When it’s time to transport your bikes to a great trailhead, how will you get them there? If you own a truck, you may just throw them in the bed rather than deal with a hitch rack. But, bikes can get damaged or cause damage to your truck bed if left unsecured. Fortunately, there are special bike racks designed for your truck bed! Not only do they save you the headache of an unorganized pile of bikes, but there’s still some space for cargo, and you can tow a trailer or boat for more outdoor fun.
Let’s look at five of the best bike racks for your truck bed so you can enjoy exploring the great outdoors on your bike!
Can You Secure a Bike in the Bed of a Truck?
It’s super convenient to transport your bikes in a truck bed. You don’t have to worry about attaching anything to your hitch or using all your strength to heave them on the roof. But in our experience, letting them bang around unsecured isn’t the best for the bikes or your truck. A bike rack that goes in the bed of a truck is an easy solution.
There are several ways to attach a bike rack to the truck bed. You can install rails to raise the bikes off the bedliner and have ample cargo space for tubs, tool boxes, and other gear. You can secure them to the very rear of the truck bed for extended protection and stability. Or you can throw on a tailgate pad for a quick and convenient bike rack solution. With multiple options, you can choose the style that suits your budget and personal preference.
Pro Tip: Protect your truck bed with one of these 5 Best Truck Bed Mats before you secure your bikes.
The Pros of a Bike Rack for Truck Bed
If you have tossed bikes in the back of your truck without a bike rack in the past, you’ve probably scratched or dented your truck bed. The bikes themselves can rub marks on the frames or even get caught on each other. A bike rack will protect your truck bed and the bikes because it easily secures them in one spot during transport.
Another benefit of a bike rack for a truck bed is you still have towing ability. Since the bikes aren’t attached to the rear hitch, you can still bring a trailer with an ATV or a golf cart for endless hours of fun. If you have a trailer, using the truck bed to transport the bikes is safer than the bikes bouncing on the rear of the trailer.
A truck bed bike rack is usually more stable than a hitch bike rack. If you’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on a mountain bike, you don’t want to risk damage during transport or losing it entirely while traveling down the highway.
The Cons of a Bike Rack for Truck Bed
However, there are disadvantages to using your truck bed to transport bikes. The main con is you could lose the ability to use the space in the truck bed for other things. If you’re camping and need a place to put a Solo stove or Blackstone grill, you might have difficulty finding a place in the truck bed if you have four bikes secured to a pipeline rack.
Depending on where the rack is, you might also lose views in your mirrors. It could be more dangerous to travel if you can’t adequately see in your rearview mirror or use the backup camera effectively.
Pro Tip: Want to take your bike with you while RVing? This is How to Bring Your Bikes Camping: Best RV Bike Racks.
What to Look for in a Truck Bed Bike Rack
When searching for a bike rack for your truck bed, there are a few things to keep in mind. From personal preference of style and frequency to bike capacity and your bike’s frame, they all play a part in determining the best rack for you.
Truck Bed Bike Rack Styles
First, determine the style you prefer. Do you want a tailgate pad, a wheel-mounted rack, or a fork-mounted rack? Do you want the pipeline-style rack against the rear window? Do you want to drill holes in your truck bed? This is essential to decide first to choose the right size rack.
Tailgate pads are a relatively new product that utilizes your truck’s tailgate. The pad drapes over it, protecting it from the bike that is also positioned with its front wheel hanging over the tailgate.
Wheel-mounted bed racks have cradles that hold the front tires of your bike securely. While larger and take up more space, these racks don’t require you to remove the front tire for mounting. Whereas a fork-mounted rack utilizes the front forks of your bike to lock and secure the bike to the rack. However, fork-mounted racks typically take up much less room in the bed of your truck.
Many people don’t want to drill holes in their trucks. So, bike rack manufacturers have devised several alternatives for installation besides drilling anchors, including telescoping tension bars, clamps that hook to your bed rails, straps, and more. While bars and straps may take up more space or take more effort, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to drill holes to achieve your bike rack goals.
Next, consider the bike capacity. Are you traveling alone and need to transport one bike? Or do you have a family of five and need space to bring along several bikes of different sizes? It is absolutely possible and common to transport multiple bikes at once, and there are truck bed racks of each type that are designed for multiple bikes. Generally, bike racks for one or two bikes will be cheaper than bike racks that can transport multiple bikes of various sizes. So keep that in mind when deciding your budget.
Bike Frame Design
It’s also crucial to pay attention to the frame of your bike. The frame design must match the rack’s style for easy loading and unloading. For example, if the top tube is sloped and not parallel to the ground, you’ll need to find a bike rack to accommodate that style. Tire size is also vital. Your tire size should be compatible with the space on the rack. Some companies make racks for fat-tire bicycles.
Frequency of Use
Finally, if you want to move the bike rack out of your truck bed frequently, you’ll want a simple rack to install. If it sits in the truck bed most of the season, then it might not matter so much about the assembly process.
5 Best Truck Bed Bike Racks
If you’re ready to buy a truck bed bike rack, we have five excellent options. Depending on your budget, the truck bed size, and personal preference, there should be one bike rack that suits your needs.
Best For Easy & Quick Install: Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack
About: If you want to transport a single bike without drilling any holes in your truck bed, this wheel-mount Thule bike rack is a great option. The reinforced aluminum design is lightweight but strong. The load capacity is up to 50 pounds.
The clever attachment system hooks into the closure of your tailgate and cinches down like snowboard straps for a snug fit. The arm and cradle of the rack don’t touch your bike’s frame, so you don’t have to worry about rub marks on your paint. Plus, you can easily toss this small rack unit in your truck cab when not in use.
What Reviewers Are Saying: Reviewers seem to really like this rack, however, do note that some have raised issues about fitting 29″ bikes in the cradle. They’ve made it work, but some have had to rotate the wheel to fit into a short-bed truck.
Otherwise, “The rack is relatively easy to get set up when you want to load your bike up, and does a good job of holding it in place. It’s also small enough to throw into your cab during rides if you’re worried about someone stealing it. Fiddling with the ratcheting straps is a little annoying, but other than that I have zero complaints.”
- Fully-adjustable, upright bike carrier for the inside of a truck...
- Holds 1 bike up to 50 pounds
- Quickly attach the bike with the ratcheting arm
Best Budget Option: Demon Tailgate Pad for Mountain Bikes
About: Thule offers top-of-the-line bike racks, but not everyone can afford the price tag. If you have a smaller budget, this tailgate pad is less than $100. There are two sizes to fit the mid-size and full-size pickups. Because it’s convenient to install, this is a bike rack you can remove every weekend to use your truck bed for other purposes. The soft fabric protects your truck and only weighs 2-3 pounds.
What Reviewers Are Saying: “My girlfriend and I got bikes, and we wanted to head up to the trails this summer to do some riding…It straps up nice and tight to the tailgate. Bikes are very secure and don’t flop over at all. The part I like is the back side has a different fabric, which is kind of soft so it’ll protect your tailgate from scratches.”
- PREMIUM QUALITY ✔: The Demon tailgate cover is made with...
- EASY ACCESS👈: The tailgate cover fits most trucks’...
- DURABLE CONSTRUCTION🔧🛠✔: 3/4” foam pad with a...
Best For Fat Tire Bikes: Pipeline Racks Truck Bed 2 Bike Rack
About: The adjustable wheel-mount design on this rack can accommodate all size wheel diameters. So if you have a fat tire bike, this is an excellent option. Plus, it’s aluminum, so it’s rust-resistant and lightweight. There are additional sizes if you need to transport three, four, or five bikes. One of the best advantages of this pipeline bike rack is you can use it to store your bikes in your garage. Just move it from the truck bed to the garage when you’re done riding.
What Reviewers Are Saying: “I love this rack […] fits perfectly in my truck. It is fully adjustable for different bike configurations. It went together easily and came out of the truck and held my bikes in the garage, too.”
- Pickup Truck Bed Mount - Minimum Bed Width 58.5"- Also Available...
- Works with Mountain, Road, Cruisers, E-Bikes, Fat Tire, BMX &...
- Wheel Mount Design, No Front Tire Removal, No Holes To Drill in...
Pro Tip: Add one of these 7 Best Low Profile Truck Tool Boxes for Increased Visibility in your truck bed.
Best Simple Design Option: Swagman PICKUP Fork Mount Bike Rack
About: Sometimes simplicity is all you need. This stainless steel telescoping bar is easy to assemble and fits many truck bed sizes. It’s only 13 pounds but has a load capacity of 70 pounds. There’s no drilling needed to install the rack, and the Swagman brand is a trusted company that has been supplying products for outdoor recreation for decades.
What Reviewers Are Saying: “This is a simple solution to transporting my bike in the bed of my Silverado. Set up and ready to go in less than 3 minutes. Fits under my back seat once compressed down to minimum length.”
- EASY TO ASSEMBLE: The PICKUP has a telescoping bar ensures quick...
- WORRY FREE SECURITY: Bikes are secured on the fork mount blocks....
- VERSATILE: Transport up to 2 bikes. Maximum weight capacity of...
Best Bike Block: MBP Alloy Quick Release Fork Mount Bike Block
About: If you prefer a bike block over a bike rack, this MBP option is alloy construction. It’s versatile since you can store or transport your bikes. In addition, you can mount it vertically or horizontally to accommodate all types of setups. If you already have rails or a system to transport bikes, this block will complete your system.
What Reviewers Are Saying: “These hold the bike super sturdy and do work with older style quick release but newer axles. Once installed, the bikes aren’t going anywhere.”
- ✅ VERSATILE: GREAT FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORTATION. CAN BE...
- ✅ INCLUDES: QUICK RELEASE SKEWER FOR QUICK ACCESS. (does not...
- ✅ MATERIAL: STRONG AND LIGHTWEIGHT ALLOY CONSTRUCTION.
Alternatives to a Truck Bed Bike Rack
A bike rack for a truck bed isn’t the only option for transporting bicycles. One of the most common ways to bring your bikes is with a rear hitch bike rack. However, these tend to be less sturdy and secure.
Other people attach bikes to the front of their trucks. Generally, this is more secure than the rear hitch option, but you tend to have a lower clearance with this method. If you want to go off-roading, ensure the bike rack isn’t so low that you’ll scrape rocks.
Rooftop bike racks are also possible. Thule and Swagman manufacture these products. But the main problem with rooftop racks is the height. You must pay attention to how tall your truck is when traveling with bicycles on the roof. Don’t try to park in a parking garage at your destination.
The old-fashion-no-frills method is to simply set the bikes in the bed of your truck. We’ve personally done this dozens of times by using ratchet straps to secure them from moving or bouncing. We also use old towels or blankets to prevent as much contact with the bed or other items as much as possible.
Pro Tip: Looking to buy a new bike? We uncovered What Is An E-Bike and Why They’re Great for Camping.
Protect Your Truck and Outdoor Toys With a Bike Rack for Truck Bed
A bike rack for your truck bed is an excellent option to protect your truck and gear. You won’t scuff up the truck bed, and your bikes will be secure. These products do the job so you can enjoy the journey and the destination without fear or worry.
Which truck bed bike rack will work the best for your needs? Tell us your favorite in the comments!
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