Hitch bike racks are by far the most convenient means of carrying your bicycles in the back of your vehicle. These racks are excellent for keeping things simple since they just need a hitch receiver to function with a vehicle.
Additionally, they efficiently maintain the bike’s stability, add little to no drag to the ride, and make mounting the bikes up a breeze. Choosing between a platform bike rack and a hanging bike rack, on the other hand, is the challenge.
Many people are still perplexed by these two kinds of hitch racks, which is understandable. They may perform and function quite differently, even while utilizing the same mounting method.
As a result, the focus of this article is exclusively on the differences between the two and which one a buyer should choose. To further simplify things, I’ll provide suggestions for several case studies.
What is a platform bike rack?
Platform hitch racks are designed to hold bicycles on a platform or tray. Because of this, these racks are more substantial and heavier than some of the alternatives.
Due to the complexity of the construction and the considerable cost of the materials, they have a reputation for being expensive. In addition, the shape of the racks makes it simpler to install the bikes.
A locking device secures each bicycle’s front tire into the slots that have been constructed for it. Hanging racks, on the other hand, often touch the bike’s frame, making these bike racks distinct. Additionally, these racks are positioned rather near to the ground.
- Bike loading and unloading is simpler. Bicycles don’t need to be lifted as high.
- Allows for a wide variety of bike types
- The wheels and frame of bicycles are securely fastened
- Eliminates bike-to-rack contact while also reducing bike-to-rack wear and tear
- Heavy compared to hanging racks
- While not in use, larger and more difficult to store
- Bigger or bulkier racks could be challenging to setup and remove.
- In most cases, it stretches further away from the car than a hanging rack
- More expensive that hanging bike racks
What is a hanging bike rack?
With a mast-like form, hanging bike racks hold bicycles by their frames. There has a well-established reputation for its low cost because to the mounting method.
These type of bike racks come into close touch with the bicycle’s frame because of the mechanism. The simplicity of use of these bike carriers, particularly with standard-frame bicycles, is a big plus. Because they are lighter, it is feasible to transport a number of bicycles at once.
There are also wheel-mounted hanging hitch racks available. However, they aren’t quite popular, and you’ll have to narrow down your alternatives. That’s why we’ll focus mostly on the frame-mounted solutions.
Other than that, these racks have a fair bit of ground clearance. In general, these racks are a common choice due to their low cost and light weight.
Let’s begin our comparison now that it’s out of the way.
- Lighter than platform racks in weight.
- Because of the way they fold, storage is made simpler.
- Simpler to install and remove on a hitch receiver.
- Not as long as platform racks in terms of distance from the car.
- More affordable.
- Does not accommodate as many various bike models without an adaptor bar.
- It might be difficult to get all of the bikes on the bike rack without them touching one other.
- Bicycles need to be lifted up higher to be mounted.
- Bikes can move even without an anti-sway bar.
- Purchase of a bike rack that includes a stabilizing bar is strongly recommended.
Comparing Platform Bike Racks with Hanging Bike Racks
To get to the heart of the matter, we’ll need to understand how these racks function. To make it easier for you to balance the advantages and disadvantages, I’ve divided the information into many areas.
Cost of a bike rack? Alas, when it comes to these racks, the most important determining element is often the cost. Let’s begin with that.
Platform Hitch Rack Cost
As a general rule, the price of a hitch-mounted rack is more expensive than other options. The reputation of a platform rack (and the price) rises even more when you choose to use one.
The price is reasonable, given that these items are more expensive to produce and assure amazing quality.
When it comes to price, there isn’t always a set range to choose from.
The maximum capacity and other characteristics may have a considerable impact on this.
However, suffice it to state that the price of these racks will be more than the average price of a rack, which may put them out of budget for many people.
Hanging Hitch Rack Cost
Platform racks’ more economical sibling is a hanging hitch rack. Once again, it’s simple to see why: there are no trays, and the layout is simple but not necessarily unattractive.
These should be less expensive due to the decreased production costs. According to common perception, there are several high-end hanging racks for your vehicle’s hitch.
As an example, swing-away racks that allow for easier access to the back might be more costly than the standard hanging racks. If you’re planning on transporting a large number of bicycles, the price will rise accordingly.
For those who have a limited budget and can’t stretch it any farther, this rack is the best option. Let’s move on to the other influencing elements.
Mounting the Rack on your Vehicle
First, the racks must be attached to the vehicle so that we may attach the bikes. Despite the fact that both choices link through hitch receivers, their dissimilar form elements help to create a contrast.
Platform Hitch Racks Installation
Platform racks are more cumbersome to install because of their bigger size and design. That implies that the platform rack may be difficult to install on your car.
If you have a rack with a greater capacity, things become much more difficult since the rack itself grows in size and bulk. If you repeatedly remove and reinstall the rack, this might become a greater problem. It would be more practical to use a hanging rack in such situation.
Although this pertains to both platform & hanging racks, you may also require an adaptor if the hitch connection is incompatible with the rack.
Hanging Hitch Racks Installation
Hanging hitch racks outperform platform racks in this regard because of their small size and light weight. You can easily attach many bikes to the car’s rack even with a large capacity.
These are simple to insert and remove from the hitch receiver. These are the best solutions for those that often remove their racks.
Putting Bikes on the Rack
The next step is to secure the bikes to the rack. One of the most important features of a bike rack is this.
How to Put Bicycles on a Platform Rack
You can’t beat the ease with which you can attach a bike to a platform rack. Firstly, the bike sits on a tray or platform, which is why it’s unstable. For one thing, the lower height of these racks means that they are easier to reach and take less work from you.
Each bike has its own designated spot in the parking lot. Afterwards, an arm goes over the bike’s front wheel and clamps it in place. There are additional items, such as straps, that may serve as a second line of protection.
You don’t have to worry about slamming your bikes into each other when putting them up because of the designated spots. This saves a significant amount of time.
As a result, you shouldn’t have to waste hours checking compatibility or tweaking anything with the arm.
Using a Hanging Rack to Hang Your Bicycles
When using a frame-mount, we will have to raise and connect the frames of the bikes to make them fit in the hanger rack. To secure the bike after it’s on top of the rack’s arms, use the straps.
While the product’s tiny design provides it an advantage, attaching the device is a pain. In order to mount and dismount a bike, the user must first raise the bike off the ground, which may be cumbersome.
Second, extreme caution must be used while loading the bikes onto these racks. There is a risk that bikes may collide with each other or with the car since there are no designated parking spaces.
Despite the fact that the racks have some kind of cushioning to prevent this, many riders wind up with scratches on their bikes. Other than that, installing these racks is a breeze.
It is important to note that platform versus hanging hitch racks have different levels of stability. This is to be anticipated, given the fundamental differences between the two methods of operation.
Hitch Racks with a Platform Design
In terms of both quality and stability, platform racks are an excellent choice. For starters, the lack of cross-traffic between the bikes and the car’s bumper is a huge benefit of this design.
Since a result, the bike is incredibly stable, especially over uneven terrain, as there is little space for it to move about. Especially when you’re going over a hill or hitting a bump, you’ll want to do this to avoid damaging your bike with the quick movements.
Furthermore, regardless of the size or frame of a bike, the clamp that attaches to it increases stablity. Suspension bicycles may also be used on this rack and pose no danger to the rider.
As a general rule, platform racks are among the most stable solutions available.
Safety and Durability of Hitch Racks
In terms of stability, hanging hitch racks fall a little short of their fixed counterparts. And it’s all done by design, too.
With them, the cradles are the sole thing holding the bikes, unlike platform racks. Since there is no firm tray for the bike to rest on, we must use the straps to hold it in place.
Even so, things are a little shaky at the best of times. On rougher terrain, these racks may cause bicycles to move quite a bit when they’re attached. Both your automobile and the truck may have scratches or dents as a consequence of this.
With many bikes, things become much worse. There’s a lot greater danger when the motorcycles and car start slamming into one other. Manufacturers adopt several security precautions to guard against this, but none of them are failsafe.
Anti-sway bars, for example, may assist reduce the amount of movement. However, it’s not standard on every rack, so you’ll have to deal with it separately. Overall, while selecting a hanging hitch rack, consider the stability difficulties.
After that, what kind of bikes can these racks hold?
Platform Hitch Rack Compatibility
When it comes to assuring maximum compatibility, hitch racks are unbeatable. What makes them different from other bikes is that there are no bike-specific components such as the frame or fork mount. Instead, they place the bikes on the platforms and secure them using arms that can be used with most items.
As a consequence, you don’t have to be concerned about compatibility with them. Platform racks shouldn’t have any trouble at all, regardless of the frame, size, or suspension.
In contrast to hanging racks, they work with all types of bikes, including women’s step-throughs and children’s cycles. These goods are ideal for transporting a variety of bicycles that don’t have a common design.
Hanging Hitch Rack Compatibility
A general sense of compatibility may be gleaned from the phrase “frame-mount hitch rack.” Spoiler alert: Hanging racks are better at this.
Frame size must be limited to guarantee excellent performance since bikes are held by their frames and no platform is provided for them. That implies that non-standard bike frames, such as those for youngsters, won’t be able to function.
To avoid damaging the bike’s top tube, avoid using a hanging rack if there are any wires running underneath it. However, there are a few ways to address this issue.
It is possible to acquire adapter bars in order to optimize the compatibility between bikes and racks. These bars connect to the head tube and seat post of the bicycles and offer a secure point of attachment for the rack. Many users, however, may find these approaches to be a little clumsy.
As a result, I’d suggest doing some research on compatibility before purchasing a hanging hitch rack.
If you want to use your hitch rack to haul many bikes, carrying capacity is important. Again, there is a noteworthy difference between the two.
Platform bike racks’ Carrying Capacity
The first item to bear in mind is the weight of platform hitch racks. Additionally, the amount that your hitch receiver can carry is limited. To determine this, think about the tongue’s ability.
Even though the platform bike rack can hold far more than two bikes in these circumstances, you may only be able to transport two bikes. Therefore, before making the purchase, consider the weight of the rack as well as the capacity of your receiver.
It’s not unusual for platform bike racks to accommodate up to 4 or 5 bicycles in higher grades, which is really astounding. Since these racks are already rather large and need to provide some room between bikes, this figure doesn’t go too high.
The Maximum Number of Bikes That Can Be Carried by Hanging Bike Racks
For maximum capacity, hanging bike racks perform much better. That is as a consequence of their lightweight, minimalist design. You can transport more bikes since a lighter rack leaves the hitch receiver with greater headroom.
Second, since there is less space between bikes on these racks, you can accommodate more bikes at once. Of course, your options may be limited by the class of your hitch receiver, which is typical of both kinds of hitch racks.
But if you have enough headroom, you may locate hanging racks that let you transport up to six bikes.
As I noted earlier, there are certain hazards associated with these racks. But you can probably guess which team wins this race if transporting many bikes is a must.
Which Bike Rack Type Should You Choose: Platform or Hanging?
I believe the debate above has clarified the situation with regard to where to go. But in case it hasn’t, here are some suggestions:
- First, platform racks are the best choice if you need good stability since they feature trays and fastening arms to retain the bikes. Additionally, if you have motorcycles with unusual designs, they are your greatest option. In addition, platform racks are ideal for those who regularly install and unmount their bicycles, since they demand less effort and accuracy throughout the mounting and unmounting procedure. They may, however, be rather expensive, so bear that in mind. Check Amazon for the features and cost of the platform bike rack.
- However, if you often load and unload your car, dangling hitch racks are your best bet. Compared to platform racks, they are lighter and simpler to store when not in use. As a cheap option, these racks are excellent. Given that they take up less room, they are also better at carrying many bikes. Although they aren’t as stable, bear in mind that during transit, the bikes can collide with one another or the car. On Amazon, look into the specifications and cost of hanging hitch racks.
There it is—a thorough comparison of platform vs. hanging bike rack. Despite using the same principle, the best option for you might differ greatly. To lessen the uncertainty, I have thought of a wide range of potential situations and offered recommendations for each use case. Pick the one that works for you, then take a ride!