Which bike rack is best for a truck bed?
Though you could just throw your bike in the back of a truck, there is always a chance it could be damaged or stolen. A purpose-built bike rack will keep your expensive bicycle safe during transport and can often be locked for additional security. When choosing a suitable bike rack, it is important to think about your needs in terms of ease of use, the number of bikes you wish to transport and how they attach to the rack. Some bike racks can be set up in minutes and hold a single bicycle, whereas others are permanently mounted to the truck and can hold up to six.
The Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack is an excellent example designed for a single bicycle. It has a plastic cradle that supports the front wheel and a ratcheting arm to hold the frame securely in place.
What to know before you buy a bike rack for a truck bed
Types of bike racks
There are several different designs of bike racks for a truck bed. Some focus on security while others are designed for ease of use. The simplest is a side clamp that mounts to the sidewall of the truck and attaches to the frame of the bike. Other models are positioned within the bed and either secure the front wheel or the front forks. Alternatively, a tailgate pad straps over the tailgate and has heavy-duty canvas loops for holding multiple bicycles at once.
Number of bikes
Choosing the best type of bike rack will depend on how many bikes you wish to transport. For a single bicycle, a side clamp is ideal and can be quickly installed and removed. For two to four bikes, most are designed to secure the front wheel or the forks. For up to six bikes, a tailgate pad is the best choice.
Some bike racks are simply placed in the truck bed and lifted out again after use, which is a very quick and simple procedure. However, these typically offer little security. If you plan to leave your vehicle unattended, then a bike rack that permanently mounts to the truck will allow you to lock the bikes in position.
What to look for in a quality bike rack for a truck bed
Security and protection
Bicycles can be very expensive, therefore it is vital that a bike rack has ample padding to prevent damage. Clamps and wheel mounts should hold the bike securely to prevent it from rubbing against the truck or other bikes. Additionally, a lockable bike rack will ensure your bicycles are safe if left unattended.
Another key consideration is storage. A permanently mounted bike rack may take up a lot of room in the bed of the truck. Some compact models are easy to fold away and can be stored behind the seats, whereas a rack for several bikes can be quite bulky and may need to be kept in a garage or storage room.
A bike rack should be durable and weather-resistant. Painted steel is cheap and strong. Aluminum bike racks are corrosion-resistant and easy to lift in and out of the truck. Try to avoid a rack with many plastic parts, as these tend to weaken and break over time.
How much you can expect to spend on a bike rack for a truck bed
A simple side clamp or wheel-mounted rack for a single bike can be found for under $100. For a heavy-duty rack that can hold multiple bikes, expect to pay $200-$500.
Bike rack for a truck bed FAQ
How much weight can a bike rack hold?
A This depends on the design. Most bike racks don’t support the entire weight of a bicycle, rather they hold them securely in place. For a single bike, most racks can hold up to 50 pounds, which should be sufficient. For multiple bikes, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid overloading.
Are there any accessories you can add to a bike rack?
A Some bike racks are multi-purpose and are available with special adapters, which means they can also be used for things like surfboards or skis. For versatility, look for a bike rack that includes additional storage compartments, cable locks and straps.
What’s the best bike rack for a truck bed to buy?
Top bike rack for a truck bed
Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack
What you need to know: Designed for a single bike, this rack has a durable plastic cradle that supports the front wheel.
What you’ll love: It has a ratcheting arm that can be adjusted for different-sized bikes and an integrated security lock.
What you should consider: This rack doesn’t attach to the bed of the truck in any way.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bike rack for a truck bed for the money
Swagman Tailwhip Tailgate Pad
What you need to know: Designed for up to six bikes, this tailgate pad slips over the back of the truck and only takes a few minutes to install and remove.
What you’ll love: It has thick foam padding and soft fleece lining to protect both your bicycles and your vehicle. It is durably made of waterproof ballistic tarpaulin.
What you should consider: This type of rack allows the bicycle to move around somewhat and may require additional straps.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot
Worth checking out
Heininger Advantage Sports Rack
What you need to know: This rack is designed to carry up to four bikes. It is durably made of alloy steel with a black powder-coated finish.
What you’ll love: It features quick-release wingnuts to secure it in the back of the truck and can also be used as a stand-alone bike rack.
What you should consider: It is quite bulky and takes up a large portion of the truck bed.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot
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Chris Gillespie writes for Best Reviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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