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Best Bike Rack For Subaru Forester

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The Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV ideal for outdoor adventures.

Introduced in 1997, the Forester is popular among sporting enthusiasts, including snowboarders, kayakers, trail runners and mountain bikers.

Maybe you’re an MTBer, gravel cyclist or CX rider and want to carry a bike or two on your AWD Subaru?

This article aims to find the ideal bike rack for Subaru Forester owners, so you can travel to your next ride with ease!

Top 8 Best Bike Racks For Subaru Forester Reviewed

Below, you’ll discover eight great choices of bike rack for the Subaru Forester.

1. Saris Freedom 2-Bike Hitch Rack (best hitch rack)

Saris Freedom 2-Bike Hitch Rack in Black colorPin


  • Type of rack: Hitch
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Weight capacity: 60 lbs max per bike

An exceptionally well designed and well-made bike rack for your Subaru Forester is the Saris Freedom 2-Bike Hitch Rack. This USA-made rack is lightweight, weighing only 20 pounds. It’s suitable for use with either h 1¼” or 2″ hitch receivers.

Aside from its high-quality manufacturing, a great feature of this aptly named rack is its versatility. You can easily use it to carry road bikes, MTBs, hybrids, tri-bikes, small recumbents, kids bikes, and women’s bikes.

You can fit any bike to this rack with a wheelbase of up to 48” and a tire width of 2.25” maximum. You can add accessories if necessary, like long ratchet straps for e-bikes with down-tube batteries, or fat tire wheel holders for fat bikes.

The frame of your bike is cradled in this Saris Freedom rack by hold-downs lined with a “Cuscino” soft-touch material. This protects paintwork and shields carbon frames from any damaging clamping force.

What we like

  • Manufacturing – exceptionally well made and designed product.
  • Protection – keep your bike in good condition with cushioned hold-downs.
  • Versatile – accepts a wide range of bikes and can accept more with accessories.

What we don’t like

  • Awkward – frame cradles often fall at the down-tube position of bottle cages.

2. Yakima Universal ForkLift Bike Rack (best roof rack)

Yakima Universal ForkLift Bike RackPin


  • Type of rack: Roof
  • Number of bikes: 1
  • Weight capacity: 35 lbs

As long as you don’t forget your bike is on top of your car, a roof rack is a convenient option. The sturdy Yakima Universal ForkLift Bike Rack has a sleek design that will look great on your Subaru Forester.

With this rack, you must remove the front wheel of your bike and attach the bike by its rear wheel and front fork dropouts. It’s suitable for most types of bikes but cannot accommodate fat bike tires.

The Yakima Universal ForkLift Bike Rack has a skewer that secures the bike at the front through the dropouts and holds the rear wheel in place via a strap. A sliding tray makes it easy to position the rear wheel.

Please note the rack is only lockable if you buy a pair of separately available SKS lock cores.

What we like

  • Simple – sleek and simple design that will complement your Forester.
  • Easy – as long as you have the strength to lift your bike, this is easy to use.
  • Quality – dependable manufacturing.

What we don’t like

  • Extra cost – you must pay extra for a pair of SKS lock cores if you want to lock the fork retainer.

3. Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack (best trunk rack)

Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack in Black colorPin


  • Type of rack: Trunk
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Weight capacity: 35 lbs per bike

A robust and reliable way to fix two bikes to your Forester comes in the form of a Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack. This USA-made rack incorporates a clever arced design that helps to separate bikes and holds them at different levels.

This rack is made from 100% recyclable materials. Saris claims it has the strongest frame on the market, thanks to its injection-molded arms and legs. Articulated, rubberized feet protect the paintwork of your car and coated straps do the same for your bike(s).

Despite initial appearances, the Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack is easy to install and has the positions for various hooks stamped into them. This rack is ideal for road-type bikes (including gravel and CX) and hardtail mountain bikes.

Bikes with a low-top tube are a little more problematic for this rack. For those, you can buy an optional Saris Bike Beam, which creates a virtual top tube for easy carriage.

What we like

  • History – the Saris Bones rack has a tried and tested design.
  • Robust – extremely strong injection-molded frame.
  • Easy – simple to install and use.

What we don’t like

  • Beam – not immediately compatible with some bikes without the extra bike beam.

4. Thule Apex XT 5-Bike Hitch Rack (best for multiple bikes)



  • Type of rack: Hitch
  • Number of bikes: 5
  • Weight capacity: 150 lbs

The maximum bike load your car’s hitch can carry is decided by its tongue weight capacity. With a max load capacity of 150 lbs, the Thule Apex XT 5-Bike Hitch Rack should be suitable for carrying up to five bikes on your Subaru Forester.

To help prevent bike damage, this Thule bike rack provides 5.5” of spacing between each bike. Its integrated anti-sway cradle helps keep the bikes stable on the back of your vehicle.

When unloaded, the carrier can be tilted away from the car for easy access to any trunk or hatch. The bike arms are foldable, too, so you can keep the rack in situ whilst not in use without it extending far backwards.

Thule’s SnugTite Stinger attaches the rack to your hitch and includes a mechanism that internally tightens it against the hitch. It also includes a keyed lock, allowing you to lock the rack to the vehicle. A further cable lock is included for locking bikes to the rack.

What we like

  • Hitch – secure, lockable attachment to your vehicle.
  • Bike lock – included cable lock as a basic deterrent.
  • Foldable – folds into a compact size when not carrying bikes.

What we don’t like

  • Compatibility – needs an additional bike frame adaptor for bikes that don’t have a high top tube.

5. Hollywood Racks Express Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack (best budget)



  • Type of rack: Trunk
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Weight capacity: 35 lbs per bike

Anyone looking for a reliable bike rack on a limited budget might appreciate the Hollywood Racks Express Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack. Also available in a 3-bike version, this rack features rubber bike cradles and EPDM rubber to hold bikes firmly in place.

This rack is suitable out of the box for bikes with a classic diamond frame (i.e., two triangles and a high top tube). Unfortunately, that means it’s unsuitable for step-though frames or kids bikes. As with many racks, a top-tube adaptor remedies this.

The Express Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack is easy to install, and to make it even easier it’s delivered pre-assembled. This rack will keep bikes secure on your Subaru Forester, helped by the integrated tie-down strap.

You can use bungee cables if you want to stop movement in front wheels or pedals. When you’re not using the rack, it folds flat easily for convenient storage.

What we like

  • Affordable – one of the cheaper options you’ll find.
  • Efficient – keeps your bikes secure, despite the low price.
  • Rubberized – paintwork is protected by rubberized cradles and straps.

What we don’t like

  • Security – like most strap-based solutions, you can’t lock the rack to the car.

6. Yakima Dr.Tray Hitch Mount Tray Bike Rack



  • Type of rack: Hitch
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Weight capacity: 40 lbs per bike

A premium bike rack with the ability to carry fat bikes, among many others, is the Yakima Dr.Tray Hitch Mount Tray Bike Rack. This rack doesn’t come cheaply, but it offers several key luxury features.

One exceptional feature of this rack is the 18” spacing it allows between bikes. This helps to ensure they don’t knock or rub together, potentially damaging paintwork. A QuickChange lever lets you adjust spacing without tools.

This rack also features a RemoteControl tilt lever to easily raise or lower the rack for easy access. Installation is with the tool-free SpeedKnob. This includes a lock, so you can lock the rack to the car. A supplied cable lock secures your bike(s) to the rack.

A ‎1 1/4″ hitch receiver is required for the Dr.Tray Hitch-Mount Bike Rack.  The rack is suitable for bikes with 26” to 29” diameter wheels (700c equivalent) and tires up to 4.8” wide.

What we like

  • Spacing – allows unusually wide 18” spacing between bikes.
  • Movability – special levers to adjust spacing and tilt.
  • Lockability – lock the rack to the car and the bike to the rack.
  • Fatbikes – accepts fatbike tires.

What we don’t like

  • Price – many cheaper options if money is an issue.

7. Subaru OEM Thule 1-Bike Roof Rack



  • Type of rack: Roof
  • Number of bikes: 1
  • Weight capacity: 37 lbs

A genuine Subaru product that fits many Forester models is the Subaru OEM Thule 1-Bike Roof Rack. Because it holds the frame’s downtube rather than the wheels, it’s unsuitable for use with carbon frames.

This rack requires cross bars to be already fitted and suits all Forester models from 2019 onwards. It also fits Forester models from 2014-2018 with a 2.5i Base Engine or 2.0XT Turbo Engine.

In terms of bike-size compatibility, this rack accepts most bikes with wheels from 20” to 29” (or 700c) diameter and tires up to 2.6” wide.

As well as the frame holder, this rack includes ratcheting straps to hold the front and rear wheels firmly in place. It will securely hold most types of bike, including road, gravel, CX, hybrids and mountain bikes. It won’t carry fat bikes because the tires are too wide.

What we like

  • OEM – Subaru-utilized Thule product that fits many Forester models.
  • Easy – simple to use with a precise downtube clamp and wheel straps.
  • Versatile – carries a wide range of bikes (not fat bikes).

What we don’t like

  • Non-carbon – the frame clamp makes the rack unsuitable for carbon bikes.

8. Allen Sports Premier 3-Bike Trunk Rack



  • Type of rack: Hitch
  • Number of bikes: 3
  • Weight capacity: 100 lbs total

A cost-effective way to carry up to three bikes on your Subaru Forrester is offered by the Allen Sports Premier 3-Bike Trunk Rack. This rack can be assembled quickly and easily and features wide-profile vehicle pads to prevent damage to your vehicle.

To expedite your installation of the rack, it integrates a patented quick snap set-up design. Dual-compound cradles and rubberized quick-secure straps hold your bike on the rack without damaging its paintwork.

In addition to sturdy top and bottom straps, this Allen Sports rack has two side straps for lateral stability, preventing side-to-side swaying.

When not in use, you can fold the rack flat using one hand. It’s easy to install, easy to uninstall and takes up minimal storage space.

This rack is also available in 2-bike and 4-bike models with the same features.

What we like

  • Quick – easy to install within a few minutes.
  • Manufacturing – well-made product from a trusted brand.
  • Cradles – individual dual-compound cradles secure and protect bikes.

What we don’t like

  • Step-through – like most trunk racks, not easily able to carry step-through bike frames without adding a virtual top tube to the bike.

Types Of Racks That Can Be Used With A Forester

You can use any of three popular rack types with a Subaru Forester, as detailed below.

Hitch Racks

A hitch rack is one that attaches to the trailer hitch of your Subaru, assuming you might have one installed. There are two main types:

Platform Mounted Hitch Rack

These are racks where the bike stands on the rack rather than hangs on it. There are several potential benefits:

  • Quicker to load and unload.
  • Can accommodate almost any bike, including some recumbents.
  • Likely to be robustly made, though this can add to bulk and weight.

This is a good choice if you want to carry a diverse selection of bikes, especially if they include kid’s bikes, step-through bikes or any bike with a low top-tube.

Hanging Mount Hitch Rack

The other hitch rack you’ll commonly find is one that unfolds above the hitch with two extending bars to hang bikes on. Here are some benefits:

  • Mostly lighter than platform-mounted equivalents, so the rack doesn’t hog too much of the overall load.
  • Bikes load higher up than a platform rack, but they’re still easier to load than a roof rack.
  • Potential for carrying up to 5 bikes in some cases, as long as the total load is lower than your Subaru’s rated tongue weight capacity.

If you wish to carry bikes with high top tubes (e.g., road bikes, hardtail MTBs), this type of rack is fine. You may find yourself buying extra accessories to carry other bike types.

Roof Rack

A roof rack for your bike or bikes has a few advantages and some distinct disadvantages. Let’s get to the positive stuff first:

  • Access to the trunk or hatch of your car while carrying bikes is only maintained if you buy a roof rack, so that’s the main benefit.
  • A roof rack is more likely to accommodate bikes with challenging frame geometries, like full-suspension MTBs and cruisers.
  • Unimpaired rear-window visibility.

A roof rack may require your car to have crossbars already in situ. Roof racks also come in two main types: upright and fork-mounted. With the latter, you attach the front of the bike to the rack via the fork.

Fork-mounted racks lower the weight you have to lift and the overall height with the bike installed. On the other hand, you still have to find space for the removed wheel.

A major downside of roof racks is the potential to forget you’re carrying bikes and wiping them out at low entrances. The other main con is having to lift them up to roof height in the first instance.

Trunk-Mounted Racks

Trunk racks are a popular way to carry bikes and have their own set of benefits:

  • More affordable than hitch racks.
  • Easy to store and easily transferrable between vehicles.
  • Versatile enough for use on rental cars.

Downsides of trunk racks include lower bike capacity (usually 2-3 max), not lockable, and blocking of trunk access.

How Do I Know If A Rack Is Compatible With Both My Car And My Bikes?

When weighing up your options for a bike rack, you need to look at the specs and  fittings of your car and the types of bikes you have.

Vehicle Compatibility

Let’s start with the car. Here are some of the specifications you should think about:

  • Hitch presence – If your Subaru Forester does not have a hitch receiver, you’ll need to install one (or have one installed) before a hitch rack is possible.
  • Tongue weight capacity – check this rating if you intend to carry several bikes on a hitch rack. The weight of the rack must be counted as part of the load.
  • Hitch size – a vital measurement if you’re looking to buy a hitch rack. Typically, this will be 1¼ inches or 2 inches, which will match specific models of bike rack.
  • Roof rack potential – look at what you have on the roof of your vehicle. It could be raised rails, raised rails & crossbars, a factory track on each side, a bare roof or rain gutters. All will influence the product you buy.

There are few limiting factors for trunk racks, except for obstacles like plastic rear spoilers (inapplicable to the Subaru Forester).

Video: Installing A Hitch Receiver On A Subaru Forester

Bike Compatibility

Most bikes will fit on most bike racks, but there are notable exceptions:

  • Bikes without high top tubes normally pose problems for any type of hanging bike rack. That means bikes with step-through frames and other bikes with low or sloping top tubes, like kid’s bikes or full-suspension MTBs.
  • Fat bikes are often incompatible with bike racks, mainly because their tires are too fat for wheel cradles. They may also exceed maximum weight capacities.

Consider buying top tube substitutes to enable awkwardly shaped bikes to hang on trunk racks or hanging-mount hitch racks.

Video: How To Choose A Bike Rack

Subaru Forester Bike Racks: FAQs

Below, you’ll find questions commonly asked about bike racks for the Subaru Forester.

Do I Need Help To Load My Bikes?

Loading a bike onto a rack takes a certain amount of physical strength, particularly if the rack is a roof rack. Take the weight of your bikes into account when choosing a rack and be aware that some hitch racks feature a ramp for loading and unloading bikes.

Can You Put A Hitch On A Subaru Forester?

Yes, you can install (or have installed) an OEM Subaru hitch or an after-market alternative. The maximum tongue weight will usually be more than enough to carry multiple bikes up to the capacity of the rack.

How To Securely Lock A Bike To A Bike Rack

Bike racks often come with cable locks for your bike(s), but these offer little protection against a bike thief. Lock bikes to a hitch rack using heavy-duty chain locks or U-locks with double deadlocks and thick shackles.

Our Final Thoughts

It’s time to briefly recap on our bike-rack reviews.

The Saris Freedom 2-Bike Hitch Rack is an excellent choice for any Subaru Forester with a hitch receiver. It carries many different types of bikes, is well-made and easy to use. It features soft-touch Cuscino hold-downs to preserve your bikes’ paintwork.

In second place, the Yakima Universal ForkLift Bike Rack fits easily onto crossbars atop a Subaru Forester. Securing the bike by the forks makes the bike a bit easier to lift onto the roof, and you can depend on the manufacturing quality from an esteemed brand.

Our third spot goes to the Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack, which is one of the sturdiest trunk racks on the market and made from recyclable plastic for eco-friendly kudos. The arced arms help to keep bikes a little better separated than straight arms.

When choosing the ideal rack for your Subaru Forester, think about how much you want to spend and the bikes you might ride in the future as well as the ones you own now.

The good news is, the ideal bike rack is sure to exist for your Subaru Forester, all of your bikes, and whatever adventures you’re planning!

Read more: Best bike racks for a Subaru Outback

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Mark Whitley
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Mark is the founder of BikePush, a bicycle commuting website. When he's not working on BikePush, you can find him out riding.

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