Roof Bike Rack Vs Hitch [Review Which Is Suitable For Your Needs]

Roof Bike Rack Vs Hitch

Sometimes, you might want to drive off to take a ride on your bike elsewhere, but you can’t decide on the right bike rack. So, how do you choose between roof bike rack vs hitch bike rack? Let’s explore how the two differ.

Things to Consider

If you are not confident that you should purchase either a roof or hitch bike rack, the information contained below will help you determine which one is compatible with your car and fits your preferences. You need to consider the following things with regard to roof bike rack vs. hitch.

1) How much cargo do you need to transport? 

Perhaps the most significant difference between roof and hitch racks is the amount of cargo each can carry. On the one hand, if you need to take 2-4 bicycles for the trip, then the best choice will be a hitch rack.

On the other hand, if you wish to carry a lot of gear, or a large or bulky outdoor equipment, a roof rack is the best option for you. With the right accessories, both bike racks will safely and securely transport your bike for any distance.

2) How accessible do you need your rack to be?

Most bike racks for cars tend to sacrifice accessibility for versatility. For instance, while a roof bike rack is versatile, it isn’t as accessible. However, a hitch bike rack is easily accessible. While on the road the hitch rack requires you to make your way to the mount and retrieve it.

Moreover, with regards to the roof hack, you will have to hoist all your gear over your head, which might be dangerous to load it to the rack. Considering this challenge, the hitch rack might be the best option for you. It is far less difficult to load and offload your cargo.

3) Do you require easy access to your rack?

When it comes to access your rack, the hitch bike racks limits your access to your car’s trunk due to its location. Even though some models can be swung to the other side, they still pose as an obstruction.

Different models may also cut off access entirely. Hence, if you prefer easy access to your car’s trunk, then a roof rack is the better option. Since it’s located on the roof of your vehicle, it will not get in your way, unless you have to abide by height restrictions on the road.

Roof Bike Rack Vs Hitch

Roof-Mounted Racks

The choice of a roof rack depends on the manufacturer. Most of them consist of feet that are attached to your car, and a crossbar where the accessories can be attached. Moreover, roof racks vary between those that require the biker to remove the front wheel and those where both wheels to be mounted on the rack.

Front wheel removal racks allow the driver to drive with ease, as the bike will be positioned lower, making it easy to drive in tunnels, for instance. Besides, the bike becomes more comfortable and lighter to load and unload from the rack when the front wheel is removed.

On the other hand, bike racks that allow mounting with both wheels are taller, which may obstruct driving through tunnels, when the SUV is already tall. Moreover, these types of roof racks tend to cost more and are far less stable than their counterparts.

Roof-Mounted Racks (Pros & Cons)


  • Some simplified roof bike racks don’t require a dedicated base bar set up. They use suction cups to attach the rack to the car. Moreover, other racks can be attached to the factory installed roof rack of your vehicle.
  • They are long lasting. While roof bike racks are not permanent, they can stay on the car for quite some time. You can easily add and remove the rack at any time.
  • They are super versatile. You can use the roof bike rack to carry kayaks, surfboards, skis, and other sports accessories, as well as your bike.
  • They can carry large and bulky cargo. Roof-mounted bike racks don’t compromise on the size or the bulkiness of the item. Everything is fair game, including lumber, ladders, and non-sport specific items.
  • They are one of the safest racks available for your bike.
  • As a result, of their location, they don’t hinder the driver’s access to the boot or trunk of the car.


  • They prevent the driver from driving into places with height restrictions.
  • The driver can easily wreck the bikes and damage the car if they forget about the nature of the cargo.
  • By using a roof-mounted bike rack, the driver is adding aero-drag to the car, increasing fuel consumption.

Hitch Bike Rack

If your car is a hatchback, a sedan or even an SUV, and you wish to mount two or five bikes, the hitch bike rack is the lightweight and most economical option. Moreover, since most cars come equipped with a hitch receiver, the hitch rack can be easily and quickly installed into a car.

The section of the hitch rack that extends away from the car is known as its tongue. It is designed to carry cargo, which is ten percent of the towing capacity. Hence, for car’s which can tow up to 2000 lbs., the maximum tongue weight is 200 lbs.

Furthermore, as the hitch mount offers the user more features, the cost of a single unit increases. Thus, if the driver wishes to access the rear door, the driver might require or prefer the hitch rack that can swing away, fold up, or tilt, which will cost more.

Hitch Bike Rack (Pros & Cons)


  • Some low-cost options of hitch racks exist.
  • The installation process is relatively simple. The user only needs to slide the rack into its place.
  • A moderate amount of lifting is required to mount the bikes.
  • Bikes remain further from the car, making it less vulnerable to contact, which may be costly.
  • It is temporarily attached to the car and can be removed at any moment.
  • Some models can fold flat to avoid obstructing the driver’s view, and for storage.


  • The truck or rear door access can be blocked.
  • Swing-away models tend to be more expensive.
  • Carrying more than three bikes affects the lifespan of the hitch rack.
  • The bikes are at risk of swaying during transport.
  • Locking the bikes to the mount might be difficult.
  • The position of the bikes may affect the visibility of tail lights.
  • The driver has to remain aware of the car’s extended length to avoid causing damage.
  • Smaller bikes might require frame adapters.
  • The mount might not fit perfectly with a spare tire.

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Final thoughts

Bikes and cars don’t have to be enemies. With the right rack, you will have the liberty to transport your bikes with ease for any distance. When it comes to roof bike rack vs hitch, there are many things to consider before you can settle for one. Nonetheless, both are good bike mounting options.

In the mean time, if you are interested in vehicle security ie car alarms, you should check out our reviews on the best 10 models.

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