It’s hard to believe (especially after the decade that was 2020), but next month marks the official beginning of spring here in the northern hemisphere. That also means the start of the outdoor season (unless you’re the sort of masochist who relishes hiking, kayaking, cycling, and the like in sub-zero temperatures). You no doubt have plenty of gear to tote on your upcoming adventures, which means you’re going to need a way to transport your two-wheeler from the garage to the trail. From hitch-mounted bike racks to more traditional roof-based alternatives, here are the best bike racks to shop in 2021.
For a roof-mounted wheels-on solution, Yakima’s HighRoad Upright Bike Mount is as simple as it gets. It’s versatile enough to accommodate tires between 26-29 inches in diameter and up to 3.25 inches wide. The built-in locks protect your two-wheel investment, while the contact-free design helps protect your vehicle, too.
For solo riders who appreciate an even more streamlined solution, there’s Thule’s OutRide Roof Bike Rack. The fork mount design provides secure transport for one bike with a quick-release wheel strap to lock the rear wheel firmly in place. It’s adaptable to a variety of two-wheelers, including those with Quick Release axles, disc brakes, and up to three-inch-wide tires. Plus, it fits most factory roof racks and all Thule roof rack systems.
If money is no object, 1UP USA’s deceptively simple Equip-D Bike Rack is among the best on the market. The company has built something of a cult-like following in recent years with racks that are remarkably durable, versatile, and easy to use. The Equip-D Double features a hitch-mounted, clamping design with no straps, hooks, or other adjustments, making it dead-simple to transport your two-wheeler. A smart tiered design allows the bikes to stow closer together and high enough to stay out of the way of your vehicle’s exhaust.
For many reasons, hitch-mounted bike racks are often more convenient than their roof-mounted counterparts. But, they can also get in the way of trunks and tailgates. Thule sidesteps this common frustration with a swing arm design that swings toward the passenger side of your vehicle, allowing easy access to your trunk or rear hatch. It’s heavier and more expensive than most traditional bike racks, but it’s hard to beat the convenience.
For riders on a budget, Yakima’s ForkLift bike rack is one of the most basic and affordable bike racks on the market. The nine-pound frame mounts quickly and effortlessly to almost any round or square factory crossbars. It also comes ready-to-go for fat-tire bikes and those with disc brakes, and a sliding tray makes for easy positioning of the rear wheel.
Most bike racks, especially the roof-mounted variety, tend to be lightweight and ultra-compact. But, this often limits the size and weight of the bikes they can carry. Saris’s MTR 2 is a beast of a rack designed to transport even the largest, bulkiest two-wheelers. It’s hearty enough to hold two bikes, up to 60 pounds each, opening the door for singletrack riders and heavier electric bikes. It’s even expandable to allow for carrying up to two additional bikes (four total).
The key to RockyMounts’ flagship Tomahawk upright bike carrier is its versatility. The design accommodates virtually any size or style of two-wheeler from 20-inch to 29-inch wheels. Plus, it mounts to all vehicle crossbar styles, including round, square, or aero. The easy-load wheel straps make loading your two-wheelers a snap, and the optional locks ensure they stay put whether parked or on-the-go. At less than $170, it’s also one of the best bang-for-your-buck bike roof racks on the market.
Traditional trunk-, hitch-, and roof-mounted bike racks have been tried and trusted for years. But, they’re often a significant investment and, for the 95% of the time when you’re not transporting your bike, they affect your vehicle’s gas mileage and can cause a lot of unwanted road noise. This Rock Bros vacuum bike mount is compact, ultra-portable, and can be removed or swapped from your vehicle in seconds. It’s great for travel and also costs a fraction of what its traditional competition charges.
If roof- or hitch-mounted rack solutions aren’t options, a truck mount is your last hope. Saris’ Bones EX 3-Bike Trunk Rack boasts a clever arc design that separates each bike onto a different level and will also fit over the factory spoiler of most cars. At just 13 pounds, it’s one of the lightest on this list and one of the easiest to uninstall and reinstall when needed.
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