Are Hitch Bike Racks Safe Compared To Other Bike Racks?

The biggest turn-off for most bike racks is that they don’t allow easy bike loading and unloading. That, however, is not the case with hitch racks. Their biggest concern is their safety. So, are hitch bike racks safe?

Hitch bike racks securely hold bicycles, with some allowing you to lock them and others enjoying anti-wobbling features, thus safer. Besides, they don’t rest on the car’s body and, as a result, are less likely to damage its painting.

Note, however, that these racks are safer despite interfering with the vehicle’s rear access and making it longer.

But before I can go further, what are hitch bike racks?

Hitch bike racks are vehicle-transportable bicycle racks that you attach to the vehicle’s hitch receiver.

In that case, you don’t need crossbars to install them, but only the hitch, which you can fit if non-existent.

Hitch racks attach onto the vehicle’s hitch using a solid pole and bolts. They generally make it easy to load and unload bicycles.

Overall, hitch bike racks come in two options; platform and hanging, that’ll talk about later in this post.

are hitch bike racks safe

In a rush? Check out my most recommended hitch bicycle racks on the hotlist below.

4 Safest Hitch Bike Racks

1. Thule EasyFold XT 2: Best Foldable Platform Hitch Rack

2. KAC Overdrive Sports K2: Best Tilt-able Platform Hitch Rack

3. Allen Sports 4-Bike Rack: Best Single-Arm Hanging Hitch Rack

4. IKURAM R 4-Bike Rack: Best Double-Arm Hanging Hitch Rack

Are Hitch Bike Racks Safe?

Let’s talk about the good and the bad side of using hitch-mount bike racks.

  • The Good

Unlike most bike racks, hitch racks hold the bike (or bikes) safely onto the car. You won’t worry about the bicycles detaching and hitting the ground.

Likewise, you won’t worry about the rack rubbing against your vehicle as it doesn’t rest on the vehicle’s body. That’s unlike trunk racks.

So, the chances of the rack damaging the car’s painting are slimmer.

Most hitch racks also allow you to lock them or secure them on the vehicle to keep thieves away. You can even lock your bike there, thus safer.

That’s the case of the Thule EasyFold XT 2, which comes with locks for securing it on the vehicle’s receiver and for securing the bike onto the rack.

The other thing you’ll note with hitch bike racks is that they enjoy anti-wobble systems, which steady your bike on transit. That’s the case with the KAC Overdrive Sports K2.

The bike rack promises to prevent bike wobbling. The bike rack also features padded clamps, which are becoming popular with modern hitch racks to protect your bike from aggressive clamping down.

So, that’s another safety feature that modern hitch bike racks promise.

Are Hitch Bike Racks Safe
  • The Bad

Even though my argument is that hitch bike racks are generally safer, there are a few safety concerns you should be wary of.

For one, given that the bicycle rack is mounted onto the vehicle’s hitch (on its rear side), it interferes with the car’s rear access.

In that case, it could block your line of vision, making it difficult to judge how you are turning or reversing.

Additionally, the rack lengthens your vehicle, making it difficult to turn in tighter spaces. You could hit other cars when trying to turn.

Last but not least, someone could unbolt a hitch rack if left unattended for long hours. That mostly happens when the bike rack is not locked onto the vehicle.

Note, however, that such cases are pretty rare.

So Are Hitch Bike Racks Better?

Hitch bike racks have more to offer than safety. While their safety makes them better than other bikes, hitch bike racks also have massive capacities.

The Allen Sports 4-Bike Rack, for example, carries up to four bikes, but other options can hold up to 5.

Hitch bike racks also allow you to load and unload bicycles quickly. Unlike roof racks, hitch racks are aerodynamically stable to enable you to maintain the driving momentum when going against the wind.

Other advantages of hitch racks include:

  • They are easy to fold
  • Most are lightweight
  • They fit a variety of bikes
  • Are compatible with most bikes

Types of Hitch Bike Racks

Like I mentioned, hitch bike racks exist in hanging and platform style.

a) Hanging/Arm-Mount Hitch Bike Racks

In this style, the bikes are suspended by a strong arm, which is foldable mainly.

These racks are the cheaper and the lighter of the two. Since they suspend the bike, they encourage better ground clearance.

Plus, they are easy to store as they collapse almost seamlessly.

Their downside is that they aren’t the strongest. If your bikes are not correctly secured, they could sway and rub against each other.

In such a case, some of the bike paints may rub off. Other than that, there is no serious concern.

Budget-wise, these racks are cheaper than their platform siblings.

They usually come in two styles, depending on the supporting arm; single-arm and dual-arm.

Single-arm hanging racks support each bike on one cradle, and the best pick is the Allen Sports 4-Bike Rack. The bike rack individually secures four bikes.

In contrast, dual-arm hanging racks come with two long arms for added stability, and a top pick is the IKURAM R 4-Bike Rack.

It also holds up to four bikes of varying frame sizes and fits an array of vehicles.

What Are The Best Hitch Bike Racks

b) Platform/Tray Hitch Bike Racks

Unlike hanging bike racks, platform hitch racks support the bicycles from their base, mainly the wheels.

So, they are the most stable option, making them the best for e-bikes, fat tire bicycles, and other heavy bikes.

The racks don’t wobble, which means your bike won’t sway and rub against each other. These racks can also carry more bikes and generally allow easy bike loading and off-loading.

They are, however, costlier and slightly heavier than platform options.

Two of the best platform hitch racks are:

  • KAC Overdrive Sports K2 – A tilt-able option that can hold up to 60 pounds
  • Thule EasyFold XT 2 – A universal folding option with a 130-pound capacity


1. What Are The Best Hitch Bike Racks?

Based on build quality, safety, and ease of use, here are the best hitch bike racks:

1. Thule EasyFold XT 2: Best Foldable Platform Hitch Rack

2. KAC Overdrive Sports K2: Best Tilt-able Platform Hitch Rack

3. Allen Sports 4-Bike Rack: Best Single-Arm Hanging Hitch Rack

4. IKURAM R 4-Bike Rack: Best Double-Arm Hanging Hitch Rack

2. Do Bike Racks Damage Your Car?

Bike racks are likelier to rub against your car and damage its painting when they aren’t secure. Overall, trunk mount bike racks have the most potential to damage the car’s painting as they rest on its body and often sway.

3. Are Car Bike Racks Safe?

The safety of car bike racks depends on their build quality, how secure they are on the car, and their mounting location. Well-mounted high-quality bike racks are generally safer.

They only become unsafe when they rub against the car’s body or when they are loose.

4. How Fast Can You Drive With A Hitch Bike Rack?

Hitch bike racks considerably slow you down. So, even if you want to go faster, it’s almost impossible to do it. Overall, it’s advisable to run under 80mph on the highway.

5. How Do Hitch Bike Racks Work?

Hitch bike racks attach to the vehicle’s receiver using a solid pole and bolts. You need to slide the rack onto the hitch receiver and bolt it.

If your vehicle lacks a hitch receiver, you can install one.

6. Are Hitch Bike Racks Removable?

Hitch bike racks are removable by quickly unbolting and sliding them from the hitch receiver.

7. How Much Does It Cost To Install A Hitch?

If you install the hitch receiver yourself, the cost of getting one could be anything between $50 and $200, depending on the type and where you buy it. Expect to spend more if you hire an installer.

8. Do All Bike Racks Require A Hitch?

All bike racks don’t require a hitch. It’s only those that are mounted onto the hitch, hitch bike racks.

While most vehicles feature a hitch receiver, some don’t, which means you’ve to fit it yourself.

9. Which Is Better; Hanging Or Platform Bike Rack?

A hanging bike rack is better when you want a lighter and foldable bike rack to carry on the go. It’s, however, not the best for heavy bikes.

If you’re going to carry heavy bikes, go for platform-style as they are more robust and sturdier.

10. How Many Loads Can A Hitch Bike Rack Hold?

A hitch bike rack’s load capacity depends on its style, size, and build quality. However, most single bike options carry 35-60 pounds, while 4-bike and 5-bike options can hold 132-143 pounds.

11. What Happens If A Trailer Hitch Is Too High?

A trailer hitch that’s too high is likely to make your car assume a slanted profile, which makes it less aerodynamic, thus, slower. The profile could also unbalance the rack’s weight on the vehicle.

Closing Thought: Are Hitch Bike Racks Safe?

Hitch bike racks have their fair share of safety concerns; that’s irrefutable. But despite that, it doesn’t dispute that they are sturdier than most and don’t damage your car. So, they are generally safer than most.