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How to Choose a Spare-Tire-Bike Rack

Benefits of a Spare Tire Bike Rack

  • Does not require hitch
  • Makes it possible to tow while carrying bikes

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

  • Vehicle Compatibility
  • Bike Compatibility
  • Vehicle Accessibility
  • User Compatibility

Vehicle Compatibility

Spare Tire Bike rack tilted left on vehicle with a offset spare tire

Do you have a spare tire?

  • Spare tire bike racks mount directly to the spare tire on the rear of the vehicle

Does your spare tire have a cover?

  • You will need to remove the spare tire cover to use a spare tire bike rack (both hard and soft covers)
    • Removal of cover may not be necessary when using the strap-on style of bike rack

How deep is your spare tire?

  • Deep spare tires may not be compatible with bolt-on spare tire bike racks
    • Spare tire must be no wider than 10" across the tread
      • Measure center of hub straight out to the farthest edge of the rubber. If this is more than 5", your spare tire is not compatible with most bolt-on spare tire racks
      • Swagman offers 5-1/2" deep backing plate for wider tires (Available only for Swagman bike racks)

Each rack offers an option for vehicles with offset spare tires that ensures your bikes are centered behind your vehicle

  • See individual racks for how they accomodate offset tires

NOTE: Not recommended for use behind trailers or pop-up campers

Dual-Arm Spare Tire Mounted Bike Rack

Bike Compatibility

Spare tire bike racks come in two styles. Consider what style bike rack would be most compatible with your bike frames and transportation requirements.

Dual-Arm Models

  • 2 Cradles hold bike frame, providing even, stable support
  • Best with standard frame bikes (For example, mountain bikes and road bikes)
  • Also compatible with alternative frame bikes (For example, women's and children's bikes)
    • Ensure bikes have adequate ground clearance
    • For best fit with alternative frames use an adapter bar
  • Capacity: up to 2 bikes

Single-Arm Spare Tire Bike RackSingle, Rotating Cradles on a Single-Arm Spare Tire Mounted Bike Rack

Single-Arm Models

  • Bike frame held by single, rotatable cradle
    • Cradles rotate to keep wheels level to the ground
    • Hand knob secures bike frame to rack by tightening top plate
    • Simultaneously accommodates most styles (standard and alternative frames) and sizes of bikes
    • Simple loading
  • Capacity: up to 3 bikes

Vehicle Accessibility

Bike racks can remain on spare tire while rear door is operated. However, the bikes themselves may need to be removed from the bike rack before you open the rear door.

  • Access varies depending on type of rear door
    • Swing-out doors - Bikes can remain on spare tire (not recommended if the weight of rack and bikes exceeds door-hinge weight capacity)
    • Hatchback - Bike should be taken off the rack

User Compatibility

Choose a rack with features that make it convenient and easy for you to handle.

Bike Rack Attached to Base PlateBase Plate for Bolt on Spare Tire Bike Rack


Bolt On

  • Extremely sturdy/heavy duty
  • Wheel is removed and base plate is attached to spare tire mount
    • Bike rack attaches to bike-rack base plate through spare tire
    • Base plate can remain in place when rack is detached
  • May not be compatible with deep spare tires

Straps Demonstrating how a Strap on Spare Tire Bike Rack is Carried

Strap on

  • Extremely easy and quick to install
  • Simply clamps to tire and secures with a strap that wraps around the bottom of the tire
  • Conveniently accommodates most wheel sizes


  • Can allow for towing while bike rack is in use
  • Locking
    • Some bolt-on racks are secured to the vehicle with lock and key
    • Single-arm models offer a locking mechanism to secure the bikes to the rack
    • See individual racks for locking capabilities
      • Consider purchasing a cable lock to secure your bikes

Updated by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 6/26/18

Tim B.


We have a Grand Design Imagine 2670mk and are looking for a bike rack solution that will accommodate two e-bikes. Would prefer something for the rear of the trailer, but have my doubts that the bumper is a feasible solution as is, and don't think that one of the racks for the front of the trailer would work with the weight of the e-bikes - meaning lifting them up and down. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

David B.


Here have a look at these two racks. The Swagman E-Spec Bike Rack for 2 Electric Bikes - 2" Hitches - Frame Mount # S94FR. And the Lets Go Aero V-Lectric FAT PRO Bike Rack for 2 Electric Bikes - 2" Hitches - Wheel Mount # LGA77FR, Let me know what you think about it.

Kevin M.


Hey. In another comment, y’all state that a “spare tire” mounted bike rack shouldn’t be mounted on the rear of a trailer/pop up camper. Why is this? Is it a weight balance issue, or the way these spare tires are connected to the trailer/pop up camper. I have a small, lightweight, camper (5’x9’) with the spare tire mounted on front wall, in line with tongue. Wondering if this would be ok to mount a bike mount to? Thanks.

David B.


What bike rack are you interested in? I can get you more details on mounting locations and uses if you let me know what rack you are looking at.



I need a bike rack that will mount on the back door of a 2002 Honda CRV (it has a swing out door and spare tire on back door). Can you recommend a couple sturdy racks for 1-2 bikes that are under? Driving across the country. Thank you!

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


Here is a link to all of our available spare tire bike racks that will fit your 2002 Honda CR-V. I really like the Yakima SpareRide # Y02599. Please note that you will need to remove the bikes prior to opening up your rear door.



@JonG Thanks! Will I have to remove the bike before opening rear door for all the models on your list, or were you referring just to the Yakima SpareRide rack?
Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


@Sandra Good question - sorry if I was a bit confusing in my previous response. Removing your bike(s) prior to opening your rear door would apply to any of those bike racks. It's just not something that those manufacturers are willing to budge on.
See All (5) Replies to Sandra ∨



Great information on your web site. Can you recommend a spare-tire mounted bike rack? Looking for 1 sturdy no risk damage car or bike, 2 able to remove easy enough when going through car wash, 3 2 bikes.Thank you!!

Jason S.


The Thule Spare Me 2 Bike Rack - Spare Tire Mount - Folding Dual Arms # TH963PRO is a great option for you. It will allow you to quickly and easily remove the rack for the car wash, will be a sturdy option for carrying two bikes, and it provides security. It is also adjustable side to side if you have an off-center spare tire or other components to account for.



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