Trunk bike racks are among the most convenient and versatile ways to tote your bikes around.

Unlike hitch racks and roof racks, trunk-mounted bike racks are typically inexpensive, lightweight, and portable. No hitch attachment is required, and you typically won’t need a roof rack or other attachments beyond the rack itself.

Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally driving into the roof of your garage or lifting heavy bikes above your head; hitch racks sit right against the back bumper or rear door of your car.

Since they’ve been around for so long, there are a lot of trunk-rack options out there, ranging from simple $30 bar-and-strap situations all the way through state-of-the-art racks worth hundreds of dollars.

Regardless of whether you’re a casual biker looking for starter equipment or a serious cyclist looking to invest in something to keep your bikes perfectly secure, it can be tough to sort through all of your options.

So, here’s our guide to finding the best trunk bike rack for all your commuting and adventure needs.

Rankings

RankingProduct NameWeightCapacity (bikes)Security?Damage protection?ReviewPrice
#1Thule Passage Trunk Mount CarrierThule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier9.72 or 3NoYesRead Review
See Price on Amazon
#2Allen Sports Deluxe Mounted Bike RackAllen Sports Deluxe Mounted Bike Rack7.52, 3, or 4NoNoRead Review
See Price on Amazon
#3Saris Bones 801 3 Bike MountSaris Bones 801 3-Bike Mount123NoYesRead Review
See Price on Amazon
#4Yakima FullBack Bike CarrierYakima FullBack Bike Carrier 202YesYesRead Review
See Price on Amazon
#5Hollywood Racks Over the Top Trunk RackHollywood Racks Over-the-Top Trunk Rack2.22NoYesRead Review
See Price on Amazon
#6Tyger Auto TG RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle RackTyger Auto TG-RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle Rack33NoYesRead Review
See Price on Amazon

Finding The Right Trunk Bike Rack For You, Your Bikes, And Your Car: Things To Consider

While trunk racks are fairly versatile, there are a few factors to think about when you start narrowing down your search.

What kind of car do you have?

Trunk-mounted racks work with almost all cars and SUVs.

They usually aren’t vehicle-specific, but they do come in several different shapes, which may work better or worse for your car depending on the shape of your trunk or hatch-back.

If you have a truck, a rear-mounted tire, or an otherwise unusual car profile, it may be difficult or impossible to find a rear rack which works with your vehicle.

Racks in a “U” shape stick out a bit further from the back of your car and can be more secure for some vehicle types, or make more space for attachments or other interfering features on the back of your car. Other models are specifically designed to sit higher against your vehicle’s back window, which can help avoid interference with unusually shaped vehicle profiles.

How many bikes do you have?

Trunk racks generally won’t hold more than three bikes, or four at the most. If you need to carry more than that, you’ll want to look for a hitch rack or other option.

If you only have one or two bikes, it might make more sense to buy a smaller rack which will stick out less and reduce the chance of accidentally dinging your bikes or damaging them during transport. Lightweight racks designed for fewer bikes are also less likely to cause damage to your car.

What terrain will you be driving on, and how fast?

Trunk racks vary widely in terms of sturdiness and the level of protection they provide your bike.

Commuters will likely be fine with standard racks which essentially strap bike frames onto two poles which stick out from the back of the bumper.

However, if you plan to drive extended distances, at high speeds, or off-road while carrying your bike, you may want to look for a higher-end option with cushioned cradles for your bike.

Some high-end models also include “sway protection,” or additional straps or mechanisms which reduce movement at high speeds and around curves.

These can both be valuable features if you plan to hit a lot of windy mountain roads, or are worried about your bikes or car getting damaged by occasional bumps or rubbing against each other.

What frame is your bike?

Trunk racks are designed to carry standard bike frames and standard sizes. If you have bikes which don’t fit one of these categories, you may have trouble loading them securely onto trunk racks.

Tandem bikes, step-through frames, and unusually shaped frames can all be challenging to accommodate with trunk racks, but there are some ways to customize trunk racks to make them more adaptable.

For example, if you have a small bike, many racks will have bars which are too wide apart to load your bike. However, some models offer multiple spacing options; look for one which fits the size of your bike.

If you have an unusual frame – for example, one without a straight horizontal bar – you may also be able to purchase an adapter horizontal bar or additional straps to make it work for the rack.

How high can you lift your bike(s)?

One of the main appeals of a trunk rack is that it’s a lot easier to load bikes on and off than it is with a roof rack or some hitch racks. However, you’ll still need to lift them onto the back of your car.

If this is difficult for you, there are some models with low or folding bars which can slightly reduce the height you’ll need to reach.

Is security important to you?

Most trunk racks attach to your car with fabric straps and clips. Often, they can’t be removed without opening your door. However, these straps can wear out and/or fray. They can also be cut by someone trying to steal bikes from your car.

Many models offer a security lock which attaches the bikes to the rack. This is a good way to reduce the chance of theft, but it’s still possible for someone to take the whole thing, rack and all, and abscond with it if you leave it unattended for long enough.

There are also a few, generally more expensive, models which will also lock the rack to the trunk, which adds a more effective extra layer of security.

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Will a trunk-mounted rack damage my car?

It might. Trunk-mounted racks use straps with hooks to attach to multiple points on your car – usually the join between your trunk and back window or the body of your car.

Depending on the model of rack you choose, the clips can cause slight chips to your paint. The rack itself, or bikes, may also rub against the back of your car if the straps aren’t tight enough, which can also cause damage.

This is one of the reasons why considering weight is important when choosing a rack. Beyond the convenience and gas mileage savings of choosing a light rack, it can also protect your car. Also, be sure not to load your rack past its weight and bike number capacity.

If you’re worried about pain scratches, you can also often cushion sharp clips with electrical tape or other materials to prevent damage.

I have a weirdly shaped and/or tandem bike. Will a trunk rack work?

Maybe. Almost all trunk racks use two horizontal bars to support the bike’s frame (rather than the tires or other part of the bike, as is the case with some hitch racks).

Tandem bikes will be hard to transport this way. Some other bikes will also be incompatible with trunk racks, but as mentioned above, you can often buy an adapter bar which makes it possible to hold children’s bikes and bikes without a central crossbar on a trunk-mounted rack.

Still, make sure you take a look at your bike and evaluate whether it will fit on two bars of a trunk rack.

I have a spoiler/rear-mounted tire/other object on the back of my car – can I still get a trunk rack?

Again, maybe. Some racks ride higher or lower depending on the shape of their frames. “U” shaped racks stick out a bit farther from the back of your car, which can reduce the chance it will interfere with a spoiler or other features on the back of your car.

Some racks are also specifically designed to fit over a rear-mounted tire, like this one (not included in this guide since it’s designed only for rear-mounted tires).

Will a trunk rack interfere with back windshield wipers or my license plate?

Yes, possibly. If you have automatic rear-wipers, a trunk rack might not be the best choice for you. They can also obscure your view.

Depending on the shape and size of your car, trunk racks can also obscure rear license-plates. This is illegal in some states, which is certainly an issue worth looking into before you attach a load of bikes to your car and head off down the interstate.

What material is best?

Trunk racks generally come in steel, nylon, and molded plastic models. They all perform well, but steel racks tend to be a bit sturdier, and plastic lighter and less expensive. There generally isn’t enough of a difference between different material types to affect your decision.

Does a trunk rack require tools or hardware to install?

Usually not. You should be able to easily attach and de-attach trunk racks using just the straps and clips provided.

Racks do vary slightly in terms of how they attach to cars. Depending on whether you have an SUV or car, and the shape of your trunk, you may have a harder or easier time adding your rack.

Will I be able to open the trunk with the rack attached?

Probably not. Some racks will stay in place while you lift a trunk opening, but many rely on the door being closed to stay in place.

Most racks will not enable you to open the trunk while bikes are loaded on the rack, and many will fall off if you try to open the back of your car even when bikes aren’t loaded.

This is definitely something to keep in mind when considering how you’ll use your bike rack and how often you’ll need to take it on and off of your car.

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Selection Criteria: How We Ranked Our Top Picks

Depending on your specific bike-transporting needs, the features which are most important to you will vary widely.

Some factors, such as capacity, rack shape, or price, might be deal-breakers for you but a selling point to someone else.

In sorting through our list of top picks, we used as many factors as possible to look for versatile options which could perform well in many scenarios. We also looked at value, dependability, and other selling points to find crowd favorites and underrated options alike.

More specifically, we evaluated these picks using these criteria:

Ease of Installation

While ease of installation is somewhat subjective and will vary depending on the specific combination of car make/model and rack, we looked for models which users reported having little difficulty assembling and installing.

Price Point

Trunk bike racks are often the cheapest bike rack option possible, but security and durability still factor into the value you’ll get from the rack over its entire lifetime.  We looked for deals which offered the best value possible without sacrificing quality or reliability.

Weight & Profile

We’ll also include the rack’s base weight to help you gauge how hard it will be to attach the rack to the car, as well as the impact it may have on your mileage and car itself.

Capacity and Versatility

Some racks work well on multiple types of car or have flexible configurations; we looked for models with wide applicability.

We also considered how many bikes would fit and how much weight each rack could safely hold.

Security & Swing Protection

Some models include swing protection, or a mechanism to prevent bikes from moving at high speeds or around sharp turns. We considered these features as well as overall bike security when ranking this list.

Padding/Car and Bike Protection

Finally, we looked for racks which offer bike cushioning and/or padding to prevent damage to car paint jobs.

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Research and Reviews

After sifting through the long list of bike racks out there with these features on our mind, we came up with this list of the six top bike rack picks.

Here’s a list of our top 6 picks, along with some info on each product’s price, weight, special features and what the experts have to say.

  1. Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier
  2. Allen Sports Deluxe Mounted Bike Rack
  3. Saris Bones 801 3-Bike Mount
  4. Yakima FullBack Bike Carrier
  5. Hollywood Racks Over-the-Top Trunk Rack
  6. Tyger Auto TG-RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle Rack

Our #1 Pick: Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier

Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier
  • Weight: 9.7 lbs.
  • Capacity: 2-3
  • Sway protection or side strap? Yes
  • Damage prevention/padding? Yes
  • Security? No

High points:
Folds down when not in use. Rubber anti-sway cradles keep bikes from rubbing against each other. Padding to protect car paint.
Low points:
Straps can stretch in extreme heat. Can be hard to position sliders; small clips less sturdy than frame itself. A bit on the pricey side for the features.

Why it’s a top pick:

The Thule Passage is a very secure, convenient rack which takes up minimal space and securely transports multiple bikes. The frame itself is very durable, and the rubber cradles hold bikes without moving at all.

What the experts think:

Thule is the top name in bike racks, and for a reason. This is a high-end, relatively expensive model. It’s very secure, convenient to use, and has a low profile. Reviewers report consistent quality, dependability, and long life-spans.

It can be a pain to use with multiple bikes or with some mountain-bikes and women’s frames. However, you get essentially what you pay for with this rack.

Features and considerations:

Thule sells a locking mechanism and adapter bars separately, which is annoying considering the price point. With a bar, most bikes will fit on this rack.

The fit will also adjust to many vehicles, but still doesn’t work well with spoilers or other protruding features on the back of your vehicle. Its buckles and clips are all coated with vinyl to prevent damage to car or bikes, which is a helpful addition.

Overall, this is a classic, solid bet.

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The Next-Best: Allen Sports Deluxe Mounted Bike Rack

Allen Sports Deluxe Mounted Bike Rack
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 2, 3, or 4 bike models available
  • Sway protection or side strap? Yes
  • Damage prevention/padding? No
  • Security? No

High points:
Wide bars and long carry arms accommodate most bikes. Comes fully assembled. Individual tie-down system. Fits sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, minivans. Lateral side straps for stability. Lightweight, comes in 2-4 bike models.
Low points:
Can be difficult to install. Feels a little flimsy. Can leave marks on car. Doesn’t fit all cars.

Why it’s a top pick:

This is, overall, a cheap, plug-and-play option which is a fairly reliable and relatively inexpensive (<$40) way to transport bikes. Its shape can accommodate almost all standard and children’s bike frames, mountain and road bikes, and it’s made of lightweight plastic.

What the experts think:

This model is known as a good basic, starter option. It’s generally easy to use, comes fully assembled, and fits most sedans and hatchbacks. Some people have reported that the quality varies depending on where this rack is purchased; some of the small plastic parts can also wear out.

Still, this rack generally gives you a good value for the price; it does what it needs to without a lot of extra features.

Features and considerations

The straps on this model are very long; this can actually be a plus, as the slack works well to tie down pedals and wheels during transport.

The padding on the rack itself helps prevent damage, though the clips can cause chipping without the addition of tape or other cushioning.

On many cars, this rack rides pretty high, and the bars angle upwards. The extra height can make it tricky to load heavy bikes onto the car, but also adds a bit more security, since the weight of the bikes is pushed towards the car instead of down and away from it.

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3. Saris Bones 801 3-Bike Trunk Mount

Saris Bones 801 3 Bike Mount
  • Weight: 12 lbs.
  • Capacity: 3
  • Sway protection or side strap? Yes
  • Damage prevention/padding? Yes
  • Security? No

High points:
Arc shape fits over bumpers of spoilers, fun colors, strong frame holds bikes at different levels to protect them rubberized straps prevent damage to car. Easy installation.
Low points:
Doesn’t work well with three bikes unless they’re all lightweight. Doesn’t secure front wheel. No theft-prevention built in.

Why it’s a top pick:

This rack allows height adjustment, can fit the vast majority of cars, and securely attaches to the back bumper and rear window using six straps.

Assembly and installation are surprisingly easy, and the rack folds out of the way to allow trunk access when bikes aren’t in place. The clips and straps are sturdy and coated to prevent damaging paint, and the frame is solid and sturdy, but lightweight.

What the experts think:

Saris is a less well-known brand than Thule and some other big-names, but this rack is still a fan-favorite known for its affordable price point, heavy-duty tough construction, and appealing aesthetics.

It comes in several stylish colors, avoids most rear-spoilers, and reliably stores bikes over rough terrain, hills, curves, and high-speeds with stabilizing extra straps.

Some people do report difficulty using this rack to transport more than two bikes, particularly if the bikes are especially big or heavy. While this is definitely something to keep in mind, the vast majority of customers report solid satisfaction with this option, even under intense gear conditions.

Features and considerations:

No built-in security lock means no theft prevention. It’s possible to jury-rig a security solution using cables and your vehicle’s hitch, but the added price might make it more cost effective to just remove your bikes from the rack and lock them elsewhere when security is a concern.

The arc-based design will fit over most spoilers, but also make the rack incompatible with some types of SUVs which don’t have enough of a gap between window and rear door for the clips to grip.

The tilting feature enables access to rear of vehicle, which can be very handy if you plan on leaving the rack on most of the time. Overall, this is a great middle-range option which fits most bikes and most cars and is a lightweight, reliable, and secure way of transporting up to three bikes.

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4. Yakima FullBack 2 Bike Carrier

Yakima FullBack Bike Carrier
  • Weight: 20 lbs.
  • Capacity: 2
  • Sway protection or side strap? No
  • Damage prevention/padding? Yes
  • Security? Yes

High points:
Easy to load/unload bikes, doesn’t damage car, and comes with full security lock.
Low points:
Heavy, can be hard to install, a bit pricey.

Why it’s a top pick:

This is a low-stress, easy-to-install option which includes foldable arms, reducing the space the rack takes up when not in use.

It’s designed with an interlocking hub that aligns key adjustment touch points; this reduces stress on vulnerable parts of your car, reduces movement during transport, and increases the overall durability of the rack.

What the experts think:

This is one of the most dependable models out there. It has sleek aesthetics and a slim profile, but is best known for its security and ability to keep bikes locked down even at freeway speeds and over long distances.

It can be difficult to install, but will be compatible with most cars. The built-in pads do a good job at preventing scratched paint common with other models.

Some users do report quality-control variation such as rare faulty pieces, but Yakima does offer a lifetime warranty which should cover these occasional defects.

Features and considerations

This is one of the few racks on the market which locks fully with a built-in mechanism. The rack will lock securely to your car, and also securely lock bikes to the rack, for full theft prevention.

Step-through or small frames will require an adapter bar, and it can be a bit too widely spaced for some children’s and women’s bikes.  It’s also a little heavy for a bike rack, which can make installation challenging for smaller people, but generally makes up for this weight with increase stability and durability.

It also comes with a bottle opener.

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5. Hollywood Racks Over-the Top Trunk Rack

Hollywood Racks Over the Top Trunk Rack
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs.
  • Capacity: 2
  • Sway protection or side strap? Yes
  • Damage prevention/padding? Yes
  • Security? No

High points:
High frame doesn’t interfere with license plate or spoilers, anti-sway cradles, adjustable high-rise frame can be used with nearly any SUV, Minivan, Hatchback or Sedan.
Low points:
Can be removed without opening trunk, creating a theft risk. Can’t open door with bikes loaded.

Why it’s a top pick:

This model has a number of features to add to its value. Though it is a relatively expensive model, the quick-release clips, flat-folding feature, general stability and bike protection, and unusually high profile it offers all make this an excellent and unique choice.

What the experts think:

Hollywood Racks is a reputable and well-known brand. This particular model works well for taller cars or those with features which get in the way of regular trunk racks.

Some reviewers do report that it can be confusing to install. It comes with many straps, which is helpful for customization – there are several options for attachment at different angles – but it can be hard to figure out what goes where the first time you use it.

Features and considerations

This type of rack attaches to the top of the rear trunk’s top seam or the roof rails on vehicles which have them. If your vehicle can’t use the standard hooks in the top of the door, the company also makes anchors which attach to the inside of doorways either in the back or in the body of the car.

These multiple options make this one of the most versatile racks available; most vehicles will be able to accommodate this rack. It is a little pricey, and doesn’t include theft-protection, but it’s still a reliable, good choice for most SUVs and almost all bikes.

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6. Tyger Auto TG-RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle Bike Rack

Tyger Auto TG RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bicycle Rack
  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Capacity: 3
  • Sway protection or side strap? Yes
  • Damage prevention/padding? Yes
  • Security? No

High points:
Easy installation, good value, lightweight, and very secure
Low points:
Doesn’t work with spoilers or small bikes – bars are widely spaced. When multiple bikes are loaded, nearest bike can scratch car paint.

Why it’s a top pick:

Rubber protectors on the strap hook to help cushion and prevent damage to paint. It’s relatively lightweight and still accommodates three bikes of up to 30 pounds each.

What the experts think:

This is a favorite mid-range rack. It’s easy to use, install, and reliably holds three large bikes. Some people have reported issues with the nearest bike to the car rubbing slightly against the back bumper; this likely depends on the shape of car and size of bikes used with this rack.

Overall, this is a dependable, durable option which should work well for the majority of people.

Features and considerations

The straps which hold most of this rack’s weight are supported by small metal clips. While these clips do lock, it might be worth investing in additional security buckles or clips to add a layer of security in case the springs in the clips wear down over time.

SUVs and larger vans will likely work better with this rack than smaller sedans; this rack also sits relatively high against the back of the car, which can obscure vision or make it more difficult to load bikes.

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