Even if you are lucky enough to have great trails on your doorstep, you will want to travel further from home with your bike at some point. To transport your bike, there are a couple of options. Either you fit it inside your vehicle or attach it to the outside with a rack. The latter is better if you (or your other half!) want to avoid getting dirt inside your vehicle. So how do you find the best mountain bike rack for you?
We have written this guide to help you understand what to look out for and decide which kind of rack you need for your vehicle. We have also made some suggestions of the best racks available to help you make a decision.
For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out the Best MTB Hydration Packs.
Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Bike Racks
- Thule Insta-Gater Pro
- Fox Tailgate Cover
- Thule ProRide
- Kuat Transfer 3
- Sea Sucker Talon
Comparison Table - Best MTB Racks
|Thule Insta-Gater Pro||1||$||4.5|
|Fox Tailgate Cover||6||$||4.6|
|Kuat Transfer 3||2||$$$||4.3|
|Sea Sucker Talon||1||$$$||4.5|
Reviews - The Best Racks for Mountain Bikes
Thule Insta-Gater Pro
PROS: Quick installation and mounting, wheels do not need to be removed and the frame is not clamped, stable even on uneven roads
CONS: Only holds one bike (up to three can be used alongside each other), not compatible with short beds
Fox Tailgate Cover
PROS: Easy installation, small and large sizes available
PROS: Fast and easy mounting, automatic positioning, clamp spreads loads to avoid damage
Kuat Transfer 3
PROS: Sturdy, will not damage frames, almost any bike will fit, can be pivoted away to allow access to vehicle
CONS: Can be tricky to align wide handlebars
Sea Sucker Talon
PROS: Innovative design uses sucker pads to stick to the roof, can be easily installed on almost any vehicle
CONS: No peace of mind that it is actually attached properly
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE RACK
Roof mounts are secure and have the advantage of not getting in the way of the trunk. You do have to be careful when driving under bridges because you have extra height on your vehicle.
It is easy to forget this and it is critical that you do not just drive straight into your garage when you get home as the door will almost certainly not be tall enough. The consequences are a seriously damaged or destroyed bike and car. Fortunately, there are some solutions to help remind you.
If you have a tow bar, there are racks that will fit it. They are sturdy but often come with a higher price tag.
If you do not have a tow bar and cannot fit a roof mount to your vehicle, then a strap mount will almost certainly fit on your trunk. Although very compatible, strap mounts are less stable when going over bumps and the stored bikes are easy targets for thieves.
TRUCK BED / TAILGATE MOUNTS
Pickup trucks can transport bikes in the bed with more elegant solutions than just throwing them in. There are mounts that fit in the bed itself and mats that lay over the tailgate to which bikes can be attached.
Your chosen type of bike rack should have a stable connection to your vehicle and hold the bikes securely in place. You do not want your bikes to be wobbling around as you drive around bends.
It is important that you focus on driving safely rather than thinking about whether your bike is going to stay on the rack or not. Consider additional methods of securing your bike.
How easy would it be for a thief to remove a bike and steal it? Some racks have additional security features like locking bars. Regardless, it is a good idea to always keep your vehicle in sight when bikes are mounted on it.
EASE OF USE
If you will be loading bikes onto your rack every day, then you are very lucky to be able to ride so often! Regular use means you will enjoy having a rack that is easy to load bikes on to. If you will only use your rack occasionally, then you will probably not mind a longer mounting process.
THE VALUE OF YOUR BIKE
If you have spent a lot of money on your bike, then you should think twice about buying a cheap rack. The more you spend, the lower the chances of your pride and joy falling off.
Remember that your bike will be battered by a fair bit of dust and debris while on the rack. It is, therefore, important to clean it once you get home.