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Car Racks 101

Everything You Need to Know About Car Racks 

Long live long summer days! Summer is best spent on two wheels, to help you make the most out of the summer and your travels, we've made an easy-to-use guide which you can find below. We have broken down the most popular styles of car rack configurations and their respective pros and cons of use. Make sure to keep reading for more information! 

Hitch-Mounted Racks 

If you like to travel quite a bit with multiple bikes (or are planning on it), a hitch mounted rack provides an excellent solution. Hitch-mounted racks attach to your car through its 1.25" or 2.00" receiver. While this option tends to be more expensive, it provides a safer transportation solution to traveling with multiple bikes. Attached directly to your car's hitch allows there to be a greater load capacity (and safety), in contrast to a trunk-mounted rack. This mounting style is a favourite of ours because of the rack's safe and secure attachment to the vehicle through the hitch. 

Hitch mounted racks come in two main options, which include the tray and swing style. Below, we will break down both of those options and their pros and cons. 

Hitch-Mounted Rack Configuration #1:Tray Style


  • The rack is simple to install and mounting your bikes onto the rack is easy;
  • Wheels don't freely spin while driving as they are securely mounted within the wheel wells;
  • Bikes don't touch or hit each other in transit as they are typically separated by the rack's retractable arm (this in combination with the wheels immobility are key to preventing excessive premature wear-and-tear if traveling frequently and/or over long distances);
  • Rack accessories can permit you to extend a 2 or 3 bike rack into a 4-5 rack (because of the additional load that comes from the extra bikes, this option will typically only be available to vehicles with a 2" hitch receiver)


  • Accessing your vehicle's trunk space may be limited while traveling with your bikes, however, there are racks that can fold down/ away in addition to rack accessories that would permit the rack to swing when not in use;
  • In contrast to other racks, this style tends to be the most expensive, however, it's the best configuration for traveling often with multiple bikes, as noted above.
  • As an additional consideration, please be aware of your vehicle's hitch load capacity so as to not overload it.

Hitch-Mounted Rack Configuration #2: Swing Style


  • The rack is similarly simple to install, and mounting your bikes onto it is easy;
  • Traveling with 2-4 bikes is made easy;
  • The rack is securely attached to your vehicle through its hitch;
  • Comparatively better flexibility to access your vehicle's trunk space, in contrast to traditional tray-style racks, through a more common fold-down configuration;


  • If traveling over long distances and/or periods of time, the bikes mounted can hit each other in transit and the wheels can spin excessively. As a solution, there are accessories that you can purchase that would prevent mid-transit sway of the bikes, as well as straps that would stop the wheel's excessive spinning. 
  • As similarly noted above, please be aware of your vehicle's hitch load capacity so as to not overload it.

Roof-Mounted Racks 


  • This rack configuration is especially helpful if you need to regularly access your trunk space with ease, if you don't have a hitch mount attachment installed on your vehicle, or if the hitch is being used for something else;
  • Roof-mounted racks provide a safe and effective solution for traveling with 1-4 bikes (the number depends on the width of your vehicle's roof and the size of bikes mounted);
  • Mounting the bikes onto the rack slot(s) is relatively easy.


  • If you need to access height-limited entryways (such as condo entrances, underground parking etc.), the vehicle's total height with the mounted bikes typically exceeds such height restrictions. Failing to consider this factor may result in significant damage to your vehicle and bike(s);
  • Depending on your height, as well as the vehicle's height, mounting and unmounting the secured bikes may be challenging. If you foresee this to be a potential issue but as the configuration of a roof-mounted rack, carrying a small collapsible step stool is an easy solution.

Pickup/ RV/ Spare-Tire Mounted Racks


  • Easy to install and mount bikes;
  • Fits well onto your vehicle, whether it's through the spare-tire mount, over the back of your truck's trunk bed, or within the truck's flatbed;
  • The pickup options that go over your truck's tailgate not only protect's your vehicle's paint, but also allows for the bikes to be mounted separately from each other so that they don't sway against one another during transit;
  • Similarly, with the direct mounting of your bikes into the trunk bed allows them to be transported safely and securely without swaying or excessively moving while traveling; 
  • If using a spare-tire mounted rack, accessing your vehicle's trunk space will be relatively easy.


  • Options that mount directly into your truck's flatbed will reduce the amount of storage space while traveling;
  • If using the spare-tire mounted rack, the amount of bikes you can carry is somewhat limited due to weight limitations. The bikes also have the potential to sway against each other in transit, this however can be mitigated by ensuring the wheels are tied before travelling, and/or by using additional top tube straps and anti-sway straps
  • When using the tailgate pad option, the ability to freely access the entirety of the remainder of your truck's flatbed is somewhat limited whilst the bikes are mounted upon it. 

Trunk-Mounted Racks 


  • Easy to install and mount bikes onto;
  • Doesn't require additional parts to be directly installed onto the vehicle, which is preferable for some car rentals;
  • Ideal for small trips, or getting around town with ease while needing to efficiently travel with your bike(s);
  • A comparatively economical option in contrast to other rack options discussed above.


  • Due to load capacity restrictions, this configuration typically can only carry 2-3 bikes at a maximum;
  • Without anything to stop the bikes from swaying and potentially hitting each other in transit may result in damage to the bike(s) being transported. However, this can be mitigated through the use of top and anti-sway straps
  • Trunk-mounted racks are not a one-size-fits-all product, meaning that not all models will be compatible with your vehicle make and model. Failing to consider this compatibility, along with improper installation, can result in potential damage to the vehicle.

Small Parts and Accessories 

In addition to all of the awesome rack options and configurations mentioned above, there are various small parts and accessories that can improve your overall travelling experience while using a bike rack. Some great small parts and accessories include options like the following: locking pins for your vehicle's hitch, extended straps for safely mounting your fat bike(s), bike add-ons, fat bike wheel well adapters, SKS lock cores, locking skewers, carbon frame protection, No-Sway Cages, frame adapters (to easily mount bikes that have a step-through frame or slopped top-tube), and more!