Choosing the correct bike rack for electric bikes is a critical decision. Because e-bikes are heavier and more expensive than their standard counterparts, they’ll need a specialized hitch bike rack. Read on to learn how to choose them.
What Is An Electric Bike Rack?
Electric bike racks are for hauling e-bikes, which have unique transport requirements. While the market for bicycle racks is expansive, most are unsuitable for carrying electric bikes. Only electric bike racks consistently have the necessary durability, ease of use, and weight capacity.
Electric bikes are heavy, often weighing over 50 lb., and have thick tires and bulky batteries to account for, too. Some can even carry cargo like multiple people.
Therefore, an electric bike rack must be far sturdier than its standard counterparts. They’re costly, specialized devices, but they are worth it.
Types Of Bike Racks
Bike racks come in several types. Hitch bike racks are best, but they’re not the only option.
Depending on your budget and vehicle, truck bed racks, roof racks, trunk racks, and spare tire mount racks are also options.
Hitch Bike Racks – Best Bike Rack Type For Electric Bikes
The perfect bike rack for electric bikes is a hitch bike rack. They are durable enough to support a heavy e-bike for long distances.
And some hitch bike racks have an incorporated ramp that lets you quickly load and unload your bike.
While expensive, hitch bike racks are also easier to install than their counterparts. They plug into your trailer hitch receiver.
Platform Hitch Bike Racks
These racks provide a platform for your e-bike to rest on as it travels. They’re sturdy and straightforward to operate. With a ramp, you can roll your bike directly onto the platform.
Platform racks also have a high weight capacity and are large enough to handle all varieties of e-bikes.
However, this platform adds lots of weight. Storing platform hitch bike racks often becomes a significant issue. Even carrying them can be difficult, especially if you choose a model supporting multiple bikes.
Hanging Bike Racks
You secure your bike with a hanging rack by hooking it onto the frame from above.
This transport solution is lightweight and compact, with plenty of ground clearance. Hanging bike racks are also cheaper than their platform counterparts.
Ensure you choose a model that holds the e-bikes tightly in place, or they could sway, banging into your car, denting it, or chipping the paint. It’s best to choose a model with clamps instead of only hooks since these let the rack hold bikes securely, including bikes with fenders.
Trunk Bike Racks
Trunk-mounted racks are affordable and easy to use and install. However, several issues disqualify a rear-mounted bike rack for an e-bike from being the best choice.
Although these lightweight racks are compatible with almost all cars, they have a limited weight capacity.
Trunk back racks restrict access to your car’s trunk. Their security is another risk because these racks are difficult to lock. If you don’t tightly secure their arms or straps, your e-bike will swing around while driving.
Roof Bike Racks
Roof racks sit on the roof, giving you free access to your vehicle’s storage area. They also don’t stick out from the back, so they don’t make parking or reversing any harder. You won’t need an extra license plate holder or lights, either.
With a roof rack, you’ll also be able to carry other cargo on your car’s roof.
However, lifting an e-bike onto a roof rack is a chore. Depending on your strength, height, and bike weight, it could be impossible.
Truck Bed Bike Racks
Try a truck bed bike rack if you already transport your e-bike in your truck bed. These racks prevent your electric bike from moving around in the bed, protecting it and the vehicle.
Installing the bike rack in your truck bed is not a perfect solution. You lose access to transporting other stuff if you haul multiple bikes.
Truck bed racks won’t be compatible with every truck, either. They often need secure tailgates or assume you’ll have a large truck bed.
Spare Tire Mount Bike Racks
Like trunk racks, spare tire mount racks are cheap and easy to install. However, you’ll get what you pay for because these electric bike racks have limited space.
A spare tire mount bike rack only offers one or two electric bikes capacity. They’re a poor choice for families since you can’t install multiple frames on your vehicle.
A rear-mounted bike rack for e-bikes also adds to your vehicle’s length, reducing its maneuverability. You can’t use them alongside tire covers, which isn’t good when your SUV has a flat.
How To Choose Bicycle Racks For e-Bikes
Before deciding, pay attention to your bike’s requirements and the rack’s specifications. Even though a bike rack might have positive reviews, it won’t necessarily fit your electric bike.
Your Type Of Vehicle – RV, SUV, Sedan, Or Truck
First, consider your type of vehicle; a bike rack for a car (a sedan) function differently from one for a truck.
For example, rear-mounted bike racks add extra length to your vehicle. While that wouldn’t be a problem for an RV, you drive down highways, which could make maneuvering your sedan extremely difficult in the city.
Truck bed bike racks require a vehicle with a bed, so they aren’t compatible with other cars. Similarly, RVs and SUVs are so tall that they make roof racks impractical without a ladder.
Your Bike Weight And Number
An e-bike typically weighs about 50 lb., which is nothing. Hauling around a 50 lb. bike is challenging, so you’ll need a rack that can reliably support that weight.
Additional electric bikes increase the demand for your bike rack. Consider how many e-bikes you plan to transport and ask if that’s worth the added cost and size of a more substantial frame.
Extra bikes will also take up significantly more wheel space. See if the bike rack has the correct number of trays for the bikes you plan to haul.
Weight Capacity Of The Rack
A rack’s weight capacity is also essential; even though a bike rack might have the wheel space for your e-bikes, it might not support them all.
It’s vital to consider the total weight capacity so you don’t overload your hitch.
Always choose a bike rack with a weight capacity above your bike’s weight.
Similarly, pay attention to your hitch’s torque weight rating. Remember that your hitch must support the combined weight of the bikes and their rack.
Bike Rack Build Quality
Avoid low-quality bike racks. Saving money isn’t worth putting your property at risk, especially when that property is as helpful as an electric bike.
If your bike rack is not of acceptable build quality, you open your e-bike, and its rack is up to theft. Low-quality frames won’t secure your bike safely, so it could also shift around and scratch your car.
Counterfeits are also an issue. Only buy a bike rack from a reputable supplier, or you might wind up with only a broken frame and a pretty label.
E-bikes are heavy. Dropping them is a bad idea, unlike considering your mounting options. Removing the bike’s battery slims it down. It saves weight, making mounting it onto the rack a far easier task.
Also, think about mounting the bike rack to your car. While hitch racks are simple to install, they aren’t foolproof. Install the locking pins correctly and securely bolt the frame to your vehicle.
2″ hitch receivers give the best access to racks and can accommodate more weight. Installing this hitch is a fun DIY project or a quick visit to your mechanic.
Tire Width Rack Compatibility
Electric fat bikes are a great choice, but their tire width means they won’t be compatible with all bike racks. The same rationale proves true for mountain bikes, e-MBTs, and hybrid bikes; look out for a specialized frame.
Often, this issue won’t come up since e-bike racks are generally large enough for most bikes. Ensure that you double-check the wheelbase before your purchase, though.
Add-ons are also an option if an expensive one. Depending on your tire width, they can cost upwards of a hundred dollars.
Locking and Securing Features: Nobody wants to learn that their electric bike has gone missing; that’s where locking and securing features come into play. Bike racks with locking mechanisms like integrated cables give perfect peace of mind.
It’s also vital to secure the rack to your hitch. Look out for a bike rack with a locking hitch pin.
Ramps: With a loading ramp, you can roll your e-bike onto the rack. Some electric bike racks even come with integrated ramps.
Racks with built-in ramps are helpful because they mean you won’t have to lift yours onto the frame. Seeing as these bikes can weigh over 50 lb., anything that makes them less unwieldy is an excellent investment.
Fail-Safe Measures: Regardless of the rack type, it’ll need to survive the rigors of transport. Everything from potholes to hailstorms can happen while on the road. Your bike rack needs fail-safe measures.
Fortunately, electric bike racks are sturdy. Still, redundancy can’t hurt, especially when it helps keep the bike secure to the bike rack and that rack to your car.
Tilt-away Feature: Hitch bike racks typically sit close to the rear of your car, but that makes loading bikes difficult. Tilt-away features simplify this chore. You can tilt the frame away from the vehicle to access your e-bikes.
You can tilt the rack into the transport position when you’re done. This feature saves space and lets you access the trunk without removing the bike rack.
Bike racks are valuable, and there’s no point in keeping them in your car when you’re not transporting an e-bike. Storage is also an important question when choosing an e-bike.
Look out for a compact or folding model if you have limited space. Platform hitch racks are hefty; if these are your preferred styles, choose one with wheels if storage is an issue.
Unfortunately, we can’t always have the bike rack of our dreams – budget is an unavoidable issue. Hitch racks are the best, but their quality is expensive.
Even cheap hitch racks can be problematic. They usually lack tilt-away features; you won’t always have access to your trunk while they’re in your vehicle.
Consider a spare tire or trunk rack if a hitch rack is outside your budget. These racks aren’t ideal for e-bikes but are the cheapest alternatives.
Do Electric Bikes Need Special Bike Racks?
While it is possible to mount an electric bike on a generic bike rack, it’s a risky idea.
E-bikes are heavier than their standard counterparts, so a regular bike rack won’t have the load capacity to support the added weight.
Special electric bike racks are better since they can support an e-bike’s weight and unique design. A standard bike rack isn’t nearly as stable or secure, so you’ll risk damaging it, your e-bike, or your car when you use one.
Electric bikes need specialized bike racks, and a hitch bike rack is the best choice. Both the platform and hanging types are sturdy enough to support heavy e-bikes without making mounting challenging or restricting your vehicle’s maneuverability. Hitch bike racks are expensive, but they make up for it by being reliable and easy to mount.
Read also: Best Bike Rack For Electric Bikes