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Finding a bike rack that won’t damage your fenders can be a challenge. If you are familiar with the attachment systems you require, it’ll be easier to narrow down your search.
Our pick for the best bike rack for a bike with fenders is the Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack. This platform-style rack offers the most secure locking system and is least likely to damage your fenders or bike frame. It’s everything a long-distance bike adventurer could hope for.
Of course, not every fendered bike fits perfectly into every rack, and there is a wide range of prices for racks. In this post, we will discuss the varieties of bike racks, mounting systems, compatibility, and more top bike rack options for each category.
Best Bike Racks for Bike with Fenders
Top Choice: Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack
Thule is a leader in sleek, sturdy, well-designed mounting systems, and one expects nothing less from this Swedish brand.
The Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack is crowned as the best bike rack for bikes with fenders for many reasons. This two-bike hitch mounted rack is fully foldable, compact, and easy to install and use. It even offers full trunk access with or without your bikes loaded.
If it’s a heavier ebike you’re trying to transport, the carrying capacity of this versatile rack is more than equipped to handle it. There is even an option for a loading ramp to make it easier, as well as a multitude of compatible add-ons and accessories for customizing to your specific requirements. All original purchases are covered by Thule’s warranty.
Since the EasyFold secures your bike wheels and there is no contact with the frame, it’s a perfect option for delicate carbon fiber bikes, and is certainly worth the investment for high-end bicycles. At a somewhat steep price point, however, the EasyFold is not the most affordable solution.
Runner Up: Hollywood Racks Sport Rider SE2
The Sport Rider SE2 Hitch Bike Rack from Hollywood Racks is a good option for ebikes. The entire rack itself weighs 54 pounds and has a carrying capacity of 50 pounds per bike. It’s sold as a two-bike rack, but you have the option to purchase an add-on kit for two additional bikes.
Its wheel base range is from 34” to 60” and its maximum tire width is 3”. Add-on options include 5″ fat tire wheel holders and extending the wheel base to 72”.
Other features, which you’d expect from a well-designed rack, include tilting down while bikes are loaded for access to your trunk and folding flat against your car when you aren’t using it, as well as a security cable to keep your bikes from budging.
Hollywood Racks uses their patented No-Wobble System, which eliminates the need for tools to adjust the slack between the receiver and rack. Simply use their keyed-alike locking hitch pin and a security cable to keep your bikes from budging.
Best of all, its adjustable strap wheel holders and universal locking frame hook accommodate a wide variety of bikes without interfering with fender placement.
Best for Ebikes: KAC K2 Overdrive Sport
The K2 Overdrive Sport Hitch Mounted Bike Rack from KAC is a rear-mounted bike rack designed for a 2-inch hitch receiver and carries two bikes.
This durable rack made of powder-coated steel is built with ebikes in mind and has a carrying capacity of up to 60 pounds per bike, but only weighs 48 pounds.
Features include an anti-wobble system, so there is no slack, and smart tilt with a unique quick release lever. For security, it has a two-lock system with a pin at the hitch and another at the top crossbar.
Its adjustable padded hooks and 5” wheel holders secure your bike with straps that latch onto the base of your wheels. If you have a step-through bike frame, however, you’ll want to pick up an adapter to ensure a secure fit.
One-Bike Rack: ROLA Convoy Modular Bike Carrier
If you only need to transport one bike at a time and you’d like to save a little money, the ROLA Convoy Modular Bike Carrier is the best fender-compatible single bike rack for you. Of course, if you change your mind down the road there is still an option to get an add-on unit.
This rack is compatible with cars, trucks, SUVs and vans. Don’t try attaching it to RVs, motorhomes or trailers.
The ROLA Convoy has a carrying capacity of 50 pounds and can accommodate many varieties of bikes. Its wheel diameter range is 20” to 29”, with a tire width of 5” and wheelbase of 48”.
Like most of the racks on this list, the Convoy includes a locking hook and a threaded hitch pin that doubles as an anti-wobble device. The removable pin allows you to tilt the rack away from your vehicle.
Most importantly, the Convoy’s pivoting upright arm with a ratcheting hook helps to ensure there is no damage done to your fenders. This adjustable rubber-padded hook can be secured to your bike’s frame to help avoid contact with fenders, or to your bike’s front wheel if you have a carbon frame that you don’t want to risk contact with.
How To Choose the Best Bike Rack for You
There are two types of hitch racks: platform style and hanging style. Each bike rack type has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Much like the name suggests, platform-style racks enable you to load your bike onto a platform and secure it by the tires. This style of rack is ideal for cyclists who want to preserve the aesthetic of their bikes. Since there is minimal contact with your bike’s frame and the distance between bikes is adjustable to minimize bike-to-bike contact, scuffs and scraps during transportation are less common with these racks.
These racks are a popular choice because they’re easy to install and versatile thanks to thoughtful design. The downside, however, is that they are more expensive.
If you plan to transport a large number of bikes, you may want to consider a hanging rack. By attaching to the bike’s frame and letting the bike hang down, these racks are able to hold up to five bikes. This is ideal for cycling families with multiple riders.
However, if you have to transport a bike with an unusual frame—such as a step-through, full-suspension mountain bike, or a children’s bike—it can be a challenge to keep the bike secure with these racks. There is also more potential for movement and scratches. There are things you can do to help limit this, such as using a bungee cord to strap the bikes down and/or to secure the front tires to the frame.
If you are okay with giving up some built-in security, hanging racks are easier for mounting and less expensive.
Tilting vs. Swing-Away Features
There is nothing more annoying than getting your bikes fully loaded onto the rack and realizing you need to grab something from your trunk that you can no longer access. Fortunately, most racks are designed with a solution: they tilt or swing away from your vehicle.
Generally, platform racks will tilt away, allowing you to open a hatchback or drop a tailgate. Hanging racks, on the other hand, will swing to move farther away from your vehicle, providing less-obstructed access, which is crucial if you’re trying to pull out large heavy objects and don’t want to accidentally damage your bike.
Swing-away platform mounts offer the best of both options.
Number of Bikes
How many bikes do you need to transport?
Many platform racks have the option to increase their bike capacity with add-ons, which can be purchased after the fact. But if you’re the go-to person with the ride, you may just want to buy a larger hanging-style rack so you can transport many bikes.
How your bikes stay fastened to your desired hitch rack is another factor to consider. The most frequently used mounting system is a strap system. The straps are elastic and wrap over different areas of your bike depending on the rack. On hanging racks, it’s over the frame, while platform racks use the wheels.
Platform racks employ the shepherd’s hook—the arm that swings up and ratchets around your bike’s tires. They are reinforced by straps for extra security. This is the best method for frame protection.
Wheel Size & Tire Width
You won’t find issue with hanging racks in this category since the bikes are secured by their frames. But when shopping for platform racks, make sure your wheel size and tire width are compatible. In the suggested racks above, I’ve highlighted these specifications so you can find the perfect rack for your bike.
Bike Frame Compatibility
Hanging racks work best with traditional diamond-shape frames. If your platform arm isn’t adjustable your bike frame may also be an issue. There are top tube adaptors you can purchase to secure your bike with. Just make sure you take this into consideration while shopping.
Hitch Receiver Size
Hitch receivers are usually between 1.25” and 2”. If you need to carry ebikes, larger than 2″ is best for carrying heavier loads. Again, there are adaptors available for purchase, but you may as well factor this in before you commit to a specific model.
Bike thieves will stop at nothing to grab your bike, even if it’s mounted to your car. Look for racks that come equipped with a locking hitch mount for securing the rack to your car. This makes it impossible to unscrew when engaged, helping to keep your bike safe. This is another item that can be sold separately or that will increase the price of fully equipped high-end racks.
A bonus security feature of high-end racks are the predrilled holes for threading cable locks around your bikes while they are mounted.
Ease of Use
Hanging racks make mounting traditional diamond-frame bikes a breeze. But heavier bikes benefit from platform racks, especially ones that come with ramps (another feature sold separately if you decide later you’d like it).
You probably want a rack that won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. I always recommend finding a durable option. The attachment points from the rack to your bike commonly get worn out. Hanging racks commonly use elastic or plastic straps that dry out over time and can snap if they’re not taken care of. But they are not hard to replace. Shepherd’s hooks are hard to find and fix, but tend to last longer. This is where you’ll want to pay attention to user reviews to get a better sense of wear and tear for each model.
As with anything, the more you spend, the higher quality you get. Depending on the features you can’t live without and how expensive the cargo you are carrying is, it may be worthwhile to invest in a long-term option that won’t have to be replaced anytime soon. Ease of use, security features, and functionality all factor into a long road trip.
Hanging racks can carry more bikes, can swing away for great access to the back of your vehicle, have a more common mounting system, are easier to mount, and are cheaper.
Platform racks are secure, more durable, last longer, and accommodate a wide array of bikes.
I’ve only suggested platform racks for bikes with fenders because I think the potential for damaging your fenders with hanging racks is too high. When searching for a platform rack, your best bet is to find one with an adjustable hook that can clamp onto your bike’s frame and sturdy straps for securing your wheels from the bottom. This will also make loading bikes and unloading much easier.
And just in case loading your bike onto a rack isn’t an option for some reason, see our post on how to fit a bike in a car.