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Which hitch racks for bikes are rated for eBikes?

Which hitch racks for bikes are rated for eBikes?

May 31, 2022 | Pete Prebus

If you are looking to broaden your horizons and ride in some new locations with your electric bike, then having a good car rack to transport your eBike(s) is a great investment. When you're able to transport your eBikes with a hitch, bumper, or roof rack on your car or truck, you'll have access to many more trails and beautiful locations.

With electric bikes being heavier than conventional bikes, it is important to get a rack that is rated for eBikes, especially if you plan to carry more than one. Before you buy, you should also make sure that your car/truck, as well as the receiver hitch itself can both handle the heavier load of the eBikes, plus the bike rack itself.

In this guide to electric bike racks for cars, we will take a look at the racks that are available and the features to look out for when selecting an eBike-compatible rack for your vehicle.

What to consider when selecting a vehicle rack for use with eBikes

Consider the multiple locations a bike rack can be mounted on your vehicle - roof racks, once popular, have largely gone out of fashion as hitch racks increased in popularity and quality. Bumper racks, which are inexpensive for carrying lighter loads, aren't suitable for carrying heavier eBikes.

Unless you have a compelling reason to choose something else, a hitch rack is the best way to carry eBikes for the vast majority of riders - especially if you intend to carry multiple bikes.

Pros and cons of hitch racks

Pros:

  • very sturdy and stable, best for carrying multiple bikes and heavier bikes
  • the user doesn't need to lift bikes overhead
  • better fuel economy than roof racks, due to lower wind resistance

Cons:

  • upfront expense is higher than bumper racks
  • vehicle must have a receiver hitch already installed to use a hitch-style bike rack

Pros and cons of roof racks

Pros:

  • very sturdy and stable
  • sleek design, doesn't increase vehicle length

Cons:

  • upfront expense is higher than bumper racks
  • complicated to setup - generally not designed to be installed and removed repeatedly. 
  • user must lift the bikes overhead

Pros and cons of bumper racks

Pros:

  • inexpensive
  • easily installed and removed as needed

Cons:

  • not designed to carry eBikes
  • bicycle or vehicle paint is easily damaged

Hitch racks are best for eBikes

Almost all car racks rated for eBikes will be supported by the hitch receiver of your vehicle. Receiver hitches are a superior location for mounting a bike rack - since they're often intended for towing, we know they can accomodate a heavy load, and unlike a roof rack, hitch racks are fairly close to the ground, so it's easier to load and unload heavy bikes.

2" vs. 1 1/4" receiver hitches

You will want to determine what size and class of hitch receiver you have (or will have installed) on your vehicle. The common sizes are 1-¼” and 2” hitch receivers.

  • 2" receiver hitches are preferred, since they are rated for a higher load.
  • However, you may find that only 1 1/4" receiver hitches are available for your vehicle (generally small cars) and 2" isn't offered.
  • Larger, heavier vehicles like trucks and SUVs are more likely to have the desirable 2" option.

Adding a trailer hitch to your vehicle

If your vehicle didn't come with a receiver hitch, you can usually retrofit one. Vehicles that can't have any sort of trailer hitch installed are rare. Good quality receiver hitches can cost about $125 - $300.

Many U-Haul brick and mortar locations both sell and install hitches. If you prefer to shop online, eTrailer.com is a popular onlne store that sells hitches for most vehicles. If you buy online, you'll need to install the hitch yourself, but eTrailer provides a dificulty rating, so you'll know what to expect.

Understanding weight limits on hitch racks

You'll need to consider a few different weight limitations when shopping.

  • the tongue weight limit, determined by your vehicle manufacturer or the 3rd-party hitch brand
  • the total weight limit for the rack you've selected
  • PLUS a potential weight limit on each individual bike carrier on the rack

The allowable tongue weight for your vehicle is found in the vehicles owners manual. Note that the tongue weight and hitch receiver capacity may differ and it is the lower weight of the two that will dictate how much can safely be carried.

For example, if you have a 200 pound allowable tongue weight with a hitch receiver that can carry 600 pounds, then you will need to make sure the rack weight, plus the eBike(s) weight stays under 200 pounds, total.

Once you have your vehicle's weight capacity, it's time to look at the weight and compare that to the per-bike weight capacity of the rack. It is important to abide by the per bike weight capacity because the rack has been designed with that in mind. With that information you should be able to narrow in on a few racks that meet your requirements. Right on the edge of the weight limit? Consider removing the battery from your eBike when it's on the rack - a quick and easy way to meet the maximum weight requirements, since eBike batteries can weigh 10 lbs or more.

Modern eBikes are heavier than ever (thanks to larger battery capacity and accessories like suspension forks, fenders, and so on) and multiple eBikes can push the weight limit, even on racks specifically designed for eBikes. At this point it's a good idea to doublecheck: add up the weight of the rack itself, and the electric bikes you will be carrying, and ensure you are not going above the tongue weight or hitch receiver weight capacity. 

Features to consider when shopping for a hitch rack

With so many brands and models on the market, it's important to shop with your desired features in mind. Here are some factors to consider and nice features you may want:

  • Does the rack meet your weight requirements?
  • Do you own (or plan to own) a fat tire eBike? Many racks have a tire width limitation. Better racks are more likely to handle a variety of tire sizes. Basic models might handle standard width tires, but not oversized "fat" tire bikes. Sometimes add-on components are available from the rack manufacturer to accomodate fat bikes.
  • What about locks? Better racks allow you to lock the rack to the vehicle and the bikes to the rack. This feature may be standard on some models, or optional on others. If your chosen rack doesn't include locks, consider using a padlock and long cable lock that passes through the bicycle frame(s), and the receiver hitch.
  • It's a good idea to get a locking hitch pin for the attachment of the rack to the hitch. Some racks include this.
  • Does the rack match the receiver hitch on my vehicle? 1 1/4" or 2". Some racks accomodate both common sizes, while others are specific and work on 1 1/4" or 2" only.
  • Can I lift the eBike from the ground to the height of the rack? If not, consider a rack with a ramp or electric lift to help you. 
  • Do you need access to the vehicle trunk? Some racks offer a tilt or swivel feature, allowing you to swing the bikes out of the way for trunk access without removing the bikes.

Best hitch racks designed for eBikes

For an example of a full-featured rack designed specifically for eBikes, let's use the Saris Door County as an example: 

The new Saris Door County rack has an electric motor that lowers the rack to make loading eBikes easy, and raises back up for transport. The user can lower it to the ground, mount the bikes, then raise the rack back up to the driving position. That's very handy if you can't confidently lift your eBike.

Of course you can use a rack like the Door County on traditional non-eBikes too, but the "lift" feature is clearly most beneficial on heavy eBikes.

The Door County also folds down to a smaller size for storage and portability when not in use. That's a nice feature if you only use it on the vehicle occassionally.

 

Let’s check out the Electric Bike Racks

Saris Door County

We touched on this one before but it is a pretty innovative electric bike rack that can make loading up your eBikes a lot easier, thanks to a motor system that lowers and raises the rack. It runs off the vehicle's 7 pin electrical connection, high tech!

As you can imagine with this kind of tech, this is a flagship electric bike car rack with a premium price of $1,299.99. Worth it though if you struggle with lifting your eBike - and a quality hitch rack is a good investment when eBikes can cost $6,000, $8,000, and more. With two high-end eBikes on the rack, you can carry $15,000 of precious cargo, so investing in a very stable and reliable rack can make good sense.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 lb/each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 48".
  • Compatible with bike tires up to 3".
  • Designed for 2” hitch receiver.
  • Rack weight of 63 pounds.
  • Lobster claw-style locks the bike by the frame, ideal for bikes with fenders or eBikes with down-tube mounted batteries.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle, even when fully loaded.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • MSRP: $1,299.99

Saris Freedom 2 Bike

This is an economical rack that can work with all types of bikes, from kids bikes to eBikes and many other styles.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 lbs/bike.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase up to 48".
  • Standard scoop max tire width: 2.25"
  • Rack weight: 20 lb
  • MSRP: $379.99

Saris MHS 1+1 Receiver Base Universal Hitch

Saris has developed the Modular Hitch Base platform that allows for a customization of bike and gear carrying options. You purchase the MHS base, then add bike carriers that meet your needs. The 1+1 platform can carry 2 electric bikes with the DUO Tray and the DUO Add-On (both sold separately). This is a good choice if you primarily carry one heavy eBike, but want the flexibility to sometimes carry a second bike.

Info:

  • Fits 1-1/4" and 2" receivers - one of the few 1 1/4" options able to carry heavy eBikes
  • Carries up to 2 bikes at 60 pounds each.
  • Tilting capabilities to access the back of the vehicle or fold up.
  • A hitch tightener is included to eliminate wobble of the rack.
  • Integrated locks
  • MSRP $199.99

Saris MHS 2+1 Receiver Base 2” Hitch

This is a similar platform to the MHS 1+1 but it can carry a total of 3 bikes with 2 DUO Trays and 1 Duo Add-ON (all sold separately).

Info:

  • Fits only 2" receivers.
  • Carries up to 3 bikes at 60 pounds each
  • It has tilting capabilities to access the back of the vehicle or fold up.
  • A hitch tightener to eliminate wobble of the rack is included.
  • Integrated locks.
  • MSRP: $199.99

Saris MHS DUO 1-Bike Tray

This is the bike tray that works with the Saris MHS platform and it is super versatile for carrying a wide range of electric bikes up to 60 pounds each. The unique design allows you to carry a huge variety of bike styles with wildly different wheelbases and tire widths. If you plan to carry fat tire eBikes, this is a great choice because it handles tires up to 5" wide and bikes up to 60 lbs each.

Info:

  • Tray weight: 30 lb.
  • Tool-free, adjustable wheel block accommodates wheel sizes from 20 to 29 inches, and tire sizes as wide as 5 inches.
  • Compatible with wheelbases up to 53".
  • Integrated centralized locking cable secures bike to the Tray.
  • Integrated Security: built-in cable locks bike to the rack.
  • MSRP $349.99

Yakima OnRamp

The Yakima OnRamp is a good example of a versatile electric bike rack that has the ramp for rolling your eBike up and into place without having to lift it. Unlike the Door County, it's not powered by electricity, but the ramp still eliminates the need to lift the eBike - just deploy the ramp and roll the bike up it.

The OnRamp can hold 2 electric bikes up to 66 pounds each, and it has the ability to hold a wide range of tire sizes including fat tire eBikes (with a specific strapping kit).

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 66 pounds each.
  • Integrated ramp for easy, roll-on loading, and stows away neatly.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 50".
  • Accommodates tires up to 29x3.25" out of the box, and up to 27.5x 4.5” (with special add-on kit).
  • 1-¼” or 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • Rack weight of 43 pounds.
  • MSRP $699

Yakima HoldUp

This is a quick loading eBike rack, though you do need to lift the eBike up onto the rack. It offers similar specs to the Yakima OnRamp, without the ramp feature.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 pounds each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 48".
  • Fits 20" - 27.5" wheel sizes with tires up to 3.0" wide and 29" tires up to 2.5" wide
  • 1-¼” or 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • Rack weight of 49 pounds.
  • MSRP $549

Hollywood Racks Sport Rider for Electric Bikes

Hollywood Racks makes a bunch of different electric bike racks that have specific purposes. There is the Sport Rider for Electric Bikes that can hold up to 80 pounds per electric bike! This is one of the few hitch racks on the market able to carry some of the absolute most heavy eBikes on the market.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 80 pounds each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 60".
  • Fits 20" - 29" wheel sizes with tires up 5” wide.
  • 1-¼” or 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • Features a hitch tightener to eliminate wobble of the rack.
  • Rack weight of 58 pounds.
  • MSRP $499.99

Hollywood Racks also has variations of the Sport Rider for carrying electric cargo bikes and they also have one that works with carrying electric bikes on certain types of RV’s.

Hollywood Racks Destination eBike Rack

Hollywood’s premium eBike rack is the Destination that features a ramp for rolling your eBike up onto the rack. Like the Yakima OnRamp, the Destination allows riders to roll their eBike up a ramp as an alternative to lifting.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 70 pounds each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 50".
  • Fits tires up 4.5” wide.
  • 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • Hitch tightener eliminates wobble of the rack.
  • Rack weight of 46 pounds.
  • MSRP 699.99

Thule EasyFold XT

This is the Thule hitch rack designed for electric bikes with all the bells and whistles. It can handle 2 electric bikes at 65 pounds each, there is a loading ramp, and a unique folding feature to make it more compact when not in use.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 65 pounds each.
  • Like the Yakima OnRamp, features a ramp for easy loading of the bikes that eliminates lifting.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 51".
  • Fits wheels up to 29” and tires up 3” wide (4.7” with optional special kit).
  • 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold for compact storage.
  • Rack weight of 45 pounds.
  • MSRP $899.95

Thule T2 Pro XTR

This is a premium eBike rack from Thule that can handle 2 electric bikes at 60 pounds each.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 pounds each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 50".
  • Fits wheels of 20” to 29” and tires up 5” wide.
  • 2” hitch receiver.
  • They make a 1-¼” hitch receiver version of this rack, but it has a lower weight capacity than the 2" version.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold inwards for compact storage.
  • Rack weight of 52 pounds.
  • MSRP $799.95

Kuat NV 2.0 Base

The Kuat NV 2.0 Base can carry 2 electric bikes up to 60 pounds each and it has an optional ramp feature.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 pounds each.
  • Optional loading ramp (sold separately) to eliminate the need to lift the eBikes
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 50".
  • Fits wheels from 20” to 29” and tires up 5” wide (with special add-on kit).
  • 1-¼” and 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold for compact storage.
  • A hitch tightener to eliminate wobble of the rack.
  • Rack weight of 56 pounds.
  • MSRP $749

Kuat Transfer V2

The Transfer V2 is a more affordable electric bike rack that can carry 2 electric bikes up to 60 pounds each. It doesn't have the optional ramp, but could be a good fit for riders who can lift their eBikes onto the rack without difficulty.

Info:

  • Carries 2 bikes, up to 60 pounds each.
  • This rack fits a wheelbase of up to 50".
  • Fits wheels from 18” to 29” and tires up 5” wide (with special kit).
  • 1-¼” and 2” hitch receiver.
  • Tilting feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Rack trays fold for compact storage.
  • A hitch tightener to eliminate wobble of the rack.
  • Rack weight of 37 pounds.
  • MSRP $349

Stay Tuned for More

That wraps it up for now. There will be more electric bike racks hitting the market soon, and some that we haven’t covered yet.

This list should give you an idea of some of the electric bike racks that are available.

Enjoy your rides!

-Pete