How a Hitch Bike Rack Work

Hitch bike racks, also known as hitch mounted bike racks, are a popular way to transport bikes. Carrying bikes behind your car would be as easy as a piece of cake if you have a hitch.

There are various types of bike racks to choose from. However, hitch bike racks seem e the most expensive yet they offer great flexibility and durability.

Here in this article, we shall show you every feature you should know about hitch bike racks. Let’s take a look!

What is a Hitch Bike Rack?

For starters, a hitch bike rack is a type of rack that can slide into the edge of a hitch on a vehicle, say, a car or a truck. This type is considered the most widely used over trunk and roof bike racks due to:

  • Diverse in styles
  • Greater capacity than other types of racks
  • More secured compared to trunk racks
  • Can be used on various types of vehicles
  • Easy to load/unload bikes

Two Types of Hitch Bike Racks

Hitch bike racks are also categorized into two different types as follows:

#1: Hanging Hitch Bike Racks

Hanging hitch bike racks, generally, have a higher capacity. On average, hanging style racks can hold up to 5 different bikes.

The main reason why many people may prefer hanging style racks to others is that it is a lot lighter and cheaper.

However, you should be well aware that hanging style racks require sway control devices to stop bikes swaying. Thule hanging hitch bike rack


  • Great capability
  • Easily removed from receivers
  • Ski-carrier add-on can be easily attached


  • Bikes that come with unusual frames may be hard to mount
  • Possible contact with the ground while moving

#2: Platform Hitch Bike Racks

Unlike hanging style, platform-style racks can hold just up to 4 bikes. However, this type of bike rack has a very stable platform which prevents sway problems in the first place.

If you are seeking out a bike rack having minimal contact with the frame, maybe this is it. Thule hitch platform bike rack


  • Quick and simple to load and unload
  • Accommodate with any bike
  • Avoid bike damage while moving


  • Generally, racks are heavier than any other type
  • Light-duty hitches can only hold up to 2 bikes
  • Quite hard to access to hatchbacks

Hitch Bike Racks: What We Like & Don’t Like

For those who may not know, generally, you can only use hitch bike racks in case your vehicle has a 2-inch receiver already installed. For that reason, hitch bike racks would be the best option only if the hitch can handle all the load.

Here are a few pros and cons of hitch bike racks you should consider before buying:

Good Point

  • Easy to load and unload bikes compared to roof or trunk racks
  • Easy to access low clearance places including garages
  • Free space on the roof to store boxes or ski racks

Bad Point

  • Require hitches
  • Increase vehicle length
  • Bikes may affect vehicle visibility

Practical Concerns to Consider When Choosing a Hitch Bike Rack

There are various things to consider when it comes to buying a hitch bike rack. Below are some main factors you should take into account:

Hitch sizes

The first thing you should look for is how fit the hitch would be on your vehicle. You will need the exact size of the hitch to make sure a bike rack can perfectly fit.

If you still have no idea which size to choose, we suggest taking a look at the maximum capability.


The next thing we suggest doing is to check for clearance. In case your vehicle has a rear-mounted spare, it is vital for you to ensure the rack can clear it once installed.

Here are some simple ways to check it:

  • Measure from the center of the hitch hole to the edge of the spare tire
  • Measure the distance from that hole to the closest part of the hanging rack or the cradle of a platform rack


Although we did mention above about the capacities of hitch bike racks, when it comes to special bikes, it may change a bit.

For example, special bike models such as trikes and recumbents may be able to hold up to 1 bike. For that reason, it is crucial for you to find out exactly how many bikes the hitch can hold.

Recommended Hitch Bike Racks

If you are searching for a few brand names to look for, well, here they are!

As for hanging style bike racks:

Yakima FullSwing

The Yakima FullSwing is equipped with lots of bells and whistles. If you are looking for a model that can get easy access to your car, then this is made for you.

Yakima FullTilt 5-Bike

It is all you need to have a biking adventure on the road. It is fully assembled with padded arms, which make it a reliable carrier.

As for platform-style bike racks:

Thule EasyFold XT

This is considered to be one of the most flexible and convenient models that comes with a foldable bike carrier. It can carry e-bikes and some other heavy bikes, too!

Thule T2 Pro XT Silver – 2 Bike 2 Inch

This bike rack is made specifically for 2-inch hitches. Until now, this is possibly the easiest way to carry bikes behind your car.

Last Words,

Hitch bike racks are one of the most popular products for those who want to attach their bikes to their vehicles. Each model of it has different sets of pros and cons which are suitable for different groups of users.

Although hitch bike racks may be the most expensive of all, the flexibility and efficiency it offers are undeniable.

Below is everything you should know before deciding to get a hitch bike rack. Let us know if you have any question!