Apart from the fact that Steven is a car mechanic, we value his experience as an avid camper. Steven knows for sure how to make the most out of any space in your vehicle.
Last updated: November 10, 2021
Rack Advisor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links.
It is easy to think that any spare tire bike rack can carry your bike on your car. Well, until you get a wrong one. If you don’t choose well, you could end up with a bike rack that can’t support your bikes or one that blocks your rear view and side mirrors. But if you choose from our carefully selected list, you’re assured of getting the best spare tire bike rack.
The spare tire bike racks we’ve listed here stand out for a number of reasons, one being their build, dimensions, and weight. They are designed to bear the weight of 2-4 bikes, meaning you can safely carry multiple bikes on the same car without damaging them. They are also well-designed to ensure they’re neither too big nor too bulky, and won’t obstruct your view of the road behind you. These spare tire bike racks also come with lifetime warranties, meaning they will serve you for a lifetime. Does this sound like the rack you’ve been dreaming of owning? Read on to find out how you can own it today.
The Allen Sports Premier S303 has 16-inch arms that are primed to carry 3 bikes and can support a maximum of 100 pounds. It’s made in a patent-pending design that fits a wide range of spare tires, including oversized tires.
This rack mounts high up the tire and will hold your bikes high off the ground, so they are nowhere near hitting the ground if you’re driving on a bumpy road. The rack itself is secured to the spare tire by straps that are secured at the bottom of the tire, and the bikes are held in place by individual, dual compound tie-down straps. The bottom of the rack is made in a wide foot design to support the weight of the rack and bikes.
This rack has a sturdy metal frame that ensures stability whenever the rack is mounted on a tire.
It comes pre-assembled, so all you have to do is mount it on the tire in a simple process that only takes minutes. The rack folds fully, an easy way to store it when not in use. Folding it is quick and easy and doesn’t take any effort to do.
What are its best features? The fold down design allows for convenient storage. We also like the unique design that accommodates a broad range of spare tires, and how the rack mounts high enough to give the bikes plenty of clearance from the ground.
What could be improved? The rack moves slightly when driving on non-smooth roads.
YAKIMA SpareRide Bicycle Rack is made from steel and has the sturdy, reliable feel you’ve come to expect from steel products. It weighs nearly 22 pounds, with dimensions of 40 x 13 x 19 inches (H x W x L), so it’s easy to handle and mount. The installation itself is straightforward; you can do it even if you’ve never mounted a rack before. It uses a universal mounting plate with extensions that fit most bolt patterns, and this makes it compatible with most spare tires. However, it is not compatible with most oversized tires, so this is limiting in a way.
The rack is designed to hold 2 bikes with a total weight of not more than 70 lbs. The bikes are held onto the rack by ZipStrip straps. The anti-sway cradles ensure that the bikes don’t move and bump into each other. The rack also has TireTread pads for enhanced stability and protection. It comes with the SKS locking package for enhanced protection and security.
The ZipStrip straps are removable and easy to reattach, so you can safely remove them when you’re done with the rack.
What we noticed about this unit is that it is quite high, which is challenging for shorter people.
It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Why are we impressed? The universal mounting plate which makes the rack compatible with a wide range of stock tires.
What negatives must you be aware of? An adapter for oversized tires would be great.
The Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks is the kind of bike rack you buy if you’re always going for group cycling adventures. It holds 4 bikes, supporting a total weight of 140 lbs. It’s just the kind of rack you need to bundle your family’s or mates’ bikes for a day or weekend of biking fun. It uses dual compound tie-down cradles to hold the bikes, and the cradles swivel 360 degrees, such that any bike frame can fit into the support arms. It has a rugged internal mechanism that keeps the rack in place during transit, and this is complemented by a tilt away release that allows for smooth lift gate access. The rack folds completely flat, giving you easy access to the vehicle rear if you have a swing-out rear door.
To protect the bikes from damage during transport, the rack relies on a padded spine shield. The straps also play a protective role as they have padded arm buckles, which secure the bikes while also protecting them from scratches.
The rack does not have a locking pin, but uses a tension bolt, which is meant to control rattling. The down side to this is that the tension bolt is not theft proof. But you can add a U-boat and locking cable to boost the security of your bikes.
What makes it stand out? The swiveling tie-down cradles because they accommodate all bike frames. We think the hitch insert is a clever addition that allows for quick, tool-free installation.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? Addition of a locking system
Choose Hollywood Racks SR-2 if you are looking for a rack that can fit almost any bike and spare tire. This rack uses a universal plate to bolt on to the spare tire bracket and fits most bolt patterns. It also has 3 extension brackets, which allow it to be compatible with larger tires up to 12 inches. It has large support arms which can be adjusted for use with side mounted tires. There is a hand-tightened knob that ensures you get the perfect fit no matter what tire you’re mounting it on. The rack accommodates all bike frames and sizes, but for ladies’ and kids’ bikes, you should add a top tube adapter to get a good fit.
This is a low profile rack, so be careful to mount the bikes in such a way that they won’t be too close to the ground or the exhaust pipe. But it’s designed to fold on each side of the brake light, so it won’t obstruct your brake lights. It mounts in a way that leaves the vehicle accessible, and you can open the tailgate at any time, even with the bikes loaded.
This rack accommodates 2 bikes and supports a maximum of 70 lbs. We found the arms a bit short, to the extent that fitting in two bikes means making do with a tight fit.
What makes it stand out? Compatibility with most bolt patterns and support for 12-inch tires. The adjustable support arms are a nice touch and make it possible to attach the rack on side mounted tires.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? Longer arms to provide adequate space for 2 bikes.
The Allen Sports Premier S302 spare tire bike rack can hold 2 bikes with a maximum weight of 70 lbs. It’s made from sturdy metal for stability and comes with two lower Sure straps for even greater stability. To ensure adequate support for the rack and load, the foot is made in a wide profile design. The rack uses dual tie-down cradles to individually secure the bikes, and the soft cradle bed further protects the bikes from scratches. The straps are adjustable, ensuring that you can get a tight grip regardless of the bike sizes you are loading.
One commendable thing about this rack is that it does not wobble while you are driving, which can only mean that the straps work exactly like they should. The only flaw is that it does not have a lock to secure the rack to the car, so you should invest in a lock for that.
You can mount this rack with the spare tire cover on, and thanks to its quick fold design, you’ll be able to fold it flat using one hand when not in use.
What makes it special? The foldable design and how easy it is to fold it flat with just one hand. The easy installation means you can get it fitted in a ready to ride in minutes. We also like that you do not have to remove the spare tire cover to mount it.
What cons did we find? A locking mechanism for the rack.
If you’re looking for a bike rack that is easy to set up, Rhino-Rack USA RBC025 may just be right for you. This is a strong rack with a sturdy, rust-resistant metal frame designed to ensure stability. It is designed to hold two bikes, and while setting it up is easy, you need to watch out for the bolt heads which are rather sharp and can scratch your bike as you load or unload it if you are not careful. One thing to note is that the design of the rack is such that two bikes are quite a tight fit, so you must take extra care to ensure that the bikes don’t bump each other during transport. It comes with two tie-down straps to secure your bikes on the rack. The straps are sturdy and hold the bikes tightly, keeping them from moving while you’re driving. You can fold the rack to keep it out of the way when not in use. We have to say, though, that this requires some effort, and it won’t fold 100% flat if you don’t use a considerable amount of force.
This rack doesn’t have a locking mechanism to secure it to the vehicle, which can be a big deal for some people. But if all you want is a solid bike rack that can mount on your rear spare tire and transport a bike or two, it gets the job done.
Why is it special? The sturdy metal frame which guarantees reliability and stability.
What are the flaws? Bigger arms would ensure a comfortable fit for 2 bikes.
The Surco BT300 is designed to mount to rear spare tires of any size. It has a top plate, which is what secures the bike to the rack. The bikes are held in a scratch-free padded channel, and because they are tightly locked in place, they do not move about while driving. The rack can carry 3 bikes, but depending on the size and design of the bikes, it may only be able to comfortably accommodate two or accommodate 3 but in a tight fit. For small bikes and kids’ bikes, 3 will fit in comfortably.
It is made from heavy duty steel to ensure stability even in off-road country roads. And to protect it from rust and the degradation caused by the weather, the rack is finished in a black powder coating.
Best of all, the rack only weighs 5 pounds and sits smack across your spare tire, so even shorter folks will have an easy time mounting it. The mounting process is pretty straightforward and is something you can do alone and in a few minutes.
Surco gives a lifetime limited warranty for this spare tire rack.
Why did it make our list? The steel frame that feels firm and sturdy; there is no possibility of the bikes falling off.
What is not ideal about it? A longer arm so the bikes are not too squeezed, particularly when you carry 3 of them.
The Allen Sports Deluxe JL is designed to accommodate bikes of different styles and sizes. It’s easily the best spare tire bike rack for Jeep Wrangler, and will even fit the Wrangler JL that has a rear light bracket. The rack mounts well even when you have tire cover on. It has dual 15-inch carry arms that can hold a maximum of 70 lbs, meaning you can comfortably load 2 bikes on the rack. The bikes are held in place by tie-down straps that are fixed on the carry arms. The straps rotate, and this means they can engage bikes of different sizes without the risk of snapping. The rack has a wide profile bottom foot that supports the rack and bike so that the two are not pressing hard on the tire or rear of the vehicle. This lower foot is made in a design that fits nearly every oversized tire. Moreover, it sits in such a way that it does not obstruct the backup camera that is mounted in the center of the tire. The rack mounts high, so it does not interfere with the brake lights or reverse sensors. Plus, with the rack mounted high up the vehicle, it means you won’t have to worry about any of its parts coming into contact with the exhaust pipe.
It does not come assembled, so you will need to do the set up on your own from scratch. If you find the information on the manual too shallow, you can download comprehensive installation guidelines from the Allen Sport website.
Why is it special? The tie-down traps and how they secure each bike individually.
What are the flaws? The addition of a locking mechanism would ensure the traps are fully secure.
The Swagman RV Approved is specifically designed to bolt onto a 4-4½ inch square continuously welded steel bumper, which is what makes it apt for use with an RV. It comes complete with all the hardware you need to attach it to the bumper as well as all the hardware you need to mount the bike. Ensure that your bumper is sturdy and can withstand the weight of the rack. It weighs 22 pounds and can easily rip a weak bumper. This heavier weight points to the rack’s excellent construction, and you can expect it to last a good number of years. And as proof of the rack’s durability, Swagman offers a lifetime limited warranty with your purchase. The flip side to this is that it may need 2 people to set up, just on account of its weight alone.
The rack fits 2 bikes, with a maximum capacity of 70 lbs. The rack fits on most spare tires, so if you have an oversized tire, you can mount it without worrying that it won’t fit around your tire. There are rubber straps that will secure the bikes to the rack. To ensure that the bikes do not bump into each other, the rack is fitted with anti-sway cradles, which go a long way in preserving the good condition of your bikes and preventing scratches and other forms of damage.
What are our favorite features? The sturdy metal construction and fast mounting that ensures the rack can’t fall off.
What could be better? The arms are too wide for women’s and kids’ bikes.
The Saris Freedom Bike Rack comes with options for either 2 bikes or 4 bikes. The 2-bike option has a maximum capacity of 70 lbs., and the 4-bike option has a maximum capacity of 140 lbs. With both, you can mount bikes of any size, provided each doesn’t exceed 60 lbs. The rack fits a wheelbase of up to 48 inches. For bikes with a longer wheelbase, you have to order the long Saris wheelbase bar. The rack is adjustable, and this makes it compatible with all bike frames and sizes. The ratcheting straps, too, are meant to keep bikes of all sizes secure, whether it’s a mountain bike, an e-bike, a unicycle, a balance bike, or a bike with a fender. There is a locking hitch pin that secures the rack to the vehicle, eliminating any possibility that it could come off and drag along the road. And to secure the bikes to the rack, there are locking cables fitted on wheel trays and down-tube cradles that hold the bikes in place. The rack has a tilting feature which allows you to access the vehicle at all times, even when the bikes are loaded. When not using the rack, you can fold it for easy storage. To boost visibility in low light, reflectors are fitted on the outside wheel trays.
Why are we impressed? The option for 2 or 4 bikes, which makes it possible for families with more than 2 bikes to load them on one vehicle.
What negatives must you be aware of? The cradles are a little too close together, and this makes it challenging to load 2 large bikes.
The BUNKER INDUST 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack is designed to fit most spare wheels, the known exception being newer Wrangler JL models (2018 and later). It fits all other models well, and you can mount it even when your spare tire is undersized or oversized because it uses a universal plate, meaning it fits most bolt patterns. The rack can accommodate 2 bikes and has a maximum capacity of 75 lbs. It has an adjustable support arm, which makes it possible to adjust for different bike sizes and types. It uses straps to secure the bike to the rack, and the bikes are further held in anti-sway cages that keep them from moving about while you’re transporting them. This ensures they do not bump against each other and protects them from damage. To safeguard the rack against theft, it comes with an anti-theft lock. So once you mount it, it will be secure and you don’t necessarily need a supplementary locking mechanism.
The rack is made from heavy-duty iron for durability and finished in a powder coating to protect it against rust. The straps are made from durable rubber so they won’t easily wear out under the pressure of everyday use.
It’s easy to install; you only need to bolt it in, in a process that’s quick and smooth.
What do we love it for? The locking mechanism, straps, and anti-sway cages ensure security and safety from all angles.
What were we disappointed with? It does not come with clear warranty information. You have to contact the manufacturer for this – best to do so before buying.
The SportRack SR2813B is compatible with bikes of all sizes and frames, and easily fits on oversized tube tops of 2.5 inches or less. It’s, however, not compatible with some vehicles; check with the manufacturer before buying to be sure it will fit yours. It has a maximum capacity of 132 lbs. and is big enough to accommodate 3 bikes, which makes it a convenient solution for a family setting where you need to load a man’s bike, a woman’s bike, and a kid’s bike or any other setting where you need to load more than 2 bikes, say, when driving to a bike trail with friends.
The rack comes with rotating clamps that hold the bikes securely, ensuring they don’t fall off during transit. The clamps have rubber padding to protect the bikes from damage, so if you need to transport your bikes over a long distance, you don’t have to worry that they could get damaged.
There is also a locking system that secures the bikes to the rack and the rack to the vehicle, providing a dual-layered security system that also safeguards both the rack and bikes against thieves. It comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
Why are we impressed? That it can hold up to 132 lbs. in weight, meaning it’s a convenient way to transport 2-3 bikes when needed.
What negatives must you be aware of? It’s not compatible with some popular vehicle models, including the Wrangler Rubicon and the FJ Cruiser.
The FIERYRED 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack is designed to carry 2 bikes and has a maximum capacity of 75 lbs. It’s compatible with most spare tires and provides a convenient way to ferry your bikes. It comes fully assembled, so all you have to do is bolt it in. It attaches directly to the mounting plate of the spare tire, and you can mount it at the top or bottom. This rack fits any spare wheel with a diameter of 84 cm or less. For a perfect fit, the mounting bracket bearing tube should not be smaller than 4.6 cm. It has rubber straps that hold the bikes in place and anti-sway cradles to keep the bikes from moving when you are driving. It comes with an anti-theft lock that keeps both bike and rack secure, so you won’t have to worry about thieves making away with either. Soft cradles secure each bike individually, and with the padded frame, protect you bikes from scratches and other damage.
The rack folds easily, and this makes it easy to store. If keeping it in the trunk when not in use, the small footprint when folded will save you valuable trunk space.
What do we love it for? The anti-sway, individual cradles and padded frame, which are designed to protect the bike from damage.
What were we disappointed with? The arms are not long enough for some bikes.
The Chrysler Genuine TSPRO963 is built to carry bikes with crossbars. If you wish to use it to load a woman’s bikes or other bike without a crossbar, you have to use the Chrysler Frame Adapter for the bike to fit on the rack. The adapter is sold separately, and you can order it with or without the rack. The rack can fit 2 bikes. It comes with 3 length adapters, so you can fit it on larger tires and wheels with ease.
This spare wheel bicycle carrier has a locking cable to secure both the rack and the bikes, ensuring they don’t fall off during the drive. The bikes are tightly held in place and won’t rattle or move about. While the bike is sturdy enough to carry 2 bikes, it does seem a little too squeezed for more than 1 bike. So you have to be careful not to scratch your bikes when loading and unloading them. This won’t be a problem during transit, though, because the bikes are somewhat tightly secured, and so they won’t bump against each other.
This rack is super easy to install and remove, and this makes it enjoyable to use.
Why is it special? The numerous adapters, which allow you to mount the rack on any size spare tire.
What are the flaws? Fully folding arms would make it possible for you to store the rack in the trunk when not in use.
Things to Consider
Sorting through the myriad of spare tire bike racks on sale can seem like a humongous task. Well, it is, but not when you know exactly what to look for. In this next section, we’ll talk about the specific features to consider when choosing a spare tire rack for your bike. We’ll also tell you the different types of spare tire racks available and how to choose one type over the other, and discuss safe installation and maintenance.
How to choose right bike rack for your spare tire
A few things determine the type of spare tire bike rack to buy:
The size of your spare tire – If you have a regular-sized spare tire, you can pick any spare tire rack since they will fit on the tire. If you have an undersized or oversized tire, you must check the rack’s compatibility with your tire. The best racks to choose in this case are the ones designed for both regular spare tires and under/oversized tires. Similarly, if you have a deep spare tire and want to use a bolt-on spare tire rack without adding a backing plate, ensure that it is not wider than 10 inches across the tread or 5 cm from the center of the hub to the edge. Otherwise, use a deep backing plate to make the tire compatible with the rack.
Choose between a strap-on rack and a bolt-on rack.
Strap-on racks are compatible with most wheel and tire sizes. These types of racks clamp to the spare tire and use straps to secure the bike. The straps then go around the bottom of the tire. Some people prefer to secure the straps on the bottom of the tire and others prefer doing so on the bumper.
Bolt-on racks – To attach the rack, remove the wheel and then mount the rack’s baseplate to the spare wheel mount. Bolt-on racks are generally sturdy and more heavy-duty than strap-on racks but may not be compatible with deep spare tires.
The carry arms – Spare tire racks come with either single arms or dual arms. Single arms carry up to 3 bikes and any compatible with most bike frames and sizes. It’s also easy to load bikes on a single-arm, and they have a hand knob that secures the bikes to the rack.
Dual arms accommodate a maximum of 2 bikes. They provide even support and ensure there is sufficient hound clearance. To ensure bikes with different frames fit on the rack, use an adapter bar.
How easy is it to access the vehicle with the rack on? In most cases, you can open a swing-out door with the bikes loaded. But you have to be sure that the door hung can support the weight of both the rack and the bikes before you do so, otherwise, you may damage the car door. If your door opens upwards hatchback-style, you can’t access the vehicle with the bikes loaded, so you must unload them before you can open the door.
Installation – how to do no harm
For your spare tire bike rack to function as it should, it needs to be correctly installed. Improper installation can lead to damage not just to your bikes, but to the rack and the spare tire as well. To reduce the possibility of damage, here are some things to keep in mind when installing your bike rack and loading bikes.
Ensure that all the bolts are securely tightened. This will eliminate wobbling and keep the rack firmly positioned so it does not fall off.
If there is a no-wobble nut, ensure that it is tight.
Once you’ve mounted the rack, check to make sure that it is secure and firmly in place.
After loading bikes, confirm that the entire rack is still as secure as it was when you mounted it.
When loading your bikes, start with the heaviest bikes. These should go to the innermost part of the rack. Load the lightest bikes last, and these should be on the outside. This ensures equal weight distribution, and consequently, balance.
Load your bikes in an alternating direction. The gears and chain of the first bike you load should face away from the rack. The second bike should be positioned in the opposite direction, and so on for subsequent bikes.
Ensure that no bicycle comes into contact with the vehicle because the resulting friction can damage both the bike and the vehicle.
With proper care, your spare tire bike rack should remain usable and in top condition for years. For this to happen, ensure that you mount it correctly as advised by the rack manufacturer at all times. This ensures that the rack is never under unnecessary pressure that could damage it or accelerate its wear.
Do not exceed the rack’s maximum capacity. It can be tempting to load one extra bike, especially if you’re only driving a short distance, but don’t do it. Loading more weight than the rack is built to carry is one of the shortest routes to a damaged rack.
Do not leave the rack out in the open for long periods when not in use, especially in harsh weather. It’s okay to keep your rack on the vehicle if you use it regularly, but if it is wintertime, you want to keep the vehicle in the garage or in a shielded parking space as often as possible. The daily exposure to moisture from snow and rain showers will cause your rack to deteriorate and ultimately start to corrode.
With time, the rack may accumulate scratches that leave it exposed to rust. A touch upon the finishing will restore it and extend the protection that keeps it rust-free.
Here’s how to clean your spare tire bike rack:
Clean the rack after each use. Do not store it with the mud and grit from the day’s adventure. If it’s only covered in dust, you can wipe it out to get rid of the dust, but using soap and water won’t hurt. If anything, it will remove any stubborn dirt that may be stuck on some hidden part of the rack. Use soapy water and a soft rug for this. Then wipe it dry. You can also clean it using a power washer. Just don’t use the automatic car wash to clean it. It is not built for such high pressure and may end up getting damaged.
Oil the movable parts once in a while using a silicone-based lube to keep them in good condition and ensure they do not jam or rust. Any lube used to lubricate bicycles is good enough for your bike rack.
Store the rack in such a way that the feet don’t touch the floor so they don’t accumulate dust.
Lastly, store the rack in a dust-free area. You can even cover the rack to keep it dust-free.
Spare tire bike rack prices start at roughly $100, with a good number going for less than this, and can cost $250-300 on the higher end. The materials used to make the rack, the quality of workmanship, and the brand can all impact the price. But when it comes to bike racks, a low price isn’t always a bad thing. When you know what to look for in a rack, you can find some good ones on the low end of the price. Plus, sellers are always dishing out discounts, so be on the lookout for these as well. They can drastically bring down the price, allowing you to enjoy the same quality rack for less.
Features to consider while buying the best spare tire bike rack
Here now are the specific features you should evaluate when choosing a spare tire bike rack.
How many bikes
Spare tire bike racks can hold 2-4 bikes. You may only need to carry one bike for now, but what about in the future? With a rack that can hold multiple bikes, you’ll be able to load enough bikes for the whole family or for a group of friends looking to explore a new bike trail or enjoy a favorite trail together.
Assess the design of the rack carefully, checking that it’s big enough and has enough space for the number of bikes it’s said to carry. The best bike racks have long support arms that can hold multiple bicycles without keeping them squeezed in a tight space. If the bikes are tightly squeezed together, they will bump each other the whole journey, causing scratches and even dents.
Spare tire fit
Ensure that the bike rack you choose fits on your spare tire. Some racks are made in a universal design that fits different spare tire sizes. Others are designed for specific sizes of spare tires. Always check with the manufacturer to find out if your wheel and tire are compatible with the rack. Manufacturers always give a list of supported vehicle models and tire sizes, so you want to confirm that your spare tire falls in this category before buying the rack. If your spare tire is not compatible with a specific rack or if it comes in a non-standard size, you can use an adapter bar to get the rack to fit on the tire.
These bike racks are designed with mechanisms that ensure safety during use. There are straps supported on the arms that secure the bikes so they don’t fall off. Some racks come with anti-sway cradles to keep the bikes from moving about as the vehicle moves. The cradles, as you’ll see in Allen Sports bike racks, are meant to secure each bike individually to fully protect the bikes. Always ensure that the bolts and straps are adequately tightened before beginning your drive. Replace any worn out straps and bolts which might compromise safety.
To protect the bikes from friction, spare tire bike rack arms and cradles are padded so that as the bike comes in contact with the interior part of the arm or strap, it does not scratch.
You may need to use additional straps to hold the bikes together around the bottom brackets. This will keep the wheels from rotating and protect the gears from wear. If you let them stay free, it’s likely that they will be rotating the whole drive, which would be similar to your cycling the entire way, and what a heavy dose of wear and tear would that be if you drive for hundreds of miles.
Your rack comes with numerous locking mechanisms that protect the rack itself and the bike. The locking mechanism is important because it secures the rack to the vehicle, ensuring that it will not topple while you are driving. Different racks have different lock options, some more effective than others. It also helps to know beforehand what kind of locks you wish to have on your rack so you can shop specifically for racks that offer that. Nonetheless, it’s easy to identify a suitable locking system even if you didn’t have any preferences going into your shopping adventure.
At the very least, you want the rack to have a mechanism that locks the bike on to the rack. Then you want a locking system that locks the rack to your vehicle, so you’re covered on both angles. Most racks use an actual lock and key, while others may have alternate locking systems. Choose what you feel is best suited for you. You can also complement the rack’s stock locks with a U-lock and a locking cable that goes around both wheels to further enhance the security of the rack and bikes.
Note that some racks do not come with a locking mechanism. Without locks, such a rack can easily be stolen, and you end up losing not just the bikes, but the rack too. If you end up choosing a rack that does not have locks, invest in a good locking system. We’ve mentioned a U-lock and a locking cable. You can buy both so that you secure both wheels of the bike. Then buy a separate locking system to secure the rack to your car. Rack and bike locks are readily available in bicycle shops, and you can also buy them online. Chances are the shop where you’re buying the rack sells locks too, so you can buy them there.
You’ll sleep better when you know your spare tire bike rack has a valid guarantee. Bear in mind that this is an apparatus you should use for years, so the warranty should match the expectation. Fortunately, manufacturers agree with this thought and are quite generous with their offers. The average rack comes with a lifetime warranty, meaning you are covered for the entire period in which you own the rack. Go through the details to see what guarantees the manufacturer gives for parts like the rubber straps which are bound to wear out faster than the frame.
Most manufacturers have a caveat which lists conditions that might void the warranty and most state that the warranty does not apply if you buy from unauthorized third-parties. So you want to be certain that you’re buying your rack from the right sources. If you are traveling overseas and plan to ship the product to your destination for use while you’re there, the warranty may not apply either. So, consider all aspects of the guarantee, what’s covered and what’s not, and for how long you’re covered before making a final decision.
Iron frames are given a powder coating to protect them from the effects of the elements and enhance their lifespan further. Because this coating is moisture resistant, you can use the rack in wet weather conditions without worrying about damaging it.
Few of the racks have a plastic frame, an example being SportRack SR2813B. The plastic used to make these frames is industrial grade, and as such, is highly durable and lasts a long time. Metal racks are the most popular option for obvious reasons, mainly their reliability and the fact that they do not degrade over time. You can’t go wrong with one of these.
The straps used to secure the bikes in strap-on racks are made from rubber, and they are strong enough to give you a few years of service. With time, however, they’ll wear out because of all the stretching, so plan to replace them in due time.
Ease of installation
Overall, spare tire bike racks are easy to install, some more easily than others. Strap-on racks are the easiest to install because you only have to clamp them on to the tire. Installing Bolt-on racks is more involving since you have to remove the wheel, and then bolt in the base plate. The racks come with installation instructions so you can set them up even if you’ve never done that before. Installation instructions can also be found on the manufacturer’s website, and they may be accompanied by demo videos. This can be an option for you if you find that the given manual is not very detailed.
A good number of spare tire bike racks come either fully or partly assembled, a good example being Allen Sports Premier S303 (and most Allen Sports bike racks, really). With such a rack, installation is simplified such that it’s ready to use right out of the box. If you would rather not spend time putting the rack together, this option is definitely for you.
Bike rack weight
Bike racks come in different sizes and weight, and these ones that mount on the spare tire are no different. Some are super light, weighing less than 10 pounds. The Surco BT300 falls here, with a weight of only 5 pounds. Others are quite heavy and weigh 20 pounds or more. They include Hollywood Racks SR-2, which weighs 24.25 pounds, Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch Racks, which weighs 28.1 pounds, and Saris Freedom Bike Rack, which weighs 33 pounds. These heavier racks may need 2 people to install, so bear this in mind when choosing a rack. If you feel that trend rack is a little too heavy for you to mount it without struggling, get someone to help you install it. Other than making the process easier, it will minimize errors and likelihood of injury. Doesn’t matter if someone else says they mounted theirs by themselves. If it’s too heavy for you, get help. The same applies if it feels bulky in your hands, even if it isn’t necessarily heavy. Having someone to hold one end while you fix the other can make the experience so much better.
We have to mention that weight alone isn’t an indication of quality. There are lots of lightweight racks that are as good as the heavier kind. It boils down to their design in relation to the capacity for which they are built. When picking a heavy rack, remember that it will be supported against the door of the trunk. So, the door needs to be strong enough to support the rack, especially if you wish to have a convenient option that lets you open the door without first removing the loaded rack. If the loaded rack is heavier than the door, you must always remove the bikes first before opening the door to prevent a situation where the weight of the load rips off the door hinge.
Some spare tire bike racks come with extra straps to supplement the ones that are fitted on the rack. These tend to be similar to and of the same quality as the straps that come with the rack. An extra set of straps will serve you well should the old ones become worn out.
Some racks can be used on tires where backup cameras are mounted. If you have such a setup, confirm whether the bike rack you wish to buy can be used on such a spare tire. The same goes for reversing and parking sensors, and any modifications you may have done on the rear end of your vehicle. Always ensure that the rack you pick won’t obstruct any of these. Manufacturers indicate such details on the product description, but if you cannot find this information, enquire before making the purchase so you don’t end up with a rack you can’t use.
Decide whether you want to mount the rack with the spare tire cover on. While some racks cannot be installed when the cover is on, some can, an example being Allen Sports Premier S302. You want to make such a distinction before making your purchase so that you choose a rack that matches your preference.
There is no set lifespan for spare tire bike racks. Their lifespan depends on how well they are built to begin with and how well you take care of the rack. With proper maintenance, a quality rack should last at least 10 years. We are talking about racks made from metal here. These are known to last for well above 15 years. Remember that things such as frequent exposure to harsh weather can impact the lifespan on your rack. Protecting the rack from extreme weather can help keep in good condition for longer. You can also enhance the lifespan of your rack by ensuring that it is properly assembled and mounted whenever you use it. Replace any worn out parts as soon as you notice them, and avoid overloading the rack – do not exceed the capacity for whatever reason. Do this religiously and you’ll get more years out of your rack.
As long as you stick to the recommended weight and number of bikes for your rack, the bikes won’t fall off. You can safely load and carry one or two bikes in a two-bike rack, you can load and carry up to 3 bikes in a three-bike rack, and you can carry up to 4 bikes in a four-bike rack. If you do not exceed the number of bikes listed for your rack, there is no likelihood that the bike(s) will fall off. But you also have to ensure that the bikes are loaded correctly. This is the main reason why bikes would fall out of a rack that’s not loaded beyond capacity. Check that the straps go all the way around the bottom of the tire and are firmly secured. Likewise, the cradles should hold the bike in a fun and steady grip. If you can feel the bicycles swaying while you’re driving, it means they are not properly secured and they could fall off at any moment. Stop and strap them in carefully this time, taking the time to check whether each strap is secure. Bikes can also fall off if the straps holding them in place are weak. If the straps have become loose, it means they no longer have enough tension to hold the bikes in a motionless grip, so you should replace them.
To tight your bike rack hinges, you’ll need to use a wrench. The type of bolts used on the hinges will determine what kind of wrench to use. Most racks come with the wrench needed to tighten the bolts and hinges. If it is not included, the manufacturer will usually indicate what wrench or tool to use. If none of this is provided with your rack, choose a suitably sized wrench to tighten the hinges. If you are unsure of what to use, enquire at your local hardware store or from the seller’s website. Most sellers will respond to your query within reasonable time, but if they don’t, browsing through the FAQs or user forums will usually yield an answer.
You can leave the rack on your vehicle when not in use; there is nothing wrong with that. But know that exposing the rack to harsh weather for long periods of time can accelerate its deterioration. Consider the weather, too, and use a weatherproof cover to protect the rack from inclement weather. The best place to park in such weather is in a garage or indoor parking space, in which case you won’t need a cover, unless you want to hide the rack from prying eyes. You should also make sure that the rack is adequately secured to the vehicle, especially if you’re going to leave it in an open parking lot. The rack may have a lock for this, but you can always substitute it with an additional locking system. Something else you should consider is accessibility of the vehicle. Assuming you will need to access the trunk, then it’s imperative that the rack does not obstruct the trunk lid. If it does, consider folding the rack (if it’s foldable) or altogether removing it.
Our Editor’s Choice, the Allen Sports Premier S303, takes the top spot for its innovative design that supports most tire sizes, including oversized tires. We like its sturdy frame, the supporting wide foot bottom, and how it mounts high off the bottom for exceptional ground clearance, making it the best spare tire bike rack.
Filling the number two spot is YAKIMA SpareRide Bicycle Rack, which stands out for its hardy steel frame. We like its removable straps, the anti-sway cradles, the TireTread pads, and the SKS locking system. We especially like that it has a universal mounting plate with extensions that can fit most standard size stock tires.
Our third best spare tire bike ride is Allen Sports Premier S302, a sturdy, metal rack with a capacity for 2 bikes. It stands out for its easy setup, compatibility with most tires, quick folding design, and rattle-free use. We like that you can install it even with the spare tire cover on. Plus, it’s competitively priced, so it’s a win-win situation all around.