Best 4-Bike Hitch Racks
Cycling not only makes off-road vacations enjoyable but also health-giving. Numerous articles claim that this pastime is proven to increase muscle strength, cardiovascular stamina, stress recovery and the immune system. Other than health, it is interesting to mention that a bicycle can be the most practical vehicle you can take into the countryside.
A motorbike requires you to increase the fuel supply over the niche reserved for your chief off-road transport. A comparatively low-velocity bicycle can travel without expending a single drop of petrol and it can cover nearly twice the mileage accomplished by non-stop jogging. On top of its meager energy requirements, a bicycle is around 17 times lighter than a motorbike. You can easily carry up to four of these two-wheeled pedal machines at once behind your off-road car.
Bike Rack Types & Add-ons
There are two basic varieties you can choose from. Each of these is characterized by how exactly you prefer to position your bicycles behind your car.
- Platform: the bikes are placed on the hollowed wheel beds
- Hanging: the bikes are suspended either by the wheels or its frame
Each basic variety comes with the following accessories. You need to take note of the following add-ons to get the best out of your bike racks.
- Frame clamps: secures the platform placement at the bike frame
- Wheel clamps: secures the platform placement by holding its wheels
- Adapter bars: provides equilibrium for some bikes hanging by their frames
- Anti-sway cradles: prevents hanging bikes from swinging off the rack during sharp turns
Selection: Know Your Bike!
Another more crucial step for choosing the best hitch bike rack is based on your type of bicycle. Check out the assortments and take into account the ideal suggestions for each:
Road & Mountain Bikes
This type of bicycle is pretty much the definition of a standard two-wheel pedal since the early modern times. With this in your possession, all types of bike racks can keep this simple machine tucked behind your SUV or mini-van. Ultimately, an adapter bar is not needed.
Bikes with Suspensions
You can pretty much describe this variety as ‘bikes with steroids.’ This kind of bike is built to accommodate the most rigorous demands of an extreme motorsport. It is characterized by a spring-legged rear wheel that allows the rider to bounce at high jumps without risking balance.
This bike hangs well on the rack either by the frame or wheel. But if you prefer a platform setup, you need to have wheel clamps to keep it from ‘bouncing off’ the rack when driving at rough terrain.
Bikes with Carbon Fiber Frame
An ongoing argument among cycling enthusiasts concerns the advantages of carbon fiber frame over the usual steel or aluminum. To some extent, carbon fiber frames are pretty much synonymous with class and prestige. In any case, damaged carbon fiber frames are relatively expensive to repair.
It is for this reason that you have to consider bike racks having zero contact with its body. Hence, you should choose either a platform setup with wheel clamps or the type of rack that hang the bicycle by its wheels.
Bikes with Step-through Frame
Unlike regular road and mountain bikes, this bicycle is characterized by a slanted upper frame. It is specifically designed to provide extra space allowance, either to resting one’s leg or a more convenient mounting/dismounting.
For this type of bike, it is best to choose a platform setup or hang it on the wheels. If you prefer a frame-hanging setup, you need to secure an even or level placement with an adapter bar.
This type of bicycle is designed for minors usually below 8 years old. Most bikes in this category have wheels that are too small to properly hang or fit on a hollowed platform. It is only possible to bring this junior pedals with a rack that hangs bikes by the frame.
In case other children’s bikes sport an irregular frame, you would need an adapter bar for a fixed balanced placement. The crucial length of the adapter bar must be carefully measured since most of the adapter bars are designed for grown-up bikes.
Top 5 Hitch Bike Racks
There are plenty of high-quality hitch-mounted shelves that can carry multiple bicycles at once. For easier reference, you can narrow the best 4-bike hitch rack options down to 5. Consider each brand and how their stark variety could serve your keen interest:
Thule 9027 Apex Swing Away
- Type: Frame-hanging
- Max weight: 35 lbs per bike
Several brands could successfully brag about their ability to keep shelved bicycles completely still while the loading vehicle is on the move. However, Thule 9027 Apex Swing Away is one of the few products that truly deliver in this particular area. Apart from the built-in anti-sway cradles, this model also comes with an integrated cable lock.
This model sports both a foldable and swing-away mechanism. It allows you to easily open the rear hatch or park the vehicle in the tight-spaced garage without removing it from the hitch receiver. The only real downside is that it costs roughly seven times the cheapest brand.
Highland 1375500 Sport Wing
- Type: Wheel-hanging
- Max weight: Up to 160 lbs
One of the strongest reasons for consumers to choose a bike rack that is being mounted by the wheels is that you will never have to compromise with its stability. Being one of the best brands clad in such a design, the Highland 1375500 Sport Wing guarantees that your bicycles will not be swaying towards the trajectory of the vehicle’s swerves no matter how sharp your turns are.
The firmness of the rack’s grip on the wheels is one thing, but how the rack itself sustains the abuse of long-term load-bearing could be another matter. Among the chief customer assessments are that it can rattle intensely to a point of losing some crucial components – especially when no bike is mounted at any of the two pairs of arms. Despite its few rough edges, most consumers find assembling this item a bit enjoyable.
Hollywood Racks HR1400 Sport Rider
- Type: Platform setup
- Max weight: 50 lbs per bike
The Hollywood Racks HR1400 Sport Rider usually earns the top rank for any bike hitch review that is worth more than a grain of salt. What usually warrants the impressive assessment includes an impressive 200-lbs total weight capacity and its wide array of additional components. On top of the “no wobble, no tools” design that guarantees excellent stability, you can also utilize its Velcro wheel straps, a 9-foot security cable, and a locking pin.
Judging from its impressive material quality and work performance, only a few could find its retail price disagreeable. But if one should find a fatal flaw in choosing this brand, it is the fact that it cannot be hitched at the back of a trailer or camper.
Allen Sports Deluxe
- Type: Frame-hanging
- Max weight: Up to 140 lbs
If you are on a very tight budget and you want to make the best of quality and economy meet halfway, then you will find this item to be an excellent option. In fact, if you are keen on searching the best retail dealer, you can buy this item at nearly a quarter of the average retail price. On top of that, you can easily assemble this bike rack in 10 to 15 minutes if you have an occasional pastime for tinkering with simple machines.
Unlike the previously mentioned model, the Allen Sports Deluxe is one of the fewest brands experts can recommend connecting at the back of a camper or trailer. Unfortunately, the bargain price also costs poor consumer assessment in terms of its ability to sustain the weight of four bicycles.
Swagman XTC-4 Cross-Country
- Type: Platform setup
- Max weight: 35 lbs per bike
While frame grips are not known for their moderation, this model is one of the fewest platform setups that sports soft clamp paddings. It is even safe enough to mount a carbon fiber bike with this rack, regardless of the terrain’s roughness. Another testament to its clever design is that you can fold the rack at an angle that gives way for a full access to the vehicle’s rear.
The Swagman XTC-4 Cross-Country encapsulates the principles of security, versatility, and accessibility. However, the user-friendliness also comes with a price. If you’re thinking about DIY installation, assembling this item will truly test your mettle as a hobbyist tinkerer.