Bike Rack for a Car

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Tips on bike racks

    (4 replies)

    Kids have grown and their new bikes won’t fit in the trunk of our 2014 forester. I realize I need to install a bike rack but I have no idea what to do, where to look, what to buy and how to install it. Should I call the dealership and ask them if they sell and install it? It seems I need to get a hitch installed first but there are several different types of hitches and million different types of racks. I am petite, so top mount won’t work for me. I would appreciate any tips you may have on which product to buy and where to take the car for installation. I am hoping to get at least 2 bikes on a rack on the back of the car. Thank you!

    I used to work at REI and we helped people with this sort of thing all the time. If it were me, I would head down to the store and have them take a look and make a recommendation. It's been several years, but I know they still sell bike racks and I assume they can help!

    We have a 2010 Forester and use a Thule bike rack that we got at REI and fits on the back of our car. It can fit 3 adult bikes. We've taken it to Oregon and Tahoe and haven't had any issues. On the Thule site, you can plug in your car info to figure out which racks will work. If you wanted a rear mount, these are the ones that will work with a 2014 Forester:

    Kuat works great for us. We had the hitch and rack installed at Rack N Road in San Rafael. That’s their specialty and we’ve had no problem with it. It works great. During the install, the worker made a scratch to the back of our Prius, we pointed it out, but they said it wasn’t them. It’s not a big deal but go prepared and maybe pad the area.

    I'd recommend going to uhaul and getting a hitch installed.  We went to the one in richmond and they installed one on our subaru outback.  Uhaul actually does a lot of installs for subaru dealerships.  As far as the rack, I like the thule, yakima and kuat brands.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Kids bikes are too small for Prius bike rack

July 2012

We are taking a trip to Yosemite and would like to take everyone's bikes. Adult bikes fit on the roof of our Prius, but the kids' bikes are too small to fit on a bike rack, and getting too big to stuff inside the car. Any Prius owners have advice on how to transport 4 bikes? Thank you! Wona

Yakima sells a bar that clips to just under the handle bar to the seat post. It's made for placing children's bikes and women's bikes that don't have that bar that goes across like on a men's bike. It's worked great for us. Loves to ride too

Bike rack for Honda Pilot

March 2011

Hi all. I'm looking for a bike rack to go on the back of our Honda Pilot (2004 if it matters). It needs to hold 2 or 3 bikes. I would like to be able to leave it on the car (without the bikes attached) and still open the hatch back in the summer months when we do more biking. I definitely don't want one for the top of the roof. Any suggestions? Ready to ride

Go to (it's not at the stores) if you are a member. They have great ones that are more affordable than Thule and can carry 4 bikes. You can swing it away to get to your Pilot trunk. You will need a trailer hitch to connect it. You can buy and get a trailer hitch installed from any UHaul place. Honda pilot mama

We have that exact vehicle. There are many racks that work with the '04 Pilot, we had to be able to open the lift back without off loading the bikes, it had to be solid, and it had to clear the transition to a fairly steep driveway without bottoming out. So we narrowed down to two: The Yakima Swing Daddy and the Thule Revolver. Both require the installation of a 2' box receiver on your truck. We used the Draw Tite hitch:,75599 We installed it ourselves with no problem. You will just need to do it when your car is cold since you will have to undo the rubber hangers for the exhaust pipe and that would not be fun when it is hot. Both racks are solid and hold bikes pretty well. We went with the Yakima since it cleared our driveway better. A caveat: small children's bikes have very tight angles in their frames and frequently will not fit onto the racks because the support bars are pretty substantial. We ended up buying about ten feet of webbing from the climbing department at REI to tie our son's bike on. It sounds crazy, but that method has withstood a 4 hour highway trip with no problem. Furthermore: keep a wrench in your car to tighten the lock bolt that keeps the rack in the trailer hitch - a tight bolt will keep the rack from wobbling - especially with a heavy load. It will loosen with road vibration, bouncing and the weight of multiple bikes: figure 50 lbs for two bikes on what amounts to a lever. Finally, pay special attention to how you lash the bikes to the rack. Obviously, the rubber fasteners have some give. If carelessly fastened, a bike can slip off the end - something that happened half way on one occasion. During the off season, the rack unfastens easily for storage. We are very happy.

Bike rack - roof or trailer hitch?

March 2010

We'd like to start taking our bikes around on the car for rides further afield, both adult and kids bikes (4 total bikes). I would appreciate some feedback on using roof-top vs trailer hitch racks. What you prefer and why. We also have a rooftop storage unit, but I don't think we'd use it while also carrying bikes.In the past I've preferred Thule rack components and we have their cross bars. Thanks. Bike rider

We have a minivan and went with the Thule trailer hitch because the car is too tall to deal with racks on top. We had to go to UHaul to have the hitch put on our car. It's really heavy to it adds weight to the car. And the Thule itself is pretty heavy. And it's a PITA to open the back of the van. So we have ended up putting bikes in the back of the van when the four of us are going on a bike ride. We use the Thule when we go on a big family trip and the back of the van is packed with stuff. Rachel

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

5 bikes + 5 people + 1 minivan?

Dec 2007

Is it possible to fit 5 bicycles into/on the back of a minivan, and 5 people (including 3 kids under 8 in carseats) inside? My 7 year old is finally willing to give bikeriding a serious try, so we're getting her a bike for the holidays. The trouble is, we live up in the hills on a narrow, bumpy street that's too busy and steep to ride on. We'll have to drive to the flats to a trail to ride. Does anyone have helpful tips on how to do this without too much stress, and without putting bikes on top (I don't think I could get them up there!) The 2 little bikes (for almost-3 & 6 year olds) in the back of the van, and 3 on a bikerack on the outside back? Thanks for any suggestions. Heidilee

We currently have 4 bikes, 5 people and 1 minivan. Our just under three year old rides in a bike seat. The 9 and 7 year olds have their own bikes with 20'' wheels and 16'' wheels. This swing away rack has worked well for us. It is adaptable so you can put any bike on there from the smallest to the largest. We will have to put the 5th bike in the back or on top. The rack swings open so you don't have to take all the bikes off to open the hatch door. susan

I used to drive a Dodge caravan and could only fit one full sized bike and two kids sized bikes in the back, max. For five bikes, I'm guessing two/three in back, two/three on a bike rack. You need a bike rack that fastens to the back of your minivan. We have a Thule rack that holds three bikes and fits on the back of our Subaru Forester, which I now drive (and love). Check before buying to make sure that the rack you want will fit on the specific model of your car. I researched the bike rack online and bought it at REI. Happy trails!

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Bike rack for Honda Odyssey minivan?

April 2006

I have a 2002 Honda Odyssey minivan. I would like to put a bike rack on the back of the van, not on the roof. (I can't imagine how I would get bikes up and down from the roof by myself...) The bike rack I've been using for many years, until I got this minivan, can't attach to the back of the van because there's a plastic rim glued to the rear door and nowhere to attach the top of the straps. I'd like to take 3-4 bikes, and they won't all fit inside the van, even with the rear seat folded down, so I need a rack. Any suggestions? Thanks! p.s. I don't have a trailer hitch. - Sharon

you can get a trailer hitch mounted on your minivan & then put a rack on it. mack

Go to REI and talk to them about your options on bike racks. I saw a roof mount system that folds down to make it easy to reach. Also, you might check out adding a trailer hitch. I received a quote for $300 to have one installed. joanne

Try for several options. peter

Sorry I missed your post last week. We have a 05 Odyssey and Honda sells a bike rack that gets mounted onto the luggage rack. I think it's about $500 plus - we got it ''free'' - well, they threw it in when we purchased the car. They have a list of aftermarket products for the van and the bike rack is one of them. Good luck. Odyssey Owner

Noisy roof rack on Honda CRV

June 2005

We just bought a HOnda CRV and had a roof bike rack installed by the dealer. It makes so much noise! I was enjoying the car, keeping the sun roof open almost all the time and it was so quiet. Now, even with the sun roof closed there's a whistling noise coming from the air resistance against the roof rack. Anyone else have this problem? How can I fix it? I'm almost to the point where I want it removed! IT's terrible! Any ideas how to fix it? The dealer just said, ''Oh yeah, we get a lot of complaints about that.'' Well, don't you think you should warn customers about it then? I'm really angry and upset about this. I find the noise almost unbearable! Any suggestions or ideas are greatly appreciated. Thanks. Jodi

We had the same problem with our Yakima kayak racks until we bought and installed the matching fairing, which is that strip of plastic (about 6'' wide) that runs at an angle across the front of the car right above the windshield. It really cut down on the noise--that's what it's for. You may want to ask your dealer if they sell those, or see if you can get one aftermarket from REI or similar. Quiet Ride

2003 & Earlier

Sturdy rack for 4 bikes

November 2001

I am looking to purchase a good quality, sturdy, non wobbly bike rack that can hold 4 bikes so that our family can venture on some rides beyond the usual paths around here. I finally have a 2 hitch installed onto my Toyota Sienna minivan and at this point have catalogs from REI describing racks from Yakima and Thule. Yakima's top of the line model, the Roc'ngate, seems nice with the swing away feature for. Wondering if it's worth the high price ($459). My own bike has the woman's drop bar which seems more awkward to hang on our other bike rack. I would appreciate input on experiences with 4 bike capacity bike racks. Yakima, Thule, any other brands plus the particular model that you have. Thanks! Liz

You're not obliged to put all four bikes in the same place. We have a rack that attaches to the back window of the car that takes two bikes and another that fits to the packrack on the roof takes the other two. Fiona

Our family, and many people in our cycling club (not just families) use Yakima roof rack systems. One of their advantages is that you can get bike mounts for all kinds of bikes individually, rather than rely on one mount fits all that the trunk racks have. We have different mounts for our road bikes (same mount works for mountain bikes), kid bikes, and tag-along. You can also get a tandem mount for a roof rack. (Try putting a tandem on a trunk rack!) The disadvantages of a roof rack are: 1. Wind drag. 2. You have to be aware of the total height of your car with bikes on it when entering parking structures. 3. If you have a van, it may be too awkward to put a bike on top of it. (This isn't such a problem with SUV's.) 4. If you are small and not strong, you would have trouble putting bikes on the inner two mounts. When I ride with my son alone, I can put my own road bike on the rack and put his heavy kid's bike in the car. The total cost of a Yakima or Thule roof system is probably higher than that of a trunk rack system, but the cost is outweighed by the flexibility of the system. Above I mentioned different kinds of bike mounts, but you can take off the bike mounts and put on a roof carrier (Yakima makes very capacious ones), ski mounts, kayak mounts, surfboard mounts, or just tie things to the rack for hauling. Fran