Which is Better - A Trunk Or Hitch Bike Rack?

Which is Better – A Trunk Or Hitch Bike Rack?

Both trunk and racks have their own unique sets of advantages and disadvantages.

The better option for you would depend on your specific needs and circumstances.

Trunk :

  • They are usually lighter and more compact, making them easier to store when not in use.
  • They are typically less expensive than hitch racks.
  • They can be adjusted to fit a wide range of vehicles.
  • They are easy to install and remove, requiring no tools or professional assistance.

However, there are a few potential downsides:

  • They may block the vehicle’s rear window, reducing visibility.
  • They often make it more difficult to access the trunk.
  • They may scratch or damage the car’s paint if not installed correctly or if they aren’t properly padded.
  • They generally don’t have as much carrying capacity as hitch racks.


  • They can carry more bikes than most trunk racks, making them ideal for larger families or groups.
  • They are generally sturdier and more secure than trunk racks.
  • They allow for easy access to the vehicle’s trunk.
  • Some models can tilt down or swing away from the vehicle, allowing for access to the trunk even when bikes are loaded.

On the flip side:

  • Hitch racks are typically heavier and bulkier than trunk racks.
  • They require a hitch receiver to be installed on the vehicle (if not already equipped).
  • They tend to be more expensive than trunk racks.
  • If installed at a low height, they can potentially obscure the vehicle’s license plate or rear lights.

In conclusion, if you need something that is lightweight, budget-friendly, and easy to install/remove, a trunk rack might be the way to go. However, a hitch rack could be worth the investment if you need to transport multiple bikes and want something more sturdy and secure.

Hollywood Racks Destination E Hitch Bike Rack with Ramp for 2 Bikes up to 70 lbs Each – Secure, Lockable Electric Bike Rack – Premium, Foldable Bicycle Car Racks for Standard or E-Bikes
  • Safe, Secure Electric Bike Transport: Travel far and wide with this sleek and modern ebike rack. Our car for 2 bikes carry electric and standard bikes weighing 70 lbs each. This bike hitch can accommodate any tire up to 4.5 inches wide
  • Expandable Ramp for Easy Loading and Off Loading: This bicycle rack for car includes a 46-inch aluminum ramp. Perfect for cross country touring or a quick ride, our hitch mount bike rack lets you load and unload bikes quickly and easily
  • Special Features for Added Security: Our bike racks for tow hitch feature an adjustable locking frame, seat post clamps, and hitch tightening system. This 2 bike rack hitch mount ensures secure wobble-free transport for electric and standard bikes
  • Foldable Bike Rack with Balanced Tilting Feature for Easy Vehicle Access: Our bike carrier hitch mount folds flat against the car when not in use. This rack 2 includes a balanced tilting feature for easy access to your truck or car while bikes are loaded.
  • Designed for a Wide Range of Bike Models and Vehicles: This bike car rack requires a 2″ hitch and carries standard and electric bikes. Our bike racks and hitches can be used with your car, truck, SUV or crossover.

Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Trunk Bike Racks

An easy-to-install trunk or hitch bike rack can be an excellent way to protect your bikes and keep them organized.

Trunk bike racks are a popular choice for many cyclists due to their versatility and affordability. Here are some key points to consider about trunk bike racks:


  • Portable and Lightweight: Trunk bike racks are generally lighter and easier to maneuver than other types of bike racks. This makes them a good option for those who don’t want to leave a rack on their vehicle at all times.
  • Affordable: They tend to be less expensive than other types of bike racks, making them a good option for those on a budget.
  • Versatile: They can be easily adjusted to fit a variety of different vehicles.
  • Easy Installation: Most trunk racks require no tools for installation and can be easily set up by one person.


  • Limited Capacity: Trunk bike racks usually can’t carry as many bikes as hitch or roof racks. They typically have a capacity of 1-3 bikes.
  • Potential for Damage: There’s a risk of scratching the vehicle’s paintwork if the rack isn’t installed properly or if it’s not properly padded.
  • Restricted Access: They can limit access to the trunk of your vehicle when installed.
  • Security: Bikes on a trunk rack may be more vulnerable to theft than those on a hitch or roof rack, as they’re generally easier to remove.

In conclusion, trunk bike racks are a good choice if you’re looking for something that is affordable, lightweight and easy to install. However, if you need to carry more bikes or if vehicle access and security are major concerns, you might want to consider other types of bike racks.

Hitch Bike Racks

Hitch bike racks are a great choice for cyclists who frequently transport their bikes. These racks attach to the hitch receiver located at the back of the vehicle. Here’s what you should know about hitch bike racks:


  • Carrying Capacity: Hitch bike racks have a higher carrying capacity compared to trunk racks. They can typically hold up to 5 bikes.
  • Ease of Use: Bikes are generally easier to load and unload on hitch racks because they sit lower than roof racks.
  • Access to Vehicle: Unlike trunk racks, hitch racks allow unimpeded access to the trunk of the vehicle.
  • Sturdiness: Hitch racks are generally sturdier than trunk racks, providing a more secure transport for your bikes.


  • Requires Hitch Receiver: Your vehicle must have a hitch receiver to install a hitch bike rack. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to get one installed which can be costly.
  • Bulky: Hitch racks are larger and heavier than most trunk racks. This could make them more difficult to install and remove.
  • Visibility and Clearance: Depending on the design and how high your bikes sit, a hitch rack can obstruct the vehicle’s rear view or could scrape on steep driveways or speed bumps.
  • Price: Hitch bike racks are more expensive than trunk bike racks.

In conclusion, a hitch bike rack could be a good investment if you frequently transport several bikes and want a sturdy and easy to use. However, be prepared for the extra cost and ensure your vehicle has a hitch receiver or can have one installed.

Black Widow Aluminum e-Bike or Fat Tire Bike Carrier with Roll-On Roll-Off Ramp, 400 lb. Capacity, 2″ Steel Hitch Tube, 5.5″ Track, Includes Anti-Rattle Device
  • Lightweight, high-strength aluminum carrier and loading ramp; steel hitch tube
  • Transport up to two eBikes or fat tire bikes with tires up to 5″ W; tie-down straps sold separately
  • Roll-on, roll-off ramp design for easy loading and unloading; Dual-purpose design is sturdy enough for dirt bikes
  • 47″ L self-storing loading ramp with a welded hook; 400 lb. total weight capacity
  • Includes an anti-rattle device to prevent tilt and wobble in motion

Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Roof Bike Racks

Roof bike racks are another option for transporting bikes with your vehicle. They are mounted on the roof of the car, providing a secure and stable platform for your bikes. Here’s what you should know about roof bike racks:


  • Space Efficient: Roof bike racks don’t obstruct access to the trunk or hitch of the vehicle, and they don’t increase the vehicle’s width, making them a space-efficient option.
  • Versatility: They can often be used to transport other items, like kayaks, snowboards, or cargo boxes, in addition to bikes.
  • Security: Many roof bike racks come with locks, providing additional security for your bikes.
  • No Extra Equipment Needed: Unlike hitch racks, roof racks don’t require a hitch receiver on your vehicle.


  • Height Clearance: Roof racks increase the height of your vehicle, which can be an issue in areas with low clearance, like parking garages or drive-thru restaurants.
  • Loading Difficulty: Loading bikes onto a roof rack can be difficult due to the height, especially for shorter or heavier individuals.
  • Impact on Fuel Efficiency: The added height and wind resistance can decrease your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
  • Potential for Damage: There’s a risk of forgetting about the bikes when entering garages or areas with low clearance, which could result in damage to the bikes and/or vehicle.

In summary, roof bike racks can be a good choice if you want a versatile rack that doesn’t obstruct access to your vehicle. However, they come with their own challenges, including potential height issues and difficulty loading.

HYPERAX Volt 2 -E Bike Hitch Mounted Platform Style 2 Bikes Carrier for Car, SUV, Trucks, Sedan, Tilting e-Bike Rack for Hitch Fits Up to 2 X 70 lbs Bike with Up to 5″ -NO RV USE!
  • TILTABLE RACK: Access your car trunk with ease! Simply remove the safety pin and allow the bike rack to gently tilt downward while bikes are mounted on the rack, giving you access to the rear trunk
  • 140 LB TOTAL CAPACITY: Supports up to 70 pounds per bike, our rack is compatible with mountain bikes, electric bikes, road bikes with up to 5-inch fat tires, and up to 58-inch wheelbase. For step thru bikes / lady bikes required bike adapter (not included) Remark: this rack is capable of carrying two super 73 E bikes as long as they are within 70 pounds of each E bike.
  • SAFE AND SECURE: Comes with co-injected soft rubberized hooks that secure your bikes in place without scratching the paint. Featuring dual key locks to prevent bikes and bike rack from being stolen. Adjustable wheel holders allow you to easily accommodate bikes of different sizes and wheelbases. Tighten the wheels with reflective velcro straps that help improve visibility in the dark. Additional security straps included, ensuring your bike stays firmly on the rack
  • CARRYING HANDLE / INTEGRATED WALL MOUNT HOOKS: When the rack is fully removed from the vehicle, and the rack is in the storage position, simply grab the carrying handle to move the rack around or hang the bike rack on the wall with integrated wall mount hooks to save your valuable space
  • 2 INCH HITCH RECEIVER: Works with vehicles with 2-inch receivers. Secured by a ½ inch anti-wobble pin and a key lockset, the rack is sturdy and does not wobble easily. Note: NOT FOR RVs, trailers, or any kind of Class B vehicles Patent pending

Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Consider their durability

When choosing a trunk or hitch bike rack, consider the durability and ease of installation. Some racks are simple to mount, while others are more complicated.

These racks also have a single point of contact with your vehicle. However, they are not the most elegant way to transport your bicycle.

Choosing a hitch-mount bike rack is a good option if you plan to use your car for many years.

Hitch mounts are more secure and sturdier than trunk racks, and most manufacturers offer locking solutions.

A bike lock can be purchased separately or integrated into the rack’s design.

Another option is a platform bike rack. These have a lower load height, making it easier for you to load your bike and get in and out of the car.

They can also be more convenient to install because they are lower to the ground. Hitch mounts are also easier to install, as the racks do not touch the car’s body.

Because of this, they can reduce rubbing against your vehicle’s paint.

The best trunk or hitch bike racks are made from durable materials. The 1 Up rack is made from aluminum and does not rust or chip paint.

Other top performers are the Kuat NV 2.0 and Kuat Sherpa. Both of these models have powder coat finishes resistant to weather conditions.

Some users may not be aware of the possibility of damage to their racks.

If a hatchback is opened while the car is in the upright position, the hatchback can hit the bike rack, causing damage to the car and the rack.

Also, if you are not careful, the bikes may contact the car without securing them properly.


Here are some frequently asked questions about bike racks:

1. Can a bike rack damage my car?

  • A bike rack can scratch or dent your car if incorrectly installed. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use padding when necessary.

2. Can I go through a car wash with a bike rack on?

  • Generally, going through a car wash with a bike rack attached to your vehicle is not advisable. The brushes and high-pressure water could damage the rack or your car.

3. Can a bike rack hold any bike?

  • Most bike racks are designed to hold a variety of bikes, but there may be exceptions for particularly heavy or uniquely shaped bikes. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications before purchase.

4. Does installing a bike rack require professional help?

  • Many bike racks, particularly trunk and hitch models, are designed for easy installation and don’t require professional help. However, it may be best to seek assistance if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the installation process.

5. Are bike racks safe for long trips?

  • Yes, bike racks are designed to hold your bikes for travel securely. However, it’s important to regularly check the rack and the bikes to ensure they’re secure during long trips.

6. How many bikes can a rack hold?

  • This varies by model. Trunk racks typically hold 1-3 bikes, hitch racks can often hold up to 5 bikes, and roof racks usually hold 1 bike per mounted carrier.

7. Do I need a license plate for my bike rack?

  • Some states require an auxiliary license plate if your bike rack or cargo obscures your vehicle’s original plate. Check with your local DMV for specific regulations in your area.

8. How do I use a bike rack to protect my bikes from theft?

  • Many bike racks come with locks for added security. If yours doesn’t, consider purchasing a sturdy bike lock. Also, try to park in well-lit, high-traffic areas whenever possible.

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