Best Trunk-Mount Bike Racks for 2023
Are you searching for the perfect trunk-mount bike rack? I've got you covered! As a former REI merchandiser I know a thing or two about picking the perfect gear.
I'll share with you the top picks for trunk-mounted bike racks that will make your life so much easier. Trust me, I've done all the research so you don't have to.
From the best overall rack to the most affordable option, there is a right fit for everyone.
Trunk-mount bike racks are one of the most popular styles of bike racks available on the market. With such popularity, there are many brands and models manufactured and available for purchase. These racks can cost anywhere between $25 and $200, therefore it can be difficult to choose which bike rack to choose!
To make it easier, here is a shortlist of the best trunk-mount bike racks.
Saris Bones Best Overall Rack
Thule Passage 2nd Best Overall Rack
Hollywood Racks Express Most Affordable Rack
Hollywood Racks F4 Best High-Capacity Rack
Whether you're a casual rider or a hardcore cyclist, I've got the perfect rack for you.
So, let's get started and find the trunk-mount bike rack including everything you’ll want to know about them before purchasing.
What is a Trunk-Mount Bike Rack?
A trunk-mount bike rack attaches to the rear trunk or hatch of your car. It is secured with 4-6 straps and has foam contact points that sit on the surface of the car. The bikes are attached by the frame and strapped in to prevent sliding and swaying.
They are inexpensive and best for occasional use, especially for shorter trips.
This is a popular option for cars without a hitch or roof rack. They work best when installed and secured properly.
Best Trunk-Mount Bike Racks
1. Saris Bones – Best Overall Rack
The Saris Bones is one of the most popular bike racks on the market. The Saris Bones is known for its stylish appearance, convenience, durability, and ease of use. It is constructed with 100% recyclable materials, making it environmentally friendly. The rack fits most vehicles, even those with factory-installed spoilers.
This trunk-mount bike rack is available in 2 and 3-bike capacities. Its frame is very durable, rust-free, and features rubber feet on its contact points to protect the car’s paint. It also includes anti-sway straps to prevent the bikes from moving while driving.
The Saris Bones has hundreds of positive reviews online. People who purchased the Saris Bones stated that the rack is easy to install and use. The straps are easy to latch and loosen when using the rack and remain tight while driving.
Although most people reported that the rack won’t scratch the car, some people experienced dents left by the straps. To prevent this, we recommend adding extra padding to the points where the strap hooks are attached. A few people also said that the rack wouldn’t fit despite Saris stating that it would.
The Saris Bones bike rack is the best bike rack available on the market due to its unique styling, durability, and ease of use. This rack is versatile and offers several great features, such as anti-sway straps and high durability. It is a reasonable price and a tremendous value for those looking for a trunk-mount bike rack.
2. Thule Passage – 2nd Best Overall Rack
The Thule Passage is a hanging-style trunk-mount bike rack that is convenient and easy to use. It has special features, such as Thule’s Stay-Put anti-sway cages and FitDial hub.
This trunk-mount bike rack is available in 2 and 3-bike capacities.
It includes Thule’s “Stay-Put” anti-sway cages that hold the bike in place to prevent movement while driving. Additionally, it uses its “FitDial” system which allows you to easily adjust the rack to fit a wide variety of vehicles.
The Thule Passage features 6 vinyl-coated straps to mount the rack. It also includes foam padding where the rack meets the vehicle. The bike cradles are also made of rubber to prevent bike frame damage.
People who used the Thule Passage praised it for being sturdy and secure, stating that it wouldn’t come loose during long trips like many other trunk-mount bike racks. Most people also said it was very easy to install onto the car.
Although the rack is sturdy and easy to install, some users of the Thule Passage reported issues fitting bikes onto the rack. People said small bikes are difficult or unable to fit on the rack. People also said the 3-bike variant was a tight fit when fully loaded, which could cause damage to the bikes. Although, the 2-bike variant fits bikes comfortably when fully loaded.
The Thule Passage is our 2nd choice for the best trunk-mount bike rack because it’s sturdy, easy to use, and offers great features, but caused some issues among users when fitting bikes.
For these reasons, we recommend the Saris Bones over the Thule Passage. Although, if the Saris Bones won’t work with your vehicle for any reason, the Thule Passage is the 2nd best option. The Thule Passage is in a similar price range to the Saris Bones but may be slightly cheaper depending on where you purchase it.
3. Hollywood Racks Express – Best Affordable Rack
The Hollywood Racks Express trunk-mount bike rack is a low-cost option for those looking to transport bikes. It fits most vehicles and features an adjustable frame.
This bike rack is available in 2 and 3-bike capacities. Due to the low price of the rack, it’s simple and offers basic features. The rack includes 6 attachment straps which are coated in EPDM rubber (synthetic rubber) and foam padding where the rack touches the vehicle to help protect the paint. It also includes rubber cradles for the bikes to help protect them. The rack can be adjusted to fit most vehicles.
Purchasers of the Hollywood Racks Express said that it was quick to attach and remove from the vehicle. Several people were surprised by the solid and sturdy design despite the affordable price.
People also experienced a few issues when using the rack. Some people reported that the rack scratched or damaged their vehicle’s paint. Others said that the rack didn’t fit their vehicle or bikes properly. Although, only a handful of users reported these issues with the rack.
The Hollywood Racks Express is the best affordable trunk-mount bike rack because of its sturdiness, strong design, and ease of use despite its low cost. A low percentage of people reported issues using the rack, which is impressive considering the low price. If you need a cheap, temporary solution for transporting bikes, the Hollywood Racks Express is for you.
4. Hollywood Racks F4 – Best High-Capacity Rack
The Hollywood Racks F4 is a high-capacity trunk-mount bike rack made with heavy-duty materials, making it perfect for families looking to transport more than 2 bikes. Its dual-positioning trunk/bumper system allows it to fit on a wide variety of vehicles.
This rack carries up to 4 bikes at once, making it the highest-capacity bike rack on this list. It features a heavy-duty steel design to safely support the weight of the bikes. It is adjustable to help fit many types of vehicles. It also includes an extra tie-down strap to keep the bikes in place during transport. The rack also folds down when not in use.
People who purchased the Hollywood Racks F4 said it is easy to attach and remove. Many were impressed by the heavy-duty construction of the rack. The rack fit most vehicles, including hatchbacks and SUVs, but some people experienced issues.
To avoid damage, the rack shouldn’t be installed on plastic pieces. This caused compatibility issues with some minivans and SUVs. To fix this issue, some people attached the upper straps to their rear roof rack crossbars instead of a plastic rear spoiler.
Overall, the Hollywood Racks F4 is the best high-capacity bike rack because it fits up to 4 bikes, is very well constructed and sturdy, and can be purchased at an affordable price. We recommend this rack for those looking to transport more than 2 or 3 bikes, especially for families.
Runner-Up Truck-Mount Bike Racks
The Yakima Hangout is a simple trunk-mount bike rack to make transporting bikes quick and easy without breaking the bank. The rack offers basic features such as Yakima’s “StableCradles” and “QuickTrigger” systems.
This bike rack is available in 2 and 3-bike capacities.
It features Yakima’s QuickTrigger system with helps speed up the installation process and StableCradles to prevent the bikes from moving during transport. The bike rack folds away when not in use.
People who purchased the Yakima Hangout said it was secure and stable. Several reviews also mentioned that the rack didn’t scratch the car. Although, people did experience some issues with the rack.
Some users had trouble fitting some bikes, such as small bikes. Most importantly, people struggled with excessive straps which made it confusing and difficult to properly secure the rack. People also stated that the rack needed extra straps to prevent the wheels and pedals of the bike from rubbing against the vehicle.
Although the Yakima Hangout works well and has decent features, it isn’t worth the price. If you’re considering the Yakima Hangout, you can get a better value from the Thule Passage, which is very similar.
The Saris Sentinel is an affordable, entry-level trunk-mount bike rack. The design of the Sentinel is focused on convenience and simplicity. It fits most vehicles, even those with factory-installed spoilers.
This rack is available in 2 and 3-bike capacities.
It features adjustable arms to fit a wide variety of vehicles, even hatchbacks, and vans. It is constructed out of steel for maximum durability. The rack has padded contact points and the strap hooks are coated to protect the vehicle’s paint. It also folds away for easy storage when not in use.
Those who purchased the Saris Sentinel said it was easy to install. The Sentinel gets the job done, although some users had minor issues with it.
People reported that the metal clips that attached the straps to the vehicle scratched the paint. In addition, the cradles that hold the bikes slide around and may rub against the car. Lastly, there is no anti-sway system offered with the Saris Sentinel, therefore additional straps or a bungee cord may be needed.
The Saris Sentinel is an affordable bike rack that is simple and straightforward. Although the rack functions well, there are some small issues that come along with it. Due to these issues, we recommend the Hollywood Racks Express over the Saris Sentinel, as they are both in a similar price range.
The Yakima Fullback is a straightforward trunk-mount bike rack. It’s similar to many other bike racks at this price point, but also has some unique features. The Fullback’s design allows to it fit a wide variety of vehicles.
This bike rack comes in 2 and 3-bike capacities.
It features Yakima’s “ZipStrip,” which helps hold the bikes in place during transport. It also has some unique features, such as locking to secure the bikes to the vehicle to prevent theft and a bottle opener.
Purchasers of the Yakima Fullback said that it was easy to install with the installation video provided with the rack. Many of them also liked the locking feature, which was a top reason for purchasing this rack.
Despite the positive comments, people also encountered some issues. Some people reported dents from the straps after fully tightening the rack. These people also said it occasionally loosened up while driving, requiring them to constantly stop and tighten the rack.
Additionally, people who purchased the 3-bike variant of the Yakima Fullback said that it was nearly impossible to fit 3 bikes. Even if they were able to fit 3 bikes onto the rack, the bikes rubbed together and scratched.
Although the Yakima Fullback is a decent bike rack, especially when considering its special features, it isn’t worth the downsides. This bike rack only includes 4 attachment straps instead of the typical 6. This could be the reason why people experience dents after using the rack, as the rack’s weight is not distributed enough throughout the straps.
Finally, if you’re looking to purchase the Yakima Fullback to carry 3 bikes, you may want to reconsider. It’s not worth the struggle to fit 3 bikes onto this rack only to have them rub against each other and scratch. We recommend the Saris Bones or Thule Passage over this rack.
Other Types of Bike Racks
Although trunk-mount bike racks are very common, there are 4 other types of bike racks available on the market. The best type of bike rack for you is dependent on your situation.
Also check out: Different types of bike racks
Hitch-Mount Bike Racks
A hitch-mount bike rack attaches to the hitch on the rear of the vehicle. This type of bike rack requires a hitch pre-installed in order to mount. There are a couple of different types of hitch-mount bike racks.
Hitch-mount bike racks are best if you’ll be using the rack a lot or for long trips. They are also great if you need to carry more than 3 bikes.
Roof-Mount Bike Racks
A roof-mount bike rack attaches to the roof crossbars of your vehicle. They hold bikes securely on top of the vehicle by attaching them to a component of the bike. There are 3 different styles of roof-mount bike racks that you can read about.
Roof-Mount bike racks are best if you want easy access to the rear trunk or hatch of the vehicle. They are great for people who need to transport 1-2 bikes and don’t want to worry about taking off the rack when not in use.
Spare Tire Bike Racks
A spare tire bike rack attaches to the rear-mounted spare tire on your vehicle. Not all vehicles have a rear spare tire, therefore this type of bike rack is less common. Some vehicles experience compatibility issues since spare tires come in different styles and dimensions.
Spare tire bike racks are great for those who have a rear-mounted spare tire and don’t want to use a hitch. If you don’t have a hitch, or you want to use your hitch for towing a trailer, a spare tire bike rack might be best for you.
Truck Bed Bike Racks
A truck bed bike rack attaches to the bed of a pickup truck. There are 2 different types of truck bed bike racks that you’ll need to choose between depending on your situation. You can read more about these 2 variations of truck bed bike racks.
Truck bed bike racks are best for pickup truck drivers who have a spare room in the bed or need to carry a large number of bikes.
How to Prevent a Trunk-Mount Bike Rack from Scratching
While other types of bike racks mount to attachment points on the vehicle’s roof or into a hitch installed on the rear, trunk-mount bike racks sit directly on the surface of the vehicle.
Because of this, they often leave behind scratches on the vehicle’s paint. While many bike racks claim to be scratch-free, almost every trunk-mount bike rack could scratch your car. Although this is a common problem, it is easy to prevent scratches from the rack.
The easiest way to help prevent scratches is to clean the contact points before installing the rack. You should thoroughly clean the vehicle’s paint where the rack will touch. Make sure the surface is free of dust and dirt particles. This will prevent the abrasive dirt from rubbing underneath the rack.
Even though cleaning helps prevent scratches, it does not prevent it entirely. The most effective way to prevent scratches on your car is by installing paint protection film.
This paint protection film can be applied directly onto the vehicle where the rack will touch. This will prevent the rack from touching the paint, therefore eliminating scratches.
Bottom Line for Trunk-Mount Bike Racks
Choosing the perfect trunk-mount bike rack can be a lengthy task. The amount of options can mind-blowing.
So I have narrowed down the top picks for trunk-mounted bike racks after careful research and consideration.
- Saris Bones: Our top pick for its stylish design, durability, and ease of use. It's environmentally friendly and fits most vehicles. However, some users reported dents from straps. Extra padding might be needed at strap attachment points.
- Thule Passage: A close second, it's sturdy and easy to use with features like the "Stay-Put" anti-sway cages. Some users found issues fitting certain bikes, especially on the 3-bike variant.
- Hollywood Racks Express: Best for those on a budget. It's sturdy and easy to use, but a few users reported scratches or improper fit.
- Hollywood Racks F4: Ideal for families or groups, this high-capacity rack can carry up to 4 bikes. Ensure it's not installed on plastic parts of the vehicle.
- Yakima Hangout: A decent choice, but some users found it confusing due to excessive straps. Might not be worth the price compared to similar models.
Now that you have the top recommendations at your fingertips, it's time to take action.
Consider your budget, bike capacity, and personal preferences to make the best decision for your biking adventures. Whether you're a casual rider or a hardcore cyclist, these trunk-mount bike racks will ensure your gear is secure.