You have planned a trip to mountain bike on the weekend, but there’s no space on your SUV to carry the bike or bicycle to the mountains. What to do now? The simple solution is to get a hitchless bike rack. A hitchless bicycle/ bike rack is a carrier attached to a vehicle but includes no bumper pull arm.
Trunk bike racks are usually don’t need hitches and provide the best support to carry the bicycle. But not every bike rack will suit your SUV and your purpose. So, we grabbed some popular hitchless bike racks for SUVs and tested them out, so you don’t have to. Check out our full review below.
Can I use a bike rack without a hitch on an SUV?
Yes, there are multiple options. You can go for trunk bike racks/ roof bike racks/ spare tire racks, and more. But the most practical rack would be a trunk bike rack. These types of racks don’t need an extra hitch. But you must lift your bike on the base of the rack, then simply lock it to the bike frame or the wheels.
There are two types of tunk racks: Platform or Hanging. We recommend the platform because it holds any bike from a top angle that prevents the cycle from moving during the journey. It ultimately prevents any damage to the SUV and bicycle.
You can also carry the bicycle on your SUVs roof. It is a suitable choice if you have no issue using the rear trunk and eliminating the extra trailer hitch. Some of our experts don’t like it because their vehicles don’t have enough low clearance garages. However, these rooks provide safety without taking off the extra SUV wheel attached at the back.
What type of Hitchless bike rack is best for an SUV? (Our top 5 picked)
For this review, our bike rack experts Marco and Kent teamed up and tested different hitchless racks with a Subaru Forester 19. After examining, we have come up with our top five picks and their reviews below.
Allen Sports Deluxe
Allen Sports Ultra
1st RUNNER UP
Tyger Auto Deluxe
Hollywood Racks F4
1) Allen Sports Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
Allen Sports is a household name for bicycles, but it is also great in making hitchless bike racks. It’s the best hitchless bike rack as it can take 4-bikes as it claims. Check your Deluxe Trunk Mounted Bike Rack’s review below:
Tie-down: Allen Sports’ signature security technology is the tie-down. The rack locks the position of your bike as you set it in the first place. Tyger auto rack also comes close to this feature, but the lock is different. There are two different positions, fixed and fixed yet rotatable. The flexibility provides it to adjust to the SUV frame, and we are here for it.
Support bars: Most bikes now go best with narrow support bars. Our experts Marco and Kent agree that the thin support bars eliminate an extra adapter bar. Saris Bones Car Bike Rack has slightly less narrow support bars than this one. It can hold a fifteen inches bike without additional gear.
Straps: We were not hoping much when it came to its strap. Because we saw different complaints about its straps on the internet, however, Allen sports gracefully handled the critics and brought better straps for the Deluxe. The top and bottom straps fit perfectly to our Subaru Forester 19 frames.
Bike capacity: Allen deluxe can take up to 4 bikes, and let us remind you, no other trunk mount bike rack can do that currently. We did test the rack with three bikes and then 4 bikes. Guess what? The Subaru went smooth like butter without any pressure.
|Things we like||Things could be better|
|Bicycles stay at least one inch away|
from the SUV due to padded frame
|A bit complex install process|
|Rotating straps are made of nylon|
|4 inches play distance between top & bottom cradles|
How to put an Allen bike rack on an SUV?
First, open the rear frame of your SUV and take the Deluxe straps and attach them to the SUVs end. Make sure to connect to the sides properly to avoid any accident. Now hook each strap and receive the arm. Constantly adjust the rack to align its padded frame to prevent damage. Then secure the bike rack with extra pin hooks. For full installation guidelines, you can read our another post: How to Install Allen Bike Rack on SUV?
2) Allen Sports Ultra Compact Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
Our second pick is another Allen sports product. Allen Sports Ultra Compact Trunk Mounted Bike Rack is an excellent choice as a hitchless bike rack.
Ultra compact design: Apart from the deluxe version, the ultra-compact provides a versatile fit besides SUVs. You can use this for your minivan or even sedans. Also, the impressive feature is that it helps to rack up to a size smaller than a shoe. If you are an occasional bike rider or sometimes take trips, ultra-compact is better than the deluxe version.
Weight capacity: It has about 13 inches support bar, whereas the deluxe has 11 inches. So, the ultra-compact can take heavy duty bikes easily.
From our test, we don’t recommend carrying 4 bikes even if they have the capacity. Deluxe is better for the 4 bikes option. However, Ultra compact offers more support for any wide bike frame.
Landing pad: One of the common problems with hitchless bike racks is that they can damage the SUV if not installed correctly. However, Ultra compacts eliminate this problem because it includes a soft landing pad. So, when you drive, the shaking doesn’t hurt the SUV and your bike.
Others: There’s an extra carry bag that other brands don’t provide. You can fold the bike rack and park it inside the specialized carry bag. Also, Allen sports provide three security straps for this one. You’ll get a lifetime warranty.
|Things we like||Things could be better|
|Dual candles to protect and secure bike compound||It doesn’t fit a Dodge Dart despite listing it can|
|The patented design suits different vehicles including SUVs fit a wide range of vehicles|
|Includes a carry bag|
Is Allen sports a good brand?
Allen Sports is a great brand that creates excellent bike racks without hitches. It provides amazing racks at a very affordable price. According to our expert Marcus & Kent, Allen Sports makes durable & sturdy racks, a five-star brand.
3) Saris Bones Car Bike Rack
Saris Bones has always been the top three best sellers for bike racks. Also, it offers 2 bikes to 3 bike capacity. After Allen Sports, it is a pretty good option.
Saris Bones Car Bike Rack is a good option if you have a more prominent family or more people on your trip.
Heavy duty: The impressive thing about it is that Saris Bones is heavier than Hollywood racks, yet it is lightweight. It takes up to 34 lbs meaning 2 bikes capacity. Even though the manufacturers claim it has the most ability to carry bikes, we think it still needs improvement. Because it can not hold 4 bikes, however, unlike Allen Sports it has excellent weight capacity, it can take the load of two Schwinn Phocus 1600 at one go.
Frame: According to our expert Kent, it can carry a 20s bike and adult bikes. The molded arms and legs provide ongoing support for racks to hold together. In a way, it is free from heavy rusting. Platform hitchless racks often struggle to carry 17 inches bikes, but it is not valid for Saris bones. As we mentioned earlier, it can take two Schwinn Phocus 1600 bikes.
If your bike is less than 14.5 inches, it’s better to go for Allen Sports.
Top tubes: Women and kids’ bikes have top lines and need an adapter. Saris Bones store offers such adapters and is compatible with different adapters. The brand has provided a free adapter for a limited time. It’s similar to a beam, but you won’t need this if you put this on the right.
Perfect for SUVs: It fits SUVs 20% better than regular hitchless racks. The rack avoids any contact with spoilers for balancing the bike and the SUV. There’s a tool for finding if the rack will fit your SUV or not. Before buying, our experts used the “Fit Analytics” tool, and the Subaru 19 was a perfect match.
|Things we like||Things could be better|
|It provides approximate six inches of play distance from bike to car||No protection pads|
|Ratcheting straps come in a narrow and larger version|
|Includes Anti-sway efficient cradles|
4) Tyger Auto Deluxe Trunk Mount Bicycle Rack
Tyger Auto Deluxe Trunk Mount Bicycle Rack is a fantastic bike rack that can hold up to two bikes. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Easy installation: The first point that caught our experts’ attention was how easy it is to install compared to Allen sports. We rate it 4.5 stars just for installation. Installations are a significant part of choosing a bike rack.
However, it, too, doesn’t have any padded frames. You must attach the straps while installing for protection. So, we were skeptical about keeping the play distance between the bikes and SUV. Truth to be told, it ran smoothly during our test.
Design: You have to adjust the rack to the hatchback of the SUV for alignment. The heavy-duty rack is rust-resistant and has a strong powder coat. The rack is designed in a way it can tackle the rainy season and harsh weather conditions. Also, in different uncharted riding areas, it can keep its stealth.
Capacity: According to manufacturers, the bike can take up to 99lbs. However, as a trunk mount rack, it can not fit if the SUV has a rear spoiler. The construction is strong enough to hold 15 inches women’s bikes and 19 inches men’s bikes at one ride. But you can fit up to three bikes if you want.
Others: Some cradles protect the bike frames; there are no padded frames, as we said before. We found the cradles soft but nothing special. Moreover, the e coating provides a solid basis to resistance and control damage if any accidents occur.
This bike rack is also compatible with Sedans/Hatchbacks/Minivans
|Things we like||Things could be better|
|Easy installation process||It can not carry four bikes|
|Trunk mount and SUV is easy to align|
|E coating provides stealth|
5) Hollywood Racks F4 Heavy Duty Trunk Mount Rack
Our final pick is none other than the Hollywood Racks F4 Heavy Duty Trunk Mount Rack. Just like Allen sports, it too can take 4-bikes.
Basics: It is a fantastic mount bike rack that’s surprisingly great for an SUV with a spoiler. None of the other racks we reviewed has this feature. Also, it can adjust fast with a release lever. However, it fits most of the vehicles and spoilers. There are also six different straps to attach to your SUVs.
Structure: The hooks are made of sturdy plastic and prevent any damage to the car. The storage is easy, and it is not complicated to install. We heard that this rack didn’t fit a women’s bike in different opinions. But our Hercules FX 100 attached just fine with the rack. So it might be a person-to-person problem?
Weight capacity: Hooks have a smooth yet durable plastic finish. Even though it claims it can take up to 4 bikes, we couldn’t find the valid weight capacity from the manufacturers. From our test, it took up to 78lbs. Even the heavy-duty rack is relatively lightweight and weighs up to 7 pounds.
Others: Apart from SUVs, they will suit your minivan and sedan very well. It is also preassembled to avoid any problem in installation. There are also extra straps that other racks in our reviews did not have. Most importantly, the bumper system avoids the trunk opening problem.
|Things we like||Things could be better|
|It can adjust with a rear spoiler||Not for large vans|
|Limited lifetime warranty|
|Includes day safety flag|
Things to remember before buying Hitchless Bike Racks for Suv
You can go for a trunk or roof and even a spare bike rack. When it comes to roof bike racks, it comes in with an upright or fork mount as we discussed earlier, the upright means that the rack will fit on the rooftop. Rack’s style is personal because each has a specific purpose and needs. For example, we prefer the upright style over the fork style. But you might choose the fork mount. If you prefer no lock on wheels, you might want upright ones.
Trunk mounts are the best hitchless bike rack for SUVs for an affordable option. They attach to the rear with the help of a rear strap and hook to the trunk lip. These are easily adjustable and require no extra hitch or gear. On the contrary, roof racks are a bit more expensive than these. Also, roof racks can cost an additional 15% expense on SUV fuel because of the pressure.
Number of bikes
The weight and the pressure the bikes create on your SUV are to consider. If you plan to carry a lightweight bike, go for trunk mount racks. From our experience, trunk racks do carry heavy bikes. But a few heavy-duty racks go better with roof racks. However, if you want to take one to three or four bikes, it’s best to go for hitch bike racks.
Many hitchless bike racks provide anti-theft or ultra lock systems. Consider the lock-up feature for safety concerns and prevent damage on your SUV.
Benefits of using bike racks for Suv without a hitch
Reduces expense: Spoiler-included SUVs need an extra hitch for carrying bicycles. Our Subaru Crosstrek doesn’t have one, and buying a trailer hitch is unnecessary. For spoiler-free SUVs like ours, a bike rack is inexpensive and better than a hitch.
Also read: Types of trailer hitches and Hitch classes
No damage: Often, bike hitches need extra pin arms and a new setup that might cause damage to the infrastructure of an SUV. We’ve read your horror stories on forums about fitting hitch with SUV and causing a water leak. On the contrary, hitchless bike racks don’t have that problem and can work without damaging your SUV.
Adjustable: Most hitchless bike racks are multipurpose, and they provide universal fit to different bicycles. It is best for regular bicycles and also lightweight than hitch bike racks. That means these are very easy to carry. We often store it in the SUV’s trunk. It takes a bit of practice to adjust with the mount put on and off. These are not permanent, so you can take off and fit anywhere, anytime.
Safety: Hitchless bike racks provide different mounting options for different kinds of gear. Racks also offer a locking system that a hitch bike rack doesn’t. From our experience, hitchless bike racks have never moved or caused-motion during any journey.
How to install a Non Hitch Bike Rack on a Suv?
Step 1: The first step to install a bike rack without a hitch is to read the manual it includes. But we recommend checking out the website first to check if the manufacturers have any unique ways of installation.
Nonhitch bike racks are complicated to assemble if you are a newbie.
Step 2: Open the front door of the SUV and take out the rack straps. As we mentioned, every rack without a hitch has straps for locking. Take the straps and hook them to each edge of the rear door. We always align the padded frames(if the rack has it) to create a barrier between bike and car.
Step 3: After the rack, frames are adjusted, secure the hooks with strap locks and pins. Always tighten the straps by adding a slide or siding with the left corner of the buckle. Now take the belts and round to inside the rear back. That’s it. The installation is complete.
Step 4: If the non-hitch bike rack is roof-mounted, measure your SUVs’ crossbar and distance. Hook pins adjust the bike rack to a hanging or top-bottom position. Then gently place your bikes and wrap the strap with the front crossbar. Gradually the next crossbar with the next strap.
Also you can watch the video installation guide:
Bike rack for SUV (no hitch): FAQs
What are the types of Bike racks?
- Trunk mount racks
- Hitch mount racks
- Roof racks & Spare tire racks are the generic racks. But they do vary in different styles. For example, roof racks come in the platform, tunk, and inverse styles.
Do bike racks damage your car?
Non-hitch bike racks can damage your car if you don’t install them properly. The same is true for every rack on the market. Proper installation can decrease imbalance. Sometimes the front wheel of a bike moves and causes damage to the car or vehicle.
Do all the bike racks need a hitch?
Only hitch mount bike racks need a hitch or trailer hitch to function properly. Roof and trunk racks don’t need any hitch; basically, these are non-hitch bike racks.
Is it safe to use an SUV bike rack without hitch?
Yes, they are. Trunk mount bike racks and roof racks are great and secure when installed properly. These also eliminate extra expenses for a trailer hitch.
Also read: 5 Best Hitch for Boat Trailer
How much weight a Hitchless Bike Rack with Suv can carry?
It depends on the rack model and bike weight. For example, Saris Bones Car Bike Rack can take up to 34 lbs and not more. But Allen Sports Deluxe can take more than 50lbs.
Our rack experts Marco and Kent agree that Allen Sports Deluxe is their favorite. Because of how lightweight it is and can carry 4-bikes in a go. Hollywood Racks is also a great bike rack without a hitch. It, too, can take heavy-duty bikes that don’t adjust with a spoiler. Hitchless bike racks are great if you don’t want extra trailer hitch hassle.