If your family likes to ride bikes, at some point in time you are going to have to haul your bikes on your road trip. Whether you are going out-of-town or out-of-state, transporting 4 bikes shouldn’t be a huge affair. Even with the largest SUV’s and pickups, much less a car, trying to haul 4 bicycles inside the vehicle can be a real challenge. Your risk of your bikes becoming damaged increases when they are all piled on top of each other. If your vehicle already has a hitch receiver installed, your best bet would be to consider a hitch mounted bike rack. If you are thinking you can’t because you’re hauling a trailer, you simply need one of these. So we are featuring 4 bike hitch mounted racks today for a number of reasons. We’ll dive into these more deeply in a moment but let’s first look at what a hitch mounted bike rack actually is.
The hitch mounted bike rack is installed on the back-end of a vehicle where the hitch is located. Most vehicles have a hitch on their back-end but if you do not have one you can get one installed, though it can be pricey. On this hitch, you are able to install a variety of different styles of bike racks thanks to the strength of the hitch and the flexibility of the location.
Arm Supported Hitch Mounts
The first common style of hitch mounted bike rack is the arm supported style. Arm supported hitch mounts operate with a fixed arm that allows you to install several bikes into place. The bicycles are then suspended in the air, latched into place, behind your vehicle.
These are easy to install, heavy-duty, and easy to access. The downside for this style of rack is that they make your vehicle MUCH longer on the back-end, thus making parking or maneuvering into tight spaces a bit of a difficulty.
Hitch Mounted Tray Racks
This style of hitch mounted rack is also easy to use and simple enough to install.
The tray style bike racks are just an inverse installation of the arm supported mounts. They offer slotted insets where your bikes will set into and they offer the flexibility. Unlike the arm models, if the person with the bike mounted closest to the vehicle wants to ride while everyone else wants to sit it out, you don’t have to remove the other bikes first just to get to theirs.
These are typically easier to utilize than the arm mounts and they run more lightweight, as well.
Hitch Mounted Bike Racks: Pros and Cons
So we are highlighting the hitch mounted bike racks for a reason but it is always good to know both the positives and negatives of a potential piece of equipment. We’ll break these down into two categories for you to help alleviate your decision-making.
Benefits of a Hitch Mount
The primary benefit of a hitch mounted rack is that it is easy to install and very, very durable. Your hitch mount, depending on your car’s weight classification, can handle some heavy poundage — more than anything you can throw at it with bikes.
Tertiary benefits of hitch mounted racks include the protection that they offer your bicycles and their ease of access. Being carried behind the vehicle allows you to keep your bikes out of the direct line of wind and road debris that would otherwise affect them on the roof. They are easy to access thanks to their placement at chest level rather than being located above your shoulders and onto the roof.
Finally, and most importantly, hitch mounts can be used to carry a large load of bicycles — up to four bikes at a time. This is obviously not possible with the other mounts we lifted above and it is perhaps one of the biggest selling points involved.
Negatives of a Hitch Mount
The hitch mounted bike rack does have downsides, believe it or not. The largest downside is that it prevents you from gaining access to your trunk or the back-end of your vehicle by traditional means. With the rack installed you won’t be digging through the back window or popping the trunk.
The second and most real world applicable downside is that hitch mounted bike racks will add some serious length to your car. For people who struggle to park in compact spots, this could be an issue. We also suggest taking some time learning to drive with the rack installed before taking it into traffic. It can be hard to properly gauge just how far back your bike goes and it is even harder to apply that as you drive, making split second decisions.
Quality Hitch Mounted Bike Racks
You can see that there are many reasons to look into getting a hitch mounted bike rack and a few reasons to be wary. We decided to pull together some of the better quality models on the market and compile them into a nice list for you to peruse. We focused on racks built to handle up to four bikes. These are perfect for families going on a trip, friends pooling for an event, or serious cycling enthusiasts.
Thule 9031XT Vertex Swing Away 4 Hitch Mount Bike Carrier
If you are going to get a bike rack you might as well treat yourself to the best one on the market. The 9031XT was developed and distributed by the crew at Thule and it stands above the rest in terms of durability and flexibility. The swing away design allows you to move your rack without detaching it in order to access the rear of your vehicle. The folding down arms allow you to tuck the rack against your vehicle when the bikes have been removed. This rack is easy to install, utilize, and tuck away.
Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack
We step up to the plate with our mid-tier option developed by Yakima. The RidgeBack is an amazing hitch mount that can be installed without any tools on your part. Built to fit a 1.25″ and 2″ receiver and sold with a lifetime warranty, it’s easy to see why people are going nuts over this rack. You can fit four bikes comfortably into this rack and you can keep them in place with the Yakima ZipStrips that the product comes with. The cradle and tilted racks keep your bikes from clanging into one another or banging against your vehicle — protecting all parties from one another. This is easy to install, and slightly more affordable model that would be home for any cycling enthusiast with the proper hitch in back.
Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack with 2-Inch Receiver
Every shopping trip should be headlined with that ‘steal of a purchase’ that makes you smile as you drive home. That purchase on this list is the Allen Sports Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Mount Rack. This rack fits onto a 2″ receiver and offers you steel construction with a black finish that looks sharp, acts durable, and is backed by a lifetime warranty. The long carrying arms help to keep your bikes away from the vehicle and it’ll only take you five to ten minutes to install this rack in its entirety.