Do I Need A Hitch For A Bike Rack?

Do I Need A Hitch For A Bike Rack

If you use a hitch bike rack, then you need a hitch. If you use other types of bike racks, then you don’t need a hitch.

There are many good hitchless types of bike racks that you can choose. Choosing the right one depends on your personal preference, your vehicle, and basically how many bikes you have.

Now, let’s check out some of the good options right now!

3 Different Types of Hitchless Bike Racks

Roof Mount Bike Racks

The Thule T2 Pro XT Hitch Bike Rack
The Thule T2 Pro XT Hitch Bike Rack

You can install factory or aftermarket crossbars to set roof mount bike racks on your vehicle’s roof.

The advantage of roof mount rack is that it doesn’t block out your rear window visibility. This kind of rack can hold 2 or more bicycles at one time.

The special thing about this rack is that it can hold tandem bikes as well. Compared to other bike racks, this style is not too expensive either.

The only downside to the roof rack is that loading and unloading the bikes can be somewhat of a hassle. So, more muscle should be summoned for this job.

Rhino Roof Rack is a good product that can carry up to 2 bikes. If you want to carry tandem bikes, check out Rocky Mount Bike Rack.

Trunk Mount Bike Racks

Some folks don’t like the feeling of having 20-30 lbs of weight above their head while driving. That’s why trunk mount bike racks are invented.

This style of rack is very versatile. It can fit most cars and vehicles without having to install extra components.

Setting up the rack is easy and straightforward. Many models even ship pre-assembled so you don’t have to do any hard work.

Hanging your bikes on the racks with their rubber arms helps protect the paint coat. Some trunk racks can carry up to 3 bikes with 35 lbs of load on each arm.

If you’re looking for a trunk rack, then  the Thule Getaway or Hollywood trunk racks are great options.

The drawback of the trunk bike rack is that it may block your rear window view. But if you’re driving on roads or trails without much traffic, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Truck Bed Bike Rack

The Kuat Transfer 2 Hitch Bike Rack
The Kuat Transfer 2 Hitch Bike Rack

If you own a truck and have some space, you can set up a truck bed bike rack on your truck to carry the bikes.

Most systems can hold around 4 bikes. This is one of the most secure and stable carrying you can get for your bicycles.

By keeping your bikes secure on their wheels, your bikes’ paint coat will be protected. Also, there is no swaying problem when we’re using the truck bed bike rack.

Installing this system is not really hard. The disadvantage of it, however, is that it just takes up space.

If you think this is a suitable option for you, look Sports Rack truck bed bike rack. It is a good option in this category.

When to Choose A Hitchless Bike Rack

If you have a tandem bike or a tricycle, then choose a hitchless rack like the roof rack.

Also, if you don’t want to buy an extra hitch and do all the assembly, then getting something like the trunk bike rack is suitable.

If you have a truck at home with some available space, then a truck bed rack is a great option that allows you to carry many bikes securely.

Choosing a Hitch for Your Hitch Bike Rack

The Swagman XC2 Hitch Bike Rack
The Swagman XC2 Hitch Bike Rack

If you decide to get a hitch rack, then you should know a little bit about the hitch sizes and their classifications.

Choosing the correct size will help the installation go much smoother and save you tons of time.

Here goes:

  • Class I: 2,000 lbs. / 1.25″ receiver
  • Class II:  3,500 lbs. / 1.25″ receiver
  • Class III: 6,000 lbs. / 2″ receiver
  • Class IV: 10,000 lbs. / 2″ receiver
  • Class V: Over 10,000 lbs. / 2.5″ receiver

Check the hitch bike rack first to see what size receiver it needs and then get the suitable hitch size.

Many SUVs, CUVs, vans will have class 3 or 4 hitches with 2” openings. Make sure also to check the weight capacity of your vehicle.

Considerations When Choosing a Hitch Bike Rack

Number of Bikes

The Yakima RidgeBack 4 Hitch Bike Rack
The Yakima RidgeBack 4 Hitch Bike Rack

Hanging hitch bike racks can carry from 2 to 6 bikes. Usually, the max load on each arm is 35 lbs.

Platform hitch racks can carry about 4 bikes. Despite that, they are more secure than the hanging rack.

Potential Damage to Bikes

If you’re okay with the rack touching your bikes’ frames, then a hanging rack will be good for you and your money.

If you’re not okay with the rack touching your precious frames, then choose the platform hitch racks. These will carry your bikes on their wheels, so your frames are safe.

Locking Mechanism

Many hanging hitch racks have tie-down locking system. However, users do experience swaying issues with this type.

Platform bike racks can lock your bikes securely in place. You won’t have to worry about swaying issues with this style.


The hanging hitch rack is cheaper and the platform is more expensive. If you’re on a budget, then go for the hanging style. If you need more protection, then the platform is your best bet.

When to Choose a Hitch Bike Rack

The Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Bike Rack
The Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Bike Rack

If you want easy loading and unloading of your bikes, then a hitch bike rack can be heaven for your back.

If you don’t like having stuff on the roof while you’re driving, then a hitch rack is a suitable choice.

Also, if you don’t want the rack to damage your car rear door paint, then a hitch rack is good.


In conclusion, if you buy a hitch bike rack, then you should get yourself a hitch. If you use a hitchless bike rack, then you don’t need it. We hope that answers your question clearly. Thanks for reading this post & enjoy your ride!

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