Hitch Vs Trunk Bike Rack | Complete Guide

You want to go biking but don’t know if you should buy a trunk bike rack or a hitch bike rack.

It can be hard to decide which type of bike rack is best for you. There are so many different brands and models available!

Many people think that the only difference between a trunk bike rack and a hitch bike rack is the way they attach to your car. But there are several significant differences between the two types of racks.

So, which one is right for you? We’re here to help. This article will compare the two types of bike racks and help you decide which one is right for you.

What is a Hitch Bike Rack?

What is a Hitch Bike Rack

A hitch bike rack is a type of trunk-mounted bike rack. It attaches to your vehicle’s trailer hitch, making it very stable while you drive down the road.

The bike is locked into place on the rack, so there are no worries about it wobbling around or falling off. Many people prefer this type of bike rack because it’s easy to remove and store in your garage when not in use.

What is a Trunk Bike Rack?

What is a Trunk Bike Rack

A trunk bike rack attaches to the back of your vehicle, mounted on the lip where the trunk closes. A trunk-mounted rack can be either platform-style or wheel-on style.

The wheel-on variety mounts directly to your car’s trunk and is compatible with most vehicles. The platform-style bike rack attaches to your vehicle’s back, just like a hitch bike rack does, but it sits on top of your trunk rather than behind it.

That means you’ll need to remove any cargo from the back of your car before folding down the racks. Some people prefer this because it leaves their trunk free for groceries, luggage, or another type of cargo.

How do Hitch and Trunk Bike Racks Differ?

How do Hitch and Trunk Bike Racks Differ

While both bike racks support bikes on top, there are several big differences between the two. Here are some of the most important things to consider before buying a trunk or hitch bike rack for your car.

Ease of Use: Hitch racks tend to be easier to use than trunk racks because you don’t have to remove any cargo from your trunk. A hitch bike rack will make this easier if you like having your trunk free for groceries, luggage, and other things on your car trip.

Stability: Hitch racks are more stable than trunk racks because they attach to the vehicle’s frame. A hitch rack is probably the better choice if you’re going on a long drive or traveling along bumpy roads.

Simplicity: Most trunk racks are much simpler to operate than hitch racks because all you have to do is fold down the racks and load up your bike. Hitch racks usually take a little assembly before using them, which adds to their overall complexity.

Ease of Removal: Hitch racks are easy to remove, while trunk racks usually require some tools because your trunk needs to be opened in order for them to come off.

Storage Space: Trunk racks don’t take up any storage space, while hitch racks may need to be stored in your garage or on a carrier that you attach to your car when not in use.

Protection: Hitch bike racks are more likely to protect your bike from being damaged because the rack rests directly against the vehicle… which means there’s no gap between it and the trunk.

Security: Hitch bike racks are more likely to keep your bikes secure and safe from theft or damage because the rack rests against the vehicle. If you’re parking in a crowded area, this is definitely an advantage.

Trunk racks usually don’t have a way to lock the bikes, so you’ll need to use a separate cable or lock. For added security, some trunk racks offer locks that attach to your car and prevent someone from simply grabbing your bikes off the rack and driving away.

Affordability: Hitch bike racks tend to be cheaper than trunk bike racks, though this depends on what type of hitch rack you buy and how many bikes it holds.

Weight Capacity: Hitch bike racks are more likely to hold higher weight capacities because they’re supported by the vehicle behind them. However, the maximum weight capacity varies greatly between trunk bike racks, so be sure to check your rack’s specifications before buying.

Extra Features: As you might expect, there are also some differences in the extra features available for hitch and trunk bike racks.

Hitch racks are more likely to have a lockable security cable, which attaches your bikes to the rack and prevents them from being stolen or damaged. Some models may also include a locking mechanism for securing your entire rack to the hitch.

Trunk racks don’t always come with these extras, but they are available for purchase.

Hitch Vs Trunk Bike Rack – Pros and Cons

Hitch Vs. Trunk Bike Rack - Pros and Cons

When deciding between a hitch or trunk bike rack, it’s best to decide what you need based on your personal preferences and needs. Here are some pros and cons for each type of rack so you can choose the best option.

Hitch Rack Pros:

  • Your bikes are supported by the vehicle, creating a more stable ride on bumpy roads or across long distances.
  • You can lock your bike to the rack for added security.
  • A hitch rack takes up less space than some trunk racks.
  • Hitch racks are usually less expensive than trunk racks.
  • It’s easy to remove your entire rack when you don’t need it.

Hitch Rack Cons:

  • Not all vehicles have a hitch, which can limit your transportation options.
  • There are usually more steps involved when using a hitch rack, making it less convenient for quick trips.
  • You have to assemble the rack before you can use it, adding complexity.
  • You’ll need a hitch receiver on your car in order for the rack to attach.
  • The bikes may sway if you’re driving across bumpy roads

Trunk Rack Pros:

  • Most trunks open vertically, so you don’t need to lift your bike up very high.
  • It is easy to lock or secure bikes with a trunk rack, so they are more versatile than hitch racks in terms of security.
  • Trunk racks usually fold up when not in use, making them easier to store or carry on a trip.
  • You don’t need any additional accessories for a trunk rack – you can easily attach it to your car.
  • Some trunk racks come with locks that you can use to secure your bike and rack to the vehicle.

Trunk Rack Cons:

  • If your bike is dirty when you put it into the trunk, then it will get dirty again when you take it out.
  • Bikes can sway or wobble while driving, especially if the trunk doesn’t open vertically.
  • Some trunk racks may scratch your paint job if they rub against your vehicle’s trunk when driving.
  • Trunk racks are less stable than hitch racks because they’re not attached to the vehicle

The best option for you will depend on what type of bikes you have, how many vehicles you have, how often you use your bikes, and what you need for storing them.

How to Choose the Right Bike Rack?

The best way to choose between a hitch or trunk bike rack is to make a list of your needs and preferences.

If you only have one vehicle, then it doesn’t matter which type of rack you use. If you need to transport different types of bikes, then you’ll want to choose the type that accommodates your widest tire size.

You’ll also need to consider how often you plan to use your rack and whether or not you will carry other items in the vehicle at the same time. A trunk rack can add more room for groceries or other cargo when you fold it up.

Most people find that a hitch rack is best for carrying bikes on long trips because it is more stable than a trunk rack.

Trunk racks can be easier to use if you’re just carrying your bike out for a quick ride or storing it in the garage. It’s also more convenient for people who don’t have their own vehicle or plan to use bikes regularly for travel.

Either type of rack will work as long as your bikes fit on it, and you can lock them to it.

Choosing a hitch vs trunk bike rack is about finding the best option for your preferences and needs, so you can always go with the one that works best for your lifestyle!

Tips for Safely Transporting Your Bikes

Regardless of which type of bike rack you choose, there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe while transporting your bikes.

Here are some tips for keeping everyone happy and healthy during a bike trip:

  • Make sure that locks are secure so no one can steal your bike!
  • Try not to drive too fast on bumpy roads, so the bikes don’t sway.
  • If you own an automobile, it is a good idea to keep your bicycle away from moving parts, such as its doors and windows.
  •  If you have a trunk rack, you can line the trunk with padding or carpeting to prevent scratching and rattling.
  • Try not to drive too far with your bike on the rack to avoid fatigue and back pain.

Making sure you travel safely and comfortably can make all the difference!


Whether you choose a hitch or trunk bike rack, make sure to take into account your needs and preferences to ensure a safe and easy transport experience.

Both types of racks have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to think about what will work best for you. Bikes are a great way to get around, see the world, and stay healthy; so don’t let transporting them put a damper on your adventures.

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