How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback – All You Need Is a Rack!

This article will walk you through the best bike racks for a hatchback, the best way to install it, and how to fit a woman’s bike without a top bar.
Gloria Bussey
Gloria Bussey
Product Research and Writer
Gloria is a talented writer based in Chattanooga, TN and enjoys kayaking and mountain biking. She graduated with a business degree in 2007 and is now working on a master's i read more
Reviewed By
Steven Martin
Steven Martin
Vehicle Fit Expert and Consultant
Steven is a skilled car mechanic based in Denver, CO. He's a passionate hiker, devoted backcountry camper and his mechanic expertise allows him to maximize space in any vehi read more
Last updated: August 31, 2023
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Is there anything better than the thrill that comes with cycling your mountain bike on your favorite trail? If you’re a bike lover, then few things come close to this! There’s something refreshing about exploring new terrains and going on constant adventures.

If you live in a city or your favorite trail is far from your home, the major challenge that you’re likely facing is transporting the bike. If you have a hatchback and are unsure of how to fit the rack, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install a bike rack on a hatchback!

What Is the Best Bike Rack for a Hatchback? 

Folding bicycles are easy to transport as you can simply fold them up and store them in your car’s trunk. Other types of bikes, on the other hand, require assistive gear, which is where bike racks come into play. A bike rack is also known as a bicycle carrier rack and is an accessory that helps car owners carry their bikes as they travel. These racks can either be mounted on the car’s roof or at the back and eliminate the risk of your bike getting scratches during transportation. 

The main role of a bike ride is to provide your bike with a sturdy frame that can keep it stable and secure. This gives you the freedom to take your bike with you anywhere, including on picnic sites and out-of-town trails. 

There are 4 main types of bike racks: Hitch-mounted bike racks, Trunk-mounted bike racks, Roof-mounted bike racks, Bike racks for pickup trucks.  

Hitch Racks

How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback - All You Need Is a Rack!
Hitch racks are best suited for hatchbacks because their design is adapted to these kinds of cars. Depending on the rack you go for, you can even mount up to 5 bikes at the same time, making them perfect for family cycling sessions. The best part about hitch-mounted bike racks is that they are one of the most affordable alternatives, and they’re very easy to mount. 

There are hitch bike racks that go beyond your vehicle’s design, but most of the time, these racks tilt sideways, open up, or swing back. The main benefits of using a hitch rack include:

  •  They secure your bike and minimize dangerous wobbles that could damage it.
  • Most of them are foldable when not in use.
  • Assembly is pretty quick and straightforward.

The only major downside is that the racks with advanced designs are usually expensive. 

Trunk-mounted Racks

How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback - All You Need Is a Rack!
One of the reasons why this type of bike rack is preferred is because the setup process is relatively easy. You just need to put the rack on the hatch and secure the straps.  They are also versatile, and you can use them on various types of cars of varying sizes. This makes them perfect for the regular rider. 

Roof-mounted Bike Racks

How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback - All You Need Is a Rack!
These types of bike racks are the most secure option but are more permanent. They’re also only suitable for larger hatchbacks. 

If you’re looking for the best bike rack for your hatchback, it’s important to note that a one-size-fits-all approach never works. You should make your choice on the specific brand based on your preferred bike rack material, budget, type of bike you own, and most importantly, the type of car you plan on using. 

Installing a Bike Rack

According to The Guardian Trusted Source Pollutionwatch: why cycling is better for you in 99% of world's cities | Pollution | The Guardian While pollution and road safety are concerns, the benefits of riding a bike generally outweigh the risk. , cycling is great for you in 99% of all cities. Previous studies revealed that the main downside of cycling is breathing in polluted air. Cyclists tend to breathe in faster than other commuters, and if the air is polluted, they’ll be highly affected. However, this is only a risk in 1% of cities globally. 

If you’ve just started cycling and don’t know how to install the bike rack on your cat cake, we’ve compiled a simple guide below. 

Most of the time, assembling and installing a bike rack doesn’t require any tools. However, the installation process is often different depending on the model, type, and brand of bike rack that you pick. There are various ways of installing a bike rack on your hatchback, but we’ve highlighted how you can do it in 7 easy steps.

Step 1: Open Up Your Bike Rack

The exact shape that your bike rack opens is dependent on the model of your car, but most of them tend to open in an arc shape. If you own a sedan or Coupe, the rack should mount at the trunk’s back and top. For the installation process of 4×4’s, SUVs, and hatchbacks, one of the ends mounts against the trunk’s bottom while the other end mounts against the rear window.

Here’s a quick pro-tip: if you’re having a hard time identifying the side that’s supposed to face upwards, you should take a closer look at the arms that are supposed to secure your bike. Position them to make sure that they are facing upwards, and you’ll notice that the rack will be correctly placed.


Step 2: Attach the Clips to the Trunk

The clips are supposed to be attached in the cases where the car is separated from the truck. Make sure you hook them on both sides of the trunk, the top and bottom. It’s important that you refrain from forcing the clips in but instead look for spots where they’re supposed to hook in. You should also note that all clips are equally important, and if there are some that aren’t attached, you should look around your rack to identify whether you may have missed any spots.

Step 3: Secure the Strap

This step is fairly straightforward, and you can easily do this by tightening all the straps. Look out for any excess straps from the clip or wires from the clamp, and then pull them firmly into place. Keep in mind that you’ll be driving with your bike, and if the rack is not secure, you risk damaging your bikes as they will collide and cause scratches. 

Step 4: Find Out How Reliable the Bike Rack Is
How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback - All You Need Is a Rack!

Would you buy a car without going for a test drive? Probably not! So, don’t risk taking your bikes along with you without first checking how secure the bike rack is. For this step, you’ll have to shake the rack to test its strength. Hold the rack with your hands and shake it from side to side. If it’s secure, its movements will be synchronized with those of your car. If you notice that the rack is moving around, you should repeat step 3 and check out all the straps to ensure that they are all secure. 

A secure bike rack ensures that even when you accelerate, slow down or take corners, the rack will still remain stable and protect your bikes from getting scratches. 

Step 5: Lock the Bike’s Arms Into Place

These arms are meant to keep your bikes in place as you drive, and while each model and make is different in its locking mechanism when you pull the bike arms up, they should fall in place. Most models have a screw to tighten them. Keep in mind that you need to lock both arms in pace. They should also be positioned in a way that they are slightly facing upwards. This is a functional design element as it ensures that if the straps of the bike rack malfunction, you can easily replace or secure them. 

Step 6: Place Your Bike on the Rack
How to Install a Bike Rack on a Hatchback - All You Need Is a Rack!

You should be very careful on this step because any slight mishap could cause damage to both your bike and the car. Start by placing the topmost part of your bike frame into the racks’ arms. Ensure that the weight of the bike is evenly distributed for increased stability. We also recommend that you place a clean piece of cloth between the bike rack and your bike so that even if the bike rack becomes unstable, your car’s paintwork won’t be damaged. 

Step 7: Secure the Bike by Clamping the Arms Down on your Bike’s Frame

It’s important to note that there’s no exact method of securing the frame, and this is highly dependent on the model of the rack or frame. Some models have a clamp that you have to press down before locking it into place, while others come with a strap for you to tighten or fix on the frame so that it’s secure. Whichever method you encounter, you should ensure that the frame is secured on both arms so that your bike doesn’t move as you drive. Make sure that you shake the bike after this step to check whether it’s securely fastened. If you notice a rattling/ knocking sound or it moves a lot, then it’s not properly installed. 

How to Fit a Women’s Bike Without a Top Bar

According to the New York Times Trusted Source Why Women Are Biking in Record Numbers in N.Y.C. When the pandemic hit, draining streets of traffic, more women began using the city’s bike-share program. , after the pandemic, more women began to embrace cycling. Unfortunately, a significant chunk of bike racks in the market today don’t put women’s bikes into consideration. They’re mostly designed to ensure that the top tube of the bike’s frame is located on the rack’s pads. This is why it’s so challenging to install women’s bikes on your hatchback. Here are 2 methods that you can use.

With Frame Adapter

Since most women’s bikes don’t have a top bar, you’ll need a frame adapter, also referred to as a bicycle crossbar adapter. Based on multiple reviews, the Retrospec adjustable adapter is one of the best in the market and is perfect for non-conventional bike frames. It’s a universal fit, can hold a maximum bicycle weight of 45lbs, and is designed for use on trunk-mounted bike racks and hitch racks. It’s also easy to install as no assembly is required. 

This is the easiest way of fitting a woman’s bike on your hatchback because once you install the adaptor, you simply follow the above 7 steps, and you’re good to go!

Without Frame Adapter

If you don’t have a frame adaptor, you should:

Step 1: Open your bike rack. Don’t forget that the opening mechanism is different based on the model you own. 

Step 2: Connect it to your bike. Strap a bike on your rack and ensure that they are well fastened. We recommend that you look for a partner on this step so that they can hold the bike in place for you, ultimately speeding up the process. 

Step 3: fasten the delicate parts. They include baskets, lights, and fenders and often get damaged easily. Be very careful when you’re fastening your bike to make sure that the straps don’t press firmly on these parts. We recommend that you use extra padding to protect them. 

Once you’re done securing your bike, you should then install the rack on your hatchback.

If you plan on using your bike for picnicking or any other activity that requires you to stay away from your bike for a while, don’t forget to buy a reliable lock. According to most reviews, the Kryptonite New York bike lock is one of the most secure as it’s made from hardened steel that can resist most tools and cutters. The manufacturer also has an anti-theft protection offer. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning a cycling adventure and are wondering how to install a bike rack on a hatchback, the above step-by-step guide is all you need. Bike racks are an essential accessory, especially if you often go to out-of-town trails. They allow you to safely transport your bicycle without causing any damages to the parts. The alternative is peddling your bike on your preferred location, which is often impractical if the trail is very far from your home. Don’t forget to test how well the rack is fastened to your car and to use a clean rag between the rack and the vehicle to avoid ruining your car’s paint job. 


Pollutionwatch: why cycling is better for you in 99% of world
While pollution and road safety are concerns, the benefits of riding a bike generally outweigh the risk.
Why Women Are Biking in Record Numbers in N.Y.C.
When the pandemic hit, draining streets of traffic, more women began using the city’s bike-share program.
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