Bst Hitch Bike Racks 2020

Best Hitch Bike Racks (2020)

There's nothing better than breaking out the bike on a mild day, feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, gliding over the trail (or off it, depending on personal preference).But we all know sometimes we have to drive to get to where we really want to ride. And that means finding the right bike rack to get us there, whether it's a slick-looking contraption like the Kuat NV or the family-and-budget-friendly Thule Hitching Post Pro. Working at etrailer, I've had the opportunity to test and review bike racks. A lot of them. I've narrowed down my top hitch bike rack choices that stand above the rest in terms of bike protection, ease of use, and included features to make the choice easier for you. Check out my top 6 list below—your bike rack awaits!Top 6 Hitch Bike Racks of 2020
Top 6 Hitch Bike Racks of 2020
Bike RackCapacityWhy Choose This Rack?
1. Thule T2 Pro XT2-4 BikesBest Overall (etrailer choice)
2. Kuat NV2-4 BikesSharp, compact design
3. Thule Helium1-2 BikesHigh quality for serious cyclists
4. Yakima HoldUp2-4 BikesSturdy with middle-of-the-road price
5. Kuat Transfer1-3 BikesStep-through design, great bang for buck
6. Thule Hitching Post Pro4 BikesCan carry whole family's bikes; value price

1. Thule T2 Pro

# TH9034XTIN A NUTSHELL: Great security; wide cradles make it easy to load; front-mounted lever (for tilting rack) is easy to access
Carrier weight: Approx 52 lbsCapacity: 60 lbs per bike (2 bikes)Also available: 2-bike add-on OR 4-bike modelLocks: Bike and hitch lock includedTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Motorhome, car, truck, SUV, van
Thule T2 Pro Bike Rack
This Is For You If:
If you want effortlessness and security and don't mind paying a bit more upfront. The Thule T2 Pro looks a bit bulkier than some of its counterparts (like the slender Kuat NV, for instance), but this rack feels solid. Personally, I think this bike rack is the easiest to load due to the wide sliding wheel cradles. The rack is sturdy, and everything slides into place with ease. There's no worry here that my bikes will fall off my vehicle or get scratched; they feel safe and protected on the Thule T2 Pro. Since the rack secures the bike by the wheels and not the frame, it's perfect for carbon frames or custom paint jobs. A lot of bike racks claim to have an "easily accessible" lever to tilt the rack, but the T2 Pro tops the list, in my opinion, with its front-mounted lever you can press with your foot. No reaching around or between bikes. One-Key System locks are also included to protect your bikes and the rack. This rack is also the most versatile on our list. It can hold wider tires than any other rack (its max tire width is 5"), so it's great for fat bikes. Although the Kuat NV and Transfer 2 can both carry fat bikes as well, only one fat bike strap is included with the NV, and the Transfer 2 requires an adapter.
Thule T2 Pro Bike Rack
WHY ERIC LOVES HIS T2 PROEric, etrailer neighbor 1 year later (5/5 stars)"Ok, I know it may seem expensive, but this rack is great. (When you figure your carrying close to 10 grand in bikes it's worth the piece of mind.) Carries all of our family bikes, from two 29ers, a 26 inch and the boys 20 inch bike with simple adjustments. In fact I switch from kids bikes to all 29ers all the time. No more stopping on the side of the road to adjust bikes on a frame rack. Bikes on and off the rack in seconds. Only drawback is the rack itself is heavy."
This Is NOT For You If:
Honestly, there's not much we don't like about the T2 Pro, except that if you consider yourself more of a casual bike rider than a dedicated cyclist, this may be more bike rack than you need. Also, at 52 lbs for the 2-bike model, the T2 Pro is as heavy as it looks.
Thule T2 Pro Bike Rack
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR AMELIA MIKEAmelia Mike, etrailer neighbor(2/5 stars)"Online videos it looked wonderful, outstanding, the ultimate bike rack, with so many neat and wonderful features, fold down handle, no tool install, integrated locks, ect, ect, . In the flesh, its is all that.......EXCEPT IT MUST WEIGH 6000 lbs. !. Maybe King Kong could lift it and install it, but it going to take two people unless your Hercules. Great if you want to put on the vehicle and leave it on for years,......too heavy for practical on off from garage to vehicle."

2. Kuat NV

# NV22GIN A NUTSHELL: Sharp, compact design; built-in maintenance stand
Carrier weight: Approx 52 lbsCapacity: 60 lbs per bike (2 bikes)Also available: 4-bike configurationLocks: Bike and hitch lock includedTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Car, truck, SUV, van
Kuat NV Bike Rack
This Is For You If:
If you want a bike rack that's functional, durable, and super sleek, you'll love the Kuat NV as much as I do. The NV just looks and feels sharp. With its distinctive gunmetal gray and anodized orange powder coat finish, this is a bike rack that looks good on the back of your vehicle. (You can also grab the NV in metallic black if you prefer!)But it's not all about looking pretty; the NV is full of functionality as well. It even includes a unique built-in repair stand that attaches to the front of the rack. This repair stand is perfect for on-the-go maintenance—no bike shop required. Ratcheting hooks with TPE coating grip your bike by the front wheels without making frame contact, so no worries about scratching or scuffing. Plus, the foot lever lets you tilt and fold the rack by yourself as needed for cargo access.I felt completely confident leaving my bike on the NV; once everything is tightened down, your bike isn't going anywhere. Kuat spent three years perfecting this bike rack, and the finished product will last you much longer. Just take a look at the reviews on the Kuat NV, and you'll see NV owners raving about their rack years after the fact.
Kuat NV Bike Rack
WHY PG LOVES THEIR T2 PROPG, etrailer neighbor1 year later, 5/5 stars"Are you kidding me? After owning a few different racks, I can fully back the Kuat NV 2.0. What a great rack. It's sturdy. It has the built in trail-doc for roadside bike adjustments. It has a built in lock. It's attractive. All positive things to say. I could not be more impressed with the build quality and ownership."
This Is NOT For You If:
If you want a rack that's super light, value priced, or nearly completely assembled upon arrival, you should consider one of the alternatives on this list.Despite its deceptively compact size, the NV is heavy at 52 lbs, so don't let the design fool you! No, it's not heavier than the Thule T2 Pro, but considering how much smaller it is, I was surprised at its weight the first time I picked it up. Then again, at least I know the NV is solidly built! One other minor annoyance is that the lever that allows you to tilt the rack away from the vehicle isn't the easiest thing to access when bikes are loaded. In this respect, I actually appreciate the Thule T2 Pro, Thule Helium, and Kuat Transfer a bit more.If you want a rack that's nearly ready right out of the box, you should consider a Thule or Yakima product, since Kuat's racks come in more pieces than the other racks on our list. You only have to assemble it once, of course, so it's worth the extra effort for a rack you'll love, but it is something to be aware of.A single fat-bike extender strap is included, but if you'll be carrying more than one fat bike at once, you'll need to purchase an additional strap.
Kuat NV Bike Rack
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR LES K.Les K., etrailer neighbor(4/5 stars)"I have only gotten to use the rack once so far but it performed well. The rack feels quite solid. I got the 1-1/4" version so I am interested to see how durable the hitch tube is with (2) bikes on it. The anti-rattle device seems to perform as advertised and keeps the rack pretty stable in the receiver. In retrospect I might have gotten the Sherpa 2. This is not due to any issue with this rack except that it is HEAVY at ~55lbs. I think this is a necessity for its ability to carry (2) 60lb bikes. I don't think most people would actually have bikes that heavy. I think the Sherpa would have suited me well and been more manageable at ~35lb."

3. Thule Helium

# TH44VRIN A NUTSHELL: Great for serious cyclists; easy to load; front-mounted lever (for tilting rack) is easy to access
Carrier weight: Approx 43 lbsCapacity: 37.5 lbs per bike (2 bikes)Also available: 1-bike modelLocks: Bike and hitch lock includedTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Motorhome, car, truck, SUV, van
Thule Helium Bike Rack
This Is For You If:
If you're a serious cyclist and only carry one or two bikes, you'll love the Thule Helium. If you're worried about your bikes banging into one another on the road, you'll love the Helium's adjustable trays, which make it easy to position the bikes right where you need them. This means you can easily offset your bikes so they don't bump and scratch each other during the ride. There are no straps to fuss with, so it's also incredibly easy to load up and head out.The rack tilts away from the vehicle for easy cargo access, and as with the T2 Pro, Thule has taken special care to place the handle right in front, where it's easy to access (this is one of my biggest gripes with other bike racks and one of my favorite features of the Helium!). One-Key System locks are also included to protect your bikes and the rack. *The Thule Helium bike rack is new—so new that our neighbors haven't even had the chance to review it yet! This section will be updated with feedback from our etrailer neighbors as soon as it's available.
This Is NOT For You If:
If you're more of a casual rider, this may be more than you really need. The Helium is also designed for a pretty specific type of cyclist—that is, one with a more traditional bike (the rack can only support tires up to 3" wide and only 37.5 lbs per bike) and who only needs to carry a bike or two, tops. The weight capacity and tire width limitations don't lend themselves to hauling around electric bikes or fat bikes. This isn't your family bike rack designed to carry everything for everyone (you can check out our top favorite racks here that fit that criteria).

4. Yakima HoldUp

# Y02443IN A NUTSHELL: "Sturdy and simple"; great middle-of-the-road price
Carrier weight: Approx 49 lbsCapacity: 60 lbs per bike (2 bikes)Also available: 4-bike model OR 2-bike add-onLocks: Bike and hitch lock includedTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Flat-towed vehicle, car, truck, SUV, van
Yakima HoldUp
This Is For You If:
One happy Holdup owner described the rack as "sturdy and simple." This pretty much hits on why we love this rack, and if this sounds like your kind of thing, we know you'll love it too. It's easy to assemble, easy to load, and quite secure. Like the other platform racks on this list, the rack doesn't make frame contact with your bike, so no worries about scuffing or scratching.The Same Key System lock cores are included, which is a huge bonus at this price point (although storing the cables back inside the arm can require a bit of finesse). The rack tilts down away from your vehicle or up into a storage position, and Yakima even included the fan favorite bottle opener on the rack, so you can crack open a cold one after a hard ride.Did we mention this rack comes in at $200 less than the Thule T2 Pro or Kuat NV? That's premium security and a well-regarded name for an unbeatable price.
Yakima HoldUp Bike Rack
WHY CARL L. LOVES HIS HOLDUPCarl L., etrailer neighbor(5/5 stars)"I purchased the Yakima bike rack because of the companies' reputation that for making quality products, and the informative video presented by the staff at etrailer. This carrier is everything they claim it is. It's very heavy duty, easy to mount and secure all types of bikes, whether they be BMX, mountain or road bikes, and, most importantly, rides so smoothly behind the vehicle (due to the well engineered arm that goes into the receiving hitch) that you forget it's there. I truly believe many a bike will wear out before this rack wears out. I would not hesitate to recommend this carrier to anyone who serious about quality and value. It may be pricier than some of the competitors, but most of the time you get what you pay for."
This Is NOT For You If:
The spring-loaded pin isn't my favorite tilt/fold mechanism (again, I prefer the T2 Pro for this). It's also not much lighter than the T2 Pro or NV (only about 3 lbs). Keep scrolling to the Kuat Transfer at #4 for a lighter platform rack.The HoldUp also isn't quite as versatile as its competition, supporting tire widths up to 2-1/2", which isn't large enough to hold a fat bike and may be a squeeze for an e-bike. (However, you can always purchase the Yakima Holdup EVO 2, which is fat bike compatible, but which also comes with a price hike.)
Yakima HoldUp Bike Rack
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR MIKE K. Mike K., etrailer neighbor(4/5 stars)"Easy assembly and the rack works very well on my wife's 2007 Honda CRV, although with the bikes on the rack, even tilted downward, there is not enough clearance to fully open the rear hatch - so you need to do a little planning when loading up for a trip. One possible improvement - the rack is steel and pretty heavy. If everything but the 2" bar that couples with the hitch was made of aluminum it might be easier to handle when putting on/taking it off the vehicle."

5. Kuat Transfer 2

# TS02GIN A NUTSHELL: Step-through design makes loading easy; great bang for your buck
Carrier weight: Approx 37 lbsCapacity: 45 lbs per bike (2 bikes)Also available: 1-bike and 3-bike configurationsLocks: Sold SeparatelyTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Car, truck, SUV, van
Kuat Transfer 2
This Is For You If:
If you want a bike rack that's just easy without spending $500+, you'll love the Kuat Transfer. It's easy to carry, easy to load, easy to use, and easy on the wallet!My favorite thing about this rack is the U-shaped step-through design. When you think about it, the shape makes so much sense for a bike rack. It may not seem like a big deal, but when you have short arms and have to lift that first bike over the other bike trays, you appreciate anything that makes the job easier. With the Transfer, I can just step into the U-shaped cutout with the bike and place it in the cradles. This rack is also the lightest on the list at just 37 lbs for the 2-bike model. This is a far cry from the 52 lbs of racks like the Kuat NV or the Thule T2 Pro. If you're planning on regularly removing your rack, that 15 lbs makes a huge difference.The pedal that allows the rack to tilt isn't quite as convenient as the T2 Pro's, but it's still pretty easy to reach with a foot (even easier, I would say, than the Transfer's sophisticated cousin, the Kuat NV).
Kuat Transfer 2
WHY R&S LOVE THEIR KUAT TRANSFER 2R&S, etrailer neighbors(5/5 stars)"The Kuat TS02G bike rack is EXACTLY what our daughter needed to transport her bike on the 350+ mile drive to & from school! Thanks to the etrailer videos we could see the features and what would be easiest for her to adjust & use so we made the right purchase. The rack is easy to load the bike (no center bars) and the tilt feature is easy to reach with your foot in order to open the car's lift gate. The rack gave her bike a solid ride with virtually no movement. Don't forget to order the accessory locks for an extra level of security for short, monitored stops. Extremely happy with our purchase!"
This Is NOT For You If:
If you plan on carrying more than 3 bikes, you'll need something with more capacity than the Transfer, since this rack is only available in 1-bike, 2-bike, or 3-bike capacities.Also, you'll have to buy your lock set separately, which will add onto the price. This also isn't as convenient as those integrated lock solutions of the T2 Pro, NV, and HoldUp. Personally, I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached, so I prefer those don't-have-to-think-about-it cable locks found on the first three racks on our list. (And speaking of convenience, you'll have more assembly to do with a Kuat rack than one from Thule or Yakima.)If you plan on carrying fat bikes, you'll need an add-on adapter kit, or else you can purchase a Transfer compatible with fat bikes. A few neighbors have reported rattle and play in their hitch or on the rack itself after some time has passed. For hitch rattle, an anti-rattle device can usually help. Others have noted that the arm end caps don't line up perfectly, which can allow water to run into the arm tubes and cause rust issues.
Kuat Transfer 2
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR BKH BKH., etrailer neighbor(4/5 stars)"This rack is to replace a Yakima we returned that was just too heavy for my wife to put up and down on her own. This one is much more user-friendly, and the foot pedal to raise and lower the rack is very easy. The only thing bringing it down to a good is that the rack appears to be a bit loose in the hitch (we have the 1.25 inch hitch). I may have to rig something up to keep it a little tighter. It's not horrible, but gives me some concern about taking bikes on a longer trip."

6. Thule Hitching Post Pro

# TH934XTRIN A NUTSHELL: Great value for great quality, carries up to 4 bikes (no add-ons required)
Carrier weight: Approx 38 lbsCapacity: 35 lbs per bike (4 bikes)Locks: Sold SeparatelyTilts for cargo access: YesCompatible with: Motorhome, car, truck, SUV, van
Thule Hitching Post Pro
This Is For You If:
This is for anyone who wants an easy, cost-effective solution for transporting bikes. The Hitching Post Pro is consistently at the top of our bestseller list. Why? Well, the bang for your buck value is through the roof. If you want the construct and quality of a Thule product without spending a fortune, the Hitching Post Pro is perfect. The carrier can support up to 4 bikes, so it's great for everyone from couples to families on a budget. The Hitching Post Pro tilts away from the vehicle (yes, you have to remove your bikes, but this is still a nice feature for accessing your cargo area when your bikes aren't loaded). The rack will make frame contact, but the grooved cradles secure the bike and hold it relatively still; I wasn't worried about the rack touching the bike—although the bike touching other bikes is another matter. Overall, this is an inexpensive way to bring your bikes to the trailhead if you aren't overly concerned about them getting a bit scuffed now and then. The Hitching Post Pro is relatively light at 38 lbs (a LOT lighter than platform racks for 4 bikes). So if you'll be attaching and removing it from your hitch often, you'll love the lightweight design.
Thule Hitching Post Pro
WHY SANDRA LOVES HER HITCHING POST PRO Sandra., etrailer neighbor (5/5 stars)"Very pleased with our product purchased from etrailer. With three growing boys we needed a way to transport their bikes (and ours) in one vehicle. After lots of research online etrailer.com was by far the easiest website to use and the most helpful. We have used this rack with three bikes, highway road trips, and in town and the rack has stayed stationary and kept bikes secure. LOVE the tilt down feature, allows easy access to truck space this is a MUST HAVE! All pins and bolts have stayed in place."
This Is NOT For You If:
Is this what I'd go with if money was no object? Probably not. It is still a hanging rack, and even with anti-sway cradles, stuff happens. Bikes get scratched, especially when things get crowded with 4 bikes on the back of the car. If I was particularly concerned about it, I'd stick with a platform-style hitch rack, but my bike has been through plenty worse. If your bike is your shiniest prized possession, however, you probably want to consider a different rack on the list. Since it is a hanging rack, you also have to lift the bike higher than you would for a platform rack. If it's difficult for you to lift that amount of weight, or if you're vertically challenged like I am, you might have a harder time loading up.Also, keep in mind that the weight capacity per bike is lower than that of racks like the Yakima HoldUp, Thule T2 Pro, or Kuat NV at just 35 lbs. This isn't typically enough for larger bikes, like fat bikes. Also, if you need to carry a woman's or child's bike with a step-through frame (or any other bike without a horizontal bar), an adapter may be required (at one adapter per bike, these adapter costs can add up quickly!). Also, the Hitching Post Pro was made to carry up to 4 bikes, but this is a lot easier to do if one or two of them are children's bikes, rather than 4 adult bikes. Things can get crowded up there!My final issue is with the straps that secure the bike. They work like a belt loop rather than a ratchet strap, and it can be difficult to wedge the oval tabs through the round strap holes. After long-term use, our straps showed signs of wear (you may need replacement straps after a few years of hard use). Still, the straps did secure the bike tightly, and I had no doubt that they would hold my bike where it was supposed to be as long as they were in good shape.
Thule Hitching Post Pro
WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ELI M. Eli M., etrailer neighbor(4/5 stars)"A good rack for what it is, but I would NOT recommend putting expensive bikes on it. The bikes you put on here will rub against each other, and thus there will be some damage to the paint. Fine for a few hundred dollar hybrid bike, not great for my many thousand dollar road bike or mountain bike."
Still have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
Amber S.
About the AuthorAs a content writer for etrailer, I might spend my morning loading and unloading a bike on five different bike racks to figure out which is easiest to use. I might be in the parking lot, taking pictures of an impressive RV battery setup our techs came across in the shop and discussing the benefits of the setup with the owner. I might spend an afternoon in a manufacturer training classes for some hands-on experience with new products, and then sit down to assemble all this information into a coherent article.At etrailer, one of our core values is that we are always learning, and I learn something new every day. I start each morning with the goal in mind of taking all of this information and figuring out the best way to answer the questions people ask us (and the ones they don’t know to ask yet), and helping people get the solutions they need to make their lives easier, safer, and more fun. I’m a DIYer at heart, so it brings me great joy to help a fellow DIYer find what they’re looking for, whether that’s a product, an answer, or a community.
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 4/1/20

Questions and Comments about this Article

Mike N.

A few years back, I bought a Hollywood Racks Road Runner 4 Bike Carrier for 2 Hitches - Extended Shank - Tilting, Item # HR420. I used this rack for 4 bikes behind my Jeep Wrangler. Id like to upgrade to a platform style bike, but would need something with extra clearance in order to get past my wide spare tire. Do any of your 4 bike racks offer extra clearance? 74059

Reply from Chris R.

We do have a few 4-bike platform racks that offer extra clearance. although it will depend on just how much space you need for that spare tire. The Yakima FourTimer # Y02469 for example has a generous distance of 17" from the hitch pin hole to the closest part of the rack (the wheel cradles) when it's down for use. When it's folded up against the vehicle this distance is cut down to 12". I recommend measuring from the hitch pin hole on your Jeep to the outermost edge of the spare tire to see exactly how much clearance you need. 60277

Reply from Mike N.

Chris, thanks for your reply. I did measure like you said, and it is 14 inches from the hitch pin hole to the back of my spare tire. Is there somewhere on your website that I can see those clearance measurements for all of the bike racks? I'd like to possibly see all of the bike racks that would work for my setup. We primarily flat tow the jeep behind our motorhome, with the bike rack riding on the Jeep. We have left the Jeep at home, and just put the rack on the motorhome, but it sounds like that is not an option with the Yakima rack you mentioned. Thanks again for your help. 61497

Reply from Chris R.

Thanks for that info! The hitch pin hole distance is something we list on each of the bike rack product pages, but there's not an easy way of gathering all of the racks that have a certain dimension without manually clicking on each carrier, etc. I did go through everything we have to offer (needing it to be RV rated did narrow down the choices) and unfortunately there's just not a platform carrier rated for use on an RV (and flat towed vehicle) that also has a 14" clearance measurement. I really wish we had a solution here, but I honestly think your best option right now is to stick with the Hollywood Racks model you're currently using. 61579

Reply from Mike N.

@ChrisR, if we skip the RV requirement, do you know which racks would work on my Jeep? I see where some are specifically marked as ok for on flat towed vehicles, but I'm not sure how a flat towed vehicle would really be different than a vehicle just driving down the road. 61633

Reply from Chris R.

It has to do with stability. The rear bumper on larger RVs are so much further back from the rear axle that it creates a lot of bounce/movement for a hitch-mounted rack. Imagine the difference between sitting in the front and the back of a school bus. A flat towed vehicle is a bit different because the rack is still on a passenger vehicle, after all - even if it's being towed by something else. The Yakima Four Timer # Y02469 might be a winner here. There's a 17" distance between the hitch pin hole and the closest wheel cradle, although there's a 4" rise in the shank that you'll want to check compatibility with. Just make sure the spare tire isn't any close than 4" above the top of the Jeep's hitch receiver and it will work great. 61716

Phil J.

Since this article is from Etrailer I expected that the author would address if the racks are RV rated. It is a very important feature that many who tow campers are not aware of. Two months ago a friend lost his 2 bikes on the highway due to a non-RV rated rack failure. He now has a RV rated Swagman. 74053

Reply from Chris R.

I absolutely agree on the importance of choosing an RV/trailer-rated bike rack for those applications. It's definitely something that's news to a lot of people when we bring it up. I think this article wanted to focus just on passenger vehicle racks but I also think it's a good idea to mention if they're RV/trailer compatible - I will definitely send this along to the author. Thanks so much for the feedback. 60276



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