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Women posing next to bikes

Best Bike Racks for Women's Bikes

Although many subtle differences exist between traditional men's and women's bike frame designs, the most noticeable difference is the heavily slanted top frame tube on many women's bikes (also known as a step-through frame). This is a leftover from the days when women typically wore dresses while riding bikes. The lower tube was meant for easier mounting.The manufacturers of this traditional bike style couldn't have foreseen the issue that female bike enthusiasts (and others who prefer step-through frames) would one day face: the challenge of mounting their bike on a bike rack.The fact is that most bike racks are designed to carry traditional men's bikes by securing the horizontal top tube. There are no shortage of adapter bars available for women's and alternative bikes so that they may be properly loaded onto most bike racks. However, after dropping cash on a bike and rack, many people don't care to spend more on special bike adapters (this is particularly true if you have to purchase adapters for kids' bikes, as well). We've put together a list of our top favorite bike racks for women's and alternative bike frames below. No adapters required.

What Makes a Rack Good for Women's Step-Through Bikes?

The safest, easiest way to carry your women's or alternative frame bike is with a hitch-mounted, platform-style carrier. There are several reasons riders with alternative bike frames prefer hitch-mounted, platform-style racks (particularly the wheel-mount style) over other types. Hitch-mounted platform racks:
  • Carry bikes by wheels with little or no frame contact
  • Can accommodate step-through frames without adapters
  • Don't allow bikes to sway behind vehicle (unlike hanging racks)
  • Don't require overhead clearance (unlike roof racks)
  • Are more aerodynamic and fuel efficient than roof racks
  • Are less likely to be destroyed by low garages
Best Aesthetic: Kuat NV ProsDue to its matte black finish and pop of orange, this rack takes the cake for best aesthetic. The Kuat NV grips your bike by its front wheels via ratcheting hooks, so the rack never makes frame contact. Not only will that sleek orange not scratch or rub off on your bike, but its wheel-mount design also means it's incredibly easy to carry women's bikes. The front-mounted foot lever lets a single person easily tilt the rack for rear cargo access. The first time I did this I swore I was going to hit my knee on something but the rack went down quietly and smoothly. Perhaps like butter, as some would say.This is the only option on this list made of corrosion-resistant aluminum, which makes the rack a great choice for biking in moist or humid climates. This rack is suitable for those who prioritize avoiding frame contact and value the aesthetic appeal when mounted on a vehicle. ConsDespite its user-friendly design, this bike rack does have a few drawbacks to consider. While adapters for fat tires and kids' bikes are included, the extra step could potentially add inconvenience during setup. Additionally, the positioning of the tilt-away lever behind the bikes makes using an otherwise great feature more difficult than it has to be. Lastly the rack, especially the 4-bike version, is quite heavy and may require more than one person to lift.
Kuat NV Key Features
Capacity: 2 bikes or 4 bikes (60 lbs per bike)Mounting Style: Hitch mount - platformAdd-Ons: 2-bike add-on for 2-bike rackAllows Trunk/Cargo Access: YesHitch Size: 1-1/4" or 2"Carrier Weight: 52 lbs (2-bike); 82 lbs (4-bike)Locks Included: Yes (bikes & rack)Warranty: Limited lifetime
Customer Review: 5/5I purchased this rack after extensive research. My wife and I were transitioning back to a hitch rack after several years of only using roof racks; our prior hitch rack was another brand which had not aged well after a few years. I wanted to make sure that we did not run into the same aging issues this time around. After one year, I can report that all indications are good. The Kuat rack is much more solidly engineered and constructed than our prior hitch rack - everything has a much more solid feel. Everything behaves the same regardless of weather (temperature, precipitation, etc) and is very reassuring. It's also very quick to adjust if we take a trip with our road bikes instead of trail bikes or downhill bikes, which is nice. We are very happy with this rack, and believe that you will be too!
Kuat NV Bike Rack
Kuat NV Bike Rack
Bonus: the Trail Doc bike maintenance stand attaches to the front of the NV, so you can repair and adjust your bike on the go.
Kuat NV Bike Rack
Best Assist: Thule EasyFold XTPros:I'll mention upfront that this is one of my favorite racks, especially for my step-through e-bike with fenders. Most frame-mount bike racks don't work well with step-through frames, but the Thule EasyFold XT is an exception. Instead of two arms sliding down over the top tube, the EasyFold has two arms that can be repositioned to suit your bike frame.Another great aspect of this rack is the included ramp. This is especially important for heavy step-through e-bikes like mine, but even if you don't have one, the ramp assist is useful. Stored on the rack itself, it's always there when needed and out of the way when not.If you're like me, you probably don't love hauling heavy bike racks around the garage, nor having one on the back of your car constantly. The integrated wheels make it easy to move to and from your car. You only need to lift it when sliding it into your hitch receiver.Cons:Of course, no bike rack comes without its drawbacks. For this rack, the premium price tag is the main one. Also, the rack isn't RV-rated, so if you're looking to haul your bike on the back of your camper, you should check out our list here instead. The other iffy aspect is that the frame clamps don't encircle your bike frame, so you really need to make sure the clamp is properly secured before tilting the rack away from the vehicle. I never had a problem with my bike falling, but it was always a worry in the back of my mind.
Thule EasyFold XT Features
Capacity: 2 bikes (65 lbs per bike)RV Rated: NoMaximum tire width: 3", or 4-11/16" with fat bike strapAllows Trunk/Cargo Access: YesFrame Contact: YesCarrier Weight: 45 lbsLocks Included: Yes (bikes & rack)Warranty: Limited lifetime
Customer Review: 5/5Finding a bike rack suitable for two ebikes having fenders and rear rack was a challenge. Add in that one bike was a traditional mens bike with a top tube and the other was a traditional women's frame (step through), it took us awhile to decide on the Thule EasyFold XT2 from etrailer who have been fantastic to deal with. The rack arrived on time, and in excellent condition. You can literally take it out of the box and mount it on your vehicle. It look a few minutes to figure out the best way to attach the frame support bars, but because those bars can be removed and repositioned it attaches solidly and there is no movement of the bikes once mounted. Positives: the rack folds up on the vehicle into a small package when the bikes are not mounted; for storage purposes it is about the size of a suitcase; it is on rollers, when attached and bikes on it, it folds away from the vehicle in a big way and . . . There are no negatives - Love it!
Thule Easyfold 1
Thule Easyfold 2
Thule Easyfold 3
Best Budget-Friendly: Hollywood Racks Destination ProsThis budget rack offers affordability without compromising sturdiness. Considering the bargain price tag, I wasn’t sure how well it would hold up on the test course. But I was pleasantly surprised by the ride quality, which makes it an easy recommendation for a budget-friendly bike rack that holds your bikes safely. It does take some finagling to get the little frame holders in the right spot, but the upside is that they can accommodate many types of bike frames. The 4-bike option is perfect for families who don’t want to spend a ton of money, or gals who want to ride with their girl gang but stay on a budget.ConsDespite being reasonably priced at $200, this budget rack does have some drawbacks. If you're loading two identical bikes, the vertical hooks might come into contact with each other, limiting their usability. Speaking of limited usability, there is also no tilt feature which means the access you hope to have to your trunk is most certainly denied. Lastly, the lock mechanism is somewhat unreliable, and it's worth noting that bike locks are not included. Although sturdy, it's not the most user-friendly option.
Hollywood Racks Destination
Capacity: 2 bikes or 4 bikes (35 lbs per bike)Mounting Style: Hitch Mount - PlatformAdd-Ons: No Allows Trunk/Cargo Access: NoHitch Size: 1-1/4" or 2"Carrier Weight: 20 lbs (2-bike); 42 lbs (4-bike)Locks Included: Rack only Warranty: Limited lifetime
Customer Review: 4/5I like it so far. I especially like that I can get my wife's very low step-through bike attached securely to it, which is why I bought it in the first place. And it seems to hold the bikes very securely, and I really haven't noticed any unusual amount of rocking of the bike/s or the rack while I'm driving. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I have already run into a problem with the unusual way of securing the bike frame to the rack. The center support post is so short, it requires strapping the holding device on the post to the diagonal bottom bar on most bikes. When I tried to put my brother's bike on it, that required my brother to remove the bottle holder and air pump that he had mounted to his diagonal bottom bar. It isn't a deal breaker, but it wasn't something I had considered before purchasing it, and it can be a drawback compared to other types of racks.
Hollywood Racks Destination
Hollywood Racks Destination
Hollywood Racks Destination
Best For Heavy Bikes: Kuat Transfer V2 ProsWe specifically placed this rack under best for heavy bikes due to its unique u-shape which allows you to walk in those heavy bikes and make the loading process easier. The rack's design also caters to a wide range of bicycles, including those with fat tires and kids' bikes. This adaptability is further enhanced by the adjustable arms and wheel trays, which can be customized to ensure a snug and secure fit for each bike. The inclusion of a tilt-away feature adds to the convenience of the Transfer V2. This feature allows users to tilt the rack away from the rear of the vehicle, granting easy access to the trunk or rear compartment without the need to remove the entire rack. This practical feature saves time and effort, making it a standout advantage for users. Security is also a priority with the Transfer V2. The integrated cable lock provides an added layer of protection for the bikes during transportation and stops, giving users peace of mind while on the road. This feature is especially valuable when making pit stops or leaving the bikes unattended.ConsWhile the Kuat Transfer V2 bike rack boasts numerous advantages, there are a few limitations to consider. One of the notable drawbacks is its weight, which could pose challenges for some users during installation and removal. Additionally, the rack's price point might be a deterrent for budget-conscious individuals, as it falls in the mid-range to higher-end spectrum of bike racks.Finally, while the integrated cable lock is a commendable security feature, some users might find its length limiting, especially when securing multiple bikes with larger frames or accessories.
Kuat Transfer V2 Key Features
Capacity: 1 bike or 2 bikes (both 60 lbs per bike) Mounting Style: Hitch mount - platformAdd-Ons: 2-Bike Add-On # KU57FRAllows Trunk/Cargo Access: YesHitch Size: 2"Carrier Weight: 37 lbs (2-bike); 73 lbs (4-bike)Locks Included: Bikes onlyWarranty: Limited lifetime
Customer Review: 4/5This rack works great! I wish I would have bought it five years ago. Although it is the cheapest of the Kuat racks, it does everything I need. I considered other racks that didn’t tilt, and it is worth the higher cost to go with a tilting rack to get into the back of the SUV. The U-shape of the rack is also great ergonomically for loading the bikes, so there is no bending or stretching to load the first bike. I highly recommend this bike rack; it will make your life easier!
Kuat Transfer V2 Bike Rack
Kuat Transfer
Kuat Transfer
Best Bang For Your Buck: Yakima HoldUpProsThe beefy Yakima HoldUp is everything you want in a hitch-mounted bike rack. The wheel-mounted design means no frame contact, so it's great for women's step-through bikes, and it won't scratch your paint. It's easy to load, thanks to the pivoting rear wheel cradles and low height. The ratcheting hooks avoid any frame contact. The rack tilts away from the vehicle to allow for rear hatch access. It's also hardy enough to carry heftier bikes, like a mountain or e-bikes.The HoldUp's built-in security features contribute to its appeal. An integrated cable lock provides peace of mind by allowing users to secure their bikes while making stops or detours. This added layer of protection is especially valuable for users who want to ensure their bikes remain safe during breaks. These extra features would normally inflate the cost, but the budget-conscious price tag puts the Yakima HoldUp is in a league of its own when it comes to value.ConsAlthough the HoldUp folds compactly against the vehicle, the folding lever is a bit difficult to access near the shank, particularly with bikes loaded. The 4-bike model is quite heavy, weighing in at over 100 lbs, and will likely require assistance to install.
Yakima HoldUp Key Features
Capacity: 2 bikes (60 lbs per bike) or 4 bikes (50 lbs per bike)Mounting Style: Hitch mount - platformAdd-Ons: 2-Bike Add-On # Y02446Allows Trunk/Cargo Access: YesHitch Size: 1-1/4" or 2"Carrier Weight: 49 lbs (2-bike); 98 lbs (4-bike)Locks Included: Yes (bikes & rack)Warranty: Limited lifetime
Customer Review: 5/5This carrier is everything they claim it is. It's very heavy duty, easy to mount and secure all types of bikes, whether they be BMX, mountain, or road bikes, and, most importantly, rides so smoothly behind the vehicle (due to the well-engineered arm that goes into the receiving hitch) that you forget it's there. I truly believe many a bike will wear out before this rack wears out. I would not hesitate to recommend this carrier to anyone who serious about quality and value.
Yakima HoldUp Bike Rack
Yakima HoldUp Bike Rack for 2 Bikes
Yakima HoldUp Bike Rack

Takeaway

Here's the scoop from where I'm standing – there's no ultimate "champion" of bike racks. Instead, it's more like there's a perfect match out there for each rider.We hope this guide was able to aid in your shopping journey. If you're still on the lookout, just drop a comment below, and we're here to hook you up with a solid recommendation. Happy cycling!Written by: Amber S.Updated by: Rachel S.Updated on: 8/30/23


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