Hitch Bike Rack Buying Advice – What to Consider
Initially, bikes were used as a standard mode of transportation. However, millions of riders today use bikes for competitive and recreational purposes. Whether you are interested in mountain biking, downhill racing or BMX, you will probably require a car to transport your bike(s) to the desired biking location. Hitch bike racks are considered to be the simplest and more convenient when it comes to transporting mountain bikes from one location to another using a car.
This may be attributed to the fact that hitch-mounted bike racks are comparatively easier to install, load bikes and detach from the car. As a matter of fact, the bets hitch bike racks today are reputed as the safest, easy-to-use and efficient way of transporting bikes at the back of a car today. However, there are multiple types and brands of Hitch-mounted bike racks today. So, which of the hitch bike racks available today is the best?
What should you consider while shopping for these accessories? Choosing the right bike rack for your car can be a daunting task. To help you make the right choice, here are some of the things you need to consider while shopping for the best hitch mounted bike rack:
The Type of Hitch Bike Rack
Currently, there are several hitch-mounted bike rack types in the market. However, the various variations are similar when it comes to the basic design and functioning, basically, a hitch rack is designed to be attached to a trailer hitch, at the back of your car. In this regard, the rack slides into the hitch on your car and is secured using a locking mechanism. If you are in the market for the best hitch-mounted bike rack, these are some of the options you should consider:
These are comparatively more expensive, but are more convenient in that they allow you to easily access the trunk. The various Swing Away Hitch racks feature a rotating joint on their arms. As such, you only need to remove a pin or loosen a knob to open up the arm. The arm then swings to either side of the car, allowing your full access of the trunk as well as to the rack and bikes on it. However, most of these bike racks do not allow you to lower or raise the bikes.
This is the basic type of hitch-mounted bike racks today. These racks are rather unique in that they can fold down, allowing you full access of the trunk. If the bikes are already loaded on the rack, you can as well lower the rack out to access the trunk. This comes in handy for such vehicles as the vans, SUVs and hatchbacks because their trunks cannot be opened with anything on the way.
If you would like to access the trunk, you should first unhinge the bikes from the lifted position, and lower them to the ground before opening the trunk. As you can imagine, it can be comparatively difficult to raise and lower the rack, especially when multiple bikes are loaded.
Different bike racks have different carrying capacities. In this regard, you need to consider the number and weight of the bikes you will be transporting before making the choice. Most of the hitch bike racks available today can carry 2 to 4 bikes. This is makes the hitch-mounted racks more attractive, bearing in mind the most roof-mount racks can only hold up to 2 bikes. To avoid damage to the bikes and your car, you should buy a rack that can safely handle the weight of your bikes. If you will be transporting electric bikes, you need to know that they are relatively heavier than conventional mountain bikes.
Hitch Rack Setup
Most of the hatch bike rack models available today are comparatively easy to set up. Actually, most of them come with elaborative instructions on how to go about it. While most of them come with assembly instructions, you can as well have yours assembled by a professional for the best instruction. Again, you need to consider whether the rack will be supplied fully or partially assembled. If the rack is supplied partially assembled, you should ensure that you have the right tools to assemble your hitch-mounted car rack. However, most of the leading brands will only require one or two specialty tools to assemble.
How versatile is your preferred hitch bike rack? With regards to the versatility of the rack, there are several things that you need to consider. For instance, can the rack be expanded to accommodate more bikes? There are some models that may be expanded to take up additional bikes, although some require you to purchase additional parts.
Again, you also need to consider the type of trailer hitches your preferred rack model can fit. There are several hitch bike racks that can fit in both the 2 inch and the 1 ¼ inch hitches. Again, those that can only fit in either the 2 inch or the 1 ¼ inch hitches. A rack that can fit in multiple trailer hitches is considered to be more versatile. In this regard, you should consider the class of hitch-mount bike rack you are buying. Based on the size of the hitch receiver, here are some of the options you have:
Receivers this size can take up both Class I and Class II hitches. Class I hitches are often found in smaller compact cars. If this is the type of hitch you have on your car, it is advisable to go for a track with a torque weight of up to 200 lbs and a gross trailer weight of up to 2,000 lbs.
Class II hitches, on the other hand are normally installed on smaller SUVs and mid-sized cars. These can take up more weight, up to 3,500 lbs in most cases.
Hitch-mounted bike tracks with such receivers may be used on class III and class IV hitches. The Class III hitches are normally found in SUVs, full size cars, vans and tracks. These are comparatively tough and can take up more trailer weight, up to 5,000 lbs. Racks in this category are often referred to as ‘hitch with any 2″ receiver’, regardless of the rating they have. Class IV hitches are normally installed on trucks, SUVs and vans and are the toughest of all hitch types. As a matter of fact, the various class IV hitches can tow up to 10,000 lbs.
When shopping for the best hitch bike rack, you also need to consider the type of bikes the rack can safely transport. For instance, there are some racks that are specifically designed to carry fat bikes. However, there are some that can take up all sorts of bikes. These should be your preferred racks, especially if you are looking forward to changing bikes in future.
This is something many bike owners forget to consider when shopping for the right hitch bike rack. It is advisable to buy a rack that is more stable while driving down the road, whether it is loaded or not. The joints are some of the parts that are least stable in any rack today. As such, you should ensure that the joints in your preferred rack are tight and stable enough to reduce jiggling. Another rack part that is prone to jiggling is the mounting point. To prevent the up-and-down motion experienced in this part, you should opt for a rack that uses an internal drive system.
Such a securing mechanism is designed to pull the rack towards a large pin. This pin then slides into position through the hitch and the rack to secure it in place. This mechanism, when used along with a wedge piece between the hitch and the rack, makes the rack more stable and safer to pull behind your vehicle.