SUVs are great vehicles for all your outdoor adventures. There’s plenty of room for the whole family and lots of extra space for all your camping, fishing, and sporting equipment. If you’re the kind of family who likes to go biking you might need a different solution. Besides the fact that bikes are large and carrying 2-3 would leave you with no space for the rest of your gear, loading and unloading bikes from inside your SUV would be a big hassle. That’s where a handy SUV bike rack comes in.
There are several types of SUV bike racks to suit a whole range of needs. Whether you want a roof rack, a hitch rack, a trunk mounted rack, or something else, this guide will cover them all. We’ll give you our top picks in each category and breakdown the benefits and features of each so that no matter the outing, you have the right bike rack for you. We’ll also answer several questions that first time bike rack buyers or even biking veterans might have as well as give you several of our favorite picks in each style of SUV bike rack.
Top Picks For Each Category
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There are a wide variety of bike racks out there for your SUV. The Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack is our best overall pick thanks to a combination of factors. While the best bike rack for SUVs may vary based on what you need. Our top pick is the best performer in a number of categories. It features multiple bike carrying capacity, solid steel construction, movable components and some impressive additional features making it a winner all the way around. If you’re in the market for a bike rack you can’t go wrong with our top pick.
The 4 Best SUV Hitch Mount Racks
Our top pick in this category, this is a vertical bar hitch rack that safely stores 4 bikes. This bicycle hitch rack is one of the best for a reason. Made of heavy duty solid steel construction it has a 140 lb capacity to carry all your bikes. Has a convenient fold down design so accessing the rear of your vehicle won’t be a problem.
This rack features adjustable tie down cradles, a rust proof finish that enables it to go off road without worry and a lifetime warranty. It’s also easy to use and can account for all your bicycle needs.
Our top overall pick, this is another vertical staff hitch mount bike rack with great features. One thing to note is you’ll need a 2″ hitch installed on your vehicle to mount this bad boy. It features a 22″ carrying arm with tie down straps that secure your bikes in place. The initial setup is quite simple and the carrying arms fold down out of the way when no bikes are fitted for easy storage. There is no support arm, however the solid steel main arms are secure enough that one is not necessary.
To remove the rack, simple pull the pin from the hitch receiver. Another heavy duty offering made of solid steel with a black powder coated finish. This model can be somewhat heavy but with that weight comes exceptional quality and the lifetime warranty provided by Allen Sports is a nice bonus.
This particular hitch mount rack has a variety of models available, each with its own menu of special features such as a swing away mechanism which enables you to move the rack to the side or “swing away” to access the vehicle rear. Another feature is movable cradles. There are a number of options for any kind of biking excursion.
The Kuat Sherpa 2 or sherpa 2 0 as it is sometimes called is a versatile platform bike hitch rack made of durable and lightweight all aluminum construction. The entire rack weighs just 32 pounds fully assembled. making it easy to use and easy to dismount should you need to switch to another vehicle.
This SUV bike rack features increased spacing between bikes at 14″. It hooks to both types of trailer hitch 1 1/4″ and 2″ which makes it more versatile than other bike racks for SUV drivers. It comes with bike lock and matching hitch lock for added security. It also has a unique front wheel hook feature with intuitive release to prevent bike movement by hooking the front wheel in place. Foot assist pivot drops the rack when your hands are full and the cable lock feature means you can walk away feeling secure that your bikes aren’t going anywhere
The sherpa 2 0 is a great option for stable transport of 2 bikes and has many features which improve quality of life when using a hitch mount bike rack to transport your bikes.
The Thule T2 Pro Xt is another great offering from Thule. A great platform hitch rack, the T2 pro xt is one of the best options for customization. The platform features side to side adjustable wheel trays to prevent bike contact. The wheel trays are designed to fit almost any bike type or size from 20″ to 29″ length and 5″front wheel or real wheel width. A dual locking mechanism locks the bikes to the rack and the rack to your vehicle with receiver and cable locks. The customizable fitting allow this platform hitch rack to accommodate nearly any and every bike type on the market which Thule likes to ensure with most of their products.
The ease of mounting and customizable spacing makes this platform hitch rack comparable to larger tray style hitch racks without the sizable footprint. This bike hitch rack is easy to install without tools and folds flat when not in use. If you have a 2″ trailer hitch receiver you can increase the capacity from 2 bikes to 4 with the Thule T2 Pro Xt bike add on. As always Thule backs their products with a warranty.
Roof Mounted Bike Racks
Bike racks for roof mounts are one of the best ways to transport multiple bikes or a combination of bikes and other sports equipment. You might think the roof of your SUV is only for transporting large equipment for kayaking or other sports, or maybe for moving large cargo boxes and things of that nature, but a roof rack is a great way carry your bikes without worrying about whether you can access your back hatch.
Roof racks offer a number of ways to store your bikes and other gear. Most racks mount easily to your vehicle’s existing crossbars and store your bikes either flat against your roof or fully standing using straps and wheel clamps. This can create a few issues such as increased vehicle drag, which reduces gas mileage, and clearance issues for some parking garages and drive throughs. These issues are relative to the ride height of your vehicle though and many places offer adequate clearance space. The other issue is that rooftop racks require you to lift your bikes onto the top of your vehicle. Some roof bike racks do offer lift assist features to held reduce the weight burden of lifting your bikes.
- Lower Cost Than Other Rack Types
- Can Store Up to Five Bikes
- Can Store Other Cargo as Well
- Very Stable
- Doesn’t Block Rearview
- Less aerodynamic Increasing Ride Height and Gas Use (the difference is not that bad though!)
- Rack Requires Overhead Lifting (though some models offer load assist to make it easier)
The 3 Best Roof Mounted Bike Racks
The Yakima Forklift is a different type of bike carrier than most. It comes fully assembled straight out of the box and mounts to almost any crossbars. The fork mounting system holds bikes upright fully assembled without needing to take off the front wheel of your bike. Perfect for low profile SUVs or even taller vehicles as long as you mind your clearance, it is a great option for safely transporting your bike. The rack keeps the bikes elevated off of your vehicle roof to prevent paint damage during transit.
The adjustable wheel tray accommodates bikes of different lengths and the mounting width allows for wider bikes as well. Each Forklift holds 1 bike upright, up to 35 pounds. Proper roof space will allow for up to 2 bikes to be transported at a time. Yakima also provides a limited lifetime warranty for the product.
Another standout, the yakima frontloader is an odd looking roof bike rack that fits just about any bike there is. This roof mounted bike rack fits extra wide and long bikes up to 40 lbs. You can fit two per car roof so carrying two bikes is easy. The standup lock in place system makes loading your bikes onto your vehicle roof much easier than other models. The yakima frontloader is a great choice for a bicyclist with a new of different bikes who wants a permanent SUV bike rack that can accommodate changing gear.
It’s an incredibly easy to mount bike rack with completely tool free installation. It fits most any crossbars as well. It also holds bikes contact free of your vehicle to prevent damage. This variant is a more versatile offering than others in the category and comes with a limited lifetime warranty to boot.
Not as flashy as its more popular cousin the swagman chinook, the swagman standard roof rack is a fork shaped single bike rack that fits any bike regardless of size, type, or purpose. This model requires you to remove the wheel off the front of your bike before locking the bike into place, which can be a bit of time consuming process at first but once you get through the motions of it, you’ll be mounting and dismounting your bike at lightning speed.
While removing the wheel takes some time, the lighter weight makes it easier to mount, less likely to get stolen and bikes are much more stable in this rack. Simple slide the bike in place, thread the locking pin through the bike and strap the bike in place using the convenient straps and support arms. The swagman chinook may get most of the attention but this roof mount is a solid performer among similar racks.
Strap-On Trunk Racks
Trunk racks are widely considered some of the best bike racks for transporting bikes without a hitch. If you have a single bike or 2 bikes, a trunk mounted bike rack is an excellent space saving and inexpensive choice as compared to some of the the pricier hitch styles. Trunk mounted bike racks come in a variety of styles but most of them are compact enough that they won’t hinder your driving and are easy to use and install.
A trunk mounted bike rack is surprisingly secure. They clamp securely to the hatch of your SUV and features numerous support bars and straps for securing your bike during transit. They are great bike carriers for solo riders as they are usually like weight and at a medium height that makes mounting and unmounting bikes easier. The rack will usually have sway protection and pads to protect both bike and vehicle. If you’re in the market for a great all purpose bike rack, then a trunk rack is the way to go.
The biggest advantage of this type of rack is that your bike is securely mounted without the need for extra equipment. Hitch mount racks often require adaptors, some roof type racks require you to take the front wheel off, and spare tire racks require specific mounting instructions. A trunk rack is a simple installation process and once the bike or bikes are strapped in, you’re free to travel. Some users complain that trunk mounted racks are susceptible to theft, however most bikes are quite securely latched in to where theft would be difficult. Users also complain about accessing the trunk or in the case of an SUV the rear hatch of the vehicle, yet many trunk mount bike racks are easy to remove or fold down when not in use allowing access to the rear of the vehicle.
The 3 Best Strap-On Trunk Racks
Another in the quality line of Thule bike racks the Raceway Pro 2 is a two bike trunk rack that securely locks in your bikes with ease for rapid on the go use. Great for permanently mounting your favorite bike or for swapping between all your vehicles for all your different biking trips. This bike rack is barely there yet provides excellent quality with secure ratcheting straps. Easily one of the most customizable bike racks out there it features movable rack arms to suit a variety of bike shapes, anti-sway cages to prevent bike contact and padded cushions to prevent damage to bike or vehicle. Locks your bikes to the rack and the rack to the vehicle for added security. Patented FitDial guarantees the rack fits your vehicle. The arms fold down when no bikes are present so space is not an issue the Thule raceway pro 2 is in a league of its own and a definite must for carrying your bikes.
Saris Bones line of bike racks is widely considered the one that started it all. With years of proven sales, the bones 2 bike rack is the most popular bike rack in the world for good reason. The arc based design fits most trunks and rear hatches, even those with spoilers and separates bikes on different levels. The construction is ultra light weight thanks to Saris’ signature injection molded design. This heavy duty grade plastic makes the rack light while retaining great strength for supporting two bikes. Saris says it’s the strongest 2 bike trunk rack on the market. The rack itself is rust proof, features spring buckle straps and vinyl coated hooks to project your bike from scratches. It also has anti-sway straps and holds 2 bikes up to 70 lbs or 35 lbs each.
The bones has been on the market for over two decades and is widely considered one of the best bike racks on the market, period . There several versions of the bones line and each one is backed by Saris’ lifetime warranty. The Saris bones 2 bike rack is a great choice for an SUV bike trunk rack when bulkier options won’t fit or when you don’t have a hitch or crossbars.
The Allen Sports Premiere looks exactly like what you’re getting, a sturdy and secure bike rack for your car or SUV. The bike rack comes fully pre-assembled and Allen’s patented quick snap set-up guide allows for easy set up right out of the box. The bike rack mounts to most any car, van or SUV with no additional equipment necessary. While a trunk bike rack typically fits a car better than a Sport Utility Vehicle, the multiple straps and locking clamps ensure the premiere fits securely to your back hatch regardless of ride height or vehicle width. This model accommodates two bikes with great spacing in between. The vehicle contact points are padded to protect your car or SUV’s paint job and each cradle on the bike rack features separate no contact tie downs to protect your bikes.
One of the more unique features of this bike rack is that it comes in 3 models for 2 bikes, 3 bikes or even 4 bikes, which is impressive for a trunk mounted bike rack. The versatility of options makes this a perfect rear mounted bike rack for all your bikes. It’s also a great value bike rack if you’re not in the market for bulkier more expensive options to transport your bikes.
Spare Tire Bike Racks
One of the more unique ways to mount your bike is to use a spare tire bike rack. For Jeeps, Minivan’s and other Sport Utility Vehicles that have a spare tire attached to the rear of the automobile this is an excellent way to store your bikes. Obviously this won’t work with your car, since most times in a car the spare tire is inside the trunk, but for those with SUVs it’s a one of the best ways to use space that’s already allocated for dual purpose.
A spare tire bike rack is a bit unique compared to other types of racks. It mounts onto or in place of your rear mounted spare tire allowing for storage of one or two bikes on the fly. A convenient feature that is often overlooked is that spare tires often swing away allowing you to access the back of your automobile which means, even with bikes mounted you still have access to your back seat storage. This is not always the case with car trunk systems that you require you to dismount them from the car or take the bikes off. Most spare tire racks hold the bikes off your SUV so that their is no damage but you should always check to make sure of a proper fit.
- Easy to Install and Remove
- No Overhead Lifting of Bikes
- No Contact Between Bikes and Vehicles
- Must Remove Tire Cover (but it’s a tire so does it really need a cover?)
Top 3 Spare Tire Bike Racks
As Yakima says, the SpareRide puts your spare tire to work. This carrier mounts directly onto your spare tire and holds 2 bikes. It features a universal mounting bracket that fits almost any size spare. Features anti sway cradles for your bikes and trademark zip strips for security and theft protect. The rack is able to mounted almost effortlessly and without tools making it a quick and easy solution for transporting bikes if you don’t have a hitch or crossbars or just want an extra emergency solution.
This is a solid steel rack, so even though it may seem like an emergency option for storing your bike, this thing is made for the long haul. It even has pads to protect your automobile and your bikes from contact. It has great antitheft features for those worried about losing their bike and it even has a handy bottle opener, because you never know when that may come in handy.
This one from Hollywood Racks a great choice for a quick “throw on” bike rack for your spare. It comes completely pre-assembled and mounts to your tire in seconds. It comes with several expansion brackets to ensure it fits almost any tire. The connection points and cradles are also padded to protect your bikes.
The support arms of the rack are also adjustable to fit side mounted tires or to store flat when no bikes are mounted making it a convenient space saver. It comes with locking features for both the rack and the bike cradles to insure a safe and secure fit and to deter theft. It even has all the instructions you’ll need for mounting it to any automobile and under what conditions it is optimally mounted, including strap tightness and securing the bracket. This is an extremely sturdy option for transporting up to two bikes.
This is another sturdy option by Thule. It fits normal and oversized tires and accommodates up to two bikes. It features anti-sway cradles to prevent bumping of bikes during transit and a locking cable secures the bikes to the rack, while a locking knob secures the rack to your tire. The arms fold neatly out of the way when the rack is not in use.
Despite the sturdiness and ability to carry more than one bike, the rack is surprisingly lightweight and a breeze to install. This is a quick option for storage that doesn’t protrude out as far as some other spar tire racks, giving you a much more uniform profile to your automobile and making maneuvering with a bike attached somewhat easier.
What is the Best Bike Rack For SUV?
There are a lot of bike racks out there and among all those bike racks they are divided into different categories. So the answer to that question is really, it depends. The best bike rack for your SUV will be the one that you need for your particular style of biking. If you’re an avid solo cyclist you might want a trunk mounted bike rack or a spare tire bike rack for carrying just one or two bikes. If you’re a family of bicyclists then perhaps you want a sturdy rack for your roof or hitch rack.
Beyond figuring out what type of bike rack you need, there are a number of other things to think about as well. Price is often a concern, at least when you’re first thinking about buying a bike rack. Among the different types of bike racks, certain ones are inherently more expensive than others. A hitch rack or roof rack is more expensive than a trunk or spare tire rack. Further still the price increase based on the number of bikes the rack can hold. After you’ve settled on a price point, the next thing to consider is load capacity and overall construction. You want to make sure that the bike rack you buy is able to carry the weight of the bike or bikes you’re going to use. Lastly, you’ll want to consider the utility of the rack you choose. Can I still access my trunk with this rack attached? Will I be able to park my vehicle? How difficult or easy is the rack to install? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you pick the perfect bike rack for your SUV. If you are looking for something lighter to load and off-load your bike, consider buying a roof mounted bike rack and check our recent post about the 9 best roof mounted bike racks.
Do Trunk Bike Racks Work On SUVs?
Yes, trunk bike racks mount to the hatch of the vehicle instead of the trunk lid like on a car so they are a great option if your SUV doesn’t have crossbars or a hitch. Trunk mount racks are a great space saving option when you don’t want to have to elongate your vehicle with a pull behind hitch or are worried about clearance with a roof rack. There are a variety of trunk bike racks, some of which mount over the spoiler if your vehicle has one. Check out our reviews for the best bike racks for Subaru Outback here and best bike racks for Jeep Wranglers.
What is the Easiest Bike Rack to Use?
This is another question that depends a lot on what you want to do with your bikes. A tray style hitch rack is a good of bike carrier as they are easy to load and unload your bikes onto and off of. However, if you find yourself having trouble driving your vehicle or parking while using one of these, another option is a simple trunk mount bike rack. Most of these type of bike racks are easy to install and only require you to place your bikes into the cradles and strap them in. Rooftop racks are generally more difficult to use as they require you to lift the bike onto the roof of your vehicle. Some roof racks do feature lift assist functions but still require a lot of overhead lifting. Spare tire racks are useful as well if you have a spare tire suitable for mounting one to.
You may also like: Graber Bike Rack Reviews
How Do You Put a Bike Rack On An SUV?
Most SUV bike racks install the same way on an SUV as they do on a car or any other vehicle. For trunk bike racks, simple attach the rack to the back hatch of the SUV as you would the trunk of your car. Most trunk mount racks come with easy to follow instructions that often don’t require tools. Our review on the best trunk bike racks may interest you.
Most bike racks for SUV roof mounting install to the crossbars on top of your vehicle. If your vehicle doesn’t have crossbars on top you can often find after market crossbar kits or even a handful of roof racks that don’t necessitate crossbars to fit onto the roof of your car or SUV.
For a hitch rack, whether it is a tray style hitch, a platform style hitch, or a cradle hitch require that your vehicle have a tow bar or hitch at the back end. Then you simply have to line up the receiver of your hitch with the connected on the rack (usually a threaded hole) and bolt the two pieces together. Most can be installed relatively easily. Make sure that you are careful as a hitch mount bike rack can sometimes be heavy. If plan to use a bike hitch rack make sure that you have proper clearance to park you vehicle when driving. If you have a minivan, check out review on the best bike racks for minivans.
Spare tire racks are just like they sound, they mount onto your spare tire. This type of rack you won’t see on a car, but more than likely on a jeep, hatchback, or other type of Sport Utility Vehicle. Installation is usually fairly simple and requires you to screw in the rack to the lugs of the tire using a mounting plate or bracket. Spare tire racks are great bike carriers when you only have a single bike and want to save space or if you don’t have a hitch mount or crossbars.
You may also like: Swing-Away Bike Rack Reviews
Can You Use Car Bike Carriers On An SUV?
This is a deceptively simple to answer question. Generally yes, most bike carriers that will fit on a car will also fit on a Sport Utility Vehicle. With the exception of some Jeeps and other vehicles with spare tires attached to the back hatch, most SUVs can fit the same bike carrier as a car. A trunk rack mounts to the hatch of an SUV instead of the trunk lid like on a car, hitch racks can be mounted to any vehicle hitch that they fit car, truck, or SUV. Roof carriers also work the same on a car as an SUV, with exception to the difference in height.
Now that we’ve answered some of the pertinent questions about bike racks, we’ll dive into the different categories of bike racks and provide examples of each. There are 4 categories of bike racks for SUVs.
- Hitch Mounted Bike Racks
- Roof Mounted Bike Racks
- Strap-On Trunk Racks
- Spare Tire Bike Racks
Hitch Mounted Bike Racks For SUVs
If you’re in the market for a bike rack that lets you load and unload your bikes without all that heavy lifting, then a hitch mount bike rack is for you. As long as you don’t have a vehicle like a jeep that has the spare tire mounted to the rear of the vehicle, hitch racks are a great option for carrying multiple bikes at a time, from a simple 2 bike rack, to a massive 5 bike rack for SUV drivers with a family of bicycle enthusiasts. A hitch rack is the primary type of bicycle rack for SUV drivers do to the sheer utility of them.
These types of bike carriers are great for carrying multiple bikes and towing them behind your vehicle will keep them out of the wind, making your vehicle more aerodynamic and consume less gas. Not only that, many of them have features that let you access the back of your SUV such as swing away, tilt, or fold up options. To install a hitch mount bike rack you first need to know what size hitch receiver your vehicle uses. Hitch receivers typically come in two sizes. 1 1/4″ and 2″ . Once you know the size of your hitch receiver on your vehicle all that’s left is to lock the bike rack to your hitch and you’re good to go. You can also check our recent post where we talk about everything you need to know about bike racks for RVs. Our recent post about the best 4Runner roof rack might also be useful for you. We have also listed some ultimate storage ideas on our blog about garage bike racks. But if you plan to store your bikes indoor, our post about floor bike racks might help you.
There are a few types of hitch mounted bike rack. A platform bike rack is just like it sounds, a stable platform or tray that you load all the bikes onto. Others use an individual tray for each bike or a vertical staff to mount the bike to and velcro straps to hold them in place. Tray style or platform racks are some of the easiest to unload. When you place a bike onto a tray, most models lock the bike in place using a front wheel clamp or securing straps that fasten the bike onto the tray, which is then locked into place by the hitch.
- Variety of options for style and budget
- Most Durable of Rack Types
- Easy to Install
- Easy to Remove
- More Aerodynamic
- May Obstruct the Rear of the Vehicle Including Back Hatch Access, Tail Lights or Tag (most modern vehicles have workarounds for this though so it’s not so bad)
- Can be Expensive Depending on Model or Necessary Adaptors (but for the carrying capacity and ease of use, they are easily worth the price!)
Now that you’ve read our “Best Bike Racks For SUV” (Ultimate Guide), we hope we’ve given you all the information you need to make the right choice when you’re out shopping for your next bike rack. We’ve tried to answer some of the more pressing questions about the difference between car racks and racks for SUVs and give you a good idea of the differences between carrying a bike on your car versus a sport utility vehicle. We’ve given you several options to choose from for each type. You can also check our recent post about truck bed bike racks to be guided on how you can transport your bikes while preventing damage for both of your bikes and vehicle. You can also check our recent post about truck bed bike racks to be guided on how you can transport your bikes while preventing damage for both of your bikes and vehicle. You can also check our recent post about truck bed bike racks to be guided on how you can transport your bikes while preventing damage for both of your bikes and vehicle. You might also be planning to install a cargo box on vehicle, so we have posted a review on Thule vs Yakima cargo boxes to guide and answer your questions about cargo boxes. The next time you’re out looking for a bike rack consider our top pick the Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack.
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