Selecting a bike rack is a big purchase; one made a bit more difficult as a Jeep owner. Here are some considerations for how to safely transport your bikes and a few tips to save you headaches.
There are a few types of racks to look at, and some to avoid. Good bike racks keep bikes secure and safe from damage. Cheap bike racks can falter on both.
These are the racks where the bikes rest on the top tube. They have issues with clearance (see below) and are prone to damage. The bikes move and chip each other, or worse damage the suspension or even derailleur. They are a major pain to load. Avoid the dangly bike racks! The main manufacturers of those are Thule or Yakima
Thule roof racks are awesome – if you, well, have a roof (hard top, or other rack to mount to). One style utilized by several companies is a system where you remove the front wheel(s) and clamp the thru axle (termed fork mounted).
They are very secure and keep bikes from damaging each other, but you gotta remember how high they are and avoid your garage and tree branches. Roof bike racks can also be difficult to load after you lift the vehicle a few inches. Fully upright roof-mounted bike carriers (where the front wheel stays on) should be ruled out completely for your Jeep as they are nearly impossible to load. Great for a Subaru – impossible for a Jeep.
Thule platform style racks, which are hitch mounted and bikes are loaded by the wheels and kept secure with adjustable arms, are great options for easy loading and safe and secure transport. The only disadvantage is that they can have clearance issues (see below).
They are typically the most expensive in the category. This one is more expensive and sleek option
Thule bike rack attaches to Jeep’s spare tire. Locks the bikes to the bike rack and the bike rack to the car. Hollywood bike rack attaches to spare tire mounting bolts
Inside the truck bed style. No front wheel removal, Thule insta gater– holds only 1 bike, secures your bike without frame contact.
Another option is Thule bed rider, holds 2 bikes, but you have to remove front wheels.
Matt style. Thule heavy duty pad that holds up to 5 bikes on gladiator (probably up to 7 on wider trucks), or a pad style from Yakima even cheaper option.
When transporting bikes with Jeeps, clearance is key. Clearance from your spare tire to the rack, and clearance from the bottom of the rack to the ground. Both are unique considerations for a Jeep.
A trailer can be utilized to transport bikes. Creating a custom trailer with fork mounted carriers would be a great option. Don’t just pile bikes in it.
Don’t do this!!! We learned it hard way, never put bikes in the trailer without the mount. It took us weeks and lots of money to fix the damage.