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Best Bike Rack For An SUV Without A Hitch

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SUV owners often use hitch-mounted bike racks because SUVs commonly have a hitch. They’re more heavy-duty and outdoorsy than sedans.

But what if your SUV doesn’t have a hitch? What are your options then?

In this blog post, we’ll reveal our top bike rack picks for hitchless SUVs.

The Yakima Fullback Premium Trunk Rack heads our list. You’ll struggle to find a rack that’s made or finished better. Its security features are a welcome bonus on a trunk-mounted rack, too.

We’ll also share some tips on how to find the best bike rack for a car without a hitch.

Top Picks:

Top 9 Best Hitchless SUV Bike Racks

Below, you’ll discover a selection of trusty bike racks to install on your hitchless SUV.

1. Yakima Fullback Premium Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Trunk
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Weight: 23.5 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 35 lbs. per bike.

One of the best things about a hitch rack is its potential for security. We like the Yakima Fullback Premium 2-Bike Trunk Rack because it’s one of the rare trunk racks that has a security element. Most do not.

You can lock two bikes to the Yakima Fullback, which itself is secured to your vehicle. If there’s a downside, it’s that you can’t lock a single bike because the integrated lock won’t reach it. The system depends on you locking two bikes together.

It’d be wise to add a lock or two to this system to delay or deter any determined thief. Note that this security feature doesn’t allow you to leave your bikes unattended for long. It just lets you pop into a windowed shop or a nearby bathroom.

Another reason for our liking this SUV-suitable bike rack is its build quality. This is a solid, well-built bike rack that is easy to trust. It has an attractive high-gloss finish that complements any car, but it’s also durable.

As you’d expect, there’s some chunky padding on this rack to protect the finish of your car. Similarly, SuperCush ZipStrip cradles hold your bike without abrading any paint.

This rack is easy to put on your vehicle and accepts any bike with a crossbar (high top tube). Like all hanging-style racks, you may need to buy a crossbar adapter to carry bikes with step-through frames.

A quirky feature of this rack is Yakima’s signature bottle opener. Pop open a soda and treat yourself to refreshments after a tough day on the trail!

What We Like

  • Security – integrated lock prevents quick theft of your bikes.
  • Rugged – solid build quality and durably finished.
  • Easy – comes fully assembled and is easy to put on your car.
  • Protects – padding protects the finish of your car and bikes.

What We Don’t Like

  • Lock – you have to carry two bikes to secure the innermost bike.

2. SeaSucker Talon 1-Bike Rack

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Rack Type: Vacuum Cups
  • Bike Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 6 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 45 lbs. per bike.

In many respects, the SeaSucker Talon 1-Bike Rack deserved to be our top choice for its sheer versatility. The only aspect of this rack that makes us reticent is that SUVs are often tall vehicles, so anything that goes on the roof (or is likely to) creates a problem.

Even so, this is a great solution for carrying bikes. Shorter users may need a step to mount a bike. Taller riders with shorter SUVs will have no problem. And if you’re nervous about using “suckers” to hold a bike, these things have a 210 lbs. pull strength.

The SeaSucker Talon doesn’t necessarily need to go on the roof, either. It can go on the back of a vehicle if space and the shape of your SUV permit it. If you need further convincing, this is a solution that has been used on UCI pro racing team cars.

A downside to this product is that you need to buy a Huske Plug before it works with thru-axle bikes. It comes supplied with a mount for 9mm quick-release axles. A second drawback is that you need to find a place inside the car for your front wheel.

Do the suckers damage the painted finish? No. Although you should avoid using them on a newly waxed surface until it’s cured. All surfaces must be clean before you mount your bike(s) onto the car.

What We Like

  • Simple – no convoluted contraption to deal with.
  • Strong – holds fairly heavy bikes securely.
  • Harmless – doesn’t damage finish (or anecdotally doesn’t seem to).
  • Endorsement – history of being used by pro bike teams.

What We Don’t Like

  • Extras – you need to buy a separate mount for a thru-axle bike.

3. Thule OutWay Platform 2-Bike Mount (best trunk mount platform)

CHECK PRICE AT COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

  • Rack Type: Trunk Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Weight: 27.6 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 33 lbs. per bike.

Winning this category of our review by default is the excellent Thule OutWay Platform 2-Bike Mount. This is the only platform-style rack on the market we know of that mounts onto the trunk rather than a hitch. Why would you want such a rack?

For a start, this rack is inherently more versatile than a hanging-style rack because it doesn’t need crossbar adapters for bikes with step-through frames. The clamp secures to a down tube rather than holding the top tube (aka crossbar).

Another attractive aspect of this product is that it holds your bikes high up, so they’re less likely to obstruct rear lights or the registration plate. This is the “out of the way” part that inspires the name.

Like the Yakima Fullback, this is one of the few trunk-mounted racks you’ll find with security features. You can lock your bikes to the rack, and the rack secures to the car. Security is better usually on a hitch rack, but this is still an anti-theft measure.

One disappointing element of this rack is its modest 33 lbs. weight capacity per bike. This is unsurprising given that it’s a trunk-mounted rack, but a platform rack on a hitch supports serious weight. The latter will usually be more “in the way,” however.

This is a rack worth considering if you have a motley collection of bikes, though it won’t take fat bikes (3” tire width max) or heavy e-bikes.

What We Like

  • Versatile – carries step-through bikes without needing adapters.
  • Security – lock your bikes to the secured rack.
  • Clear – more likely to retain light and reg plate visibility.
  • In Situ – leave the unloaded rack in place and still access the trunk.

What We Don’t Like

  • Capacity – lower than average weight capacity for a trunk mount.

4. Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B Deluxe 1-Bike Trunk Mount (best for heavy bikes)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Trunk Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 8.48 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 55 lbs.

The majority of trunk-mounted bike racks have a 35 lbs. per bike weight capacity. If you want to load up a chunky steel bike or a typical e-bike, the Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B Deluxe 1-Bike Trunk Mount gives you that option with its 55 lbs. limit.

This is not a rack for vehicles with rear spoilers, but it does suit many SUVs. It comes 100% assembled and installs within minutes. There’s no grappling with octopus-like parts for an hour or two before you’re ready to go.

The Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B is sturdily made of steel and has a black e-coating to protect the metal from scratches and rust. An e-coating is like an upgraded version of a powder-coated finish with a more precise and thorough result.

Your vehicle’s finish is also protected by this rack, thanks to its durable thick rubber bumpers.

A concern with this rack is the spring-loaded clips that bear the bike’s weight when loaded. Failure in these clips could lead to disaster. This worry is not soothed by the big weight capacity. You can tie a knot at the end of the strap as a safety net.

Other multiple-bike versions of this rack do not boast the same load capacity per bike, so this is a 1-bike solution for heavy bikes. You will probably need a crossbar adapter if you’re carrying a bike without a horizontal top tube.

What We Like

  • Capacity – supports a single bike up to 55 lbs.
  • Durable – robust steel construction with an e-coated finish.
  • Protective – soft rubber cradles for the bike, rubber bumpers for the car.
  • Affordable – reasonably priced given its herculean specification.

What We Don’t Like

  • Springs – some concern over the long-term security of spring clips.

5. Yakima FrontLoader Wheel-On Upright Bike Mount (best roof rack)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Roof Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 13 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 40 lbs. (with 18” of crossbar spread).

As mentioned, roof-mounted bike racks aren’t always the best choice for SUVs because of vehicle height, but they still work for many people. The Yakima FrontLoader Wheel-On Upright Bike Mount is one of the best products on the market in this class.

One feature of this rack that makes it SUV-friendly is that it holds your bike upright while you secure the bike to the mount. That makes the bike a little easier to manage at height.

Like a hitch-mounted rack, of course, you can’t just plonk this rack on your vehicle without the right pre-existing equipment. You need crossbars on the roof of your SUV. This rack is versatile in that it fits crossbars of most cross-sectional shapes.

A great thing about this rack is that it makes no contact with the bike frame. There’s zero risk of abraded paint or damage to a clamped carbon frame, for instance. Also, you get to leave your front wheel on, so you don’t need to find space for that in the car.

What about downsides? You have to pay extra if you want to add security to this rack. SKS (Same Key System) locks are sold separately. It’s already a tad pricey as sold, though you may consider some of these features worth paying for.

What We Like

  • Non-Touch – no chance of paint finish or frame material being damaged.
  • SUV-friendly – holds your bike upright while you secure it.
  • Security Potential – optional locked security.
  • Versatile – holds a wider variety of bikes than a trunk mount without adapters.

What We Don’t Like

  • Extra – you must pay extra if you want the SKS locks.

6. Allen Sports Premier 4-Bike Trunk Rack (best for multiple bikes)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Trunk Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 4
  • Weight: 12 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 35 lbs. per bike.

If you need to carry bikes for all the family or want to tear up some trails with friends, the Allen Sports Premier 4-Bike Trunk Rack may be all you need. This rack is particularly easy to install, thanks to a patented Quick Snap fast setup design.

Rather than the usual roll pads, this rack comes with extra-large flat pads to hold the frame firmly in position. The arched design of the frame tubing helps keep bikes clear of the car, too, so vehicle damage is extremely unlikely.

This model differs from the cheaper Deluxe model partly because of its fancy dual-compound tie-down bike cradles, lighter weight, and the mentioned flat contact pads. The cheaper version also excludes the Quick Snap setup of the Premier version.

You might want to tape up the metal clips that secure the rack to the trunk of your vehicle, as these have been known to mark the finish. You’ll need a crossbar adapter to install step-through bikes, too, but that’s a generic drawback typical of all such racks.

What you do always get with Allen Sports’ products is great value for money.

What We Like

  • Easy – quick and easy install with patented Quick Snap set-up.
  • Capacity – few trunk mounts can hold 4 bikes.
  • Sturdy – strong alloy steel construction.
  • Lightweight – Not heavy despite its capacity.

What We Don’t Like

  • Metal – pay attention to the metal strap clips to avoid scratching.

7. Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack (best for spoilers)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

One of the absolute best products on the bike-rack market is the Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack. It’s strong, lightweight, and goes over rear spoilers if the need arises. The manufacturer claims this rack has a stronger frame than any competing product.

The Saris Bones is made of injection-molded plastic, so that’s where it gets its lightness. Most frames are made of steel. But this one holds as much weight as many with a capacity of 35 lbs. per bike.

For eco-conscious buyers, a pleasantly surprising aspect of this iconic rack is that it’s made from 100% recyclable materials. It should be obvious that it sidesteps rust issues, too, so you needn’t worry about any rain or salt air.

In terms of protecting your possessions, the Saris Bones has articulated rubber feet to preserve the paint on your vehicle. Anti-sway straps stop bikes from colliding or unduly moving around.

A minor criticism of the Saris Bones is the untidy strap excess that can exist. There is no management system for that. It also suffers from the universal hanging-rack problem of not being able to easily carry bikes with step-through frames.

Overall, this is a rack that’s almost impossible to regret buying, even without a spoiler.

What We Like

  • Strong – extremely strong, lightweight injection-molded frame.
  • Eco-friendly – 100% recyclable materials.
  • Spoiler alert – arching design clears any rear spoiler.
  • Protective – rubber feet protect the painted finish. Rubberized hooks.

What We Don’t Like

  • Strays – long straps can result in untidy excess.

8. Hollywood Racks SR1 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack (best for spare wheels)

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Tire Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Weight Capacity: 35 lbs. per bike.
  • Weight: 19 lbs.

One feature we wanted in our best spare-wheel mount is that it should be compatible with backup cameras on vehicles like a Jeep Wrangler. You get that and more with the Hollywood Racks SR1 Spare Tire Rack.

This bike rack will fit over most spare tires up to a maximum 15” width. Installation of the rack is easy and doesn’t require the removal of the tire or any backup camera.

Note: recent versions of this rack accommodate 15” tires, whereas previous versions were okay up to 12” max. You might want to clarify this before buying if pertinent.

Other features of this rack include soft rubber bike cradles, an integrated tie-down strap for stability during transit, and bike arms that are foldable when not in use. This rack comes assembled and is quick to install.

If you have bikes without a horizontal top tube (e.g., a road bike) you may need a crossbar adapter to carry it on this rack. However, its pivoting arms may prevent that need if you’re lucky by adapting to different frame shapes.

A downside to this steel rack is its propensity to rust. The powder coating is more delicate than it might be, so you should keep an eye on its condition.

What We Like

  • Backup – doesn’t install in backup camera space or block view (unloaded).
  • Versatile – fits over most rear tires up to 15” wide (updated model).
  • Arms – foldable when not in use, pivoting to accommodate different frames.
  • Protective – soft rubber cradles prevent damage to the bike finish.

What We Don’t Like

  • Rust – powder-coated finish damages too easily and lets rust creep in.

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

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CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Rack Type: Trunk Mount
  • Bike Capacity: 2
  • Weight Capacity: 35 lbs. per bike.
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.

The Allen Sports Deluxe range is always a good bet for a budget bike rack. There’s not much visible skimping on quality, either, in products like the Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack. It’s well made, functional, and works on many SUVs.

It might be a bit “workmanlike” in appearance, but this rack protects your car with rubber bumpers and a design that keeps bikes distanced from the vehicle.

A 115” inch narrow-set spacing between the support arms helps to accommodate various bikes, including some that other racks can’t handle like women’s bikes. Only bikes with exceptionally low-slung frames are likely to need an adapter.

More good stuff: this rack includes a patented tie-down system that helps keep your bikes free from excessive movement. Extra stability comes from the lateral straps on either side of the frame.

A potential downside with this and other Allen Sports racks is the tendency towards metal trunk hooks. You may want to tape these hooks up or otherwise coat them to protect your car’s finish.

Minor gripes aside, this rack may meet your bike-carrying needs for next to no money.

What We Like

  • Price – exceptional value for money and a low-risk investment.
  • Protects – rubber buffers and the inner bike’s distance protect your car.
  • Versatile – holds more bike types than many hanging-style racks.
  • Stable – left and right lateral straps for stability.

What We Don’t Like

  • Metal – be wary of metal trunk hooks that may scratch your car.

Hitch-Mount Rack Alternatives

If you’re looking for a way to transport your bikes without a hitch-mount bike rack, there are a few alternatives worth considering.

Trunk-Mounted Rack

A trunk-mounted rack does not need any other equipment to exist on the car before it can install. Where possible, it secures to the edges of the trunk.

Trunk-mount racks are, on average, cheaper than hitch-mounted racks. There’s a lot of overlap in pricing. If you need a low-priced bike rack, look at trunk racks first.

Also, trunk-mounted racks are quick and easy to install and adjust, so they’re ideal if you want a rack to use across multiple vehicles.

The disadvantages of trunk-mounted racks are that they can’t usually carry heavy bikes, they’ll often need adapters to carry step-through bikes or kids’ bikes, and security features are weaker than those of a hitch rack.

How To Install A Trunk-Mounted Rack

Many trunk-mounted racks are delivered assembled, so installation is simple:

  1. Rotate the upper frame away from the lower frame.
  2. On a flat surface, position the two halves of the frame at a distance appropriate to your vehicle (where details are provided).
  3. With locking mechanisms unlocked, move the upper frame into position so the pads rest on your vehicle. They may be on the trunk or a rear windscreen.
  4. Do the same with the lower frame. It will normally rest in the license plate depression.
  5. Secure the frame’s angle with whatever lever or locking mechanism the rack has. Now you’ve adjusted the spacing of the rack.
  6. Clean the contact surfaces on the vehicle and place the rack against it.
  7. Secure the upper hooks to the edges of your trunk as per instructions.
  8. Adjust upper straps by pulling the ends to feed them through a buckle.
  9. Position and tighten lower straps, hooking them over the bottom of the trunk.
  10. Center the rack on the car and attach any side straps for stability. Tighten the side straps and re-tighten other straps.

Trunk-mounted racks with security elements will also have a robust strap and anchor that is fed inside the car.

Tire-Mounted Rack

A rack that mounts to the spare tire of your SUV will either bolt into the center of the tire or have a frame that wraps around it. Bolt-on types are incompatible with vehicles like a Jeep Wrangler that have a backup camera in the center of the spare wheel.

These racks are easy to install, and you can usually open the tailgate once bikes are unloaded. They’re fairly cheap, too.

How To Install A Tire-Mounted Rack

  1. Take the assembled rack and place the brace around the spare tire. Loosen adjustment bolts if necessary.
  2. With the rack in position, tighten the adjustment bolts lightly.
  3. Run straps behind the tire and secure using buckles at the front.
  4. Another strap usually goes around the circumference of the tire and secures with a buckle.
  5. Tighten all straps and add a little more torque to the adjustment bolts.
  6. Rotate the support arms outwards and attach rubber bike straps to cradles.
  7. Install the heaviest bike nearest the vehicle. Secure all bikes with rubber straps.
  8. Wrap a long security strap around all bikes and tighten the buckle.

Roof-Mounted Bike Rack

The main benefit of a roof-mounted bike rack is that it keeps the rear of the vehicle clear, whether it’s for trunk access or using the hitch for something else.

Having the bike atop the car also retains maximum rear-view visibility for driving. This is never true for hitch- or trunk-mounted racks.

Video: Tips For Mounting A Bike On Top Of A Tall SUV

You don’t find many cheap roof-mounted bike racks, so they may end up being more expensive than a hitch rack. That being said, if you’re starting from nothing, it’s easier and a bit cheaper to install crossbars on a roof than a hitch on a hitchless car.

A much-feared downside of a roof-mounted bike rack is the prospect of forgetting it’s there and wiping out your bikes driving into a garage. An SUV-specific problem is that SUVs tend to be tall vehicles, so a shorter owner may struggle to mount a bike.

How To Install A Roof-Mounted Rack

This is how you’d go about installing a roof-mounted rack:

  1. Assemble bike rack parts off the car.
  2. Place the bike rack onto the crossbars of your vehicle.
  3. Ensure the rack is facing the right way if it’s directional.
  4. Secure the rack to the crossbar by screwing in baseplates.
  5. Secure any other fixings such as U-bolts to the crossbar.
  6. Test to make sure the rack is stable.
  7. Place your bike on the rack.
  8. Secure the bike wheels to the rack using provided straps.
  9. Secure the rack arm to your bike (usually to the down tube).
  10. Tighten any lockable knob and lock the bike to the rack.

Rack Features To Look Out For

Some of the features you should study closely in a bike rack include:

Weight Capacity

Can the bike rack you’re looking at support the weight of your bikes? A typical weight capacity, especially among trunk racks, is 35 lbs. per bike. If you have a big steel MTB, a fat bike, or an e-bike, chances are they’ll weigh more than 35 lbs.

Use a luggage scale to weigh your bikes so you know what capacity you need.

Security

Bikes are never completely safe from thieves on a bike rack, especially a rack that secures to the car using straps. But the more obstacles you can put in the way of opportunistic thieves, the better.

Hitch racks and roof racks are superior to trunk-mounted racks for security. However, integrated cable locks are always easily cut. You might add your own U-locks if you need to leave the bikes momentarily.

Supported Bike Types

Most hanging-style bike racks, whether they’re hitch-mounted or trunk racks, struggle to carry bikes without horizontal top tubes (crossbars). These bikes include women’s bikes, beach cruisers, kids’ bikes, full-suspension MTBs, and BMX bikes.

Despite this problem being near-universal, buyers are not expecting to encounter it. The solution is often to buy crossbar adapters for any bikes that need them.

Some racks mitigate this problem with pivoting support arms that accommodate irregular frame shapes.

Fat bikes are a problem for all types of bike racks. With those, you ideally need a platform-style rack or a roof rack that can be fitted with wider tire cradles.

Rack Weight & Shape

Why do you need to know the weight of the rack? The heavier it is, the harder it is to maneuver onto and off the car, and the more likely it is to damage the car.

Study the shape of a bike rack, too. For example, some racks have arching tubes that minimize contact with the car’s surface.

Durability

Most bike racks are made of steel. Look for e-coatings or powder-coated finishes to prevent rust, though be aware that these coatings are not all of the same standard. The quality of the compounds used plays a part.

Bike & Vehicle Protection

Most bike racks have rubber bumpers or feet to protect the paint of the car. Look closely at the hooks of a trunk-mounted rack, as these are not always coated and may scratch the car’s finish.

Similarly, bike cradles should have rubberized straps. “Dual-compound cradles” are those that use two materials for their discrete properties (e.g., softness and strength). The distance between bikes and features like anti-sway cradles help to protect them.

FAQs For Car Racks With No Hitch

Here are some commonly asked questions about bike racks for hitchless cars:

Where Can You Carry Bikes On An SUV?

You can carry bikes on the roof or the back of an SUV. You can even freestyle it a bit with a product like the SeaSucker Talon, which has no defined position on any car.

What Type Of Hitchless Bike Rack Is Best For An SUV?

Overall, we’d have to say that a trunk-mounted or spare-tire mounted rack is the best non-hitch solution for an SUV. Roof racks are great but mounting bikes on top of a tall vehicle creates another problem for some people.

Do Any Kind Of Bike Racks Damage Your Car Or Bicycle?

You’d have to say that trunk-mounted bike racks and hanging-style bike racks are more likely to damage cars and bicycles. Roof racks and platform-style racks often provide more space for bikes and hold them upright from the wheel up.

Are Hitchless Bicycle Racks Easy To Install?

Yes, they are, albeit there’s some variation between products. Many trunk-mounted racks come ready assembled, so you just need to lock the frame into a position that suits the car and strap it to the trunk.

Wrapping Up

It’s time to briefly revisit our hitchless bike rack reviews. In the top position, we have the Yakima Fullback Premium 2-Bike Trunk Rack. We love this for its in-built security features, outstanding build quality, and durable finish.

Admiring the SeaSucker Talon 1-Bike Rack is easy. This veteran of pro peloton team cars is lightweight, fixes your bike to any clean area on the vehicle, and doesn’t let go with its super-strong sucker pads. Innovative, simple, elegant.

We have another unique product in the Thule OutWay Platform 2-Bike Mount. There’s no other non-hitch platform rack on the market that we know of. This rack is eminently versatile. Other notable features include built-in security and rear-light clearance.

These are three distinct products from our diverse selection. We hope our article helps inform your own decision, so you get exactly the hitchless SUV bike rack you need.

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Glenn H
Glenn H
When I’m not contributing articles to Bike Push, 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.

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