What Type of Bike Hitch Rack Should You Use?

What Type of Bike Hitch Rack Should You Use?

When choosing a hitch rack for your vehicle, there are several factors to consider.

Here’s an overview of the main types of hitch racks and who they might be best suited for:

  1. Platform Hitch Racks: These racks are stable and easy to load. They hold the bikes by the wheels and usually include some ratchet system to secure them. This type is ideal for those who want to minimize lifting and for bikes with unique frames.
  2. Hanging Hitch Racks: Hanging racks are generally lighter and less expensive than platform racks. They hold bikes by their top tube, which can be an issue for bikes with unique frame designs. They’re often a good choice for families or groups transporting multiple bikes simultaneously.
  3. Swing-away Hitch Racks: These are a subtype of either platform or hanging racks. They swing out of the way to allow access to the vehicle’s rear without removing the bikes. These are ideal for people who frequently need access to their trunk or hatchback.
  4. Tray Hitch Racks: Tray-style hitch racks are similar to platform racks but typically lighter. They’re easy to load and offer excellent stability. This type is a good choice for those who want the stability of a platform rack without the extra weight.

Each type of rack has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best one for you depends on your specific needs, such as the type of you have, how many bikes you need to transport, how often you’ll be using the rack, and your physical ability to lift and load the bikes.

Platform Hitch Racks

Platform Hitch Racks are popular due to their ease of use and stability for bikes during transport.

Here’s a more detailed look at their key features:

  • Ease of Loading: Platform hitch racks keep the bikes lower to the ground, making it easier to load and unload, especially heavier ones. This can be a significant advantage for people struggling to lift heavy items.
  • Bike Stability: These racks hold bikes by the wheels, providing superior stability during transport. It minimizes bike-to-bike contact, reducing the risk of damage.
  • Compatibility: Because they secure bikes by the wheels, platform hitch racks are compatible with various bike designs, including bikes with unusual frames that may not fit on hanging racks.
  • Security: Many platform hitch racks come with built-in locks, providing an added layer of security when leaving bikes on the rack.
  • Size: These racks are larger and heavier than other types, making them more difficult to install and remove. They can also add significant length to your vehicle when installed.

In conclusion, platform hitch racks are a great option if you’re looking for a bike rack that’s easy to load, provides excellent stability, and is compatible with a wide range of bike designs.

Kuat NV Base 2.0 Bike Rack, Matte Black, 1.25″ Hitch Size
  • 2 bike capacity up to 60 lbs. Each
  • Holds wheelbases up to 48″ and tires as large as 4.8″
  • Adjustable front tire cradle system

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another useful feature of platform-style is their ability to fold up. This feature allows you to easily store your rack in a garage or on a vehicle.

It is also easy to install and has a sturdy structure. It can accommodate up to four bikes.

However, if you need to carry more than four bicycles, you may need to invest in a rack with up to eight bikes.

Platform-style bike hitch racks are also available with a rear reflector. Some models are more secure than others.

The Thule Helium Platform 2 is one such option. It fits tightly in the hitch receiver and is sturdy and lightweight. It also features dual ratcheting arms.

These racks are made with durable materials, including aluminum. Some models come with locking anti-wobble knobs and pins to prevent thieves from stealing the rack.

Vertical Bike Racks

Vertical bike hitch racks have become increasingly popular over the last few years. They are usually used on shuttle rigs and guide service vehicles and can securely hold up to five bikes.

These racks are positioned so the fork crown and tire are in the center of the rack and can accommodate road, gravel, or mountain bikes.

The racks can be very heavy and are not recommended for carrying e-bikes.

There are three types of vertical bike hitch racks, each with a different capacity. Some are designed to hold three bikes, while others are built to hold as many as seven.

They are compatible with various bikes; some are designed for bikes with dropper bars.

Yakima HangOver 6 Hitch Bike Rack Black, One Size
  • Bike Capacity: 6
  • Compatibility: 2in hitch receivers
  • Locks Included: HitchLock included
  • Part Number: 8002485
  • Manufacturer Warranty: limited lifetime

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Depending on your needs, you can find a rack right for you.

Platform-style racks are a more expensive option. These racks are ideal for bikes up to 60 pounds.

They are available in a one-bike or three-bike version and include a cable lock. They are also very easy to install and offer the security of a platform design.

Another popular choice is the Yakima Hangover.

This rack is easy to install and requires less than half an hour of your time. Its main drawback is that it is one of the heavier vertical bike hitch racks.

Depending on the model, it can weigh up to 80 pounds. So, you may need assistance while docking it into the hitch and loading your bike.

Most cyclists prefer racks that feature a tilt mechanism. The tilt feature allows cyclists to lean the rack when opening a tailgate or rear hatch.

This feature is available on almost all hitch-mounted bike racks.

Tray Hitch Bike Racks

There are many benefits to using a Tray-style bike hitch rack. Unlike other bike hitch racks, which can cause damage to the bike, these are gentler on the frame and tire.

The rack will only contact the wheel and tire, not the frame and painted parts. The price of these racks is significantly less than other bike hitch racks.

If you’re concerned about the durability of your bike hitch rack, consider a rack made of durable plastic. Some models are lightweight and easy to install, while others may need a bit of professional installation.

The MonoRail, for instance, is well-constructed and includes a metal receiver arm and main support arm. The rack also features plastic wheel trays.

It comes with a standard threaded hitch pin. Although it’s not as user-friendly as some competitors, the MonoRail does perform well for its price.

Tray-style bike hitch racks are the most versatile of the three. They are easy to install and have easy-to-use adjustments.

They’re also compact and convenient but less attractive than a traditional bike rack. These racks can carry a variety of bikes, including fat-tired models.

The biggest downside to Platform-style bike hitch racks is their size and weight. Some models can carry up to four bikes.

While the innovative 1UP Recon Rack 6 is made to hold up to six bikes in a vertical hanging position, most riders will stick with the two-bike design.

If you’re a family or a group of riders, you might want to look into higher-capacity hanging models.

Another advantage of Platform-style bike hitch racks is their higher carrying capacity. They can accommodate two to four bikes and are easy to install.

Many popular models feature add-ons to double their carrying capacity. The Thule T2 Pro XT Add-On and Kuat NV 2.0 Add-On are examples.

Hanging Hitch Racks

Hanging Hitch Racks are another common type of bike rack.

Here are some of their key features:

  • Capacity: Hanging hitch racks often have a higher capacity than platform racks, making them a good choice for families or groups transporting multiple bikes at once.
  • Lightweight: These types of racks tend to be lighter than platform racks, making them easier to install and remove.
  • Cost: Hanging racks are generally less expensive than platform racks, making them a more budget-friendly option.
  • Bike Compatibility: They hold bikes by their top tube, which can be an issue for bikes with unique or non-traditional frame designs. You may need to purchase an adapter for these bikes.
  • Bike Stability: Hanging hitch racks typically don’t provide as much stability as platform racks. Bikes can sway during transit, increasing the risk of bike-to-bike contact.
  • Loading Ease: Loading bikes onto a hanging rack can require more lifting than with a platform rack, which could be a consideration if you have heavy bikes or struggle with lifting.

In summary, hanging hitch racks can be a good option if you need to transport several bikes and are looking for a lighter, more budget-friendly option.

However, they might not be the best choice for bikes with unconventional frames or if you’re concerned about bike stability during transit.

Hanging bike hitch racks are a popular choice for bicycle riders. The design is minimal and in contact with the bike frame but not as bulky as wheel-mount racks.

They are also very easy to use for standard-frame bikes. These racks also have adapter bars that clamp onto the bike’s seat post or head tube. However, this can feel a bit hacky for some riders.

Yakima Versatile HangTight 6 Vertical Hanging Hitch Steel Bike Rack for 2 Inch Hitch Receivers with Fully Padded Cradles and Tilting Design, Black
  • Hitch Bike Rack: Vertical, versatile hitch rack that accommodates bikes with wheelbases up to 50 inches and weights of up to 37.5 pounds each, handling 20 t0 29-inch tires up to 5 inches wide, ensuring versatility for different bike sizes
  • Secure Transport: Securely transport various bike types such as road, mountain, cruiser, and kids’ bikes thanks to fully padded dual cradles that protect handlebars, including carbon bars
  • Enhanced Security: Integrated lock loop allows for the addition of a personal bike lock, while the HitchLock provides additional security
  • Convenient Accessibility: Foot-operated tilt mechanism grants easy access to the rear of your vehicle, and bottle opener is built in for added convenience after your biking adventures
  • Compatibility: Fits 2-inch hitch receivers exclusively and does not pair with BackSwing and StraightShot (HangTight 4 only), and for dual-crown fork bikes, HangTight DH Cradle accessories (sold separately) offer compatibility and expandability

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hanging bike hitch racks are not cheap, but they’re more convenient. Plus, they weigh half as much as platform racks.

These racks are also smaller and lighter, so they can be tucked away in a garage corner when not in use. They also work great for carrying multiple bikes.

A hanging bike hitch rack may be more practical if you frequently remove your vehicle. They are also less bulky than platform racks, making them easier to transport and uninstall.

These racks are not as stable as their platform counterparts. So, consider investing in a platform style to carry multiple bikes.

There are many different types of platform bike racks. Platform racks are less expensive but require purchasing a hitch receiver to attach them.

Platform racks are easy to mount but less secure than hanging bike hitch racks. Some have padding, but it may not protect the bikes from scratches and dents.

Vertical hanging bike racks have become increasingly popular in recent years. The most popular of these racks is made for up to six bikes.

You can also use drop-bar bikes. But beware that they require two people to set up and take down.

Swing-away Hitch Racks

Swing-away Hitch Racks provide unique convenience for those who frequently need access to the rear of their vehicles. Here are some of their key features:

  • Access to Vehicle: The main advantage of swing-away racks is that you can easily access your vehicle’s trunk or hatch without needing to unload your bikes. This is particularly useful for long road trips or camping where frequent access to the trunk might be needed.
  • Stability: Depending on the model, a swing-away rack can be a subtype of either a platform or hanging rack. Therefore, your bike’s stability will depend on your rack’s specific design.
  • Ease of Use: Swing-away racks generally use a hinge or pivot system that allows the whole rack to swing out from the vehicle. You must ensure this mechanism is user-friendly and durable to withstand regular use.
  • Cost: These racks tend to be more expensive than standard platform or hanging racks due to the added functionality and complexity of the design.
  • Weight and Size: Swing-away hitch racks can be heavy and bulky like platform racks. Consider this if storage space is an issue.

In conclusion, swing-away hitch racks are an excellent choice if you frequently need access to the back of your vehicle while transporting bikes.

They offer a great blend of functionality and convenience, albeit at a higher price.

Yakima’s OnRamp

OnRamp is the e-bike rider’s best friend. Its combination of secure performance and efficient design makes carrying heavier bikes easy.

It also fits on the standard trailer hitch, ensuring your bike remains secure. It also features easy-release wheels for easy adjustment.

Yakima OnRamp 2 Bicycle Capacity 2 Inch EBike Carrier Hitch Mount Bike Rack, Compatible BackSwing and StraightShot, Black
  • Car Bike Rack Storage Space: Supports 2 bikes, each up to 66 pounds, for thrilling journeys; Compatible with the Yakima BackSwing and StraightShot for enhanced functionality
  • Adjustable Bike Frame Design: Can carry E-Bikes, mountain, road, hybrid, women’s specific, BMX bike, and bikes with fenders with ease, ideal beach cruiser bike rack for versatile outdoor use
  • Hitch Carrier Heavy Duty Capacity: Designed with an RV rating of 40 pounds per bike and Rated for off-road excursions as a hitch bike rack, capable of holding bike wheelbases up to 50 inches
  • Bike Mount Security: Features integrated SKS locks for both bikes and the vehicle receiver provide stability; Adjustable hitch tire carrier trays minimize bike-to-bike interference, ensuring a smooth journey
  • Easy Cargo Bike Access: Fits tires up to 29 by 3.25 inches and even wider, up to 27.5 by 4.5 inches with the optional FatStrap Kit; Conveniently tilts forward with loaded bikes

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Yakima OnRamp bike hitch rack is versatile and can accommodate bikes with tires from 20″ to 29″, wheelbases up to 50″, and even e-bikes.

It also accommodates bikes with fenders. Another feature of this rack is that it can be folded to provide more clearance when parking your car in a garage or parking lot.

The OnRamp is designed to carry two bikes weighing up to 66 lbs. But its off-road rating is only 44 lbs, so you should be careful when driving on dirt roads with potholes.

It also comes with an installation key, which helps you tighten the rack to your vehicle.

The bike hitch rack also features a built-in ramp, which makes loading heavier bikes easier.

However, it has one downside: the rack is finicky, and you’ll need two people to tilt it correctly when loading.

Yakima’s OnRamp bike rack is one of the best-selling bike racks on the market. It has many features and is a popular choice among cyclists. The OnRamp is easy to install and use.

It has many steps to follow but doesn’t take long to set up. Once you’ve mastered its strapping system, loading your bike is easy.

Happy Biking

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