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Choosing The Right Style Of Bike Rack

A Jeep Wrangler hauling bikes

No matter what your weekend adventures look like, a bike rack can free up cargo space and expand your horizons on camping trips, family excursions and solo travel. Whether you’re venturing for a week of cyclocross, trail-crawling or road tripping to your nearest national park, the foundation and security of your bike rack can make or break your journey. Choosing the right one can eliminate stress on the road by keeping your cycles safe and sound all while opening new possibilities for adventure.

No matter if you’re an avid cyclist or recreational cruiser, a well-suited bike rack is the perfect addition to your thrill-seeking lifestyle. However, not all bike racks are created equal. Depending on the type of bike rack you choose, there may be room for customization and more accommodation, whereas rigid limits and cheap fabrication could potentially damage your bike frames or your vehicle’s paint job.

How Do I Pick the Right Bike Rack for Me?

While the most popular bike rack styles are engineered to work with a variety of makes and models, it’s important to identify vehicle compatibility, carrying load, safety measures and installation mechanics that work for your lifestyle. Some racks can hold only two bike frames, while others can transport an entire family fleet of bikes.

Deluxe racking systems mount to your rooftop, while others simply latch directly onto your trunk. Incredibly sturdy bike racks even require adapters like hitches and crossbars to be fully assembled. And, like most aftermarket automotive accessories, bike racks range in price, level of security and versatility.


If you want the ability to haul more than just bikes on your travels, then the Curt Clamp-On Bike Rack might work best for you. By clamping onto your ball mount shank, rather than the trailer ball itself, your hitch is still free to tow a trailer, camper or any other large payload. This type of bike rack is ideal for families or solo-travelers who bring along a lot of supplies, but still want easy accessibility to their two-wheels. It’s a versatile option that’s secure, corrosion-resistant and works great while hauling the family camper or a couple of trailer-rigged ATVs.


Curt bike rack hitch mounted

For those who rack up as many miles on their bikes as they do their SUV, a hitch-mounted rack like the Curt Hitch Mounted Bike Rack is worth the investment. Also called ‘hanging racks,’ a hitch-mounted rack allows your prized bicycles to rest on rubber tubes while securely strapped in place. Compatible with most types of vehicles, this bike rack is nearly a ‘universal’ fit that’s both easy to install and access. By mounting right onto your receiver tube, your rack can carry multiple bikes with gentle, yet steady, rubber arms. The benefits of a hitch-mounted rack outweigh the semi-restricted trunk access, as they transport bikes with excellent security, stability and little-to-no noise. 

Another option for a hitch-mounted bike rack is the Curt Manufacturing Hitch-Mounted Tray-Style Bike Rack. The setup of this tray-style bike rack anchors your cycles atop a platform surface, securing them in place using a wheel-hugging arm. While this option is more of an investment than the hanging style, platform racks can accommodate a variety of bike types and sizes, and you’ll likely retain trunk access in the process. By not relying on the weight of your bike’s top tube, this type of rack lessens the risk of cable pinching and paint scuffing. It’s a great choice for riders who prize their expensive bikes and want to leave nothing to chance.


If your ride doesn’t have a hitch, and you’re not interested in installing one, you can still load your bikes with the Bicycle Carrier – Trunk Mount. This type of bike rack is budget-friendly, lightweight and applicable with your compact car, van, SUV or sedan. You can easily disassemble trunk-mounted racks and toss them in your backseat or garage when not in use. 

Most bike racks are designed with easy assembly in mind. Because your rack likely won’t live on the back of your vehicle forever, it’s important that you get comfortable with securing your rack in place and removing it whenever necessary. 

When shopping for bike racks and accessories, be sure to browse NAPAOnline for the best deals and promotions. From bike racks to cargo straps and bike locks, NAPA AUTO PARTS has everything you need to make sure you reach that ultimate destination, safe and sound.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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