Thule 9031XT Vertex Swing Away 4 Hitch Mount Bike Carrier
If you are going to get a bike rack you might as well treat yourself to the best one on the market. The 9031XT was developed and distributed by the crew at Thule and it stands above the rest in terms of durability and flexibility. The swing away design allows you to move your rack without detaching it in order to access the rear of your vehicle. The folding down arms allow you to tuck the rack against your vehicle when the bikes have been removed. This rack is easy to install, utilize, and tuck away.
Selecting a Bike Rack
If you are an avid cyclist then at some point in time you are going to have to haul your bike to location to ride around. Whether you are going out-of-town or out-of-state, transporting your bike shouldn’t be a huge affair. Ideally you have an SUV or large vehicle that you can simply fit your bike into. If that isn’t an option then your next best bet would be to consider some sort of rack on your car. Let’s take a look at a few types of racks before diving into our favorites.
You’ve spent time with bicycles at this point so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are several options when it comes to picking your bicycle rack. You’ll have a variety of different options to pick through depending on the style of your vehicle. Let’s briefly break down two of the three primary racks before moving on to our feature.
This style of rack is self-explanatory. A roof mounted rack is a rack that is installed onto the roof of your vehicle. The roof rack is popular for taller, stronger cyclists as it is easier for them to move their bike onto and off of the top of their vehicle. If you have a vehicle with crossbars already on the roof then this is an easy install.
For those vehicles lacking a hitch receiver, the truck mount is a potential option. Trunk mounts are simple and they don’t have a ton of work behind the installation process. This rack works based on a series of latches and straps with a pair of support bars installed onto the trunk. Though this is a cheaper option there are still a plethora of downsides: namely the flexibility in number of bikes you can use.
Now that we’ve highlighted two of the three common styles of mounts let’s dive into our feature: Hitch Mounted Bike Racks.
The Hitch Mounted Bike Rack
So we are featuring the hitch mounted bike rack today for a number of reasons. We’ll dive into these more deeply in a moment but let’s first look at what a hitch mounted bike rack actually is.
The hitch mounted bike rack is installed on the back-end of a vehicle where the hitch is located. Most vehicles have a hitch on their back-end but if you do not have one you can get one installed, though it can be pricey. On this hitch you are able to install a variety of different styles of bike racks thanks to the strength of the hitch and the flexibility of the location.
Arm Supported Hitch Mounts
The first common style of hitch mounted bike rack is the arm supported style. Arm supported hitch mounts operate with a fixed arm that allows you to install several bikes into place. The bicycles are then suspended in the air, latched into place, behind your vehicle. These are easy to install, heavy-duty, and easy to access. The downside for this style of rack is that they make your vehicle MUCH longer on the back end, thus making parking or maneuvering into tight spaces a bit of a difficulty.
Hitch Mounted Tray Racks
This style of hitch mounted rack is also easy to use and simple enough to install. The tray style bike racks are just an inverse installation of the arm supported mounts. They offer slotted insets where your bikes will set into and they offer the flexibility of having several bicycles ready all at once. These are typically easier to utilize than the arm mounts and they run more light weight, as well. The tray style does not use the crossbar portion of the bike frame to secure the bike. This means that ladies bikes and bikes like cruisers can be transported easily without buying an adapter.
Hitch Mounted Bike Racks: Pros and Cons
So we are highlighting the hitch mounted bike racks for a reason but it is always good to know both the positives and negatives of a potential piece of equipment. We’ll break these down into two categories for you to help alleviate your decision-making.
Benefits of a Hitch Mount
The primary benefit of a hitch mounted rack is that it is easy to install and very, very durable. Your hitch mount, depending on your car’s hitch weight classification, can handle some heavy poundage — more than anything you can throw at it with bikes.
Tertiary benefits of hitch mounted racks include the protection that they offer your bicycles and their ease of access. Being carried behind the vehicle allows you to keep your bikes out of the direct line of wind and road debris that would otherwise effect them on the roof. They are easy to access thanks to their placement at chest level rather than being located above your shoulders and onto the roof.
Finally, and most importantly, hitch mounts can be used to carry a large load of bicycles — up to four bikes at a time. This is obviously not possible with the other mounts we lifted above and it is perhaps one of the biggest selling points involved.
Negatives of a Hitch Mount
The hitch mounted bike rack does have downsides, believe it or not. The largest downside is that it prevents you from gaining access to your trunk or the back-end of your vehicle by traditional means. With the rack installed you won’t be digging through the back window or popping the trunk. While nearly any road bike can attached with ease, cruisers are a little more challenging and an adult tricycle is out of the question.
The second, and most real world applicable downside, is that the hitch mounted bike rack will add some serious length to your car. For people who struggle to park in compact spots this could be an issue. We also suggest taking some time learning to drive with the rack installed before taking it into traffic. It can be hard to properly gauge just how far back your bike goes and it is even harder to apply that as you drive, making split second decisions.
Quality Hitch Mounted Bike Racks
You can see that there are many reasons to look into getting a hitch mounted bike rack and a few reasons to be wary. We decided to pull together some of the better quality models on the market and compile them into a nice list for you to peruse. We focused on racks built to handle up to four bikes. These are perfect for families going on a trip, friends pooling for an event, or serious cycling enthusiasts.
Other Top Selling Hitch Mounted Bicycle Racks to Consider