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Which Car Rack is Best for My Bike?

A guide to find the best bike rack for your two-wheeled ride.





Whether you're bikepacking the Chequamegon in our home state of Wisconsin or cruising down the your local Rails-to-Trails, there's a bike rack to help get you and your bike where you want to go.

Yet before you can hit the road, there are a few things to consider. Chances are you've spent hours of research selecting your vehicle and bike of choice. Both play a factor in finding the best bike rack for your needs.

The Saris Fit Guide can give you direction on the best bike rack for your vehicle. (Bonus: we maintain the guide for 10 years of vehicle models.)

Today we're putting your prized rig front and center with this guide to help you find the best car rack for your bike.





First Things First

Before we dive too deep, first think about the bike you want to transport. Then answer the two following questions, which will help guide your selection of bike rack:

  1. Is it okay for the car rack to touch the bike’s frame?
  2. How much does the bicycle weigh?

To Touch the Frame Or Not, That is the Question

Most bike owners have strong feelings about whether they are comfortable with a car rack touching the frame of their bicycle. That's why we offer bicycle carriers that cater to both persuasions: car racks that hold the bike by its frame, and racks that do not – designed instead to hold the bike by its wheels.

Unsure if this feature matters for you?

Follow this general rule: if you have carbon, opt for the wheel-clamping option. Chances are the manufacturer of your bike will have some opinions on this too, so feel free to reach out to their customer service team for more input.



Pro Tip:

No-frame contact bike racks are typically much easier and faster to load and unload. This leads to more time on two wheels, and who doesn't want that?


Weigh Your Options

Almost all bicycle carriers list the maximum bike weight in their specs, and for good reason: to protect you, your car, your bike and everyone traveling around you.

Here at Saris our bike racks are divided into two weight classes: 1) car racks that can carry bikes up to 35 pounds; and 2) car racks that can carry bikes up to 60 pounds. The former is a collection of hanging style racks that hold bikes by the top tubes for trunk or hitch; while the latter applies to our entire family of platform hitch racks.



Pro Tip:

Not sure how much your bike weighs?
Most hybrids, commuter bikes, road bikes, and kid's bikes fall under the 35-pound mark; while downhill bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes and eBikes (minus battery) tend to be in the under 60-pound designation.



Cyclists with bike rack on truck



Let's Find Your Match

Now that you've figured out your options by frame contact and bike weight, let's find the best car rack for your bike.

The Do-It-All-Bikes

Hybrid haulers, cyclocross commuters, touring travelers – these workhorses of your fleet all have two things in common: they can handle frame contact and they're almost always 35 pounds or less.

With these two factors combined, you get the widest range of options available to transport this bike. However, we recommend the Bones family of car racks as they are quick to load, and can be easily adjusted for slight frame variations by simply moving the arms to the best configuration for your ride. Plus, fenders are a non-issue for any bicycle carrier bearing the bones name.

On the trunk side, the Bones, Bones EX or SUPERBones are all excellent options. As for hitch racks, the Bones Hitch or Glide EX are our go-to choices. Although if you have a step-through bike, we encourage you to purchase a Bike Beam to ensure proper transport.



Cyclists with bike rack on truck

The Bones EX is a great hauling option for your fleet's workhorses.



Road and Triathlon Bikes

Stylish is as stylish does. Roadies and triathletes have a reputation of being particular about which components go on their prized rig, and make sure they look good doing it. That commitment to style is one we can appreciate. After all, design is at the heart of every bike rack we ship from our Madison, Wisconsin, headquarters.

Carbon has become the frame material of choice among the racing sect, and for good reason. It's lighter, absorbs vibrations better and basically makes you feel like you're riding a cloud. A really, really fast cloud.

For these carbon set-ups, there's no better choice than the SuperClamp EX platform racks. This hitch rack will never touch the bike’s frame, as it transports the bike by holding the front and rear wheel with dual shepard's hooks. Plus, the wheel tray has a special groove designed to specifically cradle a skinny tire. This configuration just so happens to be the most secure way to haul a bicycle, thereby ensuring your little slice of heaven is in safe hands.



Cyclists with bike rack on truck

Transport your prized rig safely and securely with the SuperClamp EX hitch rack.


For those sporting old school steel roadsters and eye-catching aluminum builds, the SUPERBones is right up your alley. This trunk rack is designed to the hilt with sleek lines, an internal strap management system, and integrated locks that secure bike to rack and rack to car to help deter anyone eyeing up your ride.


Mountain Bikes

A stellar car rack is a basic requirement to shred. While local mountain biking trails are growing, those who want to get rad often find themselves hauling their MTB to trailheads.

With varying geometries, frame builds and weights, the best bicycle carrier for mountain bikes depends on your specific rig. Most mountain bikes weigh in around the 35-pound mark, although heftier downhill rigs and fat bikes often find themselves on the trails, and likely in your garage.

With this in mind, we recommend a platform style bike rack for your mountain bike, specifically the MTR 1- or 2-bike. With a weight spec of 60 lb. per bike, the MTR is strong enough to haul the beefiest of bikes, including electric mountain bikes. Plus, it’s modular design makes it easy to Add-On 1- or 2-bikes so you can bring the whole crew.

Other chariots for your shred-sled include our Freedom EX 2- and Freedom 4-bike, as well as the SuperClamp EX 2- and 4-bike models. Each of these platform hitch racks accommodates an array of bike sizes and sport folding capabilities for hatch access so you can hit the tails faster than ever. 

To find the right platform hitch rack for your rigs, check out this comparison chart.



The MTR platform bike rack can transport bikes with wheelbases up to 53 inches.



eBikes

Yes bike-lover, electric bicycles use transport racks too. Whether they're tagging along on the next getaway or in need of a tune-up, eBikes need a way to get around.

And with eBike sales on the rise, we get this question a lot, which is why we wrote a whole blog about how to best transport an eBike.

For now, we’ll keep it short and sweet: when it comes to hauling these electric-equipped bikes there is one option that rules them all - a platform hitch rack. Our collection of platform racks, with their small, yet mighty footprint, are some of the easiest-to-load hitch bike racks around. And if you’ve got an MTR, this loading process is made even easier with the MTR Ramp, specifically built to electric bikes on the go.



Pro Tip:

To find an eBike friendly hitch rack, look for the on our hitch rack page.



The MTR is more than capable of transporting eBikes, including electric mountain bikes.



Kid's Bikes

There's a ubiquitous rule that comes with parenthood: where there are children, there is stuff. We're talking extra layers, books, snacks – none of which includes bike-specific gear. And while your kid's bike may be small enough to fit inside your car, chances are that space is already claimed.

For little to big kid bikes, the Glide EX is the perfect family of racks for families on the go. The adjustable arms help fit 2-, 4- or 5-bikes, depending on your need, and easily transport the range of bikes that accompany childhood growth. Plus, the Glide EX hitch racks feature one-hand release for faster, one-step hatch access - even when fully loaded with bikes. That time-saving ease can be crucial when your hands are full and the little ones are ready to hit the road.



One less headache: an easy-to-use bike rack for family bike trips.



Your Friend's Bike

Raise your hand if you've ever had a friend dial you up, requesting a ride due to inclement weather, or a flat on the side of the road.

If your hand is up, consider the Solo single bike transport rack. It's small enough to keep in your trunk or closet so you can save a friend in need (or have a friend come to your rescue). And because it's a Saris rack, we've taken special care to make sure the bike and your car are well protected.



Save the day with the Solo.



A Whole Collection of Bikes

The old joke says that the perfect number of bikes is n+1, with "n" being the current number of bikes. Here at Saris, this is less of a joke than it is a truth. And as a company of cyclists, we know that the ability to transport your whole fleet of bikes is very important.

Yet often, a 4-bike rack is so large it looks more suited for a Roald Dahl book than your car. Not so with our SuperClamp EX and Freedom 4-bike. With size in mind, we specifically designed our racks to transport two bikes along a single bar. Doing so cuts the footprint, and weight, of the car rack in half compared to other 4-bike carriers around. Yes, half. This bulk savings is especially appreciated when installing or moving the rack. Plus, the low-profile build is real slick when folded up along the rear of the vehicle when not in use.



Bring more family, friends and fun with a 4-bike hitch rack.


Still need help to find the right bike rack for you and your bike(s)?
We're here to help. Drop us a line and our team will help you get geared up for wherever you want to go.


Cyclist holding bike in the air