bike racks at great prices. You can get bike racks installed at any Action location as well. Shop our full selection of bike racks and bike rack accessories today.