Buying a bike rack for your car can look a bit tricky at first. There are lots of choices available on the market and at first glance, it is hard to tell if it will fit your car or not. So how do I know if a bike rack will fit your car?
Bike racks are not entirely universal but there is a compatible bike rack for every car. There are manufacturers’ guides to find racks compatible with the shape of a given car. Some rack models are quite generic and work with many cars. The only fully universal bike rack is a vacuum mounted rack.
In the guide below, I will first review a few bike racks that fit (almost) any car. And then, I will help you select a bike rack that fits your car. Let’s go!
Is there a bike rack compatible with all cars?
There is a universal “bike rack” that fits every car, the SeaSucker Talon bike rack. It is definitely not a traditional type of bike rack and only accommodates one bike. It is based on a vacuum system based on suction cups that can be mounted on any car without damaging the car.
This design is perfect for convertible cars, and sports cars. These types of cars are the type of cars for which fitting a traditional bike rack can be quite tricky, and for which it is rarely possible to fit a bike directly inside the car.
SeaSucker bike rack is quite expensive compared to a traditional bike rack. It is definitely not the best rack for everyone. But it does work very well as long as you pump from time to time the suction cups. For instance, every time you stop at a gas station.
Is there a universal trunk bike rack?
If you are looking for a more traditional bike rack that can fit more than one bike, trunk racks are generally a good option. The particularity with trunk racks is that they are far from being universal. They are very dependant on the shape of the car and the design of the trunk.
Having said so, there is one good model that is very adjustable and fits almost any car. According to its manufacturer, it fits 90% of cars on the market, including SUVs, Hatchback, and Sedan cars. This bike rack is the Saris Bone trunk bike rack.
Its shape is very different from most trunk racks. This is why it can fit above most car spoilers and does not depend much on the car trunk design. You can fit either 2 or 3 bikes depending on the model you buy.
Is there a universal roof bike rack?
Roof bike racks are generally universal. They tend to fit most roof crossbars designs. So if your car is already fitted with roof crossbars, you can safely buy a bike roof rack without worrying.
If you wish to buy a roof rack but don’t own already roof crossbars, some models fit any cars and are easy to put on.
For instance, this universal model will work with any car: SportRack complete roof rack system. It’s a strong product with a good design. It’s not the most fashionable look for crossbars but it has the merit to work with every car.
If your car has raised roof bars, I would recommend buying a model that can be directly mounted onto it rather than this universal model.
Once you got the crossbars, you just need to pick a bike roof rack of your choice. Good models are Yakihama High Road and Thule ProRide XT bike racks.
Is there a universal hitch bike rack?
Hitch racks are generally not universal because it depends on the size of the tow hitch receiver on your car. There are generally two types of hitch receivers: 1.25” or 2” receivers. If your car is not fitted with a tow hitch, you can get one installed on your car. This will cost you between $50 and $250 when done by a professional.
Hitch racks are divided into two types of rack: platform bike racks and hanging bike racks. Some of the models might prevent you from opening the trunk. This is why depending on your needs there is not a universal model that will fit your car.
Is there a universal truck bed bike rack?
Truck bed racks are generally suitable for all types of pickups. You have two choices: using a tailgate bike pad or rail fork mount. Both systems are universal for pickups and are easy to install.
How do I know if a bike rack fits my car?
All cars have at least a compatible bike rack. Manufacturers provide tools on their website by car model. You may need to install accessories such as a crossbar or tow hitch beforehand. It is as important to check the compatibility with your car of these accessories as the rack itself.
Hopefully, Thule also provide the crossbar compatibilities in its tool. Or you can buy the universal crossbar I mentioned earlier here.
Regarding tow hitches, they need to be installed by a professional. There is no reason a tow hitch cannot be installed on your car, but it is better to ask a professional. Just decide beforehand if you need a 1.25” or 2” tow hitch according to the bike rack you want to install.
Regarding trunk racks, they come in many different shapes and sizes. Therefore, it is best to check the guides made by the manufacturers to check the compatibility. In particular, Saris propose trunk racks for a wide variety of cars.
I will now provide you with the link to the tools of several manufacturers to help you find a bike rack that fits your car.
Which Thule bike rack fits my car?
On Thule’s website, you will find a tool that tells you for a given car brand and model the list of compatible bike racks. You will find the tool here.
By entering the type of rack you are interested in, the brand and model of your car, and the number of bikes you wish to transport, you will get a list of bike racks that fit your car.
Which Saris bike rack fits my car?
On Saris’ website, you will find a tool that tells you for a given car brand and model the list of compatible bike racks. You will find the tool here.