Ideal Hitch Bike Rack is an elusive product if you ask me. There’s no definitive answer to the question, “Which is the best one?” As a result, you’ll find numerous articles on the topic. All claiming to be the final nail on the coffin (read: answer to the puzzle).
Well, mine is also an article on Best 5-Bike Hitch Racks. However, I’m not claiming to be a know-it-all guy on the topic. Neither is this “One Solution Fits All” type of guide. Rather, it’s my attempt at reviewing some of the competent bike racks out there which can carry the load.
In this article, I’ll review products that I’ve used and researched in the past. These products are quite capable of handling any type of bike you throw at them. Needless to say, that these things are good for pulling the weight of your entire family (their bikes to be perfectly clear).
At the fag end of the article, I’ve tucked in my own notes as well. These are the waypoints I followed to get the research done to find these products. I’ll make sure you guys know everything I do. It took me several years of riding bikes to get this far.
Hopefully, this article is all you’ll ever need.
Best 5-Bike Hitch Rack – Quick Comparison
|Thule Apex XT|
|YAKIMA 5-Bike |
Top-Rated 5-Bike Hitch Racks Available for Purchase – My Recommendations
There might be a lot of brands offering hitch bike racks for five bikes, very few of them deliver. You’ll have to consider a bunch of things while sorting your list out. Not every rack will satisfy your needs. At the same time, racks that do… might not be cheap.
Hence, it’s hard to find the right match. Well, that’s until you read my guide. In this section, I’ll review some of the brands and products I’ve tried and tested over the years. Naturally, I kept a slew of things in mind while choosing these. Let’s go over brief reviews of 5 of these products.
1. Allen Sports 5-Bike Hitch Racks
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Hitch Receiver: 2″
- Item Weight: 20 lbs
- Bike Capacity: 5
- Load Capacity: 175 lbs
- Brand: Allen Sports
Allen is as versatile of a brand as they come. They have a little something for everyone. Even if you have a two inch-hitch on your car, these guys designed a bike rack for it. This rack can accommodate up to five bikes, gets out of the way when you need to, and is secure.
This bad boy looks nice with a steel body. I mean, it’s durable and can take a bit of beating. Allen Hitch Rack carries weight. Let me give you that. However, this sturdy piece of furniture is coated in black. The color WILL give into fading. But it’ll be a long time coming, believe me.
I liked the “Tie-Down” system more than some of the other mechanics in place. It’s essentially a cradle that rotates. This is just to help people like us to find a suitable position on this bike rack. Also, it opens up wide to incorporate a range of bike sizes.
Once the bike is set into the system, you’ll have to tighten the straps. This will firmly lock the bike in position. Other than tornados, huge earthquakes, and the end of the world… our bikes are secure with Allen Sports Hitch Racks. Make sure to load each bike in an alternate position.
Don’t get me wrong, 28-inch carry arms are nice to have. I’m sure many of the racks would have that. However, it’d be trouble if those racks stuck out at the back of our cars/SUVs “All the Time” like sore thumbs. Just imagining such as scenario hurts me. Allen has a simple solution!
The carry arm is foldable! When not in use, it stays out of the way. This is immensely helpful when someone is lifting the hatch at the back to get things out on a brunch picnic.
Now, when we’re talking about easy access, the mainmast folds as well. This is to allow the back hatch of our cars to open up without any trouble.
People use these racks for adult bikes. However, they miss a trick or two. For example, this product is ideal for small-size bikes as well. I could fit in my niece’s toddler bike on the hitch without any issues so to speak.
With bike racks, there’s a copious amount of work involved. Assembling one is a hard task, to say the least. Not with this baby it isn’t! People can assemble it within “Five” minutes. Yes, even if you’ve never had any experience with these products.
Don’t worry when joining the hitch and mast together. Allen provides users with bolts that don’t wobble when you tighten them. Of course, you’ll have to use the appropriate wrenches for the job. Don’t worry if it feels wrong at first.
Just remember: There’s a manual in place if something goes south. Refer to it and you’ll be fine.
However, everything isn’t all “Peaches” if you know what I mean. If you set the bikes up too low to the ground, the handlebars might rattle a bit.
Another niggle is the hitch rattling a fair bit when our SUV hits the ground too hard. Quality control should inspect the joints before sending these products off to people.
2. Thule Apex XT 5-Bike Hitch Rack
- Material: Metal
- Hitch Receiver: 1.25″ & 2″
- Item Weight: 35 lbs
- Bike Capacity: 5
- Load Capacity: 150 lbs
- Brand: Thule
As you’d expect, Thule Apex XT is another one of those racks which fit with 2-inch hitches. However, that’s not the entire story. People can set it up with 1.25-inch hitches as well. This thing weighs about 35lbs. Yes, considering how many bikes you can carry, it’s rather light.
Speaking of bikes, this rack doesn’t let my bikes collide with each other. Believe it or not, there’s a whopping 7-inch gap between each of my three bikes. Thanks to this, these babies don’t have a brush with each other. Trust me, I haven’t had a single scratch on them!
How could I? I mean, Apex XT comes with a cradle that holds our bikes in place. It doesn’t sway. The best thing is… it will vanish when you’re not stacking your bikes. Apex XT Hitch Bike Rack comes with a maximum weight limit of 37 lbs. There won’t be any issues with the rack breaking down.
That’s not nearly the end of it. People have a cable lock to keep their bikes secure. The 7-inch space between bikes is enough for safe transport. Call the lock something “Extra.” As with other things… I could put it away inside the hitch when I took my bikes out for a ride.
If it wasn’t clear before, this thing is a “Tilt-Away” bike rack. Meaning, it moves away from the rear door or trailer when people want to access them. Oh, you can attach this thing with your car, truck, trailer, and similar vehicles without any issues. It takes little time to set things up.
By little time, I mean… minutes! I could set things up without using any tools. Furthermore, mine came with the SnugTite Stinger feature. Apex XT can lock itself in your vehicle and not shake.
Even people aren’t carrying bikes, this thing is not a nuisance. Both of its arms fold nicely. This makes sure your bike rack doesn’t collide with other cars and cost you repair bills.
If I HAD to compare things, I’d say it’s lighter than Yakima HoldUp. That’s a plus. At the same time, it takes time to load or unload my bikes. More than Yakima HoldUp I’d say.
Also, you get two locks and keys with it. One COULD try fitting two locks at the same time. However, watch out for the type of locks you’re using.
The last thing that left me bitter towards Apex XT is the bike types it accepts. There’s not a lot of bikes you can pair up with it. You’ll need separate adapters for ladies’ bikes.
3. YAKIMA – FullTilt Tilting Hitch Rack for 5 Bikes
- Hitch Receiver: 1.25″ & 2″
- Item Weight: 40 lbs
- Bike Capacity: 5
- Load Capacity: 150 lbs
- Brand: YAKIMA
This is the perfect solution for those who want a bigger capacity in terms of weight. Yakima FullTilt gives us a 40 lbs weight limit for every bike. Multiply it by five and you get a 150 lbs total weight limit. This is huge if you have one or two heavy bikes and the rest of them are average.
This particular model (YAKIMA FullTilt 4) is equipped to handle any and every bike you throw at it. With a twist, of course. The bikes need to be of traditional geometry. Slanted bikes will require an adapter. Don’t worry, with a bit of extra money, it’s easily purchasable.
This hitch bike rack fits perfectly with 1-1/4-inch to 2-inch receivers. Yes, it’s flexible and easy to install like the best 5-bike hitch rack candidates on my list.
You don’t have to do much. This thing comes fully assembled right from the start. There’s only the case of fitting it to the receiver. This is a no-brainer as the “AutoPin” can position itself and fit into the receiver in a second.
The arms of this rack wrapped my bike in “Complete” protection and safety. Padding was the key here. Unlike most of the brands, YAKIMA – FullTilt is completely padded. These things fold when you’re not using them. Convenient? You bet they are!
Additionally, I had straps (which came with the rack) as a backup. ZipStrps (as they are called) secure bikes flawlessly to the rack. I didn’t notice sudden movements or unnatural shaking of my two-wheelers. These things are durable. Don’t expect them to be torn anytime soon.
As with every hitch rack YAKIMA’s got. This one is smart as well. I found the nifty locking system handy. You see… these guys give us SpeedKnob. People can install this thing “Tool-Free.”
This goes into your vehicles. Plus, there is an SKS cable lock system. It secures the mounts that hold our racks. I could set it up behind my car and run off to the wilderness without worrying about uneven terrains or ditches.
This is a tilt-away hitch. Meaning, the UpperHand will move away to make way for the rear part of the car once you open the hatch. Also, it folds when not in use and is unmounted. Storing this thing is a piece of cake. You just need to find a convenient place. That’s it!
However, I do have my share of beef with this product as well. The security straps, for example, are a bit short for my taste. Also, if you’re a short fellow… this WILL become an issue. This rack sits pretty high as is. You’ll have troubles loading and unloading stuff.
4. Retrospec Lenox Car Hitch Mount Bike Rack for 5 Bikes
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Hitch Receiver: 2″
- Item Weight: 25 lbs
- Bike Capacity: 5
- Load Capacity: 170 lbs
- Brand: Retrospec
Well, if you guys have class III and class IV 2-inch hitches… you’re in luck. Retrospec Lenox is tailor-made for you! Especially, Diamond Frame bikes are perfect matches for these babies. Of course, you’ll be able to tow other bikes with variable frame types and sizes.
With the maximum weight capacity of 170lbs, this one tops my chart. If you’re willing to do some minor assembly. Lenox Car Hitch Bike is ripe for the taking. Don’t worry, the tools you need are already included in the package. You just need to do some tweaking.
I liked the design, it’s compact. I mean… it won’t look too big or small compared to your car. It’s “Just” the right size. Also, it folds away when not needed. Hence, no trouble storing it in a convenient place either.
Despite being small, this thing is pretty secure as well. I saw numerous measures just to keep my bikes safe while moving them. For example, the “Carry Arm” has enough space to accommodate five bikes without any problems. No bike will collide with another.
The spacing serves another purpose. Thanks to this, people can use this rack to carry bikes of different frame sizes. No external support is needed. This is what I like about Retrospec.
Also, you’ll have “Tie-Down” straps in place. These straps hold bikes firmly in place to prevent shaking. You won’t feel a thing when going over uneven roads and terrains. The straps tie each bike individually and still achieve the feat. Truly, a commendable effort!
Things don’t end here! Retrospec Lenox guys threw an adapter in the mix as well. This tiny thing minimizes wobbles your bike must have while you take the long road.
Just to give you an idea about how good the product is, I took it on a drive loaded with five bikes at 45 M/G. This thing remained steady and I didn’t experience any drag at all. My bikes were perfectly fine. Yes, this is a Chinese product. But it does its job and does it well.
The issue I noticed was in the “Hitch Pin.” It might turn out to be too small for even the “Standard” sized hitch lock on your vehicle. It’s better to have spare ones ready and at hand when the stock pin doesn’t work. If it’s not an issue for you… you’re one lucky guy (or gal).
I’ve seen people complaining about the rack being loose when you fold it. Hey, this is pretty normal if you ask me. It squeaks when folded as well. Go ahead and buy a “Quieting Bracket” to stiff this baby up. Yes, these brackets have a purpose as well.
5. CURT 18065 Premium Trailer Hitch 5-Bike Rack
- Material: Carbide Black Powder Coat
- Hitch Receiver: 2″
- Item Weight: 42.6 lbs
- Bike Capacity: 5
- Load Capacity: 225 lbs
- Brand: CURT
As we move down to the fifth product on my list of the best 5-bike hitch rack candidates, CURT 18065 is hardly a surprise addition. I found versatility by my side when I saw the option of mounting adult as well as kids’ bikes on the rack. This is designed for the entire family!
Okay, so what’s the secret? Why does it accommodate most bike sizes? Well, this particular product comes with tapered arms. You could adjust these arms to fit large or small frame sizes. You don’t have to buy separate adapters of any kind.
Let me blow your mind with the sheer weight capacity of this monster. This thing can hold 5 bikes amounting to 225lbs of weight. Curt 18065 can tank more weight than any other bike rack on my list. There’s no secret to it. This thing has a strong build with robust parts. That’s it!
Having a strong build means CURT 18065 is heavy. At least, it’s heavier than the competition.
Just to secure your bikes further, the rack uses rubber cradles instead of standard ones. These are adjustable. Thanks to this, there won’t be noises of any kind.
Don’t worry about moving, shaking, and bikes turning while you’re on the road either. But you know the deal already, don’t you?
Besides cars and SUVs, this little product can be set up with trailers as well. I could set it up behind my RV thanks to the towable shank that I could attach with it. Yes, it’s compatible with one. As with the other products on my list, this one too fits well with 1-1/4 to 2-inch receivers.
In case you’re worried, it comes with a hitch pin to better attach itself with your hitches. The pin is what the guys call “Anti-Rattle.” So, it doesn’t move or shake one bit. Plus, this thing is rather easy to set up when you need it the most. People can quickly put it away as well.
Don’t worry about storing it. It’s not a big deal. CURT 18065 has foldable arms. Fold them when you’re not using them. This way, you can put it into your cupboard or cabinet without compromising extra space. This is particularly helpful for people living in small apartments.
CURT 18065 is a tilt-away bike rack. Meaning, when you open the rear hatch of your car, it moves away to make sure there aren’t any problems. This will prevent damages to the rack as well.
Don’t worry about the safety of the rack. It includes reflectors to ensure constant monitoring and safety. There’s a support strap as well. This keeps my bike(s) stable when I’m riding through muddy or rough terrain out there. The strap can be detached if not needed like so many of its parts.
If you think I’m done singing its praises, you’re wrong. CURT 18065 comes with a black powder coating. The coating is corrosion-resistant. Also, it doesn’t let rain affect the rack by forming a protective layer over it. Not even dirt can cause problems for the rack. It’s weather-proof.
Now, I learnt two things the hard way. Firstly, DO NOT pull the straps to tighten them when towing a bike. The straps are just fine. They should hold your bikes snugly. They aren’t designed to hold the bikes tightly. Push them too much and they’ll snap. I’ve had to change a few myself.
You’ll need some tools to assemble and install this thing. It’s not as simple as YAKIMA or THULE installation is. Also, you’ll need to remove the pin if you want to tilt the rack all the way down.
Things I Kept in Mind While Choosing These Racks for 5 Bikes
It goes without saying that I didn’t pluck these bike racks out of thin air. I had to do my own research to find these. In this part of the article, I’ll be sharing tidbits of my process and give you a heads up. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Build Quality Matters in These 5-Bike Racks
The basic functions of these racks are to carry five bikes at a time and keep them safe. Naturally, they’d have to be sturdy and be able to withstand the load. They should remain sturdy while carrying the maximum number of bikes. Find a compatible brand.
YAKIMA and Allen-Sports are frontrunners in my opinion. These babies won’t need extra adapters (in most cases) for bikes to be fitted in. Also, these things are safe. You can count on them not to give up on you during repeated trips to the countryside or the mountains.
I’d Check for Weight Capacity of These Things as Well
When you’re buying a hitch mount 5-bike rack, the longevity of the product is crucial. The ideal choice shouldn’t crumble under too much weight. The more weight it can hold, the better.
This way, you can carry bikes of different weights. This allows people to carry road bikes, fat bikes, bikes with heavy frames, adult, and kids’ bikes as well. You don’t need to go too far and scour the internet for hours to get one of these. My list has one of these right here.
Go for CURT 18065 if you want a rack that can lift it. This monster can carry a combined weight of up to 225lbs. Compared to all the features and perks, I’d say the price is reasonable, to say the least. Plus, the black coating makes it eligible for use in different weather conditions.
The Rack SHOULD NOT Obstruct Your Vehicle in Any Way
Hitch bike racks are set up to be attached at the rear of your vehicles. Naturally, there should be a mechanism in place for them to move out of the way when we open up the rear hatch of the car or doors of our trailers. You should go for the swing-away racks or tilt-down bike racks.
Swing away bike racks automatically move away from the hatch when you open them. You don’t have to do a thing. On the downside, they’re a bit slow when it comes to loading and unloading bikes when you’re on a trip to the countryside or in the mountains.
Tilt-down bike racks move downward when you open the trailer doors or car hatches. This happens thanks to a detection system in place. However, with age, the detection system starts to fail. Furthermore, they are more suited to trucks than cars or SUVs.
In short, you can’t pair them with everything.
The Bike Rack Should be Quick to Assemble
While this is not a must (if you’re an expert at putting things together), quick assembly helps. Especially, if you’re a newbie. I’d prefer something that comes assembled and ready to use right off the box. YAKIMA Full-Tilt is one product I love just because it takes the hassle away.
Now, I know of products that are feature-heavy but don’t come assembled. They might require minor assembly as well (cue: Retrospec Lenox). Whatever the case, these products should at least have a manual to go on. Also, they should (most of them do) include tools in the package.
These tools help people to put things together within a short time. Also, cuts down the cost of visiting a technician. It might not amount to much but consider three or four visits a year and you’ll see the money hemorrhaging in no time.
Buy A 5-Bike Rack That’s Secure Enough
Our bikes are our investments. That’s why we need to go for a rack that keeps them safe. Especially, when we’re carrying five bikes at a time.
That’s why a rack with a “Good” lock is par for the course. The lock should be easily controllable. Check if your bike rack comes with a strap.
You might not think too much of a strip but it helps in keeping the rack steady. A good strap helps in maintaining the balance of the rack. As a result, it doesn’t tilt when carrying bikes.
Some racks like (YAKIMA Full-Tilt) come with an adapter as well. It connects the hitch with the car’s body to keep it in place when the car is moving around. There are aftermarket products as well. Meaning, you can buy aftermarket straps even if your product doesn’t have them.
People might not mention it often in their blogs but a hitch lock is pretty important when it comes to security measures. Most of the racks will have one, no doubt. But not all locks will fit well with the pin. In that case, your rack will wobble and fall off the car/truck.
The best way out is to keep a spare lock at hand. Just like the straps, I talked about; you’ll find aftermarket hitch bike locks as well. Price is quite reasonable, to say the least.
Make Sure the Rack Perfectly Accommodates Your Bikes
I know, whether we use these products with our cars or trailers, we’re looking for something that can hold 5 bikes at a time. Make no mistake, they’re designed to carry five mountain bikes, road bikes, and even fat bikes. However, many of the products simply pile on the bikes.
Very few bike racks are like CURT 18065 which comes with a tapered rubber cradle. You’ll find straps to tighten the bikes with the handle as well. Some of the best hitch mount 5-bike racks have enough space on the cradle. This allows some much-needed space between the bikes.
Adjust the straps to fit snugly and your bikes are all set. You won’t experience the rattling of your bikes, shaking, moving, and any drag when you’re on a long-distance journey.
There’s a small glitch to it all. These racks reside at a higher price than their competitors. But the price is worth every penny in my opinion.
Let’s Put an End to Our Chat
Bike Racks are tricky things. No matter how big of a price you pay, you might end up getting a fragile product. Fast-forward a year or two and you’ll notice yourself surfing eCommerce stores for a new one. That’s why you need an expert (cue: me) to guide you through the purchase.
Hence, I put together the buying guide as a “Point A to Point B” solution for my readers. This will help you determine what you need and which brand provides a better solution to your unique problems. In other words, it’ll hold your hands when you need it to.
My list of Best 5-bike hitch racks, however, will give you products that are tried and tested by many riders. Now, I’m strictly against picking favorites as these are great products by themselves. Yet, one can go for YAKIMA Full-Tilt if he/she wants a good build.
For the tweakers and DIY enthusiasts, Retrospec Lenox can be a good pick. The assembly needs some doing. On the other hand, go for CURT 18065 if you want everything managed and done for you. This one comes “Ready” out of the box.
So, which one did you pick? Is it one from my list? Is your product something that avoided my radar? Do let me know in the comments!