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Which Bike Rack Mounting Style is Best for My Vehicle?

To help you choose a bike rack that is compatible with your vehicle and bikes it is important to consider four simple points:

Vehicle Compatibility

  • Ensure the bike rack will mount securely and safely to your vehicle.
  • Vehicle features influence compatibility (For example, hitch size, roof-rack crossbar shape, spare tire, or bumper size).

Bike Compatibility

  • Bike racks vary in their ability to accommodate bikes, specifically with bikes that have alternative frames (For example, women's, children's, tandem and recumbent bikes).

Vehicle Accessibility

  • Will you need to access the rear cargo area of your vehicle while carrying bikes? Some styles of bike racks can limit accessibility to the rear of your vehicle. Choose a bike rack that offers the optimal level of accessibility for you.

User Compatibility

  • Choose a bike rack with features that make it convenient and easy for you to handle.
    • How easy is it to install?
    • How easy it is to store the rack?
    • How easy is it to load bikes?

Hitch-Mount-Bike Rack

Hitch Bike Racks

Hitch bike racks keep bikes behind the vehicle, making them the most aerodynamic. Hitch bike racks offer the most protection for the vehicle by carrying bikes out away from the vehicle. They also make loading bikes very easy and can be used on most vehicles with a hitch.

  • Vehicle compatibility - requires a hitch, may cause issue with vehicles that carry a spare tire mounted on the rear door
  • Bike compatibility - can accommodate the largest variety of bikes (except tandem bikes)
  • Vehicle accessibility - swing-away and tilt-down styles allow access to rear cargo area
  • User compatibility - varies between racks, many are lightweight, have convenient features, easy to store, simple to install and are easy to use

Read more about hitch bike racks

Roof-Bike Rack

Roof Bike Racks

Roof bike racks keep bikes up and out of the way. Because of their low profile, roof bike racks can remain on the vehicle when not in use.

  • Vehicle compatibility - requires a roof rack system
  • Bike compatibility - can accommodate most styles of bikes, including tandem bikes (not compatible with recumbent bikes)
  • Vehicle accessibility - unlimited vehicle access, can easily access any part of the vehicle
  • User compatibility - varies between racks, extra features can make loading bikes easy, height of vehicle can make loading difficult

Read more about roof bike racks

Trunk-Mount-Bike Rack

Trunk-Mount Bike Racks

Trunk-mounted-bike racks are great low-cost racks that do not require a hitch or roof rack. They are ideal for short or occasional journeys. The racks sit on the trunk or back door of the vehicle, with bikes close to the vehicle

  • Vehicle compatibility - fits most cars, vans, sedans, and SUVs (may not be compatible with spoilers)
  • Bike compatibility - accommodates bikes with larger frames
  • Vehicle accessibility - Bikes must be removed before accessing rear cargo area
  • User compatibility - lightweight, easy to handle and store

Read more about trunk-mounted bike racks

Spare-Tire-Bike Rack

Spare Tire Bike Racks

Spare tire bike racks do not require a hitch and can allow for towing a trailer while carrying bikes. They are also aerodynamic because the bikes are carried behind the vehicle.

  • Vehicle compatibility - mounts to most spare tires (except those with tires more than 10 inches across the tread)
  • Bike compatibility - Accommodates a variety of bikes (a bike adapter bar may be necessary for alternative frame bikes)
  • Vehicle accessibility - Bikes must be removed before accessing rear cargo area (in some cases, the bike rack as well)
  • User compatibility - after initial, easy install, the bike rack can be attached and detached from the spare tire quickly

Read more about spare-tire bike racks

Truck-Bed-Bike Rack

Truck-Bed Bike Racks

Truck-bed bike racks allow for towing while carrying bikes and are convenient for utilizing extra truck bed space

  • Vehicle compatibility - installs in various ways in truck bed, bed liners and tonneau covers may interfere with some racks depending on how they are installed
  • Bike compatibility - accommodates most bike styles
  • Vehicle accessibility - most racks do not limit accessibility to your vehicle
  • User compatibility - simple installation, most are easy to store and easy to use

Read more about truck-bed bike racks

Ladder-Mount-Bike Rack

Bike Racks for a Motor Home or RV

Bike rack for motor homes and RVs allow you to utilize features of your motor home to carry bikes (For example, carry bikes on ladder, bumper or hitch).

  • Vehicle compatibility - compatible with most motor homes and RVs because of the wide range of mounting styles available
  • Bike compatibility - varies depending on the style of rack selected, most accommodate a variety of styles
  • Vehicle accessibility - unlimited vehicle accessibility
  • User compatibility - simple installation, securing bikes to some bumper-mounted racks can be difficult

Read more about bike racks for motorhomes and RVs

Pop-Up Camper Roof-Mount-Bike Rack

Bike Racks for a Fifth-Wheel or Pop-Up Camper

Bike racks for fifth-wheel and pop-up campers use the trailer to carry bikes, saving space on tow vehicle.

  • Vehicle compatibility - mounts to hitch or roof on pop-up trailer
  • Bike compatibility - depends on the bike rack, some may require a bike adapter bar for bike with alternative frames
  • Vehicle accessibility - unlimited vehicle access
  • User compatibility - simple installation and easy to use

Read more about bike racks for 5th-wheels and pop-up campers

Sandra O.


Is there a bike rack for a Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle? We have a 2021 Prius 4D Hatchback. Thanks.

Etrailer Expert

Les D.


@SandraO We only have one bike rack that will carry a trike and it is a roof mounted rack from Sea Sucker. The part number for it is part # 298-BD1005. I have included the link below.

Robert S.


I’m looking for a hard side container to fit on the trailer hitch on the back of my vehicle Motorhome or Truck I need it to fit Bikes into it but I want it to be hard side and then closed not open Bikes are too expensive nowadays to leave them open to the elements Rocks chips rain thieves So I would like something close to fits under the trailer hitch which I can put The bike soon If you could help me that be great can’t leave them out in the open anymore

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


The solution that you're looking for is the GearSpace 34 Enclosed Cargo Carrier which comes in Dark Gray # HGK819 and Light Gray # HGK826. You will need the 2 Bike Mount Kit # HGK963-2 to be able to transport bikes inside safely and then the Snap-On Lock # ACC3250 to lock the carrier to your transport vehicle. This box is compatible with vehicles and motorhomes so you're good on that front, I do recommend checking out the Landing Gear # H00550 as well because this carrier weighs in at 160 lbs so it can be a bit of a bear to install without the landing gear.

Robert S.


@JonG Perfect if you could find it for me and send me the price that would be great I’m in Palm Springs California we can have it sent here or I can have it picked up can you send pictures
Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


@RobertS If you check out the hyperlinked parts above it will take you directly to the product page where you can see photos, videos, and the online cart to purchase from. If you'd rather speak with someone directly about purchasing you can reach out to our customer service team at 800-298-1624.



My bike brake lines run under the bar that supports it on the trunk car carrier. That can not be good. What do I need to do, get another carrier?

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


If you have an older bike rack then that might not be good, but newer racks, like the Yakima BackRoad # YA44FR, have cradles shaped to accommodate for the brake lines. You could also switch over to a platform style rack, like the RockyMounts MonoRail # RKY10003, which secures bikes via the front wheel so it fits styles that don't have a front fender.



I have a 2016 Toyota Sienna van. Just had a 2” hitch installed. Will the Swagman 2 bike carrier $389.00 work well with this hitch and van? One of my bikes is a e-bike, Electra Townie Go. Hitch center opening is 5” under rear bumper. Let me know what you think.

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


The Swagman Current 2 Bike Rack # S64678 will work great on your Sienna for your two bikes. It features a 60 pound (per bike) capacity which should work well for the e-bike. The only thing you MAY need to add is an adapter bar like # 64005 if the hooks don't reach the step-thru frame on that Electra Townie Go.



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