Home > Gear > Bike Racks > Best Bike Rack For Subaru Outback

Best Bike Rack For Subaru Outback

Updated on:

> BikePush is supported by our readers, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Read more here
> Our review guidelines

The Subaru Outback is a crossover station wagon with many of the qualities of an SUV.

As capable off-road as it is on the road, the Outback is the kind of outdoor adventure vehicle you’d be likely to load bikes onto.

In this article, we’ll attempt to find the best bike rack for a Subaru Outback and you. Our reviews include the Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack. This multi-featured rack is incredibly versatile and well made.

We’ll also tell you what you need to look for in your ideal Subaru Outback bike rack.

Top Picks:

Top 7 Best Bike Racks For Subaru Outback Reviewed

All the bike racks below have been checked for compatibility with the Subaru Outback.

1. Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack (best overall)


For its build quality, versatility, and ease of use, we’re putting the Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack at the top of this list. This rack secures bikes by their front wheels, which makes it super-versatile if you have bikes with “awkward” geometries.

You can load any type of bike onto this rack with wheels from 20” to 29” in diameter.

This rack is available with a 1.25” or 2” hitch, so you’ll need to pick the appropriate product for your car. A Subaru Outback may have either size of hitch, depending on the model and its towing capacity.

You can expand this rack to carry two more bikes using the Thule T2 Pro XT Add-On. (The total load mustn’t exceed the tongue weight capacity of your vehicle.)

The Thule T2 Pro XTR includes Thule’s HitchSwitch lever. This large lever at the bottom front of the bikes enables you to easily tilt the loaded rack.

Security is a feature of the T2 Pro XTR, too. A locking knob locks the hitch rack to the receiver, and integrated cable locks take care of your bikes.

Other features of this rack include an AutoAttach system for tool-free installation and removal. You can adjust the spacing to ensure bike parts don’t collide. Built-in rollers let you easily move the rack to and from the vehicle.

A downside to this Thule rack is its price, regardless of the quality.

What We Like

  • Quality – robust manufacturing.
  • Versatile – very flexible in the types and weights of bikes it holds.
  • Secure – built-in dual security.
  • Tilt – sizeable front lever tilts the loaded rack for trunk access.

What We Don’t Like

  • Price – many cheaper solutions are available.

2. Yakima FullBack Premium Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack (best trunk rack)


  • Rack type: Trunk
  • Bike capacity: 3
  • Weight: 23.5 lbs (10.65 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 35 lbs (70 lbs / 31.75 kg)

A favorite rack of ours that is confirmed to suit most Subaru Outback wagons is the Yakima FullBack Premium Bike Rack. This has many things going for it, including ease of installation and use, durability, and built-in security.

Security on a trunk rack is uncommon, because how do you secure a bike that’s only held to the car via straps? Yakima uses reinforced straps that are anchored inside the locked car. The bikes are then locked using a cable lock.

A downside to the design of the Fullback is that it only locks the outer bike, so if you’re carrying a single bike, the lock is rendered useless.

This bike rack comes fully assembled and is easy to install. SuperCush ZipStrip cradles hold your bikes securely by their frames without damaging them.

Another contender for our best trunk rack is the iconic Saris Bones rack, which is a confirmed fit for a Subaru Outback.

What We Like

  • Install – easy to install using predetermined settings for your vehicle.
  • Assembled – delivered fully assembled.
  • Security – the ability to lock the rack and bikes is a rare trunk rack feature.
  • Durability – robustly made frame and durable bike cradles.

What We Don’t Like

  • Lock – if you want to carry a solitary bike, the cable lock won’t reach it.

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


  • Rack type: Hitch (hanging style)
  • Bike capacity: 4
  • Weight: 35 lbs (15.87 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 4 x 37.5 lbs (150 lbs / 68 kg)

A ruggedly built hitch rack that uses ratcheting cradle straps to secure bikes by their frames is the Thule Apex XT 4-Bike Hitch Rack. This rack has integrated anti-sway cradles to prevent bike movement, too.

The combination of anti-sway cradles and 7” spacing between bikes ensures bikes do not collide with each other during transit on this Thule rack.

Thule’s Snug-Tite Stinger ensures the rack fits tightly into the hitch receiver. Aside from its anti-wobble function, it includes an integrated hitch lock. The rack also includes a cable lock so you can secure your bikes to the rack.

This is another rack with Thule’s easy-to-reach HitchSwitch lever, which lets you tilt the rack for access to the trunk of your Outback. When you’re not using the rack, the arms fold down for compact storage.

The inevitable downside of this rack, like most hanging-style racks, is that you’re likely to need adaptors for bikes with awkward geometries (e.g., step-through bikes).

A 5-bike version of this rack also exists with 5.5” of space between bikes.

What We Like

  • Sturdy – extremely robust build quality.
  • Anti-sway – bikes are held still during transit.
  • Security – a basic level of security is included with a hitch lock and cable lock.

What We Don’t Like

  • Adapters – bikes with low or swooping crossbars need crossbar adapters.

4. Hollywood Racks Sport Rider Hitch Rack (best for fat bikes)



  • Rack type: Hitch (2” only)
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 56 lbs (25.4 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 80 lbs (160 lbs / 72.5 kg)

You’ll need a Subaru Outback with a 2” hitch to install the Hollywood Racks Sport Rider Hitch Rack, which can carry even heavier bikes than our top-rated rack. This is one of the few racks on the market that accommodates many fat-tire electric bikes.

As well as its mighty 80 lbs per bike load capacity, this bike rack accommodates tires up to 5” wide without needing you to buy special wheel trays.

The only dent in the versatility of this Hollywood Racks hitch rack is its use of hooks to secure bike frames. That means you’d have to buy crossbar adaptors for step-through bikes, though these are not too expensive if you shop around.

You get triple security with this rack, too. There’s a lockable hitch pin, and the bike hooks are lockable. A long cable lock is also included as a third security measure.

A smart tilting mechanism on the Sport Rider Hitch Rack enables you to access the back of your Subaru Outback.

What We Like

  • Sturdy – heavy-duty build quality can cope with most bikes.
  • Versatile – can carry bikes of almost any weight or tire width.
  • Secure – built-in triple security.
  • Tilt – easy access to the trunk of your Subaru.

What We Don’t Like

  • Adapters – you’re likely to need crossbar adapters for step-through bikes.

5. Yakima HighRoad Roof Bike Mount (best roof bike rack)


  • Rack type: Roof
  • Bike capacity: 1
  • Weight: 18 lbs (8.16 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 45 lbs (20.41 kg)

The Subaru Outback is ideal for roof racks because it has a lower roof than similarly purposed cars like SUVs. One of the best roof racks you could put on your Outback is the Yakima HighRoad Bike Mount.

We’re picking this bike rack for its build quality, ease of use, and lack of frame contact in securing the bikes. Racks that hold bikes by their front wheels are perfect for carbon bikes, for instance, which ideally shouldn’t be clamped by the frame.

To help you secure your bikes with just the right amount of tightness, Yakima provides the TorqueRight tightening knob. The rack accepts bikes with 26” to 29” diameter wheels. Tires must be between 23 mm and 4” wide.

Installation of this rack is easy, too, thanks to the tool-free mounting kit included. This works with most roof racks.

Security is included in the form of a TailWhip cable lock. Unfortunately, you need to buy two SKS lock cores separately before you can lock your bike or the bike rack.

What We Like

  • Sturdy – good build quality.
  • Easy – easy to use with features like the TorqueRight tightening knob.
  • Carbon – carbon-friendly rack that holds bikes by their front wheel.
  • Install – straightforward tool-free installation in most cases.

What We Don’t Like

  • Extras – security is half-included but needs a separate lock-core purchase.

6. Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack (best for e-bikes)



  • Rack type: Hitch (platform-style)
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 45 lbs (20.41 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 65 lbs (130 lbs / 58.96 kg)

One of the best racks for heavy e-bikes in terms of loading is the Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack. Probably its headlining feature is the integrated loading ramp, which lets you wheel bikes onto the platform rather than lift them on.

Your bikes are secured to this Thule rack using lockable frame hooks, and the rack secures to your Outback using a lockable hitch pin. Of course, you can add your own locks as well to make bikes harder to steal when the vehicle is parked.

Wheel straps are also present to hold your bikes at platform level. If you’re intending to load fat bikes with tires up to 5”, you’ll need to buy Thule XXL fat tire accessory straps separately. That and the slightly dizzying price are two downsides.

Another great feature of this rack is the foot pedal for easy tilting. You can tilt the loaded rack backward for trunk access without having to stoop down or fish around for a lever.

This rack is compatible with 1.25” or 2” hitch receivers. The total weight should easily fall beneath the tongue weight capacity of a modern Subaru Outback (i.e., 270 lbs or 350 lbs).

To make this rack easier to move to and from the car, it includes built-in transport wheels.

What We Like

  • Loading ramp – no need to lift hefty e-bikes using the in-built loading ramp.
  • Security – double security in the lockable frame hooks & lockable hitch.
  • Wheels – built-in wheels make the rack easy to move when not in use.

What We Don’t Like

  • Cost – this innovative rack is expensive.
  • Straps – straps for fat tires are not included.

7. Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack (best budget option)



  • Rack type: Trunk
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 35 lbs (70 lbs / 31.75 kg)

Allen Sports is a go-to brand if you want a good-quality rack for a reasonable price. Their Deluxe Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack is a sturdy rack that fits a Subaru Outback and can carry 2 bikes of up to 35 lbs each.

Other models of this same rack can carry 3 or 4 bikes, although the price naturally goes up accordingly. This is a sturdy rack with side straps to ensure lateral stability and big foam buffers to protect the finish of your car.

This rack holds bikes in place using cushioned cradles and tie-down straps. The only thing to be wary of is the metal hooks, which can scratch the car’s finish when they grip the edges of a trunk. You can tape these up or buy pads to go underneath them.

As with nearly all hanging-style bike racks, this one will struggle to carry step-through bikes unless you buy crossbar adapters for them. Allen Sports sells these at a fair price, or you can buy the rack with an adapter supplied (not necessarily cheaper).

The rack comes fully assembled, so you won’t spend hours putting it together or deciphering instructions before installation.

What We Like

  • Cost – an excellent low-price solution.
  • Security – double security in the lockable frame hooks & lockable hitch.
  • Wheels – built-in wheels make the rack easy to move when not in use.
  • Assembled – delivered fully assembled.

What We Don’t Like

  • Hooks – the metal trunk hooks can mark your car if not covered.

How To Choose The Right Rack For A Subaru Outback

Bike Rack Type

There are three main types of bike racks, each with its own set of benefits and downsides.

Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks

Trunk racks are the cheapest bike racks, on average, especially when you consider they need no modification to your car before use.

In its simplest form, a trunk-mounted rack normally consists of a metal frame, which rests against your car in two padded areas. The frame has two arms with cradles on which to hang bikes.

A trunk rack attaches to your car using 4, 5, or 6 tensioned straps. Metal or vinyl hooks at the end of the straps cling to the edges of the trunk or hatch. These racks can safely rest on glass in most cases, as the load is spread by a large contact point.

One downside to trunk racks is that they sometimes do not fit the shape of your car, or they won’t fit over a spoiler.

Some manufacturers, like Allen Sports, have a vehicle compatibility calculator on their website so you can be more confident you’re buying the right product.

Read more: Bike trunk racks reviewed

Roof-Mounted Bike Racks

Considering the type of outdoorsy vehicle the Subaru Outback is, it’s better suited to roof racks than most vehicles of similar ilk. The Outback has a relatively low roof that makes overhead cargo practical.

To fit a roof-mounted bike rack, you first need crossbars installed, and to install those you need a roof rack or roof rails installed.

Check the cross-sectional shape of the crossbars on your Outback and the distance between them to make sure they suit your intended bike rack. Crossbars may be square, round, or aero in shape. Other styles also exist.

A great benefit of roof racks is that they leave access to your vehicle clear.

Roof racks also tend to have a slightly better load capacity than trunk racks. You can expect to carry 40-45 lbs per bike instead of a typical 35 lbs on trunk racks.

There are downsides to roof racks. If you forget you have them loaded, there’s a real danger of wrecking bikes when you pass under barriers or drive into a garage.

As well, items mounted on top of your car cause drag and harm fuel efficiency.

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch-mounted bike racks install into the hitch receiver of your Subaru Outback, though you won’t necessarily have one installed.

There are two types of hitch racks. You can buy a hanging-style hitch rack or a platform-style hitch rack. The former hang bikes from arms attached to a mast, whereas the second stand bikes on a platform.

Platform-style hitch racks are perfect if you have “awkward” bikes to carry, like fat bikes, heavy e-bikes, or bikes with step-through frames. They’re usually more versatile than hanging-style racks and can take more weight.

Something to be aware of when buying a hitch rack is the tongue weight capacity of your Subaru Outback. This is likely to be either 270 lbs or 350 lbs on recent models.

If you’re intending to carry three or four very heavy bikes on a hitch rack, which may also be heavy, you could get close to those tongue weight capacities. Exceeding them can have a dangerous effect on car handling.

A Subaru Outback may have a Class 2 hitch with a 1.25” hitch receiver or a Class 3 hitch with a 2” receiver. Many bike racks can fit into either size, but some don’t. Heavy-duty bike racks may require a 2” hitch receiver.

Video: A Hanging-Style Hitch Bike Rack On A Subaru Outback

Bike Rack Security

If you want to be able to lock your bikes and your bike rack, a trunk rack is not usually the right choice. Most trunk racks have no security features, mainly because they are not attached to the vehicle by anything solid.

Hitch racks usually come with security features, which typically include a lockable hitch pin. This lets you leave the rack on the car without much risk of theft.

Many hitch racks also provide a basic way for you to lock your bikes. This might be an integrated cable lock, or it could be lockable ratcheting bike hooks. Cable locks are easy to cut, so be aware this is only basic protection.

Roof racks also often have security features, though for some reason you often have to pay extra for lock cores.

Tilting Mechanisms

With trunk racks, you’re not normally meant to open the trunk with the rack installed, especially if bikes are still attached. So the trunk is out of bounds.

Hitch racks normally have a tilting mechanism that allows you to tilt the rack partway to the ground for trunk or hatch access.

One thing to look for in this tilting capability is its ease of use. Do you have to stoop and fumble around for an awkwardly positioned lever? The lever needs to be easy to reach, perhaps using your feet. The design should allow good control over rack movement.

Carrying Step-Through Bikes

If you intend to carry bikes with step-through frames, note that most hanging-style racks (trunk or hitch) won’t easily hold them. You’ll often need to buy a crossbar adapter so the rack’s tie-downs have something to hold onto.

Other types of bikes may cause similar problems, such as BMX bikes or kids’ bikes.

Subaru Outback Bike Rack FAQs

How Many Bikes Can I Carry On A Subaru Outback?

You could carry four or five bikes on a Subaru Outback depending on their weight. A loaded hitch rack has to weigh less than the vehicle tongue weight capacity.

Will Thule Racks Fit A Subaru Outback?

Thule bike racks in their various forms will fit a Subaru Outback.

What Bike Rack Types Fit On A Subaru Outback?

All bike-rack types can fit on a Subaru Outback. Remember trunk racks are the only type that does not need other hardware to be installed on your car first.

Is A Roof Rack Or Hitch Rack Better For An Outback?

A platform-style hitch rack is better in its versatility and in the weight it can carry, but it also costs more money on average. For the type of vehicle it is, a Subaru Outback is unusually well suited to a roof rack because it’s not very tall.


You have plenty of good options when shopping for a Subaru Outback bike rack.

If you can stretch to the Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack, it’s a superb choice for the Subaru Outback with its rugged build quality, versatility, and built-in security features.

A favorite rack of ours is the Yakima FullBack Premium Bike Rack, not least because it has innovative security features, is easy to use, looks good, and is durably made.

Anyone looking to carry multiple bikes on their Subaru Outback might consider the Thule Apex XT 4-Bike Hitch Rack. This sturdy rack keeps your bikes stable during transit and allows a 7” space between bikes to avoid damage.

We hope this article guides you toward your ideal Subaru Outback bike rack.

Read more:

Best Bike Rack For Subaru Outback - Pinterest Pin Small ImagePin
Glenn Harper
Glenn Harper
I'm Glenn. When I’m not contributing articles to BikePush, I can often be found cycling on the rural roads around me. If I can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, I’ll consider it a win.

Leave a Comment