How to Choose a Bike Rack That Will Clear a Rear Mounted Spare Tire or Bumper

Hitch-mounted bike rack on Toyota FJ

Many SUVs carry a spare tire on the back of the vehicle. If you want to use a hitch-mounted bike rack on such a vehicle, you have to make sure it will clear the spare. The following information can help you find a rack that will work with your vehicle and spare.



You need to know two measurements:

  1. Required clearance of vehicle - center of hitch pin hole to outer edge of spare tire
  2. Bike rack clearance - distance from center of hitch pin hole to the upright mast or the first wheel hoop, depending on the kind of rack




Vehicle Clearance

To determine the amount of clearance your vehicle requires, you need to measure. This requires a measuring tape and a straight edge, such as a dowel rod or a yardstick.


Step 1


Positioning vertical dowel rod for bike rack clearance

Hold the dowel rod or yardstick vertically against the back of your spare tire, making sure that the end of the straight edge extends lower than your hitch pin hole.


Step 2


Using tape measure to get distance from hitch pin hole to back of spare tire

Use the tape measure to find the distance from the center of the hitch pin hole to the straight edge (in inches). Be sure to form a 90-degree angle between your tape measure and your straight edge. This measurement is the minimum clearance your bike rack will need to clear your spare tire.





Bike Rack Clearance

We list the clearance for our bike racks in our product specs. If the clearance given for a particular bike rack is greater than your vehicle clearance, you're good to go. That bike rack should work on your vehicle.


Hanging-Style Bike Racks


Hanging style hitch-mounted bike rackDistance from hitch pin hole to upright mastDistance from hitch pin hole to upright mast

On this style of bike rack, the clearance is measured from the center of the hitch pin hole in the shank to the part of the upright mast that is closest to the vehicle. Usually the mast is a straight, vertical bar. However, some bike racks have parts at the top of the mast that are positioned closer to the vehicle. These parts could include a hinge that allows the support arms to be lowered or a platform that lends extra support to the arms. The clearance value usually given is the distance to the mast or to one of these other parts, whichever is closer to the vehicle.


Platform-Style Bike Racks


Platform style hitch-mounted bike rackDistance from hitch pin hole to closest edge of the first wheel hoop

The clearance on this style of rack is measured from the center of the hitch pin hole in the shank to the closest edge of the first wheel hoop.





Updated by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 7/6/18





Questions and Comments about this Article

Deanna L.

My husband has 2022 defender with spare tire. We’d like to get the kuat 2.0 for 2 bikes with existing hitch. Clearance from hitch to outside tire is 13”. Will the kuat work? If not, please let me know of an alternative setup. We have 2 electric bikes. Thanks!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The Kuat NV 2.0 measures 11-3/4" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the closest part of the rack when it's in the regular position. While that won't be enough to clear your spare tire, Kuat does have the Pivot 2 # PVP20B which places the hitch pin hole for your bike rack out another 12-3/16" plus it gives you the ability to swing the entire bike rack out of the way so that you can gain complete access to your rear hatch area.

Marek S.

I have 2011 Toyota RAV4 (with the spare tire on the back). I'd like to install a hitch and a bike rack to carry two electric bikes weighing 65 lb each. So I'm thinking about the Hollywood Sport Rider for electric bikes (HR1500) and the hitch #C13149. Would this combination work or would the spare tire be in the way? If not, what else could I do? Note: If necessary, I can reduce the weight of each bike below 60 lb by removing the batteries.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I'm not sure if that would be the best combo for you. When we installed the Curt # C13149 hitch on a 2011 RAV4 we measured a little over 6" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the outermost edge of the spare tire, and the Sport Rider for Electric Bikes # HLY84FR (HR1500) that you mentioned measures 7-1/2" to the closest part of the bike rack. So the bike rack will fit but I think your pedal and/or handlebar on the closer bike might have issues. If your electric bikes don't have fenders then I recommend checking out the RockyMounts MonoRail # RKY10004 . Please note that you should be removing your batteries regardless of whether or note you're trying to save weight simply to help protect them from any vibrations from the road.

Reply from Marek S.

Can I use a hitch extension like Yakima StraightShot 7-1/4 " or Rocky Mounts 8" extension for 2 inch hitch between Curt Trailer Hitch #C13149 and Hollywood Sport Rider hitch for electric bikes (HR1500) on my 2011 Toyota RAV4?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@MarekS You can use an extension like that, just be mindful that most bike rack manufacturers say the warranty is voided if you use an extension that they didn't make and extensions like this will reduce the weight rating of the trailer hitch by 50%. This shouldn't be an issue for your case but it's still worth knowing.

Carolina B.

Hi! I have a 2020 rav4 and we're planning on attaching a spare tire in the back eventually. Is there an option for a 2 bike rack, hitch mount that works now without the spare tire and that will still work once we attach the spare tire? Thanks!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Are you able to estimate how much clearance you think you'll need? If you are going to get one the same size as what you currently have then try adding the width of your current tire to the back door and double check for clearance. Let me know what you're looking at when it comes to that clearance measurement and I can see if we have anything that will work.

Janet K.

I have an older style Toyota RAV4 with the spare tire on the back. My vehicle clearance is 6”, or just a hair under that. I only need to carry one bike. (Or 2 bikes on rare occasions.) I am open to either style of bike rack: hanging or platform. Bonus if no tools are required to install the bike rack. I have a 2” hitch. Thanks for any help you can give me.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

We do have a selection of bike racks that fit your description. We have options as cost-effective as the Swagman Titan # S63400 but then also options that go up to the RockyMounts Split Rail # RKY11404 or even the Kuat NV 2.0 # NV22B which has the tool-free installation that you mentioned.

Joe K.

Does anyone have a picture of a Kuat Pivot Drivers side option on a Jeep Wrangler? I like the idea of bikes on the left and foot opening to the right I think but wanted to see it first as every picture I see seems to show a passenger side option.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

We don't have any videos or photos of the Driver's side Pivot 2 # PVD20B on a Wrangler but we do have a handful of photos and videos on other vehicles that you can check out.

Brian

I have a 2015 Unlimited Jeep Wrangler with spare tire. What Yakima (preferred brand) hanging hitch mounted hanging bike rack do you recommend. If not Yakima, what’s the next best brand for under $350?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What's the distance from the center of your hitch pin hole to the outermost part of your spare tire? Yakima bike racks typically don't have long shanks so you'll probably end up using something like the Hollywood Racks Traveler # HR9200 , but if you can let me know what that measurement is I can look into it.

Reply from Brian

@JonG - Thanks for your help! Distance from center of hitch pin hole to the outermost part of spare tire = 9.5” Distance from upper inside lip of hitch opening to bottom of spare tire is 5”...to bottom of tailgate door is 8.5” Thanks!

Tiffany

My husband has a 2021 Land Rover defender with a spire tire in the back, and it also got a hitch receiver. We have a hard time finding bike rack with good clearance. Any recommendations for a bike rack holds 4 bikes? Ideally we can still open the back door while with bike on.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The best combination that I can think of is using the Thule Range 4 Bike RV Rack # TH9057 with the Kuat Pivot 2 # PVP20B . This gives you a distance of about 17-1/2" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the back of the bike rack plus it gives you the ability to swing the bike rack out of the way and gain access to your rear hatch area without removing your bikes.

Reply from Tiffany

@JonG thank you for your suggestions. This option is great, but a little expensive when combining the two together. Given that we are not very adventurous, will only ride bikes in the trail. If we give up on opening the back door with bike on, is there any other options? Thank you for your advice.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Tiffany of course! Would you be able to get some measurements for me so I can help you out with that? I would need to know the distance from the center of your hitch pin hole to the outermost part of your spare tire, and then from the top (of the inside) of the receiver to the bottom of your spare tire as well as to the bottom of your door. You'll have to remove your bikes to open up the back door but I'm sure we have something that will work out.

Reply from Brian

@JonG - Thanks for your help! Distance from the center of hitch pin hole to the outermost part of the spare tire = 9.5” (shorter than I thought) Distance from the top (of the inside) of the receiver to the bottom of the spare tire = 5” Distance from the top (of the inside) of the receiver to the bottom of the door Is 8.5”

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Brian Thanks for the info! I would look at the Yakima RidgeBack # Y02458 or the Yakima FourTimer # Y02469 . I'm a little skeptical if you'll have clearance using the FourTimer even if your bikes aren't loaded because the shank alone has a 4" rise from the top of the hitch receiver. The RidgeBack would obviously be in the way. I would just try to be thoughtful about what you pack in your vehicle and what you need access to.

Reply from Brian

@JonG -Thank you!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Brian Anytime!

Reply from Brian

@JonG - given the above measurements, are there any Thule or equally user-friendly and durable options for a hanging 4 bike hitch mount that you would recommend?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Brian For a Thule rack you could use the Hitching Post Pro # TH934XTR which measures 12-1/2" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the upright - more than enough to clear your spare. There are a handful of pictures in the "Customer Images" section that shows this installed on a number of vehicles that have a spare tire.

Reply from Shaun

@Tiffany Hi Tiffany- I have a 2020 Land Rover defender and am also looking for a bike rack to fit 4 bikes. I was just wondering if you found one that works well for you guys?

Alexander V.

I have a 2004 Jeep Liberty with spare tire. I’m looking got a hitch rack or maybe you can advice witch one is better

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Since you have the spare tire at the back I'd go with a spare tire rack like the Yakima SpareRide # Y02599 . According to my research it doesn't look like we have any bike racks with that kid of clearance without using an extender which really increases the amount of movement of the bike rack.

Jose M.

I have a Ford Ecosport 2020 with spare tire in the back

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Are you wanting to add a bike rack that connects to the spare tire or are you looking for a hitch mount bike rack that clears the spare tire?

Reply from Jose M.

@JonG I'm looking for an option, where I can open the trunk without disturbing the bike hitck rack. my car has the spare tire in the trunk

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@JoseM For that application you'll want to install a trailer hitch like the Curt # C12188 and then use a platform style bike rack that has a tilting feature so you can still get into the rear hatch without removing any bikes. Something like the Swagman Chinook # S64683 would be a good option (as long as it works for your bikes).

Jeff D.

I have a 2018 Jeep wrangler JL with a rear tire and no Reese hitch i want to get 2 RAD bikes and carry them. I have a few issues, need Reese receiver, need to make sure the bike rack will extend past the tire, I think I need the Hollywood sport rider rack for the weight of the bikes and last I have a concern about the bikes blocking the taillights. Thought and suggestions much appreciated.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

For your application I recommend using the etrailer hitch # e98856 along with the Hollywood Racks Sport Rider SE Bike Rack for 2 Electric Bikes # HLY84FR and the Kuat Pivot 2 Swing Away Hitch Extender # PVP20B . This will hold your bikes out far enough to clear your spare tire and allows you to swing your bike rack away so that you can have some access to the rear hatch area of your '18 Wrangler JL.

Reply from Jeff D.

@JonG Any thoughts on the obstruction of the tail lights?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@JeffD For a light kit I recommend checking out the Curt # C53201 .

Reply from Jeff D.

@JonG love the light kit do you also make a simple kit to bring the power to the hitch to plug into the harness? I am not really handy to am hoping for a very simple kit

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@JeffD I'd be happy to recommend a wiring kit! Since you don't have the factory tow package I recommend using the Curt T-Connector # C56407 . This plugs in behind your tail lights and then you route the power up to your battery. We actually have a video of the installation process which I am linking for you to check out. I wouldn't say this is the easiest wiring harness I've ever seen, but for your vehicle it is the easiest.

Sherwin L.

I have attached a Buzz bike platform rack to the hitch. It fits a 1 1/4 opening but it is a loose fit held by a pin through the hole. It is normal to be a bit loose?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If your bike rack doesn't have an anti-rattle device then you will definitely see some play. What you can do to help eliminate this is to use something like the Roadmaster Quiet Hitch # RM-061-125 .

Jim S.

I own a 2000 chevy tracker with a rear door mounted spare tire, can you tell me if e-trailer has a bike rack for 2 bikes that mounts to the hitch and can clear the spare tire? Thanks

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I'm sure we have something, but first I'll need a measurement taken on your end. If you follow steps 1 and 2 in this help article to measure the distance from the center of your hitch pin hole to the rearmost edge of your spare tire this will tell me what kind of clearance you need. Also if you can let me know what size hitch receiver you have (1-1/4" or 2") that will help out as well.



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