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How to Lock Bikes to Hitch Rack? – 5 Steps to Remember

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to lock bikes to hitch rack

Hitch racks are great forms of carriers. They are the perfect device to bring three bicycles at once. Using a hitch rack allows you to travel longer distances while tagging a bike along with you.

Having a hitch rack means going to places without worrying about leaving behind your bike. When you reach your destination, you can easily remove your bike from the rack and enjoy your equipment.

But, how to lock bikes to hitch rack properly? The process can be tricky because it includes checking the hitch rack, detaching accessories from your bike, placing the bike on the rack, and more.

For full details continue reading this guide.


What Is a Bike Hitch Rack?


A bike hitch rack helps you install your bike to your car while traveling. It is a special device that can be connected to your car hitch or lock bike on bike rack. It is the most practical way to bring your bike with you, especially for long distances.

Hitch rack can be in a tray-style, hitch-mounted style, or hanging style. Depending on your needs and the type of car you have, the kind of hitch rack you can install varies.

Thus, it is important to know their differences:

1. Tray Bike Hitch Racks

There are two major options when choosing a hitch rack. It can be a tray or hanging style hitch track. A tray-style is preferable among bikers. The bike tires can rest in a tray, while the arms normally capture the front wheel of your bike and your rear wheel will be strapped into its original place for security.

There are models that employ arms to secure both the front and rear wheels of a bicycle. This type of hitch rack provides maximum security to your bike, too. Aside from that, there is a lower possibility of the racks touching your bike frame.

It means that there is no chance for your bicycle frame to be scratched or damaged. With tray types, you also have more spaces to load several bikes. It is the best device to use if you own a larger bike with bulky tires. On the downside, these racks are the most expensive and much heavier.

2. Hanging hitch bike rack

Another type of hitch rack you can use is the hanging hitch bike rack. This type usually holds your bike frames during installation. You can hang the top tube across the two arms and let the support beam provide security.

With this rack, you must slot the fork in for the bicycle to hang in a proper vertical position. Then, you can easily slide the bicycle over the rack arms. But you will need a strap to ensure the attachment of your bike to the rack.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly type, the hanging hitch bike rack is a great choice. It is inexpensive and always available at the store. However, when it is installed poorly, there is a chance that the rack will damage or scratch your bike.

3. Vertical hitch bike rack

The vertical hitch bike rack is similar to the hanging hitch bike rack. It is the best type to use if you are bringing multiple bicycles. These types can carry about five to six bicycles at any one time.

The vertical hitch bike is the most convenient to use. With this type, your bikes are easier to load and unload. Those who own a mountain bike prefer to use this kind of rack.

Guide to Locking a Bicycle to a Hitch Rack


Hitch bike rack may come in several forms, but there is a general process to lock the bike to the hitch rack.

Step 1: Check the hitch rack

As a precautionary measure, you should check your hitch rack before installation. Ensure that the rack itself is securely attached and does not shake or wobble. To do this, you can put a little weight on your leg and press the weight.

Then, after you are satisfied with the attachment, make sure there are no loose parts that can cause the rack to slip off while you are driving.

Step 2: Detach accessories from your bike

If your bike has several accessories, ensure that you carry them separately. It is vital that you only attach a bare bicycle to the rack. You must remove the bells, lights, bags, or reflectors before starting the installation.

Step 3: Ensure that you have extra locking straps

The key to a successful bike installation is how secure you have attached the bike to the hitch rack. With this process, you will need a basic locking strap and an extra-long locking strap to ensure balance.

These straps will make sure that the bike is well installed, and maximum security is provided to the bicycle. It will also prevent robbers from stealing your bicycle.

Step 4: Place the bicycle on the rack

After you have gathered the necessary tool, you can now proceed in securing a bike to a bike rack. You must lift your bike from the frame and ensure that the bike handle is not moving. You can ask for assistance to make sure the bike handle does not move while you are lifting the bike. This can prevent accidents that can physically harm you while installing the bike.

Step 5: Always lock the bike tire first

Once you have placed the bike in its position, the bike tire will automatically lock to the rack where you can find minimal movement to the front wheel. This indicates that you are now ready to strap your front wheel properly.

For this process, tie the strap around the mid-center of the bike frame. This will ensure the stability and balance of the entire installation.

Pro tip: If you are using the hitch rack, it is essential that the strap you use can optimally hold the equipment in place. The strap is a critical element to protect your bike from being stolen. Having an extra strap will always make a difference.


People nowadays can travel long distances with their bicycles thanks to bike hitch racks. With the right rack and knowledge of the step-by-step process, you can install your bikes on any vehicle, such as on a car and on SUVs securely and prevent them from being stolen.

May this guide on how to lock bikes to hitch rack help you with the proper locking bike to bike rack. The steps were made to be simple and understandable.

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