Last Updated on December 31, 2020
There’s nothing quite like piling all the children into the van and going for a weekend of camping and bike riding.
However, even though vans have plenty of storage space for gear and people, storing a bike inside can be virtually impossible.
This is where bike racks come in. These useful pieces of equipment are specially designed to keep your bike affixed to the outside of your van, even when you’re moving at high speeds.
It is the safest way to transport your 2-wheeled companion.
In the back of the van, it is also much harder to secure the bike, as you run the risk of it falling over or getting damaged by other equipment, getting battered back and forth by your van taking sharp corners, speeding up and slowing down.
A lot of the high-end vans have removable seats in the back, which will enable you to store a lot more gear, although this means you’ll be able to store less people.
However, some people cannot afford to have a van that has this removable seat feature, so bike racks are the literal ‘outside-the-box’ solution for storing your bikes.
But where can you find the best bike rack for a van? Where can you find a bike rack that is sturdy and durable enough to keep your bike firmly secured to the van for the duration of your journey? How much can you be looking to spend on a decent bike rack for your van?
Well, bikers and campers, you don’t need to fret anymore, because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best bike racks available on the market.
We also have a buyer’s guide that will help discern the good bike racks from the less-than-good ones, along with some frequently asked questions that will hopefully address some concerns that you have.
Our first bike rack is one that has a Fit Dial flexible mechanism that results in a super-strong grip on the housing of your bike, giving you the assurance that you need that your bike will remain stable throughout a long journey.
It also has retractable arms, capable of supporting 2 bikes of up to 35-pounds each – introducing the Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier.
As you have probably already guessed from the title, this unit mounts nicely on the trunk of your van, with a patented system that will mean that your bike wheels won’t be clattering together during transport.
We all know how delicate bike spokes can be, so it is important to keep them protected on a long journey.
- The bike rack is made of solid steel, so it will withstand even the hardest knocks and bumps during transportation.
- However, the housing of this machine is cushioned, meaning that the body of your bike won’t get battered or scuffed in transportation. This will certainly give you peace of mind if you’ve paid a lot for them.
- This can store up to 2 bikes, so it’s perfect if you and a friend or a partner are planning a weekend of biking. The straps will keep them securely in place and prevent the wheels from clattering, even when traveling in high winds.
- With retractable arms, you can keep your bikes in the same position as when you first attached them.
- Some users have complained that the plastic housing used to store your bikes are quite flimsy.
Our next bike rack is a little more heavy-duty than the first model and is capable of supporting up to 4 bikes during one session.
It has rubber frames that will securely attach your bikes by their frames or wheelbases, with twist knobs that will accommodate different bases over time – introducing the Saris Freedom Bike Rack.
This bike rack is of lightweight construction with numerous cradles and straps that are designed to keep your bikes safe and secure.
The wheel trays are made of a specially-designed ergonomic plastic that is injection-molded, offering you that high degree of precision that is crucial to prevent swaying in transport.
- This bike rack has an easy-to-use loading style that will get your bikes off the ground with a degree of ease. This will especially be useful for people suffering from aggravated back problems.
- You can fit up to 4 bikes on this rack, making it a great unit that can be used by families.
- You can fit different types of wheelbases with the twist knob holding feature, again, making it ideal for a family that might have different gauges of bike wheel.
- With this unit, you find yourself taking pit stops on your journey to keep checking whether your bikes are still attached to your rack or not.
- This bike rack does not come with a locking rack.
- Some users have complained that the plastic elements of this rack wear after a few uses.
This next bike rack is another family-friendly model, allowing you to carry up to 5 bikes at once, with slim carrying arms that will compact your bikes together to prevent excessive swaying.
It also comes with a tilt access design, meaning that it won’t obstruct you from getting things from your trunk – introducing the Allen Sports 5-Bike Hitch Rack.
This unit features a unique No-Wobble Bolt that will secure the bikes in your rack firmly.
The whole rack requires minimal installation, which will appeal to families that already have to worry about loading a lot of camping gear or other bike accessories.
- The No-Wobble Bolt makes this one of the most secure models on this list, so if you are planning on a long haul drive and are worried about high winds dislodging your bike, you can be sure that it will make them as secure as possible.
- There is a tilt access design that means you can still access your trunk, which will be crucial if you need to grab a piece of kit and don’t want to waste precious minutes unhooking your bikes.
- The capacity – you can load up to 5 bikes on this rack, making it ideal for larger families that want to take long-distance biking trips.
- This rack has a separate cradle which will go that will prevent additional swaying.
- This rack doesn’t come with a locking system, which might deter users who are concerned with added security.
Our next back rack is a slightly smaller model than some of our previous models and only has a capacity of being able to store 1 bike, but if you are a solo cyclist who wants to spend little money on their bike rack, then this might be the unit for you.
It has a holder that is adjustable, which means it can accommodate your mountain or trail bike – introducing the Yakima Highroad Upright Bike Mount.
This has a torque handle that can be tightened to whatever firmness you’ll be looking for, with a sleek design that prevents wind buffeting.
The straps on this bike rack will secure most types of crossbar – round, square, aero or elliptical. It is ideal for a solo biker who needs to take their bike long distances.
- It has a sturdy steel construction that will easily complement both your bike unit and your van. The metal body of the rack will keep your bike locked in firmly and prevent shifting during your journey.
- This rack has adjustable elements, allowing it to shape itself to most bikes, with holder slides that will allow you to fit different wheel bases, making it ideal if you do more than one style of riding.
- The torque handle will stop you from over- or under-tightening your bike, which will help prevent wheel damage.
- You can purchase a TailWhip security system separately, which will be very important if security for your expensive bike is a high priority.
- The security elements of these bikes are sold separately, which will deter people who might feel short-changed having to buy additional parts for an added price.
Our final bike rack is one that affixes to your van using a very unique method – suction cups.
Attaching these to the body of your vehicle will prevent any scratches from occurring on your bike or your van, constructed from a lightweight and durable polyethylene thermoplastic that will be able to withstand plenty of adverse weather conditions – introducing the SeaSucker Talon Single Bike Rack.
This is a very easy-to-install bike rack, you can mount it on practically any surface of your vehicle, whether it’s the trunk, the roof or the glass.
This gives you more control over where you want to situate your bikes. There are 3 suction cups that you can install to the specifications of your bike.
- The cups on this thermoplastic are designed for repeated wear and tear, so you can take these with you on the trail, mountain path or dirt track and not have to worry about exposure to the elements.
- You can adapt this bike rack to the unique contours of your bike, making it the most versatile rack on our list.
- This also comes with accessories such as lubricant and a crank arm to keep the cups well-maintained.
- The installation requires no additional tools and is effort-free. This is perfect for anyone who has difficulty with mobility or just wants a simple and quick set-up.
- You cannot add any additional safety precautions to this bike rack, which will put off those bikers who want that extra security for a particularly expensive bike.
Best Bike Rack For Van Buyers Guide
When purchasing your first bike rack, there are several factors that you’ll have to consider, mainly around safety and security, before splashing out on your next model.
Once you have narrowed down what you’re looking for in a bike rack, then you’ll be able to source the type of model that you’ll need.
How Many Bikes Do You Want Your Rack To Support?
If you are part of a family that enjoys regular bike excursions, then the number of bikes you’ll be able to store will be an important factor. As you’ve seen, some of the bike racks listed above can hold up to 5 bikes.
However, the more bikes you have, the more features you’ll have to consider. You’ll need to make sure that the body of your bike rack is made from steel or a polyethylene substance that will be able to hold many bikes securely and compactly.
If you are planning on mounting a lot of bikes, you’ll want to reduce their sway and the spokes clattering together as much as possible, minimizing the damage both to your bikes and your van.
How Often Will You Be Using Your Rack?
This question will affect how often you’ll be using your bike rack, whether you will keep it permanently attached to your vehicle or whether you’ll want to remove it when not in use.
If you will be removing it regularly, then you’ll want a unit that is easy to install. Racks made up of suction cups are ideal for this, although you’ll probably be able to house fewer bikes overall.
How Much Will You Be Willing To Pay For A Bike Rack?
The price of a bike rack will vary depending on what you’ll want from it.
Bike racks built from a more durable material will be more costly, as will a rack that supports more bikes rather than less.
You can find a trade-off between build quality and capacity, although bikes with more ergonomic features can somewhat bridge this gap.
What Is Your Van’s Load Capacity?
Knowing how much load your van will be able to bear is very important when placing bikes on top, as this will severely impact your vehicle’s ability to maneuver.
Remember: you won’t just have to calculate the weight of your van and bicycles, but you’ll also have to calculate the weight of the people in your van.
It might be worth making a rough estimate of the total weight of your van, people and bikes before purchasing your next bike rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Securely Fix Your Bikes To A Rack?
Most bike racks on the market will come with an integrated security mechanism that will prevent anyone from taking off with your bikes when you leave them unattended for any length of time.
You might want to purchase an additional cable lock, which you can run through the anchor points of the hitch and frame of your bike, as well as any quick-release wheels that you might have.
However, some people might not want to spend any additional money on security parts that are sold separately. If this is the case for you, you’ll want to look into whether the security mechanism is integrated into the body of the machine or not.
Is It Possible To Reduce Your Rack From A 4-Bike To A 2-Bike?
You might have to get a hacksaw to perform this task, as most bike racks do not come with this extra adaptable element, due to it needing a solid one-piece body. Moving parts will generally make a bike rack far less secure.
This is why you’ll need to identify how many bikes you’ll need to be carrying before purchasing your next bike rack.
What Is The Best Ground Clearance For Your Bike Rack?
You’ll want a bike rack that has an angled shank that slants up once it is ejected from the hitch opening.
When loading more bikes on your vehicle, you should opt to have the wheels higher away from the surface of the roof to avoid scratches to both vehicles.
Our Final Say
When it comes to transporting your bikes across a large distance at high speeds, you’re going to want to minimize all the risks by having the right bike rack for you.
Deciding on the number of bikes you want to transport as well as whether your rack should be hitch mount or a trunk mount will also determine what brand you buy.
If you anticipate needing lots of access to the trunk during your journey, then we would recommend that you opt for the trunk mount.
You’ll also need to be aware of the amount of weight your rack adds to the total weight of your vehicle, as this will affect both its speed and maneuverability.
Also, more bikes are harder to lash together, so you’ll need a rack that is specially built for this purpose.