Let’s face it: cycling may be one of the most liberating ways to get around, but it’s not the most practical.
Sometimes, a ride requires more than lycra shorts and a helmet. Your storage space can shrink fast if you need to transport work gear or day-trip necessities. Suddenly, your hefty backpack may make your idyllic midday cruise feel more like a troublesome trip than a pleasant outing.
If you love your bicycle, but you’re feeling weighed down (literally) by the strain of insufficient storage space, we have a question for you. Have you considered a rear bike rack?
If you’re unsure where to start looking, we’ve compiled this guide of the best rear bike racks to transport things on your bicycle. So, before you get a bit too thrifty, let’s take a look at some of the best racks on the market and see how you can benefit from some added storage space.
6 Best Rear Bike Racks
OUR TOP PICK
First up, we have this rear bike rack by Schwinn. This rack is stylish, lightweight, and boasts a universal fit. So, whether you’re using an e-bike or a mountain model, this rack is versatile enough to cater to almost any type of ride.
One of the best things about the Schwinn rear bike rack is its additional cargo options. This rack comes with extra side rails, perfect for mounting a pannier bag - if you want more bang for your buck, this rack should be on your list.
It also includes additional tie-down points so you’ll have some extra security for any precious cargo you want to be mounted on the back,
This rack attaches directly to your seat post, and it can hold up to 20 lbs of weight. This provides more than enough scope to transport anything from school books to work accessories or a lunch bag for your travels.
It also sports an attractive aluminum body that protects against rust and corrosion and looks easy on the eye.
This rack is 19 inches in length, 6.2 inches in width, and 4.1 inches in height, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind.
It also comes with all the necessary screws and fittings to secure it to your bicycle, so installation should be a breeze - even for cyclists less technically minded!
- Universal Fit: The Schwinn rear bike rack is compatible with most bicycles. This makes it an excellent choice for cyclists seeking a versatile investment.
- Extra Side Rails: These give you extra storage options, including the use of pannier bags.
- 20lb Capacity: This generous weight limit should be enough to transport all the necessities you require.
- No Top-Side Spring Arm: This means you may need to purchase additional cords to secure your loads, especially heavier items.
- Minimal Security: Unfortunately, the Schwinn rear bike rack has minimal security measures to deter thieves. There are no locks to attach this securely to your bicycle, and it could be easily stolen with the use of basic hand tools.
Next up, we have the rear bike rack by Topeak. This rack is available in two options: with spring or without spring. With the spring option, you’ll be able to lift the bars and secure or ‘clamp’ your items between the bars and the rack's platform.
There’s enough storage space for small or large items here too, which is a nice bonus!
You’ll also get three color choices: standard, black, and 29er, and a weight capacity of 57lbs. The rack also features a built-in mud shield, so you won’t have to buy a separate one yourself if you don’t want to.
This rack (in inches) is 15.5 in length, 13.5 in width, and 8.5 in height, and it weighs 1.9 pounds - so, though it may not be the most portable rack on the market, it’s still lightweight enough to be transported easily.
It’s also made from aluminum (which famously doesn’t rust), so you’re guaranteed a long life from this rack if you look after it well.
This rack also comes with all the necessary hardware for installation, and its rack features the Topeak QuickTrack MTX fitting system.
This means you can use all compatible Topeak cycle bags with the QuickTrack ‘slide and go’ system on your rack. This won’t prevent you from using other types of bags, though, which can be fitted easily to your rack.
This rack fits bikes with or without disk brakes, making it a versatile option for cyclists. Although this model claims to be a one-size-fits-all, according to the Topeak user guide, it’s compatible with bicycles from 26” wheels to 700c wheels.
However, some bikes may require permanent modifications to make it fit.
- 57lb Capacity: This can carry much larger loads than the Schwinn rack. This is great for cyclists who need to transport heavier cargo.
- Aluminum Frame: Aluminum doesn’t rust, so your rack will last for longer.
- Compatibility with QuickTrack MTX System: If you’re a fan of Topeak bike bags, this rack is the perfect addition to your collection. If you’re not, it’s versatile enough to be used with other bags.
- Not ‘one-size-fits-all’: Unfortunately, this claim isn’t accurate, and some bikes may require permanent changes to fit the rack.
Now, let’s take a look at the DIRZA rear bike rack. This rack is sturdy, can hold up to 115lbs, and features a quick-release system to make mounting as easy as possible.
It also includes a W shape design which prevents your pannier bag from hitting the sides of your tires and keeps everything secure.
Its adjustable design makes it easy to move the rack shelf and the bottom rods, so you have more control over your rack's exact placement and security.
According to DIRZA, this rack fits mountain bikes and road bikes between 18” to 27.5”; however, it’s not compatible with the following bicycles:
- Suspension bikes
- Fat bike tires
- Women's cruiser bikes
- Bike seats
However, it does come with adjustable support rods that range from 9.7” to 14” in length so that it can fit a variety of road and mountain bikes.
To fit this rack, you’ll also need your seat pole to be 2” high and 30mm in diameter. This rack is made from aluminum. The rack fits the bicycle to create a triangular design: this increases the rack's stability and distributes weight evenly for a more reliable fit.
This rack also includes a bike cargo rack net, which secures your load to the rack, and guarantees extra protection during transport. The rack also comes with a reflector, and the appropriate hardware included screws, rubber pads, and installation tools.
- Bonus Cargo Net: This rack comes with a bonus cargo net to secure your belongings, so you won’t need to buy one elsewhere.
- Triangular Design: The triangular design provides extra support and distributes weight evenly.
- 115lb Capacity: This is the largest capacity we’ve seen so far. It’s great for transporting heavy loads.
- No Universal Fit: Unlike other racks, this one is only compatible with road and mountain bikes.
- Specific Requirements for Road/Mountain Bikes: Although this rack fits road and mountain bikes, your seat pole must be at least 2” high and 30mm in diameter.
Now, let’s take a look at this rear bike rack from SONGMICS. This rack holds a reasonable 55lbs, and it includes a top fender panel that acts as a mudguard that can protect your bags from the damage of the elements and the spokes on your tires.
Its aluminum frame protects against rust and erosion, and its triangular design helps with weight distribution and cargo support. The rack design features adjustable arms to fit 26” and 29” bike frames, and it’s suitable for disc and non-disc brakes.
The rack also comes with a quality wrench and an Allen key to support assembly, and the anti-loosening screws are stainless steel and rustproof, so you’ll get a long-life, reliable rack.
This rack is 13.8 inches in length, 5.1 in width, and 13.8 inches in height, and it fits bikes between 26” to 700c. Unlike some racks, this one can be compatible with all models, from mountain bikes to e-bikes, as long as they’re the right dimensions.
- Fits Many Models: This rack fits various models, from e-bikes to road bikes and mountain bikes.
- Fender Panel Acts as Mudguard: This means you won’t have to purchase your mudguard elsewhere.
- Anti-Loosening Screws: For improved longevity and performance.
- Limited Weight Capacity: The weight capacity of this rack is limited compared to other models.
- No Added Cargo Net: There’s no added cargo net to secure your belongings during transport
Now it’s time to take a look at this rear bike rack from the West Biking Store. This rack is 20 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 4 inches high, and its matt paint is scratch-resistant, anti-rust, and anti-corrosion.
The West Biking Store rack also features shockproof screws, which add an anti-vibration layer on the inner ring of the screw to protect your rack from vibrations that could damage its design and your cargo.
The shelf is also front and rear adjustable. The front stent can be adjusted between 20 to 31cm, and the rear stent can move from between 35 to 52cm.
Although this rack is compatible with many bikes, it won’t fit the following:
- Foldable bikes
- Tires below 24 inches
- Bicycles with a square Seatpost tube
- Shock absorber soft-tail mountain bike
What’s more, this aluminum rack frame is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and it can hold 310lb in weight. This rack also comes with a reflector, a guardrail, a support bar, and instruction tools such as a wrench and Allen key.
This rack is also designed with easy installation in mind, thanks to its quick-release system and simple components.
- 310lb Weight Capacity: This rack holds the most weight compared to our other competitors, making it great for heavy-duty transport
- Adjustable Shelf: Its adjustable shelf makes it a versatile option that can fit models in a range of sizes
- Shockproof Screws: This is a unique feature that provides your rack with extra protection from general wear and tear
- Not Compatible with All Bikes: Some competitors offer a universal fit, which may make this less appealing to some cyclists
Last on our list is the retractable aluminum rear bike rack by Outtag. This rack can hold a maximum weight of 22lbs, and it features a cling-on easy installation system and an aluminum body.
This rack measures 16.4 inches in length, 5.71 inches in width, and 4.8 inches in height. It also weighs a modest 1.3 pounds, so it’s easy to transport.
Although this rack claims to fit most bikes, some specific measurements are needed to mount the bracket for the seat tube (27.2-31.8mm/1.1-1.3inches).
If you have more than one bike and want a rack that can fit various models, the Outtag is an excellent choice. Although it doesn’t offer a universal fit, it’s compatible with various models, including fat bikes, road bikes, and mountain bikes.
What’s more, the rack also features an adjustable shelf that can be attached to the bicycle seat post and moved backward and forward to suit your needs.
For extra peace of mind, this rack also features anti-slip pads to protect your bicycle seat against wear from the rack, and it includes four built-in hooks to hang your luggage up. Perfect if you need a little extra storage space for your belongings!
Note: This rack attaches to the steam of the bike seat. This rack will not fit if the stem is higher than the rear tire and you don’t have a shock-absorbing seat stem. The size of your seat post may also affect the fit of the rack. This rack is recommended for seat posts between 25.4 and 32mm.
- Adjustable Rack Shelf: This makes it easier to attach your rack to various models and increases the amount of storage space on your bike.
- Anti-Slip Pads: The anti-slip pads protect the post of your bicycle seat against wear and tear from the rack,
- Compatibility with Various Models: This rack can be attached to multiple models, including fat bikes, e-bikes, and mountain bikes. However, make sure your bike meets the required measurements before making a purchase.
- Not Suitable for All Seat Posts: Even if you have the right bike model, this rack may not fit your seat posts. The measurements are quite specific, and some cyclists may prefer to buy a rack with universal measurements.
- No Cargo Nets or Lights: Many competitors now offer other storage solutions like cargo nets and even rear lights with their racks. These aren’t necessary additions, but they are useful. However, the lack of add ons with this rack may deter some buyers.
Now we’ve taken a look at some of the best racks on the market, let’s explore the key features you should be looking for in a quality rear rack.
The weight capacity of your rack is one of the most important factors. When looking for a new rack, you’ll need to consider what sorts of items you’re transporting and get a rough idea of their weight.
For example, if you choose a rack with a limited capacity, you risk damaging your bike, your rack, and the rest of your belongings. To be safe, you should always opt for a slightly larger capacity than needed to protect your bike.
The dimensions of your rack are also critical. Although many racks offer a universal fit, you shouldn’t assume that all do.
Ensure you check the manufacturer's product description thoroughly for dimensions, and always measure your bike instead of leaving it to chance. Without the correct dimensions, you won’t be able to attack your rack.
In some cases, you can make permanent modifications to make them fit, but these may require professional assistance, and they could be expensive.
Nets and Reflectors
Cargo nets and reflectors aren’t offered by every supplier, but there are some added extras you should be looking out for. These may not be necessary components, but they will give you more bang for your buck.
Racks that include nets and reflectors can save you anywhere between $10-$30, and you won’t have the hassle of trying to source them elsewhere.
Although most racks are made from aluminum, you should always check the construction material and choose options that prevent rust and erosion.
Aluminum is recommended; however, if you’re choosing another material, make sure it's treated with anti-erosion and anti-corrosion sprays.
Understanding Disc Brakes and Rear Racks
If you’ve had a good look at our list of the best bike racks, you’re probably familiar with the term ‘disc brakes’ by now.
Some racks are marketed as compatible with disc brakes, and others aren’t. This can be a confusing topic for some riders, so let’s take a brief look at the terminology in simple terms.
You’ll find your disc brakes positioned at the center of your wheel. Disc brakes stop your bike from moving by squeezing a brake pad into the rotor that sits around the hub.
Every bike is different, and many models don’t include disk brakes. However, if your bike has disc brakes, this doesn’t mean you can’t buy a rack made for non-disc brake models.
Your disk brakes will only prevent the installation of the rack if the brake mechanism is positioned on top of the eyelet (where you attach the rear rack to the bicycle).
Take a close look at your bike. If the brake mechanism isn’t above the rear hub, then you’ll be able to attach a non-disc brake rack to your bicycle.
Installing a Rear Bike Rack
Ready to take advantage of your extra storage space and start traveling in style? Let’s take a look at how to install your rear bike rack. (And no, you don’t need to be a professional to install one!)
Note: Instructions may vary by the manufacturer. However, these instructions will be applicable to most high-end rear racks.
1. Know the Hardware
Before you start the installation process, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the hardware of your rack. Most racks include the following:
- Adjustable rack
- Adjustable arms
- Light reflector mount
- Adjustable arm hardware
Most racks come with the tools needed to install them, such as allen keys, a screwdriver, and a wrench. If these weren’t provided, you’d need to source them separately. You’ll probably have these tools lying around the house already, but if not, you can buy them from most hardware stores for a reasonable price.
2. Install the Adjustable Arms
Your first step should be to install the adjustable arms of your rack. These arms are attached to the underside of the rack.
Adjustable arms are easy to install. Simply get the supplied screws and attach the arms to the rack. You may need to move the arms around to ensure they’re in the correct position, so don’t screw them in too tight. Just enough to be secured without rattling and loose enough to move around freely.
3. Secure the Rack to the Rear Dropout Eyelets
To secure the rack to the rear dropout eyelets, you’ll need the right size bolt. This may vary depending on the rack.
However, most racks use the same size bolts for their eyelets as they do for their seat stay mounts and water bottle braze ons. The good news is that most rack manufacturers will supply you with the proper bolts, so you won’t have to source them elsewhere!
When you’re ready, you’ll need to tighten the eyelet bolts to both sides of your bike. Keep them loose enough to adjust the level.
4. Level Your Rack
Now it’s time to level your rack. No one wants a wonky fixture, so make sure you move the rack at the eyelets until it's level with the ground. Adjust your rack until it’s completely level - not only does a slanted rack look bad, but it’s also impractical. No rider wants their luggage flying off mid-ride!
5. Slide Out the Adjustable Arms
Now, you’ll need to flip out your adjustable arms and make sure they reach your seat-stay mounts. To do this, flip them or slide them out until they’re long enough to reach the bolts. Once they’re aligned with the bolt holes, you’re ready to install the seat stay.
If your bike doesn’t include mounting points (or bolt holes), you can make your own using p-clamps and bolts. Luckily, these are usually supplied with the rack!
Simply attach your p-clamp below the rack (slightly underneath the level position of your seat stay arms when they face directly forward) and move the arms down to reach the p-clamp.
6. Install at the Seat Stay
Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to install the arms at the seat stay. Then, simply grab the appropriate tool, tighten the arms into position on the mounts or p-clamps to secure the rack.
7. Attach the Reflector/Light Mount
This step is optional, so feel free to skip it. When you get your rack, it may come with a reflector/light mount to improve visibility.
Your rack may get in the way of your existing light mount, so even if your rack doesn’t come with a reflector, it may be wise to get a new one and attach it to your rack.
If your rack doesn’t come with a reflector/light mount, you can buy a small L-Shaped bracket and install it on the back of the rack. Now, simply screw the reflector into the bracket, and boom - you’re visible!
Now we’ve taken you through the best rear bike racks for your bicycle and shown you how easy it is to install one, you’ll be ready to transport luggage like a pro and make the most of your bike.
Remember to consult the manufacturer's product description for measurements and specifications before purchasing a rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Rear Bike Racks Safe?
If installed correctly, rear bike racks are a safe addition to your bike. Most models are durable and secure, and if you don’t overload them, they pose no risk to your luggage or your bike.
Can You Put a Rear Rack on Any Bike?
Not all rear racks provide a universal fit. There are various models on the market, and many are made to fit specific models or weight limits. Check the manufacturer's product description before making a purchase.
Can You Sit on a Rear Bike Rack?
Because each rear rack comes with a different weight limit, adults are not advised to sit on them. Some rear racks may be compatible with child seats. However, you should check with the manufacturer first before installation.
Are Bike Racks Easy to Steal?
Unfortunately, most bike racks don’t come with their own security systems. They’re also easy to install, and subsequently, uninstall. With the right handheld tools, your bike rack can be removed quickly, making it an easy target for thieves.
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