Which Bike Rack Is Right for You?

Use this guide to decide which type is best to transport your bikes.

This story is part of our The Great Guide to Outside in the July issue of Milwaukee Magazine. To read the full guide, order your copy today!

HOW MANY BIKES are you carrying, and what weight and type? Do you need to lock them to prevent theft? What kind of vehicle do you have? Know all this before you decide which of the three basic styles – most of which can fit up to four or sometimes more bikes on most vehicles – is best for you. 




Bike tires fit into special holders that attach to a vehicle’s factory or aftermarket multi-use roof rack. A suction cup system is also an option for cars with smaller roofs. Some brands require removing the bike’s front tire, but in either case, you need to be aware of the added vehicle height at the next drive-thru (or underpass). Integrated locks secure your ride and prevent theft. Prices start at about $250. 

Our Pick: Sturdy and secure, the Thule UpRide doesn’t touch the bike frames. 



We want to see your best work. Architects, interior designers, renovation experts and landscapers: Enter your residential projects in Milwaukee Magazine’s new design competition. 



This may be the easiest and cheapest option. The rack is adjustable (but must be adjusted and attached correctly!) to fit all sorts of vehicles, even SUVs, and has padding and rubber-coated clips to protect your paint job. They fold right up for storage as well. However, they do not typically offer reliable theft protection, requiring you to come up with your own method, such as a cable lock into the trunk. Prices start at $35, but reliable brands such as Thule, Saris or Yakima run $150-$300+ for a reason. (Compare that to the cost of a new bike.)

Our Pick: The Saris Bones EX 3-Bike is light, sturdy and easy to use. 



If you have a ball hitch, these racks are perhaps the easiest option, albeit usually the most expensive. Hitch racks will either hang bikes by the frame (vertically or horizontally) or offer a lower rack platform for tires to be clamped and strapped into. If you need to add a hitch to your vehicle, of course, that’s also a consideration. Starting at $450. 

Our Pick: The Thule T2 Pro XTR 2-Bike Hitch Rack with integrated locks is easy to adjust and loaded with features. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July Issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.