bike rack

Choose the Best Bike Rack for Your E-bike [2021 Comprehensive Guide]

A bike rack is not the first thing on your mind when you buy an e-bike. Well, not until you actually buy your first e-bike and have to transport it home. Somehow.

Then you frantically start your online search, which can be cut short by simply reading this guide.

With so many different styles and brands on the market, we did some research to present you with an overview of the best bike racks for e-bikes currently available.

If you drive a normal size car or even a van, transporting your e-bike can be a problem because it may not fit inside your vehicle. And you can’t really avoid the whole transporting issue when you first acquire your e-bike, have to take it to the repair shop, or when you are going on longer trips.

But, with an adequate bike rack, all your troubles could go away and transport will be safe and carefree.

We are absolutely positive you will find one that’ll suit your needs.

Ordinary Bike rack vs e-bike rack

This is more of a question of regular bikes vs e-bikes. There is a huge difference in weight, as you may have already noticed. A simple bike rack just won’t cut it.

The best bike rack for your e-bike has to be designed with e-bikes in mind. The weight of e-bikes has to be taken into consideration. Regular bike rack can easily bend under a lot of weight, or even worse, break and fall off, along with the precious cargo.

Related post: How To Build An Electric Bike From Scratch

Factors to check and consider before buying a bike rack

There are a few factors that can narrow your search for the best bike rack for you.

Bike rack mounting style

Hanging style

This hanging style is also known as a frame-mounted bike rack style. This is where your bike hangs on top of the frame and is secured with the provided straps.

Hanging bike racks can be secured to the vehicle’s trunk or tow ball.

Hitch mounted hanging bike racks. This is where the bike hangs on the rack which is secured to the vehicle using its tow ball.

Pros of the hanging bike racks

It is very easy to install. The rack is very compact and doesn’t take up much space in storage. It is also foldable which makes it easier to drive with as it doesn’t stick out too far.

Cons of the hanging bike racks

The hanging bike rack is mounted on top of your car and can therefore very easily scratch it or dent it. It is also easy to scratch your bike frame or pinch the cables.

With the hanging bike rack, it is not easy to access the cargo area of your vehicle. If you want to use the trunk of your car, you will have to remove your bike rack beforehand.

Platform style

The platform style is also known as the tray bike rack style because of its appearance. It is the kind of bike rack where the wheels sit inside a tray or on top of the platform. The bike is not hanging. There is an arm that secures on top of the wheel.

Additionally, platform-style bike racks can be called tow ball or tow ball bike racks because of the way they are secured to the vehicle.

On a platform, your e-bike will have a fixed position. It will have the allotted space so it doesn’t have the ability to move around or hit anything.

Pros of the platform bike rack style

Platform bike racks give you access to your cargo area. They don’t have to be removed in order to get something in and out of your trunk.

Each bike has its own space and bikes don’t touch each other. They are not just randomly stacked but carefully transported, without damage.

If you need to transport 2 to 4 more bikes, it is easy to increase your carrying capacity with add ons.

Weight capacity

Each bike rack has its own pre-determined weight capacity and the number of spaces that you can use to transport bikes. So, if you are riding e-bikes that are distinctly heavier than traditional bikes, you should be careful before making a purchase.

Weight of the bike rack

The weight of the bike rack is also a significant factor that can add to the overall weight you are carrying. Naturally, you want a heavy-duty bike rack to carry heavy loads. But, if you add bike rack weight to the weight of your e-bikes, you can easily exceed your allowed towing limits.

So, do the math beforehand, especially if you are planning to carry more than two e-bikes.

Measurements

Before buying anything, make sure to double-check the wheel size and base of your bike. Make sure it will fit onto the platform bike rack because bike measurements are not universal and most certainly there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bike racks.

How many eBikes you have

Try to decide in advance how many e-bikes you will most likely transport. Do you have a family of enthusiast bikers or is it just you and a friend at the most?

E-bikes are getting more popular by the minute, so make sure you have enough room on your bike rack.

Deciding early on these questions will save you from going through multiple purchases and storing multiple bike racks for different occasions.

What is the best bike rack for a car?

Now that you have a somewhat clearer vision in your mind of what a perfect bike rack should be like, what to look for, and watch out for, you have a pretty simple choice before you.

After a careful investigation into the vast world of e-bike racks, we recommend choosing between the top 4 brands. Narrowing down your search to just 4 bike racks sounds pretty good in our book.

We added an additional wild card or more, just in case you weren’t impressed with our first choices.

The top 4 brands of bike racks are:

  • Thule bike racks
  • Yakima bike racks
  • Saris bike racks
  • Hollywood bike racks

If you want to find out our top choice for each brand, read on.

Thule bike rack
Image credit: Amazon

Thule T2 Pro XT bike rack

Specifications

Brand: Thule

Weight: 52 lbs

Capacity: two e-bikes

Weight capacity: 60 pounds per e-bike

Folding: Yes, and tilting for easier access to the cargo area

Max tire width: 5″

Vehicle type: car, van, RV

Pros: locking clamp, foldable, tilting, great for fat e-bikes

Cons: you need to buy add ons for additional bikes transport, hefty price tag, can block brake lights and the license plate on some cars

User Reviews:

Skipper wrote that it’s great for RV and traveling:

“We full-time RV and this bike rack works great for us. Easy to install and holds the bike secure while traveling down the road. I only wish it had a few optional holes to install it into my receiver so I could either move in or out from the back of the RV. We have no problem putting bikes on or off the rack. I can even take mine off and on the inside while leaving the outside bike alone. Wife likes the tilt when she gets her bike off the end.”

Yakima Fold Click 2

Specifications

Brand: Yakima

Weight: 17.30 kg

Capacity: 2 or 3 with additional add on

Weight capacity: bike weight 58 kg (total max)

Folding: yes, tow ball mounted

Vehicle type: car, van

Pros: Yakima Company produces a wide range of rack systems with many additional options that will make your journeys joyful and seamless. Customization is their strong suit.

Yakima Fold Click 2 (or 3) is small, compact, and easy to install. You pick it up, put it on your tow ball, it folds down, and it locks (there is a green indicator). You can tilt it to access the back area of your vehicle. When not in use, there is a magnetic plug that holds it in place.

Cons: Availability. There are many dealers worldwide, but your desired model may be sold out due to high demand. Endless customization options may be a con as well as a pro for some people looking for all-in-one solutions.

User review:

Great solid bike rack. Easy to use, folds up so easy to store. Doesn’t damage bikes like some do and bikes are secured when attached. Folds down for easy access to back of vehicle.

Brad (Collected via Trustpilot)

Hollywood Racks Sport Rider SE

Specifications

Brand: Hollywood Racks

Item Weight: 58 lbs

Capacity: 2 e-bikes

Load capacity: 80 lbs per e-bike

Folding and tilting: yes

Vehicle type: car, van, RV

Pros: Great for extra heavy loads.

Cons: Is only suitable for 2″ hitches

User Reviews:

A user gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars and commented that it is the Best E-bike hitch rack for a bike with fenders:

“For those wondering which rack to use with RadCity and Rad Step-Thru. This is the one. Bikes are rock solid on this rack they don’t move. For the Step-Thru you will need to get the adapter rod. Works great…”

Saris SuperClamp Bike Hitch Car or Truck Rack

Specifications

Brand: Saris Cycling Group

Item Weight: 38 lbs

Capacity: 2 bikes

Loading capacity: 60 lbs per bike

Folding and tilting: yes

Vehicle type: car, SUV,

Pros: made in the USA, very lightweight, fastest loading bike rack, integrated reflectors for added visibility, and a built-in bottle opener

Cons: feels wobbly at transport because it doesn’t fit tightly in the 2” hitch.

User Reviews:

An extensive review of a user who gave it 3.0 out of 5 stars might help you weigh in on the pros and cons.

“Wheel tray broke on first use… but I will give it one more try. So after weeks of research and debate between Saris SuperClamp, Thule pro 2, and Yakima DR, I ended up picking Saris for its price and good reviews. Here is the break down:

Cons:

– my wheel tray broke off during first use. Happened when I tried to push down the wheel clamp for one extra click… see pics

Amazon couldn’t do anything so I turned to Saris. They promptly sent a replacement and told me the issue could be that my order was opened box item. Anyways, I didn’t want to pack up everything or pay more for other racks so I will give it one more try.

– hitch locking pin requires a wrench or it will wobble like crazy

– locking cables are short so they might not fit some bikes

Pros:

– Price, you can find one under $400. Ducks recently sold them for $350

– Easy to install and store

– lightweight

– bottle opener

– tilting mechanism for the cargo door

Other e-bike rack design options

RockyMounts BackStage 2

Specifications

Capacity: 2 e-bikes

Design: Hitch-mounted, platform-style, swing away

Weight: 60 lbs

Weight capacity: 60 lbs per e-bike

Wheel diameter: 20″ – 29″

Vehicle type: car, truck, SUV, van, motorhome

Pros: You can swing away from the loaded bike rack when you want to access the cargo area. The bike tray is adjustable (side to side) so you can fit two bikes more easily.

Cons: The bike rack itself is very heavy. It comes in parts so prepare yourself for the assembly.

User reviews:

“This bike rack makes all the difference! I’ve had ones before that lean away from the car but being able to fully swing 180 degrees out makes accessing the trunk that much easier. I really appreciate it when I’m loading in a rolled-up raft, dogs, or camping gear.

The directions were clear on assembly and it came with spare straps and a spare handle. etrailer did a great video on it and it arrived at my door 3 days after the order with normal shipping. Love it!”

by Merry06/02/2020

What is the best bike rack for RV?

Always check out the specifications and look for an RV-approved stamp.

We recommend for RV usage looking into Yakima LongHaul and RV Rider produced by Hollywood Racks.

Yakima LongHaul

is an RV-approved hitch-style bike rack.

It holds up to four bikes with a loading capacity of a max of 37.5 per bike. This bike rack is compatible with bikes with fenders and fat-tire bikes.

RV Rider

It is for 2 ebikes designed as a new product in 2021. It can fit any tire up to 5″ wide.  Locking frame grabbers can be attached to a bike frame with a diameter range of 1″- 2″. Plenty of locking mechanisms will give you peace of mind on long journeys. It is foldable and can tilt down when not in use.

Hollywood racks website provides plenty of additional information and images to make sure you make an informed decision before buying.

A review by user Ann Gunter is all praises:

“Such a Great Purchase!

Researched many bike rack options for hauling our 2 electric Pedegos on a Class C motorhome. Wanted something secure, capable of handling weight, and this rack is awesome. We have used it for several trips and taken rack on/off about 5 times.

We still reference the instructions to be sure we’ve gone through all the steps – but getting close to being second nature. We have a rear camera on a motorhome, so we can check how bikes are riding while we are in transit – they just don’t move around on this rack, which means no strain on the hitch or the bikes.

The build quality on a rack is the highest – and folds nicely to store when not being used. Love the way all the locks and mechanisms work, providing peace of mind when stopped that it is too complicated for a thief to pursue removing bikes. Not a single negative about this rack. Love it!!!”

Another review by user Mary Ann Schmelz will give you a better idea of its pros.

“Great bike rack for heavy E-Bikes

This rack is the only one on the market that will carry two 80 lbs. bikes! Also, the hardware bolts are grade 5! It will also accommodate 4” wide tires even though their website states a max of 3”.

It would be nice to have a screw in tighter for the hitch rather than the extra hardware to add to the hitch because it’s a little cumbersome.”

Which bike rack is not for your e-bike?

Cheap, ordinary bike rack. E-bikes are quite heavy, so you will be risking bending your ordinary bike rack, breaking, or losing it. You need a heavy-duty bike carrier.

On roof bike rack. For some people, it may seem like a good idea to transport your e-bike on top of your car. You’ve seen other people do it, right?

Not right! Those were light weighed ordinary bikes. Don’t even think about putting your e-bike there, let alone driving with one. You will be in a world of troubles.

Trunk mount rack. Transporting on your trunk is just as bad as transporting on your roof. E-bikes are heavy and can damage your car. This is not a safe option. Additionally, their weight capacity is not adequate for heavy e-bikes. Bike racks that are trunk mounted are better suited for traditional bikes.

trunk mounted bike rack
Photo by Andhika Soreng on Unsplash

Top Tips for Transporting your e-bike to the trails more easily

You can remove the battery from your e-bike before transport to make it significantly lighter. This way, your bike rack will have less weight to deal with.

Some manufacturers advise that batteries on electric bikes should be removed before transport.

A good and functional bike rack will save you a lot of time and effort. If you spend a lot of time trying to load your e-bike before transport, it is high time to look for other options and invest extra money into a functional bike rack.

How to use bike racks?

Put the e-Bike onto the tray. Secure it with a clamp and tighten it around the frame. Straps are provided to go through the front and back wheel to additionally secure your bike. A lock on the bike rack will also ensure no one can steal your e-bike.

What is the best bike rack for three or more bikes?

Yakima Fold Click 3 with an add-on for more e-bikes.

How much a bike rack costs?

RV Rider is $569.99. RockyMounts BackStage 2 Bike Platform Rack is $699.95. You can find Saris for $900 or much cheaper on deals.

Final Verdict

A successful purchase of an e-bike rack comes after closely investigating your e-bike transport needs. How many e-bikes do you have and what type of car or RV do you have?

You must understand that your e-bike dimensions are just as important as bike rack dimensions and capacity. A lot of questions need answering before buying.

One thing is sure. The budget shouldn’t be a deciding factor because most bike racks are at the same pricing level.

If you stick to a few tried and true brands that manufacture not only bike racks, but also accessories and offer dependable customer support and service, you and your e-bike are on the way to safe travels.