Bike Rack Series: Best hitch racks

Exploring the best hitch rack options in the market

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Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers

Hitch racks allow the bikes to be visible and out of the roof drag.

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.

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

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.

Yakima Ridgeback

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.

More info: www.Yakima.com
Price: $319
buy now

Saris SuperClamp EX
Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers

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. 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
buy now

Superclamp EX4 4-bike price: $765
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Thule T2 Pro XT

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
  • Not as sleek looking as competitors
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.

More info: www.thule.com
Price: $579.95
buy now

1UP USA 2” Super Duty Double

Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Cam system can loosen over time, with no thru-bolt safety
  • Color black is an upcharge
  • Heavy bikes can be 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: $559-$639

RockyMounts Backstage Swing Away

Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers

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
Bottom Line

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
Price: $575
buy now

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.

Pros

  • Incredible quality and finish
  • Compatible wide array of bikes
  • Includes workstand and locks

Cons

  • Most expensive in category
  • Paying for workstand you may not need
  • Heavy at 55 lbs
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: $649
buy now

Rocky Mounts SplitRail 2-Bike Platform Hitch Rack

Hot Deals from REI

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.

Pros

  • 60lb. capacity per bike for 120 lbs total
  • No frame contact and tires slot in the rails safely

Cons

  • 3 bike max expandability only
  • Can onbstuct visibility

Price: $374.73 (marked down from $499.95) save 25%
buy now

Lolo Racks 4-Bike

Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers

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

Bike Attachment: Holds via bars, rear wheel strap, wheels face rear
More Info: www.loloracks.com
Price: $649

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.

Mtbr is committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • JD Dallager says:

    I’ve had a 1UpUSA rack for 7 years. Absolutely superb, indestructible, easy to use, looks like new still. Made in USA too!

  • Harlan says:

    The Lolo is the best rack for the money. It’s stupid simple and may not have some of the “special” engineering of other racks but it’s also more stout. I’ve used the other popular standing bike racks and hands down the LoLo rules. The DH adapter is a one time addition and once it’s on you can still fit your other bikes on it.

    Watch out if you like a lot of bar warts tho. Those Strava devices don’t work well with LOLO.

  • Adrian C says:

    The oneUP has my approval. I think through bolt safety is a non issue as your not towing with the rack, nothing is pulling on it.

    If you pull the lever up when closing that mechanism should last a long long time as your not wearing it down. Its also replaceable for $9 bucks!. No plastic junk.

    I would say its not the lightest.

  • Axl MTB says:

    1up is the best – 5+ years and counting – looks and works as new – even can grow from 1 to 4 bikes as needed – high bottom clearance – solid as rock and perfect because nothing touches bikes frames. The rack Stash 1up sells is perfect to store the rack anywhere and can be used as bike stand….

  • Bill C says:

    No Yakima Dr Tray? Absolutely one of the best 3 racks available. Latest version eliminated bike rocking and it only weighs 35 lbs! Easy to adjust trays in all 4 directions with no tools. Great bike clearance and a third bike tray option.

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