Best way to transport 4 bikes?

We have 4 riders this year on RAGBRAI. In the past, we’ve had 3 and have used a trunk-mounted bike rack. There are only a few trunk-mount bike racks that can carry 4 bikes (Allen Sports makes 2 different models), and looking at the reviews, I’m very wary of trying one out for RAGBRAI (many reports of the rack failing and causing damage to vehicle and bikes.)

Do you have any other trunk-mount racks out there that can carry 4 bikes and how good are they?

None of our vehicles belonging to those in our group has a vehicle with a hitch. If we go with a hitch rack (which seem to be much sturdier), we would have to have a hitch installed on a vehicle.

8 Replies

hnschipper, June 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I forgot to mention we would either be driving a Saturn Aura or a Kia Sorento.


Robert Vano, June 17, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Go to your local U-Haul and have them order one for the car you want to use. It usually takes them about a week to get the hitch in and then only about an hour to install it while you wait. For less than $200 you can have a reliable hitch that would still allow you access to the stuff in your trunk. I have had them install hitches on everything from Toyotas, to Hondas, to Mazdas. It’s worth every penny spent! Then you can get a really good bike rack that carries 4 bikes on that hitch. I like Thule racks. Get the one that locks onto the hitch and also allows you to lock your bikes onto it – will cost somewhere around $300. So, for about $500, you will have years of great use.


TeamPowellMom, June 17, 2014 at 9:32 pm

We bought a Yakima full swing bike rack for our Honda Odyssey. We had U-Haul install a hitch, which we had to have removed by Honda because the bike rack wouldn’t fit with the U-Haul hitch. The U-Haul hitch didn’t extend far enough from the van to accommodate the rack. Now we are all set with the ability to carry four bikes on the back of our van, but it cost us a lot more in the long run than if we had gone directly to the dealer. Our set up was very expensive, but worth it to us because we have five bikes in our family. If your riders don’t all belong to the car I don’t know that I could recommend it because of the expense, but it is a very good bike rack. Good luck with your decision.


Brian Zupke, June 18, 2014 at 2:30 am

If you are going to need to add a hitch receiver to a vehicle, then buy a hitch-mount rack, you may want to compare the cost of those to the cost of a roof-mounted rack. Not sure if you can get all 4 bikes on the roof, but if you put two up there, then you could carry the other two more safely on a trunk-mounted rack.

Sometimes I have had to transport an odd-shaped recumbent bike that does not fit in my roof-mounted rack. In that situation, I’ve used some rags to protect the roof and just carefully laid the bike on the roof and secured it to the luggage rails. Then again, my car is 15 years old so if I added more scratches to it, I wouldn’t care. If you are not traveling a long distance, securing one bike to the roof without a rack may work in a pinch.


Robert Vano, June 18, 2014 at 5:47 am

TeamPowellMom brought up an interesting point. I have seen people buy the “swing” type bike racks and they could not swing it properly away from the car without one of the bike wheels touching the car and preventing it from swinging away without possibly bending a rim. But I don’t think that has to do with a U-Haul hitch vs. a dealer hitch. Personally, I like my hitches tucked under the car as far as possible so it does not look like a sore eye when the rack is not mounted. I am not a fan of the swing racks for the reasons I state above. I find the rack that tilts away from the car is more than satisfactory and saves a good $150 in cost for the rack itself. I have also seen the swing racks not work with dealer installed hitches. But every car is different. Every hitch is different too. Explore the options. Ask questions.


Paul, June 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

A roof rack has felt safer to us than a trunk rack. We have had good luck with Yakima stuff, but it is spendy.

You might experiment with lightening the load on your trunk rack by removing the wheels. You could also scooch the bikes closer together and have them be closer to the car by removing the pedals and twisting the handlebars.

Whatever you end up with for a solution, be sure to test it at highway speeds before you start your trek out.

Good luck!


Craig Parson, June 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

Harbor Freight tools 48 x 96″ trailer 299 bucks. If you have to go the hitch route anyway you can use this for more than hauling bikes.


hnschipper, June 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

Thank you all for your responses.


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