Graeme is a Victoria-based web developer who worked as a bicycle mechanic for three years. He loves writing about bike-related topics.
Which Is the Best Bicycle Rack for a Hatchback or SUV?
I've owned a few smaller hatchbacks. As a bike rider, I know the frustration of trying to transport my bike in the trunk of such a small vehicle. If only I'd known they make bicycle racks specifically for hatchback cars.
Hatchback style bicycle racks are specially designed to allow vehicles with a rear hatch door or trunk to carry up to two, occasionally three bikes at a time, safely and securely. They're easy to install, and some even come pre-assembled out of the box. There are different styles, which we'll talk about in a bit.
This article is intended as a review of several of my favorite bicycle racks for hatchback vehicles. In this article, we'll look at:
- ease of installation,
- and price.
Let's get started!
What Kind of Bicycle Rack Best Fits a Hatchback?
There are several types of bicycle carrier racks and hitches that work well with a hatchback car, depending on a few factors. Personally, I favor one type and believe it to be the best option, but I'll get to that in a moment. Here is a list of the popular styles that will fit your hatchback.
Roof-Mounted Bicycle Racks
Some hatchbacks are large enough to support crossbars. Crossbars are perfect for a roof-mounted bicycle rack, and if you have them, you should use them. They install easily and keep your bike secure with minimal work. Some versions require you to remove your front wheel to secure the bicycle. Either way, they're among the safest options.
Some bike racks are intended to attach to a vehicle's hidden hitch. These are common on SUVs and trucks, but they're rare on hatchbacks or station wagons. If you happen to have a rear hitch on your hatchback, this is the way to go. Hitch-mounted car bike racks are very strong, highly stable, and easy to install. However, hidden hitches are expensive; if you don't have one already they're not the cheapest option.
Trunk-Mounted Bicycle Car Racks
This is the most popular variety and the kind I most recommend. I prefer this style of cycle carrier because they're easy to install, and most fold away in a snap. Most of the better affordable hatchback bike racks use this style, since they readily attach to the rear hatch door and fold flat when not in use.
1. Allen Deluxe
This Allen Trunk Mount rack is probably the most popular item I've listed here, and for good reason. It's really straightforward and has a low price tag. Despite the inexpensive cost, it's effective and should do everything you need it too, though without many bells and whistles. It comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage or defect.
A Popular and Simple Bicycle Rack for Hatchbacks
- Cost: This rack is pretty cheap, costing between $40 and $70.
- Holds: This rack holds two bikes.
- Assembly: The bike rack comes pre-assembled, so you just have to take it out of the box, unfold it, and go. The carrying arms are 12 inches long, which should fit almost any bike. The simple, patented strap system is easy to install and keeps the rack pretty snug.
- Drawbacks: If you have heavier bicycles, like a couple of beefy downhill mountain bikes, or a set of fat bikes, you might want a stronger rack, like a hitch mount.
2. Saris Bones
The Saris Bones is an answer to anyone who wants a bicycle rack but hates how they look. This item is gorgeous and custom-designed to take up very little space by utilizing mechanical advantage. Beyond its clever and attractive design, the injection-molded structure is among the strongest out there, and it fits beautifully on a hatchback vehicle (or any vehicle for that matter).
Works Great for Cars With a Trunk or Boot Too
- Cost: Price-wise, it's a bit more expensive than others listed here, but the benefits outweigh the extra cost, and you're sure to get years of good use out of this one.
- Holds: It's hard to believe such a small item could carry two bikes so effectively, but it does the job really well.
- Assembly: Pre-assembled! The all-resin construction is non-rusting, and the straps ratchet into place and include anti-sway technology. Due to the arch, it even works if your car sports a rear spoiler.
- Drawbacks: It's a bit more expensive than other bike rack options.
3. Allen Ultra Compact
The Allen Ultra Compact is a truly tiny and very low profile bicycle rack that can hold a surprising amount of weight. It's so small it can fit in a backpack, perfect if you need an on the spot carrier at any time. I recommend this to friends who ride around frequently. It's nice if someone offers you a ride because you can pull it out and attach your bike in minutes. It's pretty ideal for camping trips too.
A Single Bike Rack, Ideal for Hatchback Cars
- Cost: Despite only carrying a single bike, this rack is on the pricey side.
- Holds: If you only ever need to carry a single bicycle at one time, this is a mounting system that should grab your attention.
- Assembly: This mini bike rack uses padding and straps to keep your cycle nice, snug, and secure, and it uses three padded legs to rest safely against the vehicle. It'll work on vehicles of any kind, but it works especially well on a hatchback or SUV rear door. When you're done you can just fold it up and store it in your bag.
- Drawbacks: It only holds one bike.
Considerations for Hatchback Bicycle Racks
Before you pull the trigger on a bike rack, you should consider whether a model will suit your needs.
How many bikes? Figure out the maximum number of bikes you'll need to carry since most racks have limits (typically two to four bikes, but some can carry more).
How much do they weigh? Most bicycle racks for hatchback cars have total weight restrictions which you shouldn't max out. Mountain bikes and fat bikes can be quite heavy, sometimes upwards of 40 pounds. Make sure that your bike rack can handle it.
What about storage? Installation? Will this rack live in your car when not in use? Does it fold flat? Will you need to remove the front wheel of your bike when you mount it? If so, will you have room inside your vehicle for the wheel? Think through these things because you want the process to be easy. Otherwise, you won't use it.
Have a Hatchback Car? What's Your Bike Transportation Experience Been Like?
Graeme (author) on July 02, 2013:
@anonymous: Yeah, that spoiler really causes problems. You might check out the Saris Bones. You could either position the feet to fit OVER the spoiler (kind of awkwardly high, but reduces any chance of breakage), or you could just risk the straps on the spoiler, since it puts the least weight on the straps. I've seen the Bones safely installed on a Mini Cooper, which has a similar spoiler issue. I've got a link to the Saris 805 in this article. Check out some of the customer photos... some clever workarounds with spoilers on there. I hope that helps!
anonymous on July 02, 2013:
Nobody seems to be talking about hatchbacks with spoilers at the rear of the roof. The ones with no gap under the spoiler won't allow installation of a trunk type bike rack because the upper straps will put too much pressure on the lip of the spoiler, possibly causing the spoiler to break. I have talked with tech support at several bike rack makers and all say they have nothing to mount on the rear of a car such as my Honda Fit Sport. Does anyone know of a rack which will work? Don't want a roof rack (car is too tall to easily put bikes on roof) and don't want hitch mount, car has no hitch and will never haul a trailer.