5 Best Bike Racks for Subaru Forester in 2023 – Tested & Compared

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You know what’s a perfect recipe for a great weekend when you’re a proud member of the Subaru Forester family?

A Subaru Forester + Friends and Family + A Bike Rack + A Few Bikes + One Ride to Rule Them All.

So, if you want this recipe to come to life, you need the best bike rack for Subaru Forester. You can’t go wrong with a Subaru Forester. Any model of this versatile cross-platform SUV would do the trick. However, getting a poor rack will not only harm your expensive bikes, but it’ll also take a few swipes on your beloved Subaru as well.

So, there’s a simple, elegant, and proven solution- a quality bike rack. Years of nurturing my cycling hobby has given me one huge advantage. I’ve tried more bike racks than I’m proud of. I even nearly lost my bike once. And I want you to learn from my mistakes.

On that note, I’ve covered all top-tier bike racks suitable for different Subaru Forester models. Plus, I’ve made you get enough options to choose from the different types of racks. So, let’s take a peek and stay tuned till the end if you want to know what my go-to bike rack is.

Best Bike Rack for Subaru Forester – Quick Chart

Spoiler FriendlyAllen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksSaris Bones Ex Trunk
  • Spoiler Friendly
  • Bike capacity: 3
  • Load capacity: 105 lbs
  • Material: Composite, Plastic
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksAllenSports
Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 4
  • Load capacity: 140 lbs
  • Material: Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksThule Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 70 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksHollywood Tray Racks
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 70 lbs
  • Material: Plastic, Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksMAXXHAUL Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 80 lbs
  • Material: Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksSwagman XC2
Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 70 lbs
  • Material: Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksIKURAM Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 4
  • Load capacity: 140 lbs
  • Material: Alloy Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksKAC Tray Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 60 lbs
  • Material: Alloy Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksRetrospec Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 3
  • Load capacity: 110 lbs
  • Material: Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksAllen Sports
Trunk Rack
  • Bike capacity: 3
  • Load capacity: 100 lbs
  • Material: Steel
Allen Sports 4-Bike Hitch RacksCyclingDeal Roof
Bike Rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Load capacity: 66 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum, Metal

Top 5 Bike Rack for Subaru Forester – Reviews

I’ve handpicked 5 different racks for this list, all of which are suitable for a Subaru Forester. I mentioned what each rack brings to the table. It doesn’t mean I sugarcoat the shortcomings.

So, you’ll get to know about the ins and outs of a bike rack before you put your finger on one.

1. Hollywood Racks Destination Hitch Bike Rack for Subaru Forester

Best Pick
Hollywood Subaru Forester hitch bike rack
Quick Summary:
  • Material: Plastic, Steel
  • Receiver: 1-1/4″ and 2″
  • Item Weight: 24.25 lbs
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Load Capacity: 70 lbs
  • Brand: Hollywood Racks
Check Price on Amazon

I wanted the first bike rack on the list to be something that sits between the premium and budget-oriented range. I had to try out a lot of racks to get the balance right. All of the factors I wanted in a semi-pro rack came together in the Hollywood Racks Destination Platform Hitch Bike Rack.

If you already know your way around bike racks, it’s not news that hitch bike racks are sturdier and more stable compared to the alternatives. So, the Hollywood Racks Destination has a one-up over a lot of bike racks just by being a hitch mount.

The one feature that made this bike rack stand out to me was the multi-layered locking system. Once you set it up, there are straps for the crossbar and the wheels. All I had to do was just fasten these straps and the bikes were ready for the trip.

Also, the rack can work with two different hitch sizes- the universal 2-inch and a 1.25-inch. My Subaru Forester 2019 has a universal hitch receiver.

Hence, I never had to use the latter, but it’s nice to have additional options just in case. This 2-bikes rack can carry up to 70 lbs. (that’s 35lbs per bike). More points for flexibility.

I was able to move the center post around to accommodate different bicycles. Plus, the design choice of using a wrench-like locking device was amazing. It stops the center post from tilting while on the move.

Whenever I didn’t feel like taking the rack out, I could simply fold it up. The fold-up process can’t get any easier than this. Just take the key out from the hitch tube and it’s done. So, if you need the extra space to park your Forester in a garage but don’t want to remove the rack, fold it and you’re good.

The hitch tube is locked in with a threaded bolt. You may not know this, but a threaded bolt works wonders compared to a flatline bolt when it comes to holding down the rack. So, the bikes didn’t sway during the trip. However, you should always maintain a moderate speed when using any bike rack. Even premium racks will give out if you’re driving like it’s someone’s funeral.

Also, the Hollywood Racks Destination comes in two different styles- the two and four platforms. You have the liberty to choose between the two options, depending on how many people or bikes are coming to the trip.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say the one problem with this bike rack is the lack of trunk access. Usually, I expect hitch mount racks to provide trunk access even when the bikes are mounted. However, this rack doesn’t have that feature. I had to take the bikes down before I could open the trunk.

Still, for the price I paid, the Hollywood Racks Destination is a bargain. It has a lot of nifty features that you get from a premium bike rack. But that would take a $500 chunk out of your wallet. So, this bike rack sits in a comfortable middle ground where you get a lot of value from your investment.

2. Retrospec Lenox Car Hitch Mount Bike Rack for Subaru Forester

Best Pick
Retrospec rack
Quick Summary:
  • Material: Steel
  • Hitch Class III & IV
  • Receiver: 2″ hitch
  • Bike Capacity: 3
  • Load Capacity: 110 lbs
  • Brand: Retrospec
Check Price on Amazon

When I was running a little low on budget, I tried browsing through some cost-efficient racks. After going through a few of them, I came across the Restrospec Lenox Hitch Mount bike rack. It is as cheap as they come. Like you, my first thoughts were, something this cheap can’t be of good quality. So, like me, get ready to be amazed because I sure was after trying out the rack.

Apart from the cheap price, the rack has some cool other features as well. It has a steel construction, which ensures durability and longevity. I’ve used the carrier for over a year now and the frame still looks relatively new, but there are some minor scratches. It could be because of my over-protective nature or the build quality or both.

The rack comes in a few different versions: for two, three, four, and five bikes. I’ve used the one that can accommodate three bikes. The maximum weight capacity of this version is about 110lbs, which is more than enough to carry three bikes easily. However, there is a 35lbs weight limit for each bike and make sure your bicycles don’t weigh more than the rated capacity.

It only takes a few minutes to assemble and attach the rack to the receiver. My Subaru Forester 2019 comes with a 2-inch receiver and the carrier’s hitch fits properly with it. Remember, the vehicle you are using must come with a Class II or IV hitch. If it doesn’t then you’ll probably have to use an adapter.

The weakest point of the rack is the rubber straps, which are meant to keep the bikes secured in position. I thought the straps would hold on their own but I was very wrong. After learning my lessons, I started using nylon zip ties and sometimes bungee cords for holding the bikes.

The other thing that bothered me about the rack is the wobbling sound it makes during transportation. The sound makes it seem like the entire thing is going to fall off. Don’t worry it doesn’t. Nonetheless, you can reduce the wobbling with the included adapter; so, no need to waste extra money.

You will also need a bike frame adapter if your bicycles have step-through frames. If not forget I even said anything. Other than that, the rack itself is very compact and you can fold it easily whenever you are not using it.

Furthermore, you can tilt the rack downwards to gain access to the vehicle’s trunk. It comes in handy when you are on the run and don’t plan to remove the entire thing just to have a look at the trunk.

Although the rack comes with its flaws, it is still a great purchase. You can’t expect to get something like this with the money you are spending. Usually, with the same amount, you will get a cheap knockoff that will go down in a few months. So, after considering the price and features I’ve come to the conclusion that the Retrospec Lenox is the best budget bike rack for Subaru Forester.

3. Allen Sports Premier Trunk Mount Bike Rack for Subaru Forester

Budget Pick
trunk bike rack for subaru
Quick Summary:
  • Material: Steel
  • Dimensions: 13.58″ x 4.72″ x 29.13″
  • Carry Arm: 16″ long
  • Bike Capacity: 3
  • Load Capacity: 100 lbs
  • Brand: Allen Sports
Check Price on Amazon

This time, I thought I would go for something different. I’ve already tried out a few hitch-mounted racks; so, I thought why not give trunk-mount racks a shot. After trying out a few of them, I’ve concluded that Premier Trunk Mounted Bike Rack is the best suited for my Subaru Forester 2019. Now, let me walk you through the details and description of my experience with the carrier.

Trunk mount racks are usually not meant for heavy bikes, the same goes for this one as well. Although the weight capacity is around 100lbs, it wouldn’t be wise to carry an ebike that weighs around 70-80lbs alone. However, there are three slots; so naturally, you can use the rack to carry up to three bikes.

I tried carrying three bikes, all of which weighed less than 100lbs in total. The 16-inch-long arms with a narrow design were able to accommodate them easily. The bikes I used had different styles but I made sure not to exceed the rated weight capacity.

The frame, on the other hand, is made up of steel. It looks and feels quite sturdy and durable. I thought the frame would feature cheap hollow metal tubing, considering the price. But much to my surprise, I’ve noticed that every single part looks well-built and made to last for years.

Additionally, the rack comes fully assembled right out of the box.

It took me a while to set it up the first few times, but once I moved past the learning curve, I was able to attach it to my SUV’s trunk in less than 2-3 mins. Whenever you are not planning to use the carrier, you can also fold it effortlessly with just one hand.

The rack comes with ruble cradle straps, which are durable and UV resistant. I was able to use them to secure my bicycles in a few seconds. I’ve noticed that the carrier also came along with a soft cradle bed to make sure my bikes are safe and secured during transportation.

Apart from that, the rack features dual-compound feet made up of soft gray material and hard plastic to protect the finish of your vehicle.

However, the included clips that are meant to stabilize the rig are made using metal. This puts your vehicle’s finish at risk; however, I always took an extra 5-10 minutes before installing.

As the rack is trunk-mounted, the straps that hold it tend to become loose over time. What I mean is, I had to retighten the straps after every 150-200 miles of a journey. The straps would’ve stayed on for much longer but I didn’t want to risk it.

Overall, the rack is an excellent choice when you are on a budget or if your vehicle doesn’t come with trailer hitch receivers. I had a nice experience using the carrier and it felt like not a penny was wasted.

4. Capstone Hitch Mount 2 Bike Carrier for Subaru Forester

Capstone subaru forester bike rack
Quick Summary:
  • Material: Steel
  • Receiver: 2″ hitch
  • Dimensions: 31″ x 19″ x 40″
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Load Capacity: 70 lbs
  • Brand: Capstone
Check Price on Amazon

Another personal favorite of mine is the Capstone Hitch Mount bike rack. I would’ve made it number two or three; however, I couldn’t or didn’t because of its price.

Trust me, it is a pretty neat bike rack and comes with everything one can look for in a carrier but it left a dent in my wallet. Considering that, I moved it to number four on my list of the best.

According to the manufacturers, the rack features a weight capacity of 70lbs; however, that didn’t stop me from testing out its full potential. I used two Ebikes with the rack, both of which weighed around 65-70lbs; so, the weight was around 130-140lbs in total.

I thought I took it too far and the carrier is gonna come off at any moment now, but much to my surprise it didn’t.

The rack held up on its own even though the weight it was carrying was twice the rated weight capacity. Afterward, I took the rack along with the Ebikes out for a spin to see if it remained stable or not. So far, I haven’t come across any turbulence.

On the other hand, the rack features steel construction, which makes it durable and sturdy. There is also the addition of a gray powder coat to further enhance the durability of the carrier, allowing it to perform efficiently for years. I’ve been using the Capstone rack for a few years now and I have to say, it is as tough as they come.

Apart from that, the hitch fits with 2-inch receivers. You can also attach the hitch to 1.25-inch receivers; however, you will need an adapter for it. The adapter doesn’t come along with the package, it is sold separately. So, even if your vehicle doesn’t feature 2-inch receivers, you can always spend some extra cash to get that adapter.

The rack can take different types of bikes with varying wheel sizes due to the adjustable wheel holders and locking hooks. The adjustable wheel holders can carry bikes with tire sizes of 23mm to 5 inches. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are using a road bicycle with thin tires or Ebikes with fat tires, the rack can hold them without any issues.

Nevertheless, there is a catch to carrying bikes with fat tires. This is something that bothered me about the rack. If you look at the bottom of the carrier, you will see some yellow Velcro straps. The straps are supposed to hold fat tires, yet they are way too small for tires of 5-inches or even 3-inches. So, in order to hold my Ebikes, I had to replace the Velcro straps and use something that would stretch with the size of my tires.

Another annoying thing, I noticed is that you need a wrench to remove the rack.

But it doesn’t matter much in the long run. Nevertheless, the anti-wobble securing system along with the swing away feature and foldable tray makes the rack worth the purchase. So, once I looked at the pros, the small cons didn’t bother me at all.

5. CyclingDeal Alloy Car Roof Bike Rack for Subaru Forester

Roof Rack
CyclingDea subaru forester roof mount bike rack
Quick Summary:
  • Material: Aluminum, Metal
  • Item weight: 11 lbs
  • Dimensions: 48.43″ x 7.87″ x 11.81″
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Load Capacity: 66 lbs
  • Brand: CyclingDeal
Check Price on Amazon

Before you think that I’m a crazy guy with five bike racks, let me make this clear to you, no I don’t own five racks, I own four. So, that’s one less crazy in the bag. Coming back to the point, I was introduced to the CyclingDeal bicycle rack through a buddy of mine. During the time he let me keep the carrier, I got to know all about it. Yea, it’s not as good as my other bike racks for Subaru Forester, but it is still one of the best I have ever used so far.

Unlike the last few products, the rack doesn’t come with a hitch nor you can attach it to your trunk instead, this one goes straight to the roof. Now, if you own a Forester, you already know that it has some cool-looking crossbars. That is where the rack will go. However, if for any reason your vehicle doesn’t come with car roof crossbars, I suggest you look into something else.

A good thing about the carrier is that it fits almost all the square and aero crossbars. It is adjustable and can be used with crossbars, featuring a maximum width of 4.3-inches and thickness of 1.18-inches. Hence, you wouldn’t need to worry about the rack not being compatible with the crossbars of your car.

Installing the rack is a piece of cake. You won’t require any tools or whatsoever. Simply, take the carrier, place it on the roof and clamp the metal brackets. You may need to adjust the brackets depending on the diameter of your crossbars, but even that can be easily done.

I’ve noticed that the rack features a 6063-aluminum build, which is considered to be the finest on the market. Let me fill you in a bit about this version of aluminum. It is tough, sturdy, doesn’t rust, looks amazing, and weighs a lot less than steel.

Thus, I’ve used the rack for a few months and during that time, I haven’t come across dents or had to worry about the weight having a bad effect on my car.

The maximum weight capacity of the rack is around 66lbs or 30kgs. The carrier had two slots; so, I was able to fit two bikes there. Both of the bikes I took weighed less than 30kgs; I could’ve tried taking other bikes that weighed more but I didn’t want to exceed the said weight limit.

Securing my bikes to the rack was a simple process. You can use the wheel straps and the clamp strap attached to the frame down tube to keep your bikes safe and secured to the carrier.

Additionally, the rack can take bikes of different shapes and sizes. Just remember the max seat and downtube perimeter is 7.48-inches and the max rim deep is 1.9-inches or 50mm.

The rack is quite cheap but there is a downside to it. The bikes wobble a bit when you are driving. It feels like the bicycles are gonna fall off, but no need to worry because they don’t. Just make sure to secure the bikes properly. So, there is no denying that this is the best roof bike rack for Subaru Forester.

Subaru Forester Bike Rack Buying Guide: Things to Consider

Best Bike Racks for Subaru Forester

I’ve already highlighted all the top-tier bike racks for Subaru Forester. It’s time to walk you through the screening process I used to select/eliminate racks from this list. So, the factors I’m about to present will give you two things- A) Justification of why I’ve selected these five bike racks and B) A map to select the best bike rack for Subaru Forester by yourself. Let’s get started.

The Type of Rack Takes Precedence

Before I drop the technical bomb consisting of build quality, load capacity, holding mechanism, and all that, I would like to show you the different types of racks you get to choose for a Subaru Forester. You have to choose one based on your budget, the number of bikes you want to carry, and the condition of the road.

Subaru Forester Hitch Bike Rack

Compared to other types of racks, the hitch-mount is a bit expensive. I know I’ve started with the biggest drawback, but hear me out. The stability you get from a hitch-mount rack makes up for it. When you have a pair of high-priced bikes, I would recommend investing in a hitch rack for your Subaru Forester.

Hitch-Mount Bike Racks for Subaru Forester
When you have a pair of high-priced bikes, I would recommend investing in a hitch rack for your Subaru Forester. Photo: subaruforester.org

So, what’s up with these racks, and why hitch-mounted bike racks are perfect choice for any Subaru Forester?

For starters, hitch-mount racks are connected to a hitch that you have to install separately on your vehicle. The connection between the receiver tube and the hitch tube keeps the bikes steady. Also, this option is by far the safest when it comes to carrying more than 2 bikes.

Subaru Forester Trunk Bike Rack

In the word of bike mounting, trunk-mount racks are the cheapest option. If you’re tight on funds, these racks will get you where you need to go without you having to bring out the big bucks. However, the stability isn’t as stellar as you get from a hitch-mount rack. However, these racks block the trunk completely. Once you place your bikes on the wheelbase, you’ll lose access to the trunk.

Subaru Forester Roof Bike Rack

Roof-mount racks can also be pretty costly depending on the quality of the product.

These racks will not interfere with trunk access. You can use the Forester’s trunk anytime you want, even after mounting a lot of bikes. The only issue is that you have to carry the bike from the ground to the roof and balance it in mid-air to get the positioning right. People with arthritis or any other physical limitations will have a tough time.

Load Capacity is the Next Concern in Line

After you’re done picking a rack, the next item of business is a rack’s load capacity. However, you don’t have to read too much into it because it’s a pretty simple look-and-decide matter.

Load Capacity
I always get a bike rack that has more load capacity than the cumulative weight of my bikes. Photo: subaruforester.org

Every bike rack you look up should mention how much weight it can take. If you know the weight of your bike, it’s an easy calculation from there. However, in case of assessing the weight a bike rack can take, I like to err on the side of caution. I always get a bike rack that has more load capacity than the cumulative weight of my bikes.

So, if a couple of bikes I want to carry weigh around 50lbs, I like getting a rack that can hold at least 55 to 60lbs. However, this is just a personal preference. You do you.

What Holding Mechanisms are at Play?

Now that you’ve covered how much a bike rack should hold, the next question is- how does it hold? There are different holding mechanisms and each manufacturer does it differently. However, the major contenders that’ll confuse you are- locking hooks and ratchet straps.

The locking hooks are excellent for bikes that have a high crossbar. Most bikes have a high crossbar, and that’s why a lot of people opt for this holding mechanism. It minimizes sway, and there’s no risk of it ripping into shreds when you’re cruising through the highway.

Ratchet straps, on the other hand, have the upper hand on versatility. No crossbar or low crossbar doesn’t hold a candle to the strap holding mechanism. You fasten the strap and you’re good to go. However, you need to be careful with your driving because bikes may sway a little, depending on the quality of the straps.

A Badass Build-Quality

It’s kind of a given, but I should still point this out. A Subaru Forester isn’t some crossover SUV that you get by exchanging peanuts. You have to pay some serious dough to get into the Forester family. That’s why the build-quality of the bike rack isn’t something you should look past.

subaru forester bike racks build quality
Build quality of the Subaru Forester bike racks should be solid. Period. Photo: subaruforester.org

Again, there are plenty of options. The safest bet would be to go with steel construction. However, you have to be on your guard while installing the mount and driving. Steel is perfect for strength but it’s also a recipe for disaster if your Forester or the bikes you’re carrying come into contact with the rack.

The other option would be aluminum or hardened plastic. While both of these materials don’t have the same muscle, they won’t put angry scratch marks on your vehicle and bikes if used correctly. I prefer hardened plastic because I’m really finicky about keeping my possessions free from scratch.

Putting a Wrap on It

Having a world-class crossover SUV and not being able to use it to take your bikes out for a ride is a buzzkill. Once you get a top-shelf bike rack, it’s pretty much a cakewalk from there on out.

I’ve used, tested, loved, rejected, a lot of bike racks over the years. That’s how I got to this list. While my journey of making this list was tedious, your journey of taking your bike from point A to point B doesn’t have to be.

If I had to bestow the title of the best bike rack for Subaru Forester on one particular carrier, I’d place my bet on the Hollywood Racks Destination. It’s a stellar bike rack because it gives you all the fundamental features you’d want from a high-end rack. While the price can seem intimidating, you’ll see that it’s pretty cheap if you compare it to other premium hitch-mount racks like Thule Pro 2.

However, people who lean towards versatility should look into CyclingDeal Alloy Bicycle Carrier Rack. It’s a roof-mount, so you’d be able to carry other stuff well.

So, get that Subaru Forester out, slap that rack on, place’em bikes, and get rolling. Cheers!

Also Read: Expert reviews of bike rack for Honda CRV

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of RackTutor.com. In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

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