The Best Car Bike Racks in Canada in 2023
Bike racks save precious space inside your vehicle that could be used for important things you need like a cooler full of refreshing beverages or camping gear. Bike racks can also be the best way to protect your expensive bike from damage. Whether looking for a roof-mounted model or something that slips into your vehicle’s hitch, or anything in-between, we have provided this guide for the best bike racks for your vehicle in Canada.
Biking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise. While tearing up the local trails and bike paths is always fun, many people look to some of the amazing trails outside of your city’s outer limits. One problem: bikes are big and can be difficult to transport. If you have a smaller vehicle, or a larger bike that will not fit inside your vehicle, transporting your bike can be a risky or awkward endeavor unless you buy a bike rack.
After so much time living indoors, many people throughout Canada have discovered or rediscovered the pleasures of biking. While this is great for the sport, it has also meant that the stock of bike equipment and accessories is in high demand. While not every bike rack we researched is in ample supply in Canada, we picked models we thought were not only worth their price but worth shopping around for too.
Our top picks
What to look for in a bike rack
Here’s how to choose a car bike rack:
Type: Beyond any individual factor, deciding which type of bike rack you will need is the most important, as each type of bike rack has its own advantages, disadvantages, and compatibilities with different vehicles and bicycles. Rear-mounted hitch racks seem to be the most popular choice, due to their overall ease of use, and simplicity when it comes to driving with bicycles in tow, but require a hitch, and can obstruct your back view.
Roof mounts do not require hitches and do not obstruct your view, but require crossbars to be installed on the top of your vehicle, and add considerable height to your vehicle, so low clearance areas like tunnels can be extremely scary or potentially dangerous to your bike.
Mounted bike racks do not need anything installed on your vehicle, but are more limited in terms of how many bikes can be transported, and seem to be the hardest rack to install.
Access – Roof-mounted racks give unhindered access to your trunk, hatchback or tailgate, but most other types of racks can get in the way to access your vehicle’s storage. More and more models of hatch installed roof racks feature the ability to tilt away from your vehicle’s storage while not in use, and some models feature an extra arm at the base of the rack that allows you to swivel the entire rack away from the back end of your vehicle – but these features can push the price of the rack up.
Assembly – Some racks will require assembly out of the box before they are ready to attach to your vehicle. We also consider attaching the rack to your vehicle as assembly, and the easiness of this factor is extremely important.
Capacity – All racks will be designed to carry a number of bikes, as well as a maximum weight that the rack can safely carry. Thinking about the capacity of your bike rack is extremely important – you can load fewer bikes than the maximum, but not more. Exceeding weight or bicycle capacity could lead to the rack system failing – which is the last thing you want happening if you are driving highway speeds.
One thing to consider as the higher number of bikes a rack claims it can carry, the more you might struggle putting that exact amount on the rack. Owners of 4- and 5- bike racks frequently complained about struggling to put the listed number of bikes on them. If you have a larger family or biking group and you need to transport many bikes at the same time, you could also consider buying some combination of hitch racks or roof racks to effectively transport many bikes at once.
Locks: Bikes are expensive and thus are a target of thieves. If you foresee needing to stop on your travels in populated areas and you do not want the risk of your bike being stolen, a lock is very important. Many of the premium bike racks around feature built-in locking mechanisms, and some racks have locks you can add on and are sold separately. If you need a bike rack for your family vacation each year, and you will be doing lots of travelling with your bikes, we highly recommend a rack with a lock system.
Size – What size of bikes do you own? Not all bike racks work for all bikes equally. Hitch mounted hanging bike racks do not work well with mountain bikes and other styles of bikes that do not have a top bar, for example. While many platform bike racks or racks of other types can adjust to your bike’s length or wheel size, some of these racks struggle with carrying bikes of different sizes. Thinking about how each rack will carry your bikes specifically is a smart idea.
When looking into bike racks, the number one thing we feel people should be looking for is trustworthy products that will keep your bikes secure while driving highway speeds. We researched this factor primarily, and we feel confident that these bike racks will perform this task well for years down the road. Other factors, like the ease of setup and use, how versatile the bike rack is to different size bikes or vehicles, whether or not it heeds access to your vehicle’s storage, and whether it includes locks or not, were then what we focused on next. We tried to collect a list of different bike racks, so if you had a particular kind on your mind, we would have a recommendation.
We put over 15 hours of research in preparation for this article. We read through countless product reviews from verified buyers, the specifications of the models we considered, and buying advice from other publications to get an all-encompassing idea of the effectiveness of each rack. We only included products with an average online score of 4 stars or higher, to ensure that these products are known for their customer satisfaction.
Best budget bike rack
Biking can be an expensive hobby. If you are looking for a budget platform bike rack with exceptional value, you cannot go wrong with the XC2 from British Columbia-based company Swagman. While limited in features, users find the XC2 a well-made 2-bike platform rack with sturdy performance and a price point that is lower than most bike racks on this list.
The Swagman XC2 attached to your hitch with its 1.25” shank, however, it comes with a 2” shank adaptor attached, so the XC2 should fit into most hitches. Once this rack is placed inside the hitch, a threaded bolt keeps everything in place, but you will need to use a wrench or socket to get the hitch tight enough that your bike will stay still. At only 32 pounds, setting up, taking down, or moving the Swagman XC2 is easy.
Once set up, transporting your bikes is similarly easy. The platform for the wheels is adjustable, allowing you to change the distance apart from each tray for bikes of variable lengths. Once in, the handles slide down to cradle your bike, keeping it still, even on bumpy and windy roads. Each platform can support a bike of up to 35 pounds, with wheels between 20” and 29” in diameter.
However, there are some flaws with the Swagman XC2. Firstly, there are no locks included with this bike rack, meaning while your bikes are secure on the road, they are not as secure from being stolen. While you can fold down the rack to access the back of your vehicle when the bikes are off, when bikes are on the rack, you cannot move this rack, making access to the back of your vehicle difficult on some models. The XC2 does not come with detailed assembly instructions but instead limited diagrams, which some users expressed frustration with, but overall, assembly is not too difficult, and you should easily find help online.
- Effective bike rack available at an inexpensive price.
- Versatile platform for bikes of all sizes and shapes.
- Ability to tilt rack when unloaded for vehicle storage access.
- No locks are included.
- Some assembly required, with limited instructions – but YouTube will be your friend for setup.
Best universal bike rack
Saris Bones 2-Bike
There are many different types of bike racks designed for different vehicle types. For people with cars primarily, but for a multitude of vehicle types that do not require a hitch, we recommend looking into trunk racks. These connect onto your vehicle’s trunk via its legs tie down so your bike stays still during your trip. For an inexpensive and readily available trunk hitch, the Saris Bone 2-Bike is a strong choice.
The frame of the Saris Bone 2-Bike is made from an injection-moulded reinforced steel frame, which proves strong enough to hold your bicycles still while being light enough that installation is relatively easy. Just set up the arms and legs in the appropriate orientation (so it matches the included diagrams), place it so the bottom leg sits on the bumper of your car, and secure the straps inside of the trunk of your vehicle, and firmly close. Up to 2 bikes, up to 35 lbs each, can sit on the Bones 2-Bike and can be secured by a third strap. While the Saris Bones 2-Bike claims that it can fit onto any car, some users have had issues with the system fitting onto their car with a spoiler.
Users online have had varying degrees of success with the transport of their bikes; however, it seems that thoughtful installation to secure your bike to your vehicle is important. Users for the most part found when their bikes were secured, they kept still when on the road for even long voyages – although some users recommended tightening up the Bones 2-Bike rack daily on longer journeys. Installation varied – some users finding the process quick and painless, while others had issues with finding the right area to install on their make of vehicle or securing this rack by its straps. One thing worth considering is adding a bungee cord or some other type of strap to secure the front wheel. The Saris Bones 2-bike is compatible with most bikes, however, due to its trunk rack design, some curvier, full-suspension bikes might not be compatible.
There are a few flaws that this type of bike rack has – there are no locking mechanisms, so this is not fully protected from theft. The straps of this bike rack are made of Nylon, which is not highly weatherproof – a fact that made Saris recommend users take off this bike rack when not in use. However, for a lightweight, and inexpensive bike rack option, the Saris Bone 2-Bike is one of the better options on this list, and perhaps the best for car drivers.
- Can attach to most vehicles, without needing to install a hitch or a roof rack.
- Can hold 2 bikes up to 70 lbs in total weight capacity.
- Made from 100” recyclable and non-rusting materials.
- No-locking mechanism of any kind.
- Nylon-straps are not particularly weatherproof and are not recommended to be left on the vehicle.
Best 2-bike rack
Thule Doubletrack 990XT 2-Bike Hitch Platform Bike Carrier
Thule is a mainstay in terms of bike racks, for good reason: the company is associated with quality and easy-to-use products designed to keep your bike safe on the road. The Thule Doubletrack 990XT lives up to this legacy, with solid Thule performance and a one-key locking system, so you can have peace of mind your bikes are safe, wherever you stop.
The Thule Doubletrack is a hitch-mounted platform with a hitch of 1.25” with an included adaptor that converts to a 2” hitch. Once loaded, you can lock the hitch using the Doubletracks’ locking mechanism. When not in use, you can tilt the Doubletrack upwards, reducing the amount of space the mounted vehicle takes up, without interfering with your 360-degree field of vision.
Loading bikes onto the Thule Doubletrack is quite easy overall. Like many platform bike racks, you just need to load your bike’s tires into the wheelbase, then pull the hooks from the central mast down to keep the bikes in place. Once tight, just secure the wheels with the wheel straps, and you are ready to go! The hooks both are locking, using the same key as the hitch lock, so you can feel secure with no vulnerabilities to theft in this bike rack. The Doubletrack has a weight capacity of 70 lbs between 2 bikes, and thanks to the Doubletrack’s versatile platform trays, can accommodate wheelbases up to 46.5 inches and tires up to 2.5 inches thick. This is a versatile bike rack, however, some users have noted that thicker mountain bike tires are not a fit for this rack, and there were struggles securing the fasteners to the thicker tires.
Users typically really enjoy the thoughtful construction of Thule bike racks, and the Doubletrack is no different. Users feel their bikes are protected, both on and off the road, with Thule’s smart placement of the bike platforms and the locking system, respectively. One of the only consistent criticisms of the Doubletrack is that the straps included to secure the bike’s wheels to the platform are too short for mountain bikes, and you might need to Velcro/bungee cord the wheels instead if you wish to use this bike rack with these types of bikes.
- Easy to install and load bikes onto this rack.
- Sturdy performance.
- A one-key locking system protects both the bike and bike rack from theft.
- Despite a versatile platform, the straps are too short to hold mountain bike wheels and other thick wheels.
Best 4-bike rack
Yakima FullSwing 4-bike
One of the biggest flaws of many bike racks is that once locked and loaded into your vehicle’s hitch or on your vehicle’s backside, accessing the trunk can be a difficult or impossible task. The Yakima FullSwing seeks to remedy this issue, with the ability to fully swing away from the back of your vehicle, even while fully loaded.
The Yakima Fullswing is a hitch-mounted hanging style rack that fits into a 2” inch hitch. When set up, loading the bikes are relatively easy, sliding your bike frame along with the platform, which you can then secure with the adjustable locking mechanism. Most bikes should fit easily, however, bikes that feature irregularly shaped top tubes will need an adaptor – so users with full suspension bikes or other styles of bikes with irregularly shaped top tubes may need to be prepared to spend more money on this (already expensive) bike rack. The Yakima FullSwing can carry up to 4 bikes, with a total combined weight of 150 lbs.
The Yakima FullSwing’s central feature is its swinging arm, which you can see in the image jutting off to the right at this bike rack’s base. When engaged, users can swing the rack away from the back of their vehicle, holding the bikes to the side, so you can access the trunk or bed of your vehicle. When done, the Yakima folds right back and locks in place, so you do not need to worry about your bikes moving when you hit the road again.
The FullSwing features an integrated key system to lock down your bikes and the speedknob, offering protection from theft to your bikes, or the FullSwing itself. While there is a ¾” nut that keeps the top half of the swing base connected that can be removed, a potential thief would have to be both familiar with this bike rack for this to pose a threat. The FullSwing features ZipStrips to secure your bikes when in transit, but while these are padded, wear to your bike’s base and paint job is inevitable with this type of rack, especially if loaded up to 4 bikes at a time. One thing that is important to note is that this device is not recommended for off-road use – there are too many moving parts and dust or sand could interfere with the movement. While incredibly handy, the FullSwing is also heavy – at approximately 56 lbs – and expensive too. These factors may be deal breakers for some, but for an otherwise handy and incredibly useful bike rack, we think the Yakima FullSwing is still one of the best bike racks available in Canada and many will find the features incredibly useful.
- FullSwing features an arm that allows the whole bike rack to be moved to the side for unhindered storage access.
- One-key locking mechanism keeps your bikes secure.
- 4-bike capacity with a weight capacity of up to 150 lbs.
- One of the more expensive bike racks available.
- Not recommended for off-road use, as dust can disrupt the moving parts.
- Very heavy.
Best 5-bike rack
Yakima Ridgeback 5 Bike
5-bike hitch racks are difficult: even loading 4-bikes onto a 4-bike rack can be a test of your spatial skills, adding a 5th to the equation magnifies this challenge further. However, for biking outings for larger families, a 5-bike rack might prove irreplaceable. We think the Yakima (Ridgeback) is the best 5-bike hitch rack available for Canadian families.
The Yakima Ridgeback comes with a 2” hitch adaptor installed onto their 1.25” inch hitch, offering versatility between the two most common hitch sizes. Once installed to your hitch, you can twist the Yakima Speedknob on the end of the tongue to secure the Ridgeback, and once you are done, you can lock the Ridgeback, leaving the Speedknob loose, unable to affect the security of the Yakima Ridgeback. When unloaded, you can fold the Ridgeback for access to your trunk, hatchback or tailgate, and a folding bike arm allows the Ridgeback to take a small profile if kept on while unloaded.
In terms of bike support, the Yakima is fine at its job, but like many other hanging bike racks, it has its flaws in this regard as well. To load the Ridgeback, place the top tube of your bike on the cradles, and apply three of the include ZipStrips and the safety strap for the front wheel to secure the bikes in place. Once secured, the Yakima proves to be a sturdy and powerful hitch rack, however, users have commented that they feel much more comfortable if they added extra support in the way of bungee cords to prevent the bikes from wobbling or swaying from the wind on the road. The Yakima Ridgeback can hold a total weight of 150 lbs, making it an impressively strong rack.
However, the biggest issue does seem to be actually loading and securing your bike’s rack. Many 4-bike racks have proven difficult for users to load to capacity: adding a fifth bike onto the Ridgeback 5-bike (which reduces the amount of space between each cradle from their 4-bike model) proves even more difficult. One user commented that 5 standard frame adult-sized road bikes would likely fit, but adding other kinds of bikes into the equation makes this process quite more difficult. While the Ridgeback 5 is the best 5-bike rack we found that is available in Canada (even though the market is barren from more and more cyclists entering the market), you may be better off with a 4-bike rack and a rooftop rack for the fifth bike. One other thing that users wished was different about the Yakima Ridgeback is the lack of a locking mechanism.
- Large bike rack with the supports and the weight capacity to hold up to 5 bikes.
- Easily and quickly attaches to your vehicle.
- When empty, can tilt for access to your vehicle’s storage.
- Loading 5-bikes onto this model is still difficult and will not be possible with all combinations of bikes.
- Hanging racks can scuff your bike frame.
- No locking mechanisms.
Best hanging hitch rack
Thule Camber Hitch Bike Rack
Hanging bike racks are a solid solution for transporting several bikes, and we think the Thule Camber is one of the best available in Canada right now. Another versatile hanging-style hitch rack, the Thule Camber comes in both 2 and 4 – bike options, so it can be versatile for your use.
The rack of the Thule Camber is rated for 37.5 lb capacity for each bike. The Thule Camber is approximately only 34 lbs itself, so installation onto your vehicle before your weekend getaway does not feel too much like work. The Thule Camber features a 1.25” shank and an adaptor for 2” shanks, so it will be compatible with most hitch systems. When connected, the Camber attaches firmly with no wobble. The mechanism to raise/lower the bars is easy to use, as you know when it is working with a satisfying click. While some hitch racks block access to your trunk or tailgate, the Thule Camber is able to fold down slightly when no bikes are attached, allowing access. It is a less elegant solution than sliding racks like the Yakima FullSwing, but is a simpler solution with fewer moving parts too.
The hanging rack offers 7 inches of space between each bike cradle for minimized contact between bikes in transit. While they do offer an appropriate amount of space for the intended amount of bicycles, adding the fourth bike on the four bike model seems challenging for some
A number of users did have issues with how this bike rack holds the bicycles in place: the straps that hold the bikes in place are finicky and difficult to tighten and undo, some bikes without a horizontal bar need add-ons to work with this rack, and like most hanging racks, there is the chance your bike’s finish is worn or damaged in transit. These flaws may be deal-breakers to some, but the latter two flaws are typical of this type of rack design, so we cannot blame Thule for these issues specifically. Finally, this model features no locks. However otherwise, users appreciate this reliable bike rack for its sturdiness, quick installation and sizes that fit your lifestyle.
- 2 and 4 bike options allow you to go with the option most compatible with your needs.
- Easy to install onto your vehicle.
- The tilting mechanism allows for access to your vehicle’s storage when no bikes are loaded.
- Straps are made of plastic and are finicky to secure and release if not straight with the locking mechanism.
- Potential for wear on your bike’s finish is possible for all hanging racks.
- No locks.
Best platform bike rack
While there are many bike hitches that allow for more than 2 bikes, these typically are hanging varieties that can cause wear to your bike frame or even potentially damage. If you are looking for a platform hitch rack with excellent versatility, the Saris Freedom is an excellent bike hitch in both 2- and 4- bike versions.
The Saris attaches to your vehicle by its 2” hitch receiver. The Saris Freedom has a fold/tilt pedal for folding the rack up for storage or space savings or tilting downwards for trunk accessibility. Once set up, the Freedom is expectedly sturdy, despite its surprising weight: the 2-bike version is a light 21 lbs, and the 4-bike version is expectedly heavier, at around 57 lbs.
The Saris Freedom keeps your bikes secure via its platform, ratchet straps, and an adjustable frame cradle. The frame cradle fits snuggly, to bikes of almost any size, with Saris’ patent pending Cuscino straps that adjust to any bike’s frame and holds it firm without causing wear. The Ratchet straps in the wheel platform also attach to the bike’s wheels tightly. The wheel platforms are adjustable to bikes of varying lengths, so packing a family’s worth of bikes will not be difficult – but getting 2 different sized bikes on the 2-bike model might be a challenge. Some users have expressed difficulties getting longer mountain bikes to fit in the platform. If this is a concern Saris does make the Freedom EX 2, a 2-bike model of this bike rack that can fit a longer wheelbase. Another thing users have found difficult is that the Freedom rack is not well designed for thicker tires.
For users who want more convenience and do not mind a steeper price, the Saris SuperClamp is a very similar model with easy pushdown clamps that keep your bike secure, with less fiddling with the straps and placement of this model. The SuperClamp also has a locking mechanism, which the Saris Freedom lacks. However, the Saris Freedom is still a trustworthy platform hitch rack that keeps your bikes in excellent condition.
- Platform-style bike racks keep your bike in pristine condition.
- 2 and 4 bike versions add versatility for your purposes.
- Very easy to load bikes of the same size: differently sized bikes might require more effort.
- Only attaches by 2” hitch, so 1.25” hitch vehicles are not compatible.
- No locking mechanism included on the Saris Freedom – look into the Saris SuperClamp for a locking version.
Best roof rack
Roof racks are a great alternative to hitch-mounted bike racks. They do not obstruct your view, they do not require a hitch and they do not obstruct access to the back of your vehicle. While a roof rack might not fit the criteria for every cyclist, for some it may be the only option. Our favourite option for Canadians is the Yakima Frontloader, an easy-to-use roof-mounted system that has the quality associated with the Yakima name.
Roof racks have a few criteria that users need to think about. Firstly, they add considerable height as they store your bicycle vertically on top of your vehicle. Secondly, they require crossbars to be installed on the roof of your car. The Yakima Frontloader comes out of the box ready to be installed on your roof crossbars. The universal mounts are compatible with every type of crossbar, from round, square, or more aerodynamic-shaped bars. At approximately just 18 pounds, installing this rack onto the top of your vehicle should not be too difficult.
When it comes time to load your bike, just lift the front bar and drop your bike’s front wheel into the tray. Pull your bike forward and the small hoop will rise, keeping your bike’s wheel in place. Strap in your bike’s back tire and you should be good to go where the road takes you (just avoid any low clearance areas like tunnels). The Frontloader is compatible with bikes with wheels 20” to 29” large and can handle the width of mountain and road bike wheels. Some users have noted difficulties with loading their bikes into the Yakima Frontloader, and if you do not have the height or strength to lift your bike on top of your vehicle, this might not be the best choice for you.
Users overall seem to really like how quickly the Yakima Frontloader can be taken out of the box, installed on their roof crossbars, and have a bike fully secured. However, there are some flaws that users have addressed and we think are worth mentioning. The Frontloader is compatible with Yakima’s SKS lock system, however, the Frontloader features no locking mechanism out of the box – so you will need to pay more for the peace of mind that locks provide. Roof racks tend not to fit every vehicle – so double-checking if your vehicle is compatible on the Yakima website first is recommended before purchasing. Additionally, there were a number of users who brought up difficulties with loading the bike onto this roof rack and securing it. Overall, if you are not worried about getting your bike on the car roof, we think the Yakima Frontloader is a solid, trustworthy bike rack.
- Roof racks do not disrupt your field of vision when driving.
- Pre-assembled and easily mounted right out of the box.
- Compatible with most bikes.
- No locking mechanism is included, instead, Yakima offers their SKS lock system separately.
- Some users have had difficulties loading their bikes into the roof-mounted rack, especially shorter people.
Frequent questions about car bike racks
How to Install a bike rack?
Firstly, it depends on the type of bike rack. There are 3 types of bike racks we covered in this article: hitch racks, roof racks, and universal trunk-mounted racks.
Hitch racks are designed to be attached to your vehicle’s hitch. Hitches are often either 1.25” and 2.0” in size, but many feature an adaptor so they are versatile options for both. The hitch rack will slide into your vehicle’s hitch, and then usually comes with a bolt to secure the rack inside the hitch. Hitch racks connect very firmly, so if you are left with a wobbly bike rack, either the bolt needs to be tightened or something is wrong.
Roof racks are designed to attach to crossbars on top of your vehicle. While some vehicles may have these already attached, most of the time you will have to install a crossbar to use a roof rack. Once you have a crossbar on top of your vehicle, a roof rack will clip or slide into the bike rack easily, and just needs tightening so it is securely fastened to your vehicle.
Universal mounted racks are perfect for those users who do not wish to add a hitch or roof racks to their vehicle. These racks sit on your vehicle’s bumper and are secured by straps that attach inside your vehicle’s trunk, hatchback or tailgate. Tensile strength is required for these racks to be effective, and once you have the straps connected inside, they require tightening to form a solidly strong rack.
How to stop your bike rack from wobbling?
Likely, if a bike rack is wobbling, it is not connected tightly enough. Bike racks take some getting accustomed to setting up. If your hitch is too loose for your bike rack to sit inside without wobbling, you can find hitch tighteners on Amazon or a parts store to prevent that wobble.
Where to get bike racks?
Bike racks will be at any store that sells bicycle equipment, like Walmart, Canadian Tire or MEC. There are also a handful of websites that you can purchase bike racks from, including Amazon, www.rackstop.ca, or www.thebikeshop.com
Why are so many bike racks out of stock?
Over the last year and a half, while people all over the world have dealt with COVID-19 and the restrictions in place to combat the spread. In that time, many people have turned to outdoor activities to pass their free time, and cycling’s popularity has grown throughout North America and the rest of the world. Many cycling companies as a result have struggled to keep up with the increased demand. We tried to pick bicycle racks that were available when making this list, but due to low stock on many websites, these selections might have varying degrees of availability until demand settles. We think each bike rack that made this list is worth searching for, even if the links provided become unavailable.
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