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Hitch Bike Rack Comparison

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A Comparison of Hitch Bike Racks

Today were going to talk about getting your bikes together with your vehicle so you can go riding. Over here we have a variety of different bikes, the mom and dads bikes, and the kids bikes. Obviously, they have all different types of frames and sizes. What we are going to do here is figure out what kind of bicycle rack works with your type of bikes. To start off there are three different types of bicycle racks, I guess you could say three different configurations. One is the single arm version, on the left hand side here. It is pretty much the original design bicycle rack, not much has changed besides clamps and the hinge part at the bottom. It is the most economical one, for the most part it is the most tried and true piece of equipment. The next one in the center here, is called the two armed version. Basically, it is more stable, has two points of contact on the bicycle rack. It has pretty much been around as long as the single arm version, again it has proven technology, and pretty much there is not much to it except for the width on them. And then the last version is the wheel mount, which is relatively new. It grabs the bikes by the wheel and the frame so you have three points of contact compared to the other two.

Bike Rack Installation: The first thing we need to do to determine the bicycle rack is to check what size hitch opening you have on your hitch. You just measure across left to right and you will have either a inch and a quarter inch receiver or you will have a two inch receiver. Two inch receivers are the more common of the two. If you can, get that type which will give you more variety of bicycle racks. Also, I will show you one other thing, a lot of bicycle racks now days come with adapters so you can go from either an inch and a quarter or a two inch receiver hitch. That way, you can switch from one vehicle to another as in this example right here. Alright, first we will demonstrate with using a single arm bicycle rack. I will show you how I attach it to the hitch. It will attach to the hitch just like any other ballmount you would use to pull a trailer with, utilizing the pin and clip. And the clip goes in and that is the basics of it right there. We will show you another option of how the bicycle rack will attach to the hitch. Instead of using this pin and clip, some versions come with a bolt that goes through the hitch and bicycle rack. It also doubles as a security device and it also keeps it from rattling around as an anti-rattle device. I will show you how that goes on. Alright, we are going to load up this single arm bicycle rack here and show you how the bikes fit on and what you run into while you do it.

As you can see, we did not get too far the different type of frames compared to the road bike standard frame and the alternative frames that have the sloping down tube is one of the problems of getting the bikes together closely. We could show you on the different options how to make it work better. Alright what we are going to do to level things out is we are going to use a bike adapter bar. Basically what this does is makes a straight line between the handle bars and the seat and allows the bicycle to set level on the bicycle rack. We will go ahead and install this and put it on the rack. It is still close quarters, but it fits a lot better. Alright, with little kids bikes, you might want to take off the padding temporarily so you can put them on the bicycle rack a little bit easier. There, with a couple adapters, everything fits a lot better. Now we will go ahead and put our top lid on, this will clamp all the bikes down into place. All we have to do is line up with the threaded holes, and get it started evenly, and then just start cranking them down at an even pace. Give it a quick shake and makes sure everything is nice and stable. And then, take the keys out of your locks and you are good to go. On some of the more advanced single arm bicycle racks you have the cradles that are individually mounted. And what that allows you to do, you can actually change the tilt of the cradle and you can also move the cradles back and forth, giving more variety than some of these other bicycle racks. Alright we will go ahead and load the bicycle rack to the advancing clip. Now for our next bike we will have to do some test fitting first, to get the right angle. We will go ahead and set it on there, clamp it down, adjust the angle, take it back off and then tighten it. There, now our bike sits level and you did not need an adapter bar.

Now we will move on to the dual arm bicycle rack where it holds the bike in two different spots. We will go ahead and install this one and show you how the bikes load up on that one. Alright, now we will load up this bicycle rack and we will see what we run into with this. In this instance we run into the bikes making too much contact with each other. This is due to way they are built. We will go ahead and try an adapter bar on it and see if we can straighten it out that way. There, that fits much better and of course you will take into account the handlebars touching which will happen. But for the most part, it sits a lot better and they fit tighter. As you can see the kids bike did not work really well with the dual arm, the dual arm is more suited towards the full sized bikes than little kids bikes. The single arm would actually be better for the kids bikes.

The last rack that we are going to look at today is the wheel mounted bicycle rack. We will install that and show you how it works. It looks really complicated but, actually, it is one of the easier ones to use. First what we will do is fold up the bicycle rack which will make it easier to install on the hitch. Now we have the rack installed and opened up, we can go ahead and install the bikes and show you how that middle bar works. As you can see the kids bike, even the littlest one, works pretty decent on this bicycle rack, even though there are just two shown here, you can actually get a four bike version of this rack too, so you can get back to having everybody on the same bicycle rack. To go over the bicycle racks that we worked with today, as a recap, the economical single arm bike rack will work with many different style bikes but will often require the use of an adapter bar. The dual arm offers greater use of flexibility, but in some situations, some smaller bikes and kids bikes do not work well with that system. With the wheel mount though, you can virtually use all kinds of bikes that will fit on there, big, small, medium will all work the same. And another point is that, on the wheel mount bicycle rack you have three points of contact, on top of the frame and at both wheels where on the other two you only have one or two contacts on the bike.

Mike W.


Can you please tell me what the part # is for the platform bike rack3 point contact that you use for this demonstration ? Thank you Mike

Patrick B.


That was an older SportRack model. That particular rack has been phased out and replaced with part # SR2901LR . It has a new paint color and updates to the hook system. Another rack that is comparable to the one in the video is Hollywood Racks, part # HR1000 .

John B.


Does the Thule 990XT Doubletrack fit a 2012 Subaru Outback and will it fold up? I have a class 3, 2 Draw Tite hitch.Thanks!

Patrick B.


We have gotten the chance to test this rack on a 2008 Subaru Outback, and it did fit and fold up. But there has been a change in the model since 2008. See the video link. We have been able to test other bike racks on the 2012 Outback and you can find videos of that using the other link and entering the Year, Make and Model of the vehicle in the pull down menus at the top of the page. We have had success with other folding tray style carriers with the 2012 Outback, and the 990XT is likely to fit, but we cannot say for sure until we test it.

Info for this part was:

Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Adam E
Test Fit:
Adam E
Employee John S
Video by:
John S

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