Types of truck bed bike racks
There are four main types of truck bed bike racks. These include:
- Fork Mount- Bike racks of this type offer their users a quick yet safe way to secure their bikes. They consist of a bar that is mounted across the truck bed and fitted with one or more fork mounts. All you have to do is to pop off the front wheel of your bike and fasten it on the fork mounts. They also come with a locking system for extra security. Fork mount bike racks are considered to be very secure since some are bolted and may need tools to unscrew.
- Wheel Mount- This works in a similar way to fork mount, with the exception that you do not have to pop off your front wheel. To use a wheel mount truck bed bike rack, you can simply place the front tire on the mount and lock the bike with a locking arm. This type of truck bed bike rack often takes up a lot of space on your truck. Wheel mount bike racks are not as safe unless the manufacturer includes a safety mechanism to lock both the rack and the bike to the truck.
- Side clamps- Unlike the other types of truck bed bike racks, this type of rack is simply clamped to the side of your truck bed and holds the bike frame. These types or truck bed bike racks are preferred because of their low-profile design. Moreover, they can be easily mounted and unmounted quickly. Side clamp bike racks are often not secure because they come without any locking mechanism. They are suitable for use where you will not leave your bike unattended for long.
- Tailgate pads- With this type of rack style, you place a large pad over the tailgate of your truck. You can then place the front wheel over the outside part of the tailgate while the other part stays on the truck bed. The pads are padded to prevent scratches or any damage to both the truck and your bike. You can carry several bikes with this type of truck bed bike rack but it is not the most stable. These types of bike racks are not very secure since the bike is simply placed over the tailgate with little safety mechanisms.
How to securely install a truck bed bike rack
Most truck bed bike racks can be installed in a short moment depending on the type of mount that you have. For example, it will not take you long if you just have to clamp your bike to the side or to insert a pad on your tailgate. However, some larger or even more robust truck bed bike rack like Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier will need some drilling and bolting into the truck bed. Most of such racks come with installation manuals which you should follow carefully.
Features to consider while buying the best truck bed bike rack
Like buying any other equipment, you must put into consideration several factors. Knowing these factors will help you find the perfect truck bed bike rack. Here are some essential factors for you to consider.
There are several ways to mount your bike on a truck bed bike rack. Some bike racks like Thule Insta-Gater Pro have wheel mounts. These mounts allow you to secure your front wheel and fasten it with a locking arm. Wheel-mounted bike racks do not need any assembling tools. Another common installation type is fork-mounting. Fork-mounted bike racks such as Saris Kool 2 use a bar and fork mounts to secure your bike. You should, however, note that you will have to remove your front-wheel to mount your bike. Tailgate truck bed bike racks like YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad are easily installed and can accommodate several bikes. A bike rack with a good installation type is one that meets your needs. Do you get little time to prepare for your hikes? Avoid anything that may take too long to install.
Prices of truck bed bike racks strikingly vary. This may depend on the size, design, number of bikes or even the brand. While you may want a bike rack with all exciting features, it is important to consider your budget too. The trick is to choose something that addresses your needs while still playing within your budget. Our premium pick, Saris Kool 2 is a great choice if you would love to splurge and get a good quality bike rack.
But this does not mean that you can’t get a quality truck bed bike rack at an affordable price. It is difficult to get the value that Swagman PICKUP offers at its incredibly lower price. You should be able to get a quality bike rack within your budget as long as you consider other features too.
Bike rack size
The size of your bike rack will depend on a couple of things. First, how many bikes are you going to be using. If more people want to join your biking adventures then you will need more spots on your truck bed bike rack In that case, a tailgate pad like Thule GateMate Pro may come in handy as it carries up to 7 bikes.
Sometimes you just want a compact bike rack for you or your loved one. Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier is a great option if you are solo as it has a 1-bike capacity. However, if you are with your loved one then you can choose one with a two-bike capacity such as Top Line UG2500-2 or Saris Kool 2.
An ideal truck bed bike rack should be easy to mount and unmount when you get to your destination. That said, the bike rack should also have some safety mechanisms to ensure you do not lose your expensive bike. It is important to ensure that both your bike and your truck bed bike rack are safe when you step away from your truck for some time.
Some bike racks have better safety features than others. For example, Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier is bolted down, which deters any thief unless they have the appropriate tool. On the other hand, tailgate pads or side clamps with no locking mechanisms can easily let your bike be stolen. A cable lock can come in handy if there is no locking mechanism on your truck bed bike rack.
The material that you choose matters for several reasons. First, they often determine the quality of your truck bed bike rack. Durable bike racks that are meant to last for long do not come with a cheap build as these can easily break down when pressure is exerted on them. We recommend that you get a bike rack with good quality construction materials such as steel or high-quality metal. Thule Insta-Gater Pro and Swagman PICKUP are some of the truck bed bike racks made from quality stainless steel construction.
The material that you choose is also important because it will affect the performance and design of your bike rack. It is important that you choose a bike rack made from non-corrosive materials that won’t rust. This is why some bike racks are coated with powder and other chemicals to make them rust-proof. Any bike rack made from poor quality construction materials is likely to rust very soon.
A warrant gives a buyer confidence that they are purchasing a good quality item. Any manufacturer worth their salt should give buyers a reasonable time to use their products and return them if defective. Of course, the longer the warranty period the better. That said, not all products on the market have a good warranty period or terms.
We recommend that you check the warranty terms of all truck bed bike racks before you make a purchase.
Multi-Purpose– Some truck bed bike racks are multi-purpose since they allow you to support several other loads. For example, you may use them to transport your kayaks if you are going on an adventure. And while most bike racks will only allow you to support your bikes, a multi-purpose bike ramp can accommodate other loads. The Saris Kool 2 and INNO RT201 are some of the multi-purpose truck bed bike racks that we tried out. You can choose to permanently embed the rack in your truck if you want to use it for other purposes but this may prove to be a security challenge.
Storage– People consider several factors when buying a bike ramp but forget it also has storage needs. You will need a place to store your bike rack when it is not in use. This is not always a problem but what if you do not have sufficient space? In such a case, it is important to choose a compact truck bed bike rack such as Thule Insta-Gater Pro or Top Line UG2500-2. That said, most truck bed bike racks are compact, especially if they accommodate a small number of bikes.
Locking mechanisms– It is also important that you consider the locking mechanism that the truck bed bike rack comes with. Some bike racks will lock themselves to your truck while some may secure your bike from toppling over but offer no lock. In some cases, some racks will lock themselves to your bike but won’t be secured anywhere. This leaves you at the mercy of thieves who may take both your truck bed bike rack and your bike. We recommend that you invest in a bike rack that offers you a safe locking mechanism.