It takes a more robust rack to transport your bike safely. More importantly, the bike rack should bear the cycle’s weight. So, how much weight can a bike rack hold?
Most bike racks can bear 20-40 pounds per bike, but a few robust options can hold up to 80 pounds per bike. Essentially, their carry capacity depends on the bike rack type (or mounting method) and brand.
I’ll talk about the average weight capacities of the various rack types. I’ll also discuss the average weight limits by leading bike rack brands.
So, How Much Weight Can A Bike Rack Hold?
Let’s compare the weight limits according to the rack type and brand types.
Bike Rack Types and Weight Limits
Here are the commonest bike racks:
1. Hitch Bike Racks
Hitch racks are sturdier than most bike racks and also highly stable. As a result, they are perfect for transporting heavy bikes and suit serious cyclists more.
Most Hitch racks can carry 3-4 bikes and some up to 5, allowing easy loading and offloading.
Hitch racks attach to the car’s tow bar and come in two styles; hanging and platform.
Hanging hitch racks can carry 2-4 bikes but are not as stronger as platform options. On average, these racks tolerate 66-132 pounds, depending on the number of cycles.
Platform hitch racks, on the other hand, are much stronger. They can also carry 2-4 or up to 5 bikes but can tolerate as much as 132-143 pounds of bike weight.
2. Rooftop Bike Racks
Rooftop racks are the most versatile bike racks on the market. Not only do they carry bicycles, but they are also adaptable to transport kayaks, paddleboards, and snowboards too.
So, expect these racks to come with massive load capacities. And due to that, these racks are costlier than most.
Don’t expect them, however, to carry more than two bikes as they come with a 1-2 bike capacity.
Depending on bike brand and construction, rooftop racks can hold 37-44 pounds. The weight limit is enough to transport a mountain bike, some e-bikes, and some fat bikes.
3. Boot Bike Racks
Boot bike racks are generally attached to the vehicle’s boot, and they carry 1-3 bikes. These bike racks are lightweight, but they enjoy a compact design to bear huge weights.
On average, most boot bike racks bear 30 pounds per bike and up to 99 pounds for three-bike capacity options.
Boot bike racks are generally easy to use as they allow easy bike mounting and offloading. But given their average weight tolerance per bike, they are not the best for heavy bikes like fat-tire bikes, tandem, or e-bikes.
4. Trunk-Mount Bike Racks
Trunk-mount bike racks are arguably the most inexpensive bike racks on the market, given that they average under $200.
The rack rests on your vehicle’s trunk and is secured by strong straps. However, their build quality doesn’t favor frequent usage as you could scratch the car’s trunk from regular loading and offloading.
Overall, trunk mount racks don’t come with colossal carry capacities. Expect them to carry 1-3 bikes and bear 20-35 pounds per bike.
5. Spare Tire Bike Racks
Spare Tire bike racks are as affordable as trunk options. But just like trunk racks, they have a smaller weight capacity.
You can expect them to hold 20-30 pounds per bike.
Other than being cheap, these racks allow easy bike loading and offloading. They are also easy to fix on the vehicle and dismount.
Their downside is that they extend your car’s length and sometimes allow the bike to poke sideways, making it hard to maneuver in tight spots.
Popular Bike Rack Brands and their Average Weight Limits
After looking at the average weight limits of different bike rack types, let’s discuss what to expect from the leading bike rack brands.
a) Yakima – How Much Weight Can My Yakima Bike Rack Hold?
Yakima makes some of the strongest bike racks on the market. Depending on rack size and mounting method, Yakima racks average 80-160 pounds, and they are generally lightweight.
In terms of individual bike weight, some Yakima racks can hold up to 40 pounds per bike. That’s the case with the Yakima Dr. Tray Hitch Mount Tray Bike Rack.(Link to Amazon)
This 2-bike rack tolerates 40 pounds per bike but allows you to add an extension mount (sold separately) to let you load an additional cycle. So, the bicycle rack can easily hold 120 pounds.
b) Allen Sports Bike Rack Limit
Like Yakima, Allen Sports is another brand known for heavy-duty bike racks. Most Allen Sports bike racks carry 2-5 cycles, with only a handful are available for single bikes.
Usually, the most robust options are the Hitch-mounted types. You can expect their 5-bike options to carry up to 175 pounds. That gives you an average of 35 pounds per bike.
c) Thule – How Much Weight Can A Thule Bike Rack Hold?
If you are looking for a bike rack that can hold your e-bike, fat bike, tandem bike, or heavy-duty MTB, you’ve to consider Thule.
Thule bike racks average 120-180 pounds, depending on the number of bikes they hold. In terms of individual bike weight, Thule bike racks can hold up to 60 pounds per bike.
Note, however, that Thule bike racks mostly come with a 2-bike capacity.
One bike rack with such a description is the Thule EasyFold XT2, (Link to Amazon!) which comes with a 130 pounds weight tolerance. That gives you an average of 65 pounds per bike.
d) Saris Bike Rack Weight Limit
Saris bike racks come with different holding capacities depending on the rack type. On average, you can expect Saris bike racks to tolerate 30-60 pounds per bike.
Most Saris bike racks come with a 2-4 bike capacity, making them an ideal family choice.
A bike rack like the Saris Freedom Bike Rack has a 2-bike capacity and can tolerate up to 60 pounds per bike.
e) Kuat Bike Rack Weight Limit
Kuat bike racks are as strong as most bike racks on this list. Kuat bike racks bear 40-80 pounds per bike depending on the bike rack type, making them a decent choice for heavy bikes.
One impressive bike rack by Kuat is the Kuat Racks NV 2.0.(Link to Amazon!)
The bike rack comes with a 2-bike capacity and can tolerate up to 60 pounds per bike.
This bike rack holds massive bike weight, but it also tolerates options with tires that are as wide as 4.8 inches. Simply put, it’s the perfect choice for transporting a fat bike.
f) Hollywood Racks – How Much Weight Can A Hollywood Bike Rack Hold?
Hollywood Racks make what most people might consider standard bike racks. These racks can bear up to 35 pounds per bike, thus ideal for most standard bikes, especially road bikes, cruisers, and hybrids.
Note, however, that their capacities vary depending on rack type. On average, you can expect these bike racks to hold 2-4 bikes.
One such bike rack is the Hollywood Racks Destination Platform Hitch Bike Rack.
The bicycle rack can carry up to 4 bicycles, averaging 35 pounds each.
1. How Much Weight Can A 4 Bike Rack Hold?
At an average load capacity of 30-40 pounds per bicycle, a 4-bike rack can hold 120-160 pounds of bike weight. However, the weight capacities vary between brands and depending on rack type and construction quality.
2. How Much Weight Can A 3-Bike Rack Hold?
At an average bike weight limit of 30-40 pounds, a three-bike rack can hold 90-120 pounds of bike weight. Remember, the bearing weight depends on the rack types and brand, mounting method, and construction quality.
3. How Many Bikes Can A Bike Rack Hold?
While most bike racks hold 1-3 bikes, a few others hold up 4-6 bikes. Most high-capacity bike racks are typically hitched options, and they average 30-40 pounds per bike.
If there’s excessive rubbing between the rack’s contact points and the bike rack, the bike rack will more likely damage the car.
Usually, that happens if the bike rack is improperly fitted, when the foam pads are worn out, or when its stabilizer straps are loose or faulty.
5. How Much Weight Can A Trunk Bike Rack Hold?
Trunk racks usually are not the strongest bike racks, but you can expect most of them to bear 30-35 pounds per bike.
Note, however, that trunk racks generally carry few bikes. You can expect them to carry 1-3 bicycles.
Generally, you can protect your bike on a car’s bike rack by covering it with a weatherproof bike cover. But to secure it against potential thieves, you should lock the bike on the bike rack.
In Conclusion: How Much Weight Can A Bike Rack Hold?
Depending on the mounting method and the brand type, you can expect most bike racks to tolerate 20-60 pounds, with only a handful bearing more weight.
So, learn to check the weight capacity before buying a bike rack to ensure you get the best pick.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the weight limit for bike racks?
Generally, the maximum weight limit varies depending on the type of bike rack. Trunk bike racks, for instance, cannot typically sustain a weight of more than 35 pounds. This is drastically different with hitch-mounted racks, which are effectively sturdier and able to support heavier weights. A top-grade hitch platform rack, in fact, can often endure the weight of bikes as hefty as 60 pounds. In my personal experience, when I bought my first bike rack, I was a bit nervous about the weight limit. I remember the salesperson explaining to me about the stark differences between trunk racks and hitch-mounted racks, something that truly surprised me.
What happens if you overload a bike rack?
If you load too much weight onto a bike rack, it could potentially suffer from stress damage which in the long term can jeopardize its overall holding capacity. This mainly boils down to an issue of pressure distribution. For instance, if you were to overload a roof bike rack, the pressure on the roof of your car may not be evenly spread across the entire roof area, inevitably leading to damage. In my biking days, I have seen this happen far too often to friends who’ve failed to take into account the weight-bearing capacity of their bike racks!
How much weight can a Thule bike rack hold?
Thule bike racks, like the T2 model, have a significant weight capacity. Ideal for carrying even the heaviest bikes, these racks can manage weights of up to 60 lbs with an amalgamated bike weight limit of 100 lbs. This makes them a perfect fit for E-Bikes (batteries removed, of course). And if you have an even heavier bike, Thule’s got you covered: their Easyfold model can hold two bikes, each weighing up to a considerable 65 lbs. As a user of Thule bike racks myself, I’ve always been impressed by their solidity and reliability.
How many bikes can a car bike rack hold?
Most contemporary vehicles are indeed capable of carrying up to 4 bikes on the roof, sometimes even more. However, to guarantee that this is achievable, you would need to refer to guides like the Roof Mounted Bike Carrier Guide. This guide enumerates how many Thule Bike Carriers can you install on your vehicle. I still remember the first time I managed to fit four bikes on my car roof – it was nothing short of a revelation and a testament to the potential of modern vehicle adaptations!