The 3 Best Rooftop Car Bike Racks: Which Is Right for You?

Are you looking for the best bike car racks on the market? Read on to find out more about the top 5 bicycle car racks for your needs.

Are you looking for the best bike car racks that can transport your bikes safely and conveniently? Then you’re in luck!

This article is specifically designed to help you find the best rooftop bike car rack for your needs. We’ll discuss the different types of racks, their features and benefits, and which one is right for you. Below are just three of my featured favorites. Scroll further down to see my full roundup, or click here.

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What is a bike car rack?

A bike car rack is a mounting system that allows you to securely mount your bike to your vehicle using hooks and loops. This makes it easier to transport your bike, and most come with anti-theft features. Bike racks can be attached to the inside or outside of your vehicle, so they are perfect for any use.

Thumbnail for a blog post tittled the 3 best rooftop car bike racks which is right for you
Thumbnail for a blog post tittled the 3 best rooftop car bike racks which is right for you
My favorite bike (at the moment):

State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061

Best overall fixed gear bike state bicycle co 6061 black label v2
My favorite bike (at the moment):

State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061

This is my daily ride, my trusty Black Label It’s lightweight and beautifully crafted. It looks like a beast and rides like one too. I upgraded the saddle, but everything else is pretty much as it was out of the box. I highly recommend it.

How does a bike car rack work?

A bike car rack is a system that attaches your bike to the back of your car using special hooks and loops. The bike rack can be installed in just minutes, so it’s perfect for those who want convenience and flexibility when traveling. Some racks even feature suction cups, so you don’t have to install anything on your car.

The Bike Car Rack hooks attach securely to door handles or similar fittings on your vehicle, while the straps keep your bike stable even during high-speed traffic. You can also adjust the height of the bike car rack to accommodate different bike sizes or frame types.

What are the benefits of a quality bike rack? (advantages)

Upgrading to a high-quality bike car rack can be an easy way to enhance your family’s trips to the mountains. And there are many benefits to having a bike car rack installed on your vehicle. Some of the benefits include:

1. Increase safety

Having a quality bike car rack installed will increase your safety when driving because a poor rack can be flimsy and detach while driving, causing accidents. So make sure to get a good-quality car bike rack.

2. Increased storage

Having a bike car rack installed can significantly increase the storage space inside your vehicle. This is great if you have a lot of bikes and need a convenient place to store them.

3. Reduced clutter

Having a bike car rack installed can reduce the amount of clutter in your car. Not only will this make the interior of your car more organized, but it will also make it easier to see and get to things inside your vehicle.

What are the different types of bike car racks?

There are a few different bike car racks, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Before making a purchase, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for and what will work best for your needs. Here are a few of the most popular types of bike car racks:

The roof-rack

This type of rack is usually the most expensive, but it offers the widest range of options and is the easiest to install. However, it is also the heaviest and requires the most space, so it’s not ideal if you only have a limited amount of space.

The trunk-rack

This type of rack is typically less expensive than the roof rack, but it doesn’t offer as many options or installation options. It also weighs less, but it may not be as sturdy or safe if your car is heavy enough to buckle under its weight.

The front-mounted rack

This type of rack is the lightest and easiest to install, but it doesn’t offer as many options or storage space as the other two types. It’s also not as sturdy when driving in bumpy conditions or loading and unloading your bike frequently.

What to consider when buying a bike car rack (things to look for)

Choosing a bike car rack with the right features for you can be daunting, so here are the most important things you should consider when choosing a bike car rack. 

1. Hitch rack design

Before purchasing a bike rack, you must determine the size of your vehicle’s hitch. Most smaller cars have a 1.25-inch hitch, while larger vehicles have a two-inch hitch. Two-inch hitches are preferable to 1.25-inch hitches because they provide more rack options.

2. Capacity and expansion

Growing families should consider purchasing a rack that can be expanded to meet their future needs. Also, regardless of receiver size, most hitch racks have a maximum capacity of four bikes. If you need to transport more than four bikes, vertical hanging racks are your best bet because they are the only five-plus racks that work with children’s bikes. If you plan on hauling a 12′′, 14′′, or 16′′ bikes, they will not fit in a tray-based system (except 1-UP), but they may fit in a hanging system.

For those who prefer the convenience of a tray-based system, 12-inch and 16-inch bikes are usually fairly easy to throw into, unfortunately, someone. Unfortunately, some tray-based systems are incompatible with 20-inch bikes as well. On the other hand, most tray-based systems are expandable, with a standard capacity of two bikes that can be expanded to hold up to four bikes.

3. Wheel and tire dimensions

Almost all racks can accommodate 24′′ and larger bikes, but smaller kids’ bikes, fat bikes, and bikes aren’t as universally compatible. Platform Hitch Racks: Platform hitch racks are best suited for bikes with 24 inches or larger wheels, though some racks have 20-inch bike adapters. The 1-up is the only platform rack that can accommodate a 16-inch bike.

Most platform racks come standard with fat tire trays or have fat tire trays as an option. Vertical Hanging Racks: With a lower weight limit, you’ll have to be more cautious when transporting heavy bikes, kids, or adults! While the fat tires won’t be used because you’re hanging the bike by the frame, make sure it’s not too heavy!

While most hanging racks can accommodate 20′′ or larger kids’ bikes, Allen racks are the best option if you need to transport a 16′′ bike. Hitch Racks, Vertical: Wheel size compatibility highly depends on the manufacturer. Some brands can transport 12-inch bikes, while others can only transport 24-inch bikes.

4. Ground Clearance Issues

Platform racks have the significant advantage of carrying bikes at a fixed distance from the ground, regardless of the size of your bike. In addition, you won’t have to worry about ground clearance with a platform rack.

Hanging and vertical hitch racks suspend your bikes, so larger or longer bikes will hang lower to the ground than smaller bikes. As a result, the bikes may hang too low to the ground—there should always be at least 12′′ of space between the lowest rear tire and the ground.

If you have a vehicle with a low hitch, a horizontal hanging hitch rack is much more likely to cause ground clearance issues than a vertical rack (like in sedans or minivans). Please read our reviews of individual racks for more information on these issues.

5. Vehicle compatibility?

The first and most important factor to consider when selecting the best bike rack for your needs is compatibility with your vehicle. To do so, you must first understand how each bike rack works. We’ve explained how each section above works in detail, but a quick run-through is as follows:

Roof-mounted bike racks attach to your car’s roof bars, which you may need to purchase if you don’t already have them. Almost all cars will allow this, but you must ensure that you get ones that are compatible with your vehicle.

Hitch-mounted bike racks require that your vehicle be equipped with a tow ball/hitch. If your vehicle lacks one, you can have one installed; however, this will come at a cost, so first consider whether it is a better value than another type of bike rack.

Trunk/boot-mounted bike racks use straps and clips to attach to the back of your car and are usually secured with a ratchet mechanism. These are available in various configurations compatible with saloon and hatchback vehicles.

6. Are your bikes compatible?

The next question is whether it will fit your bike. The answers to these questions depend on the bike and rack you have in mind. Roof-mounted racks typically hold one or both wheels in a groove and wrap a strap around the wheel to keep it in place. Check the width and strap length if riding a bike with fat tires or deep rims.

Some people then clamp a brace bar to the down tube of their bike. This is an area to inspect if you ride a bike with deep or thick tube shapes. Others remove a wheel and bolt the bike using the axle, so if you choose one of these, ensure the corresponding axle on your bike is compatible with the rack. The same is true for hitch racks and the groove into which you fit your wheel, so make sure they’re compatible.

And trunk or boot-mounted bike racks usually suspend your bike from the top tube, which can be difficult if you’re riding a mountain bike with full suspension or a hybrid bike with a step-through frame, as the bike will be suspended at a potentially insecure angle.

Check the width between the two braces as well, because if you’re transporting both adult’s and children’s bikes, you’ll need to strike a balance between being wide enough for stability and narrow enough to fit through the small frame.

7. Consider the weight of all the bikes

Finally, every type of rack has a weight limit, so if you’re transporting an e-bike, double-check the combined weight of your bike to make sure it doesn’t exceed the limit.

For even more tips, check out this video: TOP 5: Best Bike Rack for Car 2021 | Perfect for SUVs, Sedans, and Other Cars from the SteMir ReViews YouTube Channel.

A video called TOP 5: Best Bike Rack for Car 2021 | Perfect for SUVs, Sedans, and Other Cars from the SteMir ReViews YouTube Channel.

The three best bike car racks of 2022

Below is the best car rack you can buy for your bicycle.

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Thule UpRide

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The Thule Upside and the Yakima HighRoad share many similarities. I chose them because they are both high-quality wheel-on options for mounting a bike on top of a car. However, the Yakima’s front mount is slightly easier to use, whereas the Thule’s rear strap is slightly nicer and more protective of the rear wheel. 

Regarding locking, the Thule has an advantage because there is no cable, and it is integrated into the rack. The larger system, however, will be the most distinguishing feature. A key advantage of a roof rack is that it can accommodate more than one bike rack. If you prefer one system’s other pieces over another, you’ll want the matching bike rack for that system.

RockyMounts Tomahawk upright roof bike rack

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RockyMounts’ adjustable TomaHawk upright bike rack is outstanding whether you have a Thule, Yakima, or other base bar system or your car has factory crossbars.

The capacity to transport many types of bikes, from road cycles to 20-inch children’s bikes and fat bikes to 29ers, is TomaHawk’s strongest suit.

Since RockyMounts provides tabs to keep the wheel straps of the rack out of the way, loading a bike is rather simple. Although the rack features a lock for the bike and may lock to the base rack, it is not the most secure option.

It shrinks down rather little without a full bike. This is a terrific option if you need to transport various bikes, from time-trial aero machines to full-squish fatties with all stops, but your vehicle only has one roof-mounted bike rack.

SeaSucker Talon

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The Talon uses suction cups to attach to your automobile, similar to the Mini Bomber. The front wheel of one bike must be removed, and adaptors are available for all popular axle types.

The Talon is incredibly pricey for a single rack, but it’s a good option if you’re determined to transport a bike on a sports car or any other vehicle that isn’t compatible with standard racks.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about rooftop car bike racks.

Is it better to have a hanging bike rack or a platform bike rack?

A platform rack is the best option if you intend to load and unload your bikes from the rack frequently. If you intend to remove your bike rack from your vehicle frequently, a hanging rack is the best option.

Are bike racks simple to remove?

Racks are more difficult to remove than hitch- or trunk-mounted systems and frequently necessitate using tools. In addition, wind resistance or noise can be noticeable while driving and have a negative but minor effect on gas mileage.

Is it simple to install bike racks?

While installing a hitch trailer frequently necessitates using a wrench, most bike racks can be installed without using any tools. They are usually fairly simple to assemble and install, though there can be a lot of variation between brands and models.

Do bike racks harm your vehicle?

Unlike hitch or roof racks, trunk-mounted bike racks can damage a car’s paint because they are attached to the trunk with metal clips and rest against the paint. However, damage can also occur due to driving errors, incorrect installation, using the wrong type, etc.

What can I do to keep my bike rack from swaying?

Using a hitch clamp or an anti-rattle hitch device is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your bike rack from swaying and wobbling while driving. With the hitch clamp installed, the rack should move in tandem with the vehicle rather than independently.

How I chose these car racks (ranking criteria and methodology)

I studied hundreds of reviews from real buyers and testers to determine which racks performed best and were dependable. I selected products at various pricing ranges to ensure that everyone could find a rack that suited their needs. I judged this product by the following criteria.

Price (10%)

While this article covers car racks with varying price ranges, a bike car rack should be affordable. Thus, evaluating this product, I highlight the affordable price as an excellent benefit.

Features (35%)

Every bike car rack has a unique set of features. Some are better than others. I considered the special features when evaluating these bike car racks.

Functionality (25%)

I chose these products based on how durable and functional they are. I used real customer reviews and experience to evaluate their advertised functionality and durability.

Style (10%)

Let’s face it, we all want good-looking gear and the style of the product when evaluating features when evaluating these products. 

Reviews (20%)

I considered positive and negative reviews when evaluating these bike car racks.


To sum it all up, we can say that if you are looking for a bike carrier that is easy to use, affordable, and safe, then this article has everything you need. These racks have features like anti-theft straps, anti-shake technology, and many more. They also allow secure parking of bikes without causing any harm to them while transporting them on the road. Of course, buying a good quality bike rack is essential before investing in a new bike, so keep these key factors in mind before buying one.

This article covered my top three picks for the best bike car rack and how to choose one that’s best for you. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • The three best rooftop bike racks are:
    1. Thule UpRide
    2. RockyMounts Tomahawk upright roof bike rack
    3. SeaSucker Talon
  • The compact bike racks are also available for a compact price. These racks can hold two bikes at a time and are easy to install on the car.

So, do you have a bike rack in your car? Did I cover everything you wanted to know? And what do you think of my list? Let us know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check my full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed gear cycling. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

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Bradley Knight Image
Written by Bradley Knight, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed-gear bikes, this is the place for you.

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Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

Nick is our staff editor and co-founder. He has a passion for writing, editing, and website development. His expertise lies in shaping content with precision and managing digital spaces with a keen eye for detail.

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