Bike Rack Buying Guide

  • 3 min read

This Bike Rack Buying Guide comes directly from our friends over at YAKIMA.


When it comes to carrying bikes, there’s more than one way to take your wheels on the road. Depending on the style of bike and type of vehicle, as well as your overall cargo situation and what sort of adventure you’re getting into, there are a range of options to consider.

Types of Bike Mounts and Racks

Hitch Rack - Tray Style | Easiest to load and stow.

Tray Style


Vertical Hitch Rack | Able carry up to 6 mountain bikes.



Hitch Rack - Mast Style | Able to carry up to 5 bikes.


Trunk Rack | Easy to store when not in use.


Roof Mount | Low profile, keeps receiver hitch open.


The Two Main Carry Options:



Easy to load and stable with their hold, hitch-mount bike racks let you load your bikes without lifting them overhead or removing a wheel. They require a rear tow hitch, and you’ll need to ensure your hitch size is compatible with the rack you select.



Roof mounted bike racks keep your bikes out of the way, allowing free access to your vehicle’s trunk area and keeping a compact footprint when parking. They require a crossbar system, which also allows for additional rack options—like a cargo box or other sport-specific mounts.


Bike Rack Comparison

Hitch Tray Rack



  • No bike-to-bike contact on most hitch tray racks
  • Fits a range of bike types
  • Simple loading and unloading
  • Easy trunk access on tilt and swing model racks


  • Vehicle hitch receiver required
  • 2-bike limit on light-duty hitches (1.25” receivers)
  • Increases overall vehicle length
  • Some models reduce trunk access

Hitch Mast Rack

  • Can carry up to 5 bikes
  • Easy trunk access on tilt and swing model racks
  • Bikes may have contact with each other
  • Some frame designs will require TubeTop for compatibility

Roof Bike Mount

  • Securely mounts bikes by the fork or front wheel
  • Unrestricted truck access
  • Roof Bike Mounts can be easily swapped out seasonally with other mounts such as ski, water, or cargo
  • Requires lifting bike overhead
  • Reduces vertical clearance
  • Requires a roof rack on top of the vehicle

Trunk Bike Rack

  • Portable, removable, and easy to store
  • Folds flat and easily stash-able
  • Lower cost
  • Impedes access to trunk or hatch
  • Bikes may require TubeTop accessory
  • Not compatible with all vehicles
  • Limited load capacity


Mountain Bike Racks

Modern mountain bikes require support somewhere other than the top tube—either at the fork crown via a Vertical rack, or at the wheels with a Tray style.


Road Bikes

No matter what style of road bike you have—or if you have more than one—we have a rack that will work. Both roof mounted and hitch tray style bike racks deliver safety and security for your ride, and offer you a choice of carrying your bike via the frame, fork or the front wheel.


Family Friendly Bike Racks

From National Park road trips to bike-friendly weekends, hitch mast styles are a solid value. Safe, secure, and with the ability to carry multiple bikes (up to 5 on certain models), they are a go-to for families seeking an easy loading, durable option.


Trunk Racks

Portable and versatile, trunk racks are a great option for occasional use. Easy to switch between different vehicles, they are also typically less expensive.


Truck Bed Carry

Trucks can carry a lot of stuff! Adding a secure bike rack option to transport your bike just ups the ante on fun, helping turn your pick-up bed into a multi-sport tool.