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: June 27, 2021
Tossing your bike on your truck bed may seem like the quickest and most convenient choice when going on an outdoor ride. Do this long enough and you realize two things. Not only do you damage your bike but you also make your truck vulnerable to scratches and dents. This is unacceptable to some bikers as they invest hundreds or thousands of dollars on their bikes. With a truck bed bike rack, all your worries should be gone.
That said, you will be appalled by the sheer number of models and brands when shopping for the best truck bed bike rack. And while this may be good for variety, you can easily fall for counterfeits and other bad quality products. Luckily, we have tried several truck bed bike racks and will advise on the important features you should consider. Size, for example, is an important feature for a truck bed bike rack. You want something that fits well with your truck so that your expensive bike doesn’t topple over. Installation should be quick and the bike rack should be steady, which means it should be of good material too. Other important features to consider include price, safety, warranty, and other extra features.
Thule is a renowned name in the industry with some considering it the ‘King of Bike Racks’. This may be debatable but we can all agree that the company makes some of the best car and truck racks in the market. Thule Insta-Gater Pro is just one product in the company’s long range of bike rack products. And what a spectacular mount it is!
You will first notice the elegant design of this truck bed bike rack. This bike rack features a sturdy steel construction with a black powder-coated finish that gives it its beautiful look. Aside from making this bike rack look good, the coated finish also prevents rust and corrosion on the bike rack too.
Installing this bike rack is easy and saves time too. The rack takes advantage of your truck’s tailgate and the truck bed to securely lock itself and your bike. All you need to do is to slip the rack’s clips between the truck bed and the tailgate. Closing the tailgate secures your bike rack. Once the rack is secure, you can simply place the front wheel inside the bottom chock. To secure the bike, pull out the ratcheting grip which holds the top of the tire eliminating any frame contact.
What we liked: We loved that the bike was securely held and very stable in a matter of minutes. The fact that there is no contact with the frame also reduces any chances of scratches.
What cons did we find? The security of the bike rack depends on whether you have locking tailgates.
Are you looking for a cool bike rack that you can always rely on? Saris Kool 2 is a versatile bike rack that can accommodate one or two bikes at the back of your truck. And while most bike racks will only accommodate a limited number of bikes, only your truck width will limit the number of bikes you can carry. That is, if you get the Saris Kool 2. It allows you to add more fork locks.
How does this beauty work? One main difference between this bike rack and others on the market is how it grasps your bike. With this bike rack, you get to attach the forks of your bike to the bar. However, this will mean that you will always have to remove your front tire. It is also worth noting that this bike rack can be used in almost all trucks with varying lengths ranging from 50 to 74 inches. The rack comes with rubber pads at the end that will stick to most surfaces.
Its in-built hydraulic pump is another unique feature of the Saris Kool 2. Using this pump is also easier as all you will have to do is to place the rack in position and activate the pump. The good thing is that the rack knows the exact pressure to exert. A release switch allows you to reduce the pressure and remove the bar.
Why are we impressed? First, this bike ruck is made from recyclable materials, which means it is not susceptible to rust. We also loved that the bike rack can be fitted in seconds with no need for tools.
What negatives must you be aware of? No locking mechanism on this bike rack. Moreover, you will have to remove your front bike tire every time you need to carry your bike.
Another simple yet impressive bike rack is the Pipeline Racks Truck Bed Bike Rack. These racks come with a 60 x 20 x 8 inches dimension, which means that your truck bed should be at least 58 inches wide. And while this may feel restrictive to some, it certainly pays back in the amount of stability that it offers.
Like most truck bed bike racks, Pipeline Racks Truck Bed Bike Racks do not have any complex installation procedures. You will not have to drill or even bolt any part of your truck bed when securing it to your truck. In fact, the weight of this truck bed bike rack is enough to support it. It weighs only 37 pounds. All you will have to do is to use the straps to tighten the bike rack to the truck bed. You may have to carry out some little assembling but this should take you less than an hour.
Before getting this bike, it may interest you to note that it doesn’t work well with children’s bikes. It may also be difficult to accommodate a bike that comes with fenders or a mudguard. That said, the bike should be able to hold medium to large bikes, which will come in handy when your kids are trading up.
What are our favorite features? We loved that it was very easy to install this truck bed bike rack since there was no need for any tools.
What could be better? The bike rack is pretty stable for most roads but gets wobbly on bumpy roads, which may cause scratches or damages to the bike.
One of the first things that you notice about this truck bed bike rack is its unique design. Thule GateMate Pro is a specially designed truck bed bike rack that allows you to transport up to 8 bikes at a go. It features a huge padded cover that fits around your tailgate and allows you to secure your bikes in an upright manner. To prevent the bikes from sliding and making contact with each other, there is a reinforced padding on the top.
Unlike other tailgate pads, Thule GateMate Pro features a large control panel that folds down. This can come in handy in two ways. First, it will allow you to access your tailgate handle, which is often obstructed by other tailgate pads. Secondly, it allows you to use your back camera as it does not get in the way. Moreover, the inside part of the tailgate pad features several storage pockets that you can use to store your pump, biking gloves or even biking shorts.
You can use this bike rack for carrying several other things. For example, you can use it to ferry your kayak, paddle boards, and other elongated items. That said, we recommend you tie them down well to avoid any damage.
What are our favorite features? The quick and hassle-free installation is definitely a plus. This is great if you prefer not to do a lot of technical installations. We also loved the capacity since you can transport up to 8 bikes.
What could be better? While you can attach it to your tailgate, there is no specific locking mechanism.
Swagman is an established and renowned company in the bike rack industry. The firm is known to make high-quality bike racks that are durable and offer the best value for money. Swagman PICKUP does not disappoint too.
At first glance, it may be impossible to accept that this is indeed a truck bed bike rack because it doesn’t look like one. It simply comes as an adjustable rod or bar that you should fit across the width of your truck bed. Don’t worry, it will fit your truck regardless of its size.
To fit this to your truck bed, simply adjust the rod with the help of the quick-release handle to fit your truck width. You will be delighted to find out that this Swagman PICKUP bar has fitted rubber on both ends. This will ensure that there are no scratches or paint chips when using the bike rack. After this, you van clunk the ends of your bar into place and lock it for added security. This whole process should take two minutes!
Adding your bike is an easy process too. You will need a Swagman tool and Allen key, which the company supplies with the purchase. This tool will let you adjust the fork locks on the bike rack. Each of the two fork locks can only handle one bike, which means that the rod can handle a maximum of two bikes.
What makes it special? You can’t deny the elegant design and simple functionality of Swagman PICKUP.
What cons did we find? The bike rack needs you to remove your front wheel.
If you have tried to carry three or four mountain bikes in your trunk then you know how much space is needed. Hint, it’s a lot. This may present a problem if you have a couple of biker friends that love to take hikes. YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad is a tailgate storage system that addresses these problems.
With this truck bed bike rack, you can ferry up to five mountain bikes on the tailgate of your truck. What’s more? It will ensure there is more space for a mini-freezer and a case at the back for your group’s gear. Unlike other bike racks that are placed on the roof racks, these tailgate pads allow you to place your bikes down low. This makes the fitting process easier while allowing you to carry up to five bikes. Aside from that, you will never have to take your front wheel off your bike to ferry it on your truck.
The YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad is made from a tough nylon material that comes with some extra tough padding. Although it looks pretty heavy, it weighs a mere 5 pounds and measures 62.25 x 5.25 x 20.25 inches. Fitting this tailgate pad should take you less than five minutes.
Why is it special? We like that you can keep the bikes down low so that it doesn’t obstruct the driver. The ability to fit five mountain bikes is quite impressive too.
What are the flaws? The YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad needs a locking system since the bikes are as easy to remove as they are to fit.
Sometimes we just want a functional tool that will work without demanding a lot from us. In the case of bike racks, this is what Top Line UG2500-2 offers its users. While some consider this to be a starters bike rack, its convenience makes it a suitable partner for anyone really. That said, the Top Line UG2500-2 is one of the most simple and convenient bike racks that we reviewed.
This device offers a quick solution for anyone that is having bike storage issues. Unlike other truck bed bike racks , this one is designed to clamp onto the edge of your truck bed wall. It uses a bar that emanates from the liner and grips the frame of your bike like a helping hand of sorts.
It is impressive that installing this truck bed bike rack should take you less than 2 minutes. Even less than it takes you to cook instant noodles. You can set it up just before a trip. And it will leave you some space to load other essential things. What’s even better is that there is no need to install a bed liner. You can simply fit your bike to the side wall with or without the bed liner.
What stands out? We liked the uniqueness of this bike rack and that you could install it so fast.
What cons did we manage to find? It may not be very stable for heavier bikes.
If you would love something simple to help you transport your bike without taking up much space then you should get INNO RT201.This bike rack will allow you to hold and transport your bikes while still saving up on space. You can easily mount your bike on the bedside rails without the use of any tools or drilling of any holes.
This is not the regular or full type of truck bed bikes. It comes with two mounts that you use to attach to the truck, ratcheting holders, and some D-ring. Installing them is easy and you won’t even have to climb inside your truck to do it or to mount your bike. You can also choose to install it on the bedside rails and forget about it. This will allow you to quickly mount your bike when you need to. Just remember to fasten and check the top bolt as it loosens up over time.
INNO RT201 offers you versatile bike racks that can also help you secure other types of heavy load. They will prevent any load from sliding and causing damage on your truck.
What do we love it for? The ease and quickness of installation is something to marvel at when using this bike rack.
What were we disappointed with? [insert text here]
Thule makes a wide range of products including several models of bike racks. Being a top brand in the market, you’d expect the company to have quality products each time. And Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier does not disappoint.
As basic as it looks, this is also one of the most versatile locking low rider bike racks that you can find. This bike rack features a fork-mounting block that you can mount on all flat surfaces. In this case, you can fasten it on a strong metal surface on your truck bed for a simple and sturdy way to secure your bike.
The Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier has a heavy-duty metal construction, which means that it is both secure and durable. It offers you a wide base with four bolt holes that you can drill at a place of your choosing anywhere in your car. It also comes with a 9mm quick release skewer that locks the fork for a stable ride.
What are our favorite features? This bike rack offers one of the most stable and secure transport experiences. We loved that it was compact too.
What could be better? The Thule Locking Low-Rider Bike Carrier only carries one bike so you may have to invest in several if you have several bikes.
Things to Consider
Owning a truck bed bike rack is an essential need, especially to bikers and other hobbyists. The prospecting of shopping for a truck bed bike rack is exciting, especially if it is your first time to buy one. However, there are several things that you should consider before making that purchase. You simply can’t walk in a store and pick the coolest one. This buying guide will give you more information about truck bed bike racks to help you find the perfect one.
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.
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.
Choosing the perfect size for your truck bed is important but often underestimated. While most bike racks are flexible and will accommodate different truck types, some will need you to know the exact measurements beforehand. If so, you will have to measure the horizontal length and height of your truck bed or its walls. Having an idea of the size of your bed truck will help you estimate the size of the bed rack that you need.
You also need to consider the number of bikes that you want to ferry before you think about purchasing a bike rack. Are you a group of friends that regularly go for hiking? You may want to get a larger bike rack that can accommodate two or even more bikes. Tailgate pads have proven to be super effective in carrying several bikes as one can carry up to 7 bikes with the YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad. If you only want a bike rack for one person then you can get a compact one like Thule Insta-Gater Pro.
Yes, you will have to clean your truck bed bike rack regularly if you want the best performance out of it. Cleaning your bike rack should be done carefully since almost all truck bed bike racks are made from metal and other corrosive materials. That said, cleaning your bike rack is a walk in the park and should take you a few minutes. All you need to do is to get some soap and water then clean it with a damp cloth. You should remember to dry the bike rack well to ensure that it does not start rusting. It is not uncommon for people to forget drying down the nooks and crannies such as the bolts, which ends up causing rust to the whole equipment. Regular cleaning will also improve the life of your bike rack so that you can enjoy it for longer.
Yes, some bike racks can scratch your truck bed and cause the paint to chip off or other types of damage. That said, this will largely depend on the type of truck bed bike rack that you invest in. Tailgate pads are often fitted with padded materials that ensure that the bike does not come into contact with the truck. This is also the same for wheel mount bike racks that you can fit anywhere on your truck bed without causing damage to your truck.
Thule Insta-Gater Pro is our choice for the best truck bed bike rack, and for good reasons. This compact wheel-mount bike rack features a beautiful design made with a strong steel construction. The bike rack comes with a black powder-coated finish that not only looks good but also prevents rust. Securing both your bike ruck and your bike is easy with this bike rack too.
If you would love a premium truck bed bike rack then you should opt for Saris Kool 2. This is a simple bike rack that is jam packed with several unique features. It can accommodate two bikes but it gives you the options to add more fork locks. You can also use it to carry other loads such as your kayak.
Swagman PICKUP is our best value pick if you are looking to get a strong bike rack without breaking the bank. This truck bed bike rack is easy to mount on your truck, lightweight, and very compact. This means you can store it conveniently at home or in your truck.