There is nothing quite as exciting as going down a mountain track on your bike, and this is especially true if you are going to hit the trail with your family. However, not everyone is lucky enough to live with a great off-road biking trail in their backyard. It is the reason why you need the best 4-bike hitch rack.
With this rack around, you can haul your bikes to your favorite mountain biking tracks. To help you find the bike rack that is perfect for your particular needs, the following will give you a couple of suggestions on what to buy. Also, you can get other tips that might help you out once you begin shopping for one.
Best 4-bike Hitch Racks
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks
The People’s Choice
This bike rack from Allen easily attaches to any 2-inch hitch. What is great about it is that you can tighten it, so that the entire thing will not wobble or sway. The rack itself can be securely locked in place for added safety. It also comes pretty much mostly assembled.
You will just need to use three bolts to complete the assembly. You do not even need to consult the user’s manual to assemble this product. This rack also comes with durable and weatherproof cradle straps that can hold your bikes in place securely. The great thing about this rack is that it can accommodate all bike sizes, even those with wide tubes.
To further protect your bikes during transit, the tie-downs are fully padded. This can help prevent scratches and absorb vibrations. The Allen Sports 4-bike rack also features carry arms that easily fold down when it is not needed.
It is a great feature to have because it means you do not have to uninstall the rack when you are just going to use the vehicle for running errands. The mast also tilts down with just a toggle of a switch, promoting ease of access at the back of the truck.
- Easy to install as it does not require any tools
- Can accommodate all bike sizes
- Does not sway nor wobble even when on bumpy roads
- Carry arms fold down when not in use
- The mast easily tilts to allow access to the back of the vehicle.
- The wheels are not secured, so you will need paracords to hold them in place.
Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack
Easiest to Use
The best thing about the Yakima Ridgeback is that it already comes fully assembled right out of the box. There are no parts that you need to bolt on. It does not also require the use of any screws to tighten it. Every part is already in its rightful place. The only thing that is left for you to do is to attach it to your car’s tow hitch.
Speaking of installation, it does not get easier than with this one. Just insert the hitch rack into the tow hitch. P lqd3 the securing pin (for additional security) and then hand tighten the Speed knob until you feel that the rack is not wobbling anymore. As an added security feature, you can lock the Speed knob in place so that it cannot be accidentally removed.
This is the easiest bike rack that I have ever used. There is a handy handle for every function. If you need to tilt the rack to access the trunk of your car, you just need to pull on the big red tab on top. If you need to fold down the carry arms, just pull on the black tab and they will fold down easily.
- Comes fully assembled
- Can be installed in just a couple of minutes without any tools
- Has a tilt-back function to allow access to car trunk
- Comes with a lock in the Speed knob to prevent theft
- Features zip-strips to secure the bikes in place
- The entire thing is very heavy, and there are times that it will bow when loaded fully.
Pro-Series 63124 Eclipse 4 Bike Carrier
Best Value for Your Money
One thing I love about this 4-bike hitch rack is that it comes with carry arm and mast made of one piece of tubing, giving it excellent strength. It can easily carry four full-sized mountain bikes without any issue of bowing or bending. To give it further strength, it comes with a well-reinforced tube. It helps prevent bending even when driving over rough terrain.
The mast tilts forward easily just by removing the security pin at the bottom. It will allow you to access the trunk space of your car without the door hitting the bike rack. This feature also lets the mast fold back for easy storage when the rack is no longer needed.
Moreover, installation is a breeze. Just insert the base of the rack into the tow hitch receiver at the back of your car, and then thread in the screw through the receiver to hold it in place. To make sure that the screw does not come loose and cause the bike rack to release accidentally, it also comes with a safety pin that you push through the hole in the screw.
- Easy to assemble and install, just needs a wrench
- Very solid design and construction
- Comes with padded carriers to protect the finish of your bikes
- Easily tilts forward and folds back
- Has hook and loop (Velcro) straps for easy loading and unloading
- The bikes tend to wobble a bit when on the rack.
Swagman XTC4 Hitch Mount Bike Rack
This bike rack is probably one of the best options capable of holding the bikes securely. The bikes do not just hang from a carry arm. You can see them being clamped in place. There are wheel holders that can be adjusted to fit your bikes perfectly. You can also find hooks that hold down the bikes in place.
Once the bikes are secured in their respective racks, they will not move. Another neat feature of this bike rack is that each individual carrier can be adjusted to fit all sizes of bikes. It can also hold bikes with unusual frame designs easily. You can purchase wheel holders that can fit fat tires if those are the types of bikes that you fancy.
Even kids’ bikes can fit on this rack without any problem at all. The center arms fold down to allow access to the back of the car easily. The rack also tilts back a bit so that you can access the back even without unloading the bikes from the rack.
- Can hold all kinds of bikes
- All the clamps are properly padded to protect the bikes
- Properly spaces the bikes to prevent them from hitting each other
- Comes with wheel carriers that prevent the bikes from wobbling
- Can tilt down to allow access to the rear of the vehicle
- Very large and bulky, even when completely folded down
Overdrive Sport 4-Bike Hitch Mounted Rack
Strongest in its Class
This 4-bike hitch mounted rack from Overdrive is one of the strongest bike racks available today. Each bike carrier can hold up to 60 pounds of weight. It is overkill when you think about it because mountain bikes and racers are typically very light. It means you will no longer need to worry if this carrier can carry all of your bikes.
This bike rack also comes with very useful wheel holders that can hold even flat tires securely. It even comes equipped with hook and loop straps to secure the wheels in place and prevent them from spinning. You do not need to worry about the finish getting scraped off.
The receivers are all padded with thick foam to prevent even the slightest scratches from happening. The hooks that hold the bike frames down can fit even wide frames easily. The hooks are easy to adjust, and you can secure them tightly by hand using the tightening knobs.
However, the best feature is the mechanism at the base that greatly reduces the amount of slack between the receiver and the rack itself. It prevents the entire rack from wobbling dangerously when you are driving.
- Very strong and sturdy construction
- Can accommodate almost all bike designs and sizes
- Protects the paint and mechanisms of your bikes
- Has wheel carriers that prevent the wheels from wobbling and spinning
- Features a quick-release pin to allow the loaded bike rack to tilt
- Each rack can carry up to 60 pounds, which is already heavy for bikes.
- It will require a bit of assembly.
Tyger Auto TG-RK4B102B Deluxe 4-Bike Carrier Rack
Best for Outdoors
The carry arms and straps are all padded to prevent them from scratching the paint of the bike frames. Speaking of the holders, they are made like zip ties. It means that when they are tightened down, they will not get loose unless you pull on the quick release tab. It makes loading and unloading bikes on the rack very quick and easy.
To further secure the bikes in their place, this rack comes with an extra strap that you can use to hold the bikes securely. It can also prevent them from wobbling while in transit. This strap is made from strong nylon so it can withstand an enormous amount of stress. It will not snap on you.
One of the best features of this bike rack is the way that you can adjust the tilt. If you will be installing the bike rack onto a pickup truck, you can adjust the tilt all the way to the lowest point so that you can open up the tailgate. If you install it on an SUV, the topmost tilt level can be used so that the rear door can swing up.
- Very versatile, can fit almost all kinds of bikes
- Has quick-release straps for easy loading and unloading
- Features adjustable tilt settings
- Easy to install and remove
- Comes with an extra securing nylon strap
- The lowest tilt setting causes the bikes to hit the ground.
Things to consider when choosing 4-bike hitch racks
If this is the first time that you will be buying a bike rack for your SUV or truck, and you do not know what characteristics you need to look for, then let the following guide you through all the things that make for a good product.
The design of your vehicle
You need to consider if your truck has a rear-mounted spare wheel. It is because this means you will need to get a rack that has an extended arm. It will allow the bike rack to clear the spare tire. You need to measure the distance between the center of the hitch up to the edge of the spare tire so that you have an idea of how long the shank should be.
The clearance height of your truck is also an important detail that you need to consider. With this in mind, you need to make sure that the rack will not bend so much that the bikes will already touch the ground. You need to get a rack with a ground clearance that is high enough that you can carry your bikes safely.
The design of your bikes
Of course, you also have to take into account the design of the bikes that you will be carrying on the rack. For instance, if you will be bringing along fat bikes (the bikes with large fat tires), then the rack should be able to hold onto those large tires properly.
You would not want those huge wheels to get loose and swing around freely. The frame shape should also be factored in when you are shopping. The rack needs to hold onto the frame securely regardless of its design.
Ease of installation and use
Hitch bike racks are pretty easy to install in general, but some still prove to be more difficult than others. Ideally, the rack you get should not require the use of any kind of tools whatsoever to assemble and install. The bike rack also needs to be easy to uninstall when you need to quickly get them off whenever you need to.
Speaking of assembly, the bike rack should at least be partially assembled, if not fully, so that you can more or less install it on your vehicle and use it immediately afterward. The rack should be assembled and mounted in less than thirty minutes.
If it is longer than that, then I would assume that you got a bike rack that is unnecessarily over-complicated to use. Ideally, the bike rack should come fully assembled and just requires you to insert the base into the tow receiver and secure it in place.
So you managed to install the bike rack on your SUV. However, you now find yourself needing access to the back of your car. It seems like the bike rack will not allow you to open the back door, though. If that’s the case, then you just made a huge mistake in purchasing the said rack.
A good bike rack should sway downward to allow easy access to the trunk of your truck, and then snap back securely into its original position afterward. Ideally, the sway function of the mast should be operable using just one hand. It is bothersome if you always have to remove the bike rack every time you come home from your biking trip.
It would be much better if the rack could be left on the hitch while still allowing the driver a clear view of his rear window. There are many bike racks where the cradle arms will fold down to allow a somewhat unobstructed view of the rear of the car. Also, for safety purposes, the bike rack should not cover the back-up camera.
These features of bike racks can prevent the cargo from shaking and shifting around while you are on the road. Almost all bike racks nowadays have this function, but the difference is how easy it is to use such features. Some bike racks need the use of a wrench to tighten or loosen the anti-rattle function every time you load or unload the bikes
On the other hand, others have a more convenient twist knob. It is an important feature because if your bikes are subjected to too much rattling, wobbling, and extreme road vibrations, it might loosen up very important components. You should never hit the road without checking if the bikes are securely strapped onto the rack first. Ensure that it does not move or wobble too much, as well.
Mountain bikes are not cheap, so you need to protect yours while they are hooked up onto the bike racks. Most bike racks allow individual bike locks to be used, but what’s even better is the presence of a centralized locking mechanism that allows the user to use just one lock to secure all four bikes.
Some also come with an integrated security locking system. Choose the one that has the highest security rating so that you will not risk the theft of your precious bikes.
Are they legal in your state?
Before anything else, you should check your state’s traffic laws regarding the use of bike racks. Some states require your vehicle’s license plates and lamps to be always visible, so the bike rack you get should clear these requirements. You would not want to get a ticket because your bike rack is illegal to use in your state. Those are unintended expenses that you can avoid by reviewing your state laws before you buy anything.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need to drill holes to install a bike rack?
Modern bike rack models in the market right now do not need you to drill in any part of your vehicle. Many of the modern bikes only need to be hooked up onto the tow hitch and tightened by hand. This makes these bike racks easier to install and remove when needed.
Even bike racks used for cars do not need any drilling at all. They just utilize straps and hooks to hold the whole thing firmly. You do not even need to worry about getting your paint scratched. It comes with plenty of padding so your car’s paint job will be protected.
Can I go through a carwash with a bike rack on?
Unfortunately, you have to remove the bike rack before you go through a carwash. Just like how you need to retract your car’s radio antenna, the bike rack might snag onto any one of the many moving brushes in the car wash. If you don’t and the rack does get caught in one of those high-speed spinning brushes, then it can cause massive amounts of damage to your car, and to the carwash as well.
Can I still tow other vehicles with the bike rack installed?
No, the bike rack inserts into the tow receiver, essentially blocking it. There are no bike racks that allow them to be used as extensions for the tow receiver, as it would be dangerous to use. If you need to use your vehicle to tow another, remove the bike rack first. Install it in the other vehicle temporarily, then use your tow hitch appropriately.
What if I change vehicles?
As long as you have the same kind of hitch in your new vehicle, you will be able to use your old bike rack. Even if it does not, there are hitch adapters that you can buy to allow the installation of your old bike rack.
With a bike hitch rack, you no longer have to wrack your brains on how to fit four mountain bikes inside your SUV. You will even have enough room inside for the people who will be riding it.
With a convenient bike rack, you can carry your gear with relative ease, thus making your weekly biking trips a lot less stressful than they were before. Now, that you know what to look for, shopping for the best 4-bike hitch rack will be a piece of cake.