How to Choose a Bike Rack for a Minivan

If you're looking for a bike rack for a minivan such as a Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, or Kia Sedona, consider the following types of racks. All of the most common types of racks - hitch-mounted, roof-mounted, and trunk-mounted - can work for you. But some may work better for you than others. We'll explain the differences among the most popular types of racks to help you decide.
Minivan and bicycle

Bike Rack Options


Learn more about these types of bike racks:


or... check out our picks for best bike racks for minivans, below.





Our Bike Rack Picks for Minivans

See our picks for four best bike racks for minivans here. We choose a bike rack for best value, highest capacity, best rack for families, and best tilting bike rack.


Best Value
  • Best value - quality for the price
  • Holds up to 4 bikes
    • 2 Bikes on a 1-1/4" receiver
  • Fits 2" and 1-1/4" hitches
  • Capacity: 35 lbs per bike
  • Carrier weight: 39 lbs
Highest Capacity
  • Holds up to 5 bikes
  • Accommodates carbon fiber frame bikes
  • Unique, arched arms help to eliminate bike-to-bike contact
  • Capacity: 30 lbs per bike
  • Carrier weight: 40 lbs
Best Family
  • Easy bike loading and unloading
  • Fits a variety of bike types
  • Holds up to 4 bikes
  • Capacity: 45 lbs per bike
  • Carrier weight: 74 lbs
Best Tilting
  • Tilts with bikes loaded
  • Holds bikes upright when mast is lowered
  • Holds up to 4 bikes
  • Capacity: 30 lbs per bike
  • Carrier weight: 42 lbs




Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Thule hitch-mounted bicycle carrier installed on minivan with bike loaded Thule hitch-mounted bicycle carrier

Hitch-mounted bike racks are easy to use. To mount them, you slide them into your minivan's hitch and secure them with a pin or lock. You don't have to lift bikes very high or remove any wheels to load your bikes. Because hitch-mounted racks connect to a hitch, they don't make contact with your vehicle, so you won't risk damaging its paint. These racks can interfere with opening your minivan's hatch or rear doors. Look for folding or swing-away models if you want to access the back of your minivan while the rack is mounted. These racks tilt down or swing out of the way to give you access to your vehicle. Look for lighter racks if you are interested in finding the easiest racks to mount. If your car doesn't have a hitch, you can install one. Most hitches can be installed with basic hand tools and don't require drilling into your car. See our fitguide to find a custom-fit hitch for your minivan.


Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Allows hatch access
  • Easy to mount bikes
  • Large capacity - up to 5 bikes
  • No damage to vehicle finish

Cons:

  • Requires a hitch
  • Prevents use of hitch for towing






Roof-Mounted Racks

Rhino-Rack roof-mounted bicycle carrier with bike Rhino-Rack roof-mounted bike rack

A roof-mounted bike rack is a good choice if you want the best access to your vehicle while you are carrying bikes. This type of rack mounts to crossbars on the roof of your vehicle and carries your bikes up out of your way. This allows you to easily open the hatch or doors of your minivan. Most minivans are taller than the average vehicle, though, which means you'll have to lift a bike higher than you would to mount it on a hitch- or trunk-mounted rack. Lifting a bike that high can be challenging for some people. Consider a step stool if you need extra reach. You can transport a number of bikes, but you'll need a roof-mounted bike rack for each one. The only limits to the number of bikes you can carry are the maximum weight capacity of both the crossbars and your vehicle's roof, and the width of the crossbars.


If your minivan doesn't have crossbars, you can have them installed, or install them yourself. See our fitguide to find a custom-fit rack for your vehicle.


Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Allows full access to back of vehicle
  • No damage to vehicle finish

Cons:

  • Bike loading can be awkward
  • Requires crossbars
  • Requires a rack for each bike






Trunk-Mounted Racks

Thule trunk-mounted bicycle carrier on SUV with bike loaded Thule trunk-mounted bike rack

Trunk-mounted bike racks are equipped with hooks, straps, and buckles that allow them to be attached to the back of your minivan. These racks do not require any extra equipment (a hitch or crossbars), which can make them the most economical choice for transporting bikes. Trunk-mounted bike racks usually have pads of some type where they make contact with the vehicle. But be sure to clean the places on your minivan where they do make contact before mounting them to help eliminate any potential scratching of its finish. You can't open the hatch while a trunk-mounted rack is installed, even if you have no bikes mounted on it. A spoiler can interfere with the fit of these racks, though some racks are designed to mount on vehicles that have spoilers.


Pros:

  • Requires no hitch or crossbars
  • Least expensive option
  • Can be swapped among different vehicles
    (Check fit information)

Cons:

  • Interferes with hatch access
  • More difficult to install
  • Interferes with automatic rear windshield wiper
  • Improper installation can cause damage






Vacuum-Mounted Racks

SeaSucker Locks Not Included Roof Bike Racks - 298-BT1004 298-BT1004 - Black SeaSucker Roof Bike Racks

Vacuum-mounted bike racks attach by means of vacuum cups to the trunk, roof, or glass of your vehicle. You don't need to have a hitch or crossbars on your vehicle to use a vacuum-mounted rack - these racks can be attached anywhere they will fit. And they can easily be transferred to different vehicles. So if you have more than one vehicle but don't want to have to consider buying more than one rack, a vacuum-mounted rack could be a good choice. These racks are also easy to attach and remove, taking just seconds. When you attach the rack, be sure the mounting locations are clean to help eliminate any potential scratching of your minivan's finish. These racks could interfere with opening your minivans's rear hatch, depending on where they're located.


Pros:

  • Requires no hitch or crossbars
  • Flexible mounting options
  • Easily attached and removed
  • Can be swapped among different vehicles

Cons:

  • May interfere with hatch access (depending on location of rack)
  • Vacuum cup plungers require occasional lubrication






Additional Articles


How to Choose a Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack


How to Choose a Roof-Mounted Bike Rack


How to Choose a Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack


Written by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 9/18/18





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