How to Install a Hitch Bike Rack

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Last Updated on July 4, 2022

Having to transport your bike by riding through rough terrain is what calls for a proper hitch bike rack. 

And if you are new to this concept, then the first thing you need to do after buying one is to find how to install a hitch bike rack the right way. 

Because the installation is not secure enough, there’s a chance of damaging the bike midway due to bouncing. Things can be worse if the bike directly drops from the rack to the road, then you might have to spend loads to get the damage repaired.

So, avoid that by learning the proper installation process, which we will discuss today.

Here’s How to Install a Hitch Bike Rack Securely

Follow the steps given below to install a hitch bike rack all by yourself.

How to install hitch bike rack

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Receiver Installed

So, the vehicle you are trying to hitch a bike rack on must have the right hitch receiver pre-installed in it. Nowadays most SUVs, as well as trucks, will come with an appropriate hitch receiver. 

However, the ones that don’t come with the receiver are also many. And so, if this is the case, you should be aware of it. 

Then just buy an after-market hitch for installing it to the vehicle of such type. This also goes for folks who are trying to know how to install a bike rack on a car without a preinstalled receiver.

2. Correct Hitch Receiver Size & Bike Rack

Another part that you cannot mess up is ensuring or choosing the right hitch receiver size. The ratings are often referred to as Class. There are around 5 classes to define the differences in the ranges. 

Here’re a few pointers to help with determining the right class or rating:

  • Class 1 and 2 have 1.25 inches opening.
  • Class 3 & 4 have 2 inches openings.
  • Class 5 is meant for heavy-duty usage vehicles.

Keep In Mind – if you don’t have the right size receiver, and the thing is too wide for the rack you’ve got, then buy an extra adapter. This will help in expanding the rack shank size, the part works with the receiver.

Apart from being careful with hitch receiver size, you also need to be thoughtful about picking the right bike rack (if you don’t already own one). 

In that case, you can consider the receiver to determine what rack will work best with it. Don’t avoid the instructions provided by the manufacturer when trying to assemble the rack.

Load the rack in the hitch receiver, which might require help from another person. As the rack could feel a little heavy too few folks. Most of the time, these racks are not more than 50 pounds in weight.

3. Bolting The Receiver & Rack

  • For a hitch bike rack installation to work accurately, you want to make sure the bolt is lining right from the rack and receiver. There should be a hitch bolt provided with the rack, which you need to install firmly with the help of a wrench.
  • You may find a flat washer along with a lock washer. Some even provide a cotter pin that goes right on the opposite end of the head side bolt. 
  • For installing a hitch bike rack, you also need to be careful with any necessary adjustments. Of course, the adjustments should be done before you decide to load the bikes on it.
  • Once you load the bike, don’t miss any telescoping bar clamps as well as straps to make sure the load is evenly distributed. And the load will also be in place firmly. You want to shake the bike back and forth to check whether it’s secure enough to start driving safely.
  • Keep In Mind – If the rack or bike bounces a bit too much as you drive, go for an extra cord or strap. It needs some additional stability for avoiding those bounces. If you are planning to drive through rough terrain, this step will be even more necessary.

And that’s pretty much everything on installing a hitch bike rack.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the benefits of using a hitch bike rack?

There are several. These are great at adding versatility to transportation needs and at the same time carry loads without fearing drop if you learn the right way of installing these.

How do you transport a bike without a rack?

Some go for stripping the bike on top of the vehicle roof. However, this means the roof paint will stay vulnerable to scratching. Also, it’s not a secure way of transporting heavy bikes.

Do bike racks damage your car?

Well, over time there will be some damage from the hitch bike rack. However, things depend on the frequency of usage. Heavy load on top of the rack will make it rub against the roof of your vehicle. And as a result, there might be scratches.

How do bike racks affect gas mileage?

There’s a specific shape that comes into play for deciding the max aerodynamic efficiency of a make and model. 

However, by adding a bike rack, that vehicle shape gets disrupted. Hence it creates an effect on gas mileage. So, you will feel the vehicle getting slower and at the same time, there shall be some additional burden on the engine.

Wrapping Up

And that was pretty much all about how to install a hitch bike rack. It looks like you can now easily install one without thinking about any risks. 

However, do be mindful while making the whole thing stable enough before actually loading the bike. You don’t want to put something this bulky on a poorly balanced surface.

On That Note, We’ll Be Leaving for Today!

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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