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Best Bike Bar Adapter

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If you’re planning on carrying your bike or bikes on a car rack, you may find yourself needing a bike bar adapter.

This article helps you find the best one for your car. Our top pick is the Saris Bike Beam for its great design, high-quality construction and broad compatibility.

We’ll help you find the best bike frame adapter bar for your bike as well as offering handy buying advice.

Top Picks:

Top 11 Best Bike Rack Adapter Bars Reviewed

We’ve created a list of eleven high-quality top tube adaptors for you to consider.

1. Saris Bike Beam (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

For its wide-ranging compatibility, build quality and great design, the Saris Bike Beam takes the top spot among our reviews. It holds bikes of up to 35 lbs.

The Saris Bike Beam accommodates 14.5” to 27.5” distances between the seat tube and handlebar post. Sliding collars click reassuringly into place as you install this sturdy crossbar adapter.

What We Like:

  • Construction – excellent build quality.
  • Design – easy-to-use sliding mechanism.
  • Warranty – lifetime warranty.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Price – more economical solutions exist.

2. Yakima TubeTop Adapter (runner up)

Yakima TubeTop Adapter

CHECK PRICE AT REI

Able to support bikes weighing up to 45 lbs, the Yakima TubeTop Adapter is extendable from 14” to 30” and works with most types of bike.

The large molded collars of this top tube adapter help prevent damage to your bike’s seat post and handlebar post.

What We Like:

  • Simple – easy to use.
  • Sturdy – oversized tube for stability.
  • Limit – supports bikes up to 45 lbs.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Pins – you have to depress fiddly pins to open the collars.

3. Swagman Deluxe Bar Adapter (best value)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

You get great value for money from the Swagman Deluxe Bar Adapter. Vinyl-coated hooks minimize the risk of any damage to your bike.

This Swagman adapter has a telescopic adjustment with a range of 22.5” to 30”. A quick-release button lets you detach the bar easily.

What We Like:

  • Protective – vinyl-coated hooks prevent damage.
  • Release – quick-release for fast unloading.
  • Telescopic – spring-loaded telescopic adjustment.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Range – not for smaller kids’ bikes (e.g., 16” frame)

4. Allen Sports Crossbar Adapter (best budget)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

Robustly made from steel with protective plastic-coated hooks, the Allen Sports Crossbar Adapter is great for anyone on a budget.

This top tube substitute is suitable for bikes with an 18” to  27” frame size.

What We Like:

  • Price – one of the best at this price point.
  • Protection – plastic-coated hooks protect the bike.
  • Warranty – lifetime warranty on workmanship & materials.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Pin – cover the metal pin at the handlebar end to avoid scratching.

5. Thule 982XT Frame Adapter

Thule 982XT Frame Adapter

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

A top-branded crossbar substitute with a versatile 18” to 30.5” range is the Thule 982XT Frame Adapter.

To protect your bike’s finish, this bar adapter features durable rubber collars with molded rubber pads.

What We Like:

  • Range – fits a wide variety of bikes.
  • Protection – rubber collars and molded pads protect the bike finish.
  • Quick – push-button clamps for fast bike installation and removal.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Kids – may not work on very small kids’ bikes.

6. Kuat Ubar Bike Frame Adapter

Kuat Ubar Bike Frame Adapter

CHECK PRICE AT COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

With bike hooks that are completely enveloped in rubber, the Kuat Ubar Bike Frame Adapter protects your bike’s finish. Use it on bikes with a minimum 20” frame size.

This top tube substitute has a spring-loaded design to hold your bikes securely.

What We Like:

  • Solid – well-made product.
  • Protection – rubberized hooks avoid bike damage.
  • Click – push-button release to open hooks.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Length – minimum 20” length may not work with small kids’ bikes.

7. Rhino Rack Steel Bike Bar Adapter

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

Solidly made from powder-coated alloy steel and heavy-duty plastic, the Rhino Rack Steel Bike Bar Adapter works with many kinds of bikes. It fits any frame with a 22.8” to 29” gap between the seat post and headset.

A push-button mechanism opens the collars at each end.

What We Like:

  • Construction – inspires confidence with its build quality.
  • Durable – powder-coated finish adds longevity.
  • Buttons – simple push-button release.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Range – may not work with small kids’ bikes.

8. Retrospec Cross-Bar Top Tube Adapter

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

The Retrospec Cross-Bar Top Tube Adapter offers some good features for a budget-friendly price. Among them are its 45 lbs max load capacity and a generous 18” to 28” range from seat post to handlebar.

What We Like:

  • Price – cost-friendly solution.
  • Load – takes bikes up to 45 lbs (subject to the same from your rack).
  • Rubberized – rubber coatings at both ends for protection.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Pin – metal pin at the handlebar end may scratch.

9. Venzo Adjustable Top Tube Adapter

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

With its plastic-coated hooks, the Venzo Adjustable Top Tube Adapter secures your bike without scratching or chipping paint.

The Venzo Top Tube Adapter suits any bike with a 24” to 32” distance between the seat post and handlebar post.

What We Like:

  • Durable – strong steel construction with powder-coated finish.
  • Protection – plastic coated hooks to minimize damage to bike.
  • Secure – side-opening hooks to avoid accidental release.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Range – not compact enough for small kids’ bikes.

10. Curt 18016 Adjustable Bike Rack Adapter

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

Offering great build quality with a robust steel construction, the Curt 18016 Adjustable Bike Rack Adapter is nothing if not durable. A powder-coated finish protects it from knocks, scratches and the weather. This top-tube adapter extends from 22.5” to 31”.

What We Like:

  • Quality – durable materials & manufacturing.
  • Finish – powder-coated finish protects against scratches and rust.
  • Simple – easy to use with hinged-arm design.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Kids – may not work on the smallest kids’ bikes.

11. SportRack Adjustable Bike Frame Adapter

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

The versatile SportRack Adjustable Bike Frame Adapter has an adjustable range of 18” to 30.5”, which makes it suitable for most bikes without a top tube. This durable steel adapter has a powder-coated finish to protect against scratches and rust.

A push-button mechanism opens the collars.

What We Like:

  • Strong – steel construction.
  • Wide – versatile 18” to 30.5” range of suitable frames.
  • Durable – powder-coated finish.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Operation – hooks are not the easiest to open.

Why Use A Bike Rack Adapter Bar (Cross Beam Bar)?

To understand why you may need one of these crossbar adapters, look at the design of car bike racks.

All bike racks that hang bikes by a pair of arms or single arm usually hold the bike under its top tube. Any bike with a classic diamond frame (e.g., men’s road bike) has a high top tube that works well with bike racks. Bikes with sloping top tubes need an adapter.

Video: Using A Top Tube Adapter

The types of bikes that may need a “virtual top tube” include:

  • Women’s bikes with angled top tubes.
  • All step-through bikes, including cruisers.
  • Mountain bikes (especially full-suspension).
  • Children’s bikes.

What Is The Top Tube?

Just to clarify this point, the top tube in a bike frame runs between the seatpost and the headset or handlebar post. It is more or less parallel to the ground on most men’s bikes.

Women’s bike frames often have a top tube that slopes significantly downward, making it incompatible with hanging-style bike racks.

On women’s cruiser bikes and vintage women’s road bikes, for instance, the top tube runs diagonally from handlebar height to a low point on the seat tube. Any bike with this sloping top tube will need an adapter for compatibility with many racks.

Woman Riding A Bike With A Step-Through FramePin

Choosing A Bike Bar Adapter

Bike bar adapters, or crossbar adapters (the top tube is sometimes called the crossbar), are not complex products. But, it’s still worth looking out for various features:

Materials & Finish

Most bike bar adapters are made from steel, so there’s not a vast choice to be had there. A powder-coated finish is a nice extra. This makes the bar adapter more resilient to damage like scratching. In turn, that makes it less prone to corrosion.

ABS plastic will often be used to make the “hooks” or “collars” of the bike bar adapter. This type of heavy-duty molded plastic is highly resistant to impact and degradation.

Padding & Protection

Crossbar adapters vary significantly in the way their hooks or collars are designed. Some are rubberized to protect the finish of your bike, though often there is a metal pin at the end that could potentially scratch the bike.

How much attention you pay to this aspect of the bar adapter will likely correspond to how valuable your bike is. In any case, it is possible to improvise further protection. For example, some people wrap soft tubing around metal pins where they exist.

Release Mechanism

Another area where virtual top tubes differ significantly is in their release mechanism. Some hooks or collars open sideways, the idea being that they can’t just pull open, and instead require lateral force for release.

Some adapters are certainly more ergonomic and easy to use than others, with large buttons that activate a positive locking or release mechanism. Conversely, you may find the small buttons on some top tube adapters a bit fiddly and hard to press.

Do All Adapter Bars Fit All Bikes And Racks?

Adapter bars are compatible with any brand of “hanging” rack. These are either trunk-mounted or hitch-mounted racks, usually with two arms. Bikes are cinched to these arms and suspended one in front of the other.

Trunk-mounted racks exclusively use this hanging design, whereas a hitch rack can be either platform-style or hanging.

Pay attention to the compatibility of the bike bar adapter with the length of top tube on your bike. In particular, if you intend carrying a child’s bike with a 16” frame (typical for 5-year-olds), many adapters will be incompatible.

Most adapter bars will work with most bikes and virtually all racks. That much is true.

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Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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