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Best trunk bike racks: The easiest option to safely and securely transport your bike on your car

Included in this guide:

Saris Bones 2 bike trunk-mount bike rack
(Image credit: Saris)

When you need to transport a bike (or two or three), you might not want to try and shove them into your car. Dirty chainrings and interior finishes don't go together very well and even if that's not an issue, getting a bike into a car isn't exactly easy. You need a better solution and there is nothing that's simpler than a trunk-mount bike rack. 

It doesn't matter what kind of car you have, there's an option available to you among the best bike racks for cars. You don't have to worry about installing a hitch or what the top of your roof looks like. Your vehicle is (almost) unimportant in the conversation. The designs for trunk-mount racks are clever enough to work with whatever gets you around. 

Trunk-mount racks are also a great option for anyone who doesn't want to leave a rack on their vehicle. They are super light, easy to store, and tend to be the least expensive option. With all that in mind, it makes sense that people are searching for the best trunk-mount bike racks available. 

The team here at Cyclingnews has spent the time and done the legwork to bring you a list of the best trunk-mount bike racks, that are strong and reliable options. You've already spent your money on one of the best road bikes or one of the best hybrid bikes, and now there's no need to risk damaging it with a bad rack. Keep reading to see our list or jump to the bottom for more information about how to choose a trunk-mount bike rack

Best trunk-mount bike racks available today

Best bike racks: Saris Bones 2-Bike

(Image credit: Saris)

Saris Bones 2-Bike

A classic design with plenty of variations to fit your needs

Specifications
Price: £125 / $189.95
Weight: 4kg / 9lbs
Maximum weight: 15.8kg / 35lbs
Number of bikes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Seatpost strap +Curved arm separates bikes+Fits vans and vertical rear vehicles also
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing to secure the front wheel -Can't be locked to vehicle

This design was first introduced in 1996 and hasn't changed all that much since, though there have been some extra models added to the lineup over that time. This list highlights the original Saris Bones 2-bike version, which is the lightest and least expensive, while there's a 3-bike version available in this design as well. If you need better clearance for a spoiler, then the Bones EX weighs and costs a bit more but adds volume under the arc, with better clearance for a spoiler and there is both a 2-bike and 3-bike version available. There's also the Super Bones in a 3-bike version with the smaller volume of the original Bones. Meanwhile, the Super Bones adds retractable straps and locks. 

Thule Outway Platform 2 bike rack

(Image credit: Thule)

Thule Outway Platform 2

Completely unique among its peers with a platform and no blocking of the number plate

Specifications
Price: £350 / $399.95
Weight: 12.5kg / 27.6lbs
Maximum weight: 15kg / 33lbs
Number of bikes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Platform bike mounting doesn’t hang the bikes +Sits high to not obstruct registration plate or lights+Lockable
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

There's a basic formula for trunk-mount bike racks. Some system of straps holds something that hangs the bikes from the top tube. The advantage of a hitch mount rack is that you open yourself to the world of platform tray racks that support the bike from the bottom. The Thule Outway Platform splits the difference. You still get the ease of install that comes with a trunk-mount rack but it supports the bike with a platform under the wheels. The downside is that the rack is more expensive than most trunk-mount options and it's heavy. It does, however, keep the number plate clearly visible and the bikes won't swing while on the move, so it might be well worth any downside. As you are shopping around, be aware that there is also a hanging version with the same name.

B'Twin 320 Car Bike Rack

(Image credit: Decathlon)

B'Twin 320 Car Bike Rack

Cheap and cheerful, with room for three bikes

Specifications
Price: £79.99
Weight: 9kg
Maximum weight: 15kg
Number of bikes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Budget-friendly+Room for up to three bikes+Folds away neatly for storage+Sits high to not obstruct registration plate or lights
Reasons to avoid
-Not as much protective padding as some other models listed here

This affordable and foldable bike rack from Decathlon sits high up so as not to get in the way of your registration plate or rear lights, and has a three-bike capacity. When not in use it folds flat and can be easily stored away until you need it again. It features adjustable straps for a good fit, and the rubberised feet that come into contact with the car should protect the paint work. It does come with some padding to protect your bike frames from damage, however, we'd also recommend supplementing it with a bit extra to be safe.

Hollywood Express 3 Bike Car Rack

(Image credit: Hollywood)

Hollywood Express 3 Bike Car Rack

A pre-assembled simple rack that folds away when not in use

Specifications
Price: £71.24 / $109.99
Weight: 5.8kg / 13lbs
Maximum weight: 12.5kg / 35lbs
Number of bikes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Folds away neatly into the trunk/boot when not in use+Arrives fully assembled+Rubber tabs to protect the paintwork
Reasons to avoid
-You must use all the straps to prevent wobbling

If you're looking for something simple and budget-friendly, the Hollywood F9 Express E3 bike rack could be the ticket. It's super sturdy and capable, as long as you use all six of its straps to achieve adequate grip on a solid area of your car. Without this there's a risk of wobbling. To keep things as simple as possible, the rack arrives readily assembled, so there's no need to scratch your head with an instruction manual. When it's not in use you can fold it neatly away into the boot for storage. Rubber tabs keep the car's paintwork protected, while rubber separators shield the bike frames from each other.

Hollywood F2 Over-the-Top Trunk Bike Rack

(Image credit: Hollywood)

Hollywood F2 Over-the-Top Trunk Bike Rack

A pre-assembled simple rack that folds away when not in use

Specifications
Price: £219.99 / $349.99
Weight: 9.5kg / 21lbs
Maximum weight: 15kg / 35lbs
Number of bikes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Designed for vehicles with spoilers+Includes special attachment straps for roof racks and glass hatches+Quick release adjustment hubs+Comes fully pre-assembled+Integrated tie-down strap for extra security
Reasons to avoid
-Price

If you have a car with a spoiler, you'll find that a lot of the trunk-mount bike racks won't work. There's not enough clearance under them to handle the height of the spoiler. Hollywood racks not only has plenty of room under the rack to deal with a spoiler but there's also provisions for spoilers higher up the car. In that situation the high-rise frame keeps the straps from wrapping over the top of a spoiler as well. Just because you've got a sporty vehicle doesn't mean you can't make a trunk-mount bike rack work and Hollywood racks makes that abundantly clear. 

Yakima Fullback trunk-mount bike rack

(Image credit: Yakima)

Yakima Fullback

A modern take on the classic double arc design

Specifications
Price: £187.87 / $279
Weight: 10.4kg / 23lbs
Maximum weight: 13.6kg / 30lbs
Number of bikes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Anti-sway cradles+Lockable+Arms fold down when not in use+Includes a bottle opener
Reasons to avoid
-Price

The Yakima Fullback is another take on a design that's reminiscent of the Saris Bones design. There's the same double arc design that holds the bikes stable on the car and stable away from the car. Instead of plastic, Yakima uses a premium high gloss metal construction. Holding the bikes to the rack is something Yakima calls the ZipStrip. Instead of needing to fight with a rigid plastic strap that will inevitably be in your way when loading, the Yakima design is fully removable. There's also an anti-sway strap and, like all Yakima racks, there's a bottle opener for post ride drinks. 

Allen Sports MT1 trunk-mount bike rack

(Image credit: Allen Sports)

Allen Sports MT1

A good emergency option you can carry in your car just in case

Specifications
Price: £43.13 / $69.99
Weight: 2.7kg / 6lbs
Maximum weight: 15kg / 35lbs
Number of bikes: 1
Reasons to buy
+Super lightweight+Inexpensive+Arms fold down when not in use+Fast setup
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks much padding-Uses fabric straps instead of rubber

There are situations where you might want the ability to carry a bike if something does not go according to plan. The Allen Sports MT1 is smaller than anything on the list and weighs almost nothing. It's not a big expense if you put it in the trunk and forget about it until you need it. The flip side of being a super small, light, and cheap option is that it's not the most robust. If you are looking to travel across the country with a bike there are better options on this list. None of them are so small or cheap though.   

How to choose a trunk-mount bike rack

Will my car rack be compatible with my bike?

Almost all bikes are compatible with trunk-mount bike racks but there are still some considerations. The ideal bike for a trunk rack is an adult bike with plenty of room in the main triangle and a straight top tube. As you start to stray away from that ideal it gets a bit more difficult. Issues with the top tube are sometimes solvable but there are a few scenarios where certain bikes will not fit. 

If you are needing to transport a child's bike then you are going to want to look at the width of the support bars. Bars that sit wide apart do a better job at spreading the load of an adult bike but a child's bike will sometimes end up being too small to sit on both bars. If a bike is too small, there's no fixing that. 

The opposite direction would also be an issue. trunk-mount bike racks have low max weight limits. This comes from the fact that the weight rests on the sheet metal, and in some cases the glass, of the car. You can't rest a bunch of weight on the contact points without damaging the car. Road bikes are generally going to be okay and most hybrid bikes will be okay too. You'll have to look more closely at any mountain bikes but it's likely they will be okay too. E-bikes are where you will run into issues, and are almost always going to be over the weight limit. However, there are e-bike-specific car racks out there.

How do I carry step-through bikes on my trunk mounted bike rack?

If you have a cruiser, or any other type of bike with a step-through frame design then there's no way to mount it to a typical trunk-mount bike rack. There is a way around the problem though. Adapters are available that will allow you to create a faux-straight top tube. They work by making a solid connection between the stem of the bike and the seat tube. Yakima names its option simply the Top Tube Adapter, Thule has the Frame Adapter XT, Saris has the Bike Beam, and there are many more available.  

Have you checked ground clearance?

Another challenge for trunk-mount bike racks has to do with ground clearance. Depending on the car and the bike one of the wheels might end up very close to the ground. The lower the rack mounts on the car the more this is a problem but even racks that mount higher up could be an issue when paired with a bike that has a sloping top tube. If the top tube is the issue, then you might need one of the same adapters designed for step-through bikes. Before you buy anything though, start by checking to see if you can mount the bike differently. 

This will again depend on the bike and frame but you may be able to position one of the support mounts under the top tube and the other under the downtube. This arrangement will move the front wheel so that it sits much higher. If you've got a sloped downtube that would naturally position the back wheel close to the ground and hopefully moving the front wheel up will solve it. 

In what situations might a trunk-mount rack be the best choice?

Often when people are considering a trunk-mount bike rack, it's because they don't have roof rails or a hitch. In both situations the lack of mounting is solvable. However just because you've got a bare car doesn't mean you can't choose either a hitch rack or a roof rack.

Adding a hitch is not a big investment and it's possible with almost any car on the market. Once you've got a hitch you open up the possibility of adding a tray-style hitch mount bike rack. This kind of a rack can handle much heavier bikes and tends to be easier on your bike and car. The challenge with this option is that you either need to feel comfortable leaving an expensive rack with your car or you need to remove it after every use. Multi bike hitch racks are large and heavy and if you have to carry them up lots of stairs and store them in a small space that is going to be a challenge. 

Another option would be a roof rack. It doesn't matter if your car has factory roof rails, there are plenty of roof mounting options for a bare roof. Once you've got a roof rack installed it's not intrusive and leaving it up there isn't much of an issue. If you do take it off then it's light and easy to store. The challenge in this situation is that each bike has a cost. It's already an expensive proposition to add the system for a flat roof but if you need to transport three bikes it's going to be much more expensive than a trunk-mount.

Josh Ross

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Look 795 Blade RS, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx