Minivans, while most tag them as mommy cars are undeniably the most practical to drive. They don’t just offer enough seating for the family (or a small company), they are also the safest vehicles on the road. No wonder, families who love to bike don’t think twice about using minivans to carry their 2-wheelers with them. Best bike racks for minivans are out in the market. But, with so much of them, how will you know which one to pick?
Bike Racks and Minivans
It is true that the safest way to transport a bike is by removing the wheels and having them rest in the back-cargo area of the van. After all, you won’t have to worry about your bike falling or other external elements that could get in the way.
However, minivans are designed for two things, to have enough seating for passengers and to transport cargo. Therefore, minivans have removable seats at the back, so owners can use their vehicle for hauling purposes.
Minivan owners who will go on a bike tour with family or friends may not be able to remove the back seats. This is when they use bike racks.
Bike Rack Placement
Traditionally, bike racks were fit on top of the minivan. Just like most hauling systems, the roof of the vehicle is a practical spot for vehicle owners to carry their gears. If you notice now, most bike racks are designed to be assembled at the back part of the vehicle. They are there for a reason.
See, the normal minivan height goes up to about 6-ft off the ground. If you add a bike on top, that’s another 3-ft high. With bike racks and other gears that should secure the bikes, the vehicle may end up with a total of 10-ft height.
It may not be a big of a deal but, in some places, it could pose a danger. Especially when you must drive through a bridge or tunnel with low vertical clearance.
Bike Racks for Minivans
There are 4 types of racks for bikes: Truck-mounted bike racks, hitch-mounted bike racks, roof-mounted bike racks, and vacuum-mounted bike racks. Each has features that do what they are supposed to do. Each may also work better for you than others and vise versa. As we go along the differences among these types, we will feature bike racks that fall under them.
Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks
Trunk-mounted bike racks are outfitted with hooks, straps, and buckles that strap them secure to the back of your minivan. As simple as truck-mounted bike racks seem to be, they are the most basic, lightweight, and economical to use. They do not require additional equipment such as hitch or crossbars. A downside to this type is that they get in the way when you need to access the rear end of your van. Even when you have no bikes mounted on it. Trunk-mounted bike racks have a compact design that allows them to easily break down and store when not in use.
|Does not need hitch||Gets in the way of hatch access|
|Cheap option||Complicated to install|
|Can be used on any vehicles||Obstructs rear windshield wiper|
|Easier to lift and secure bikes in place|
Thule Passage 2 Bike Carrier provides a safe carrying system that mounts securely to the trunk. Its patented FitDial adjustment system and straps keep your 2-wheelers from clattering while in transport.
The soft rubber pads that hold the bike on rack base keep your minivan’s surface from scratch and scruffs. They serve as cushioned anti-sway frames wherein with the help of rubber straps keep the bikes in place.
Thule Passage 2 comes with 6 attachment straps that you can use to mount your bike rack to the trunk of your minivan.
- Patented Fit Dial flexible mechanism that guarantees proper fit on your vehicle
- Dual support arms that offer stability for your bikes
- Arms twist to the side, then down when not in use
- Capacity: Up to 2 bikes
- Weight Capacity: Up to 35 pounds per bike
- Application: Trunk-mounted
- Comes with lifetime warranty
|Straps remain tight against some extremely high winds||Plastic hub that holds the straps together may be flimsy|
|Avoids most of the sway||Can not be used with the car spoiler on
|Instructions for setting up is excellent
Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks
Another easy to use bike rack is the hitch-mounted type. Simply slide them into your minivan’s hitch and secure them with its lock. No need to lift your 2-wheelers high above your head to load them. Since these racks are connected to your hitch, the have no contact to your vehicle, so the risk of damaging your car paint is minimal to zero. Such racks may interfere with your access to the back door but try to look for those that fold or swing away.
|Easy installation||Needs a hitch|
|No hatch access obstruction||Prevents towing since hitch is used|
|Easy to fit bikes|
Transport up to 4 bikes of almost any shape and size with Saris Freedom 4. Its lightweight and sturdy construction comes from the rust-resistant steel base and masts that are finished with a black powder coat. The wheel trays that hold the bikes are made of injection-molded plastic.
This easy-to-use platform-style bike rack offers you an effortless loading and transporting for your bikes. With cradles and straps that are designed to carefully secure your bikes, your drive will be safe and smooth. No need for unnecessary stop-overs just to check whether the bike still has its wheels.
- Soft rubber frames with softened straps clutch your 2-wheelers by its down or top tubes
- Twist knobs on wheel trays allow to fit different wheelbases
- Push lever allows to easily tilt and fold the rack to gain access to cargo area
- Application: Fits to 2 x 2-inch trailer hitch receivers
- Carrying capacity: Up to 4 bicycles
- Weight capacity: Up to 35 pounds per bike
- Comes with limited lifetime warranty
|Ratcheting straps help keep bikes secure||Doesn't with locks to secure the bikes to the rack|
|Easy to put together and easy to use||The rubber on the upper clamps easily wear
|Doesn’t shake when driving
Allen Sports Deluxe Hitch Mounted Bike Rack is best for a family of cyclists or a group of friends enjoying bike rides. Its long 28-inch arms offer enough space to carry up to five bikes all at once. Slim carry arms allow the carrier to be as packed in as possible while still giving plenty of security to hold bikes in place.
It has a tilt access design so there should be no hindrance for you to access the vehicle’s trunk. It is not at all necessary to remove the rack to do that. The separate cradles maintain the bike’s stability and keep them from rattling as you drive.
- Includes No-Wobble Bolt that secures rack inside of receiver hitch with a movement-free installation
- Minor assembly required
- Patented individual tie-down cradles secure and protect your bicycles
- Application: Hitch insert fits either 1 ¼ inch or 2 inches receiver hitches (2 and 3 bike models) or 2 inches receiver hitches
- Capacity: Up to 5 bikes
- Weight Capacity: total of 175 pounds
|Separate tie-down cradles for added security||Only compatible with two-inch hitches
|Tilt design for easy rear entry access||Doesn’t come with a lock|
|Hauls up to five bikes
Roof-Mounted Bike Racks
The traditional way in carrying bike or bikes is through the roof. The rack mounts to roof crossbars and carries your bike out of the way. No more fuss when you need access to rear. Most minivans are taller than most cars, so there’s a big chance you will have to lift the bike overhead. A great feature of roof-mounted type is its ability to carry more than one bike.
|Easy installation||Needs crossbars and rack for each bike|
|Full access to vehicle’s rear entrance||Needs bike to be lifted above head|
Yakima HighRoad is a great bike rack to hold 1 bike up on your minivan’s roof. It features pivoting wheel hoops that hold the 2-wheeler by its front wheel and a TorqueRight knob that keeps it from over-tightening. Don’t worry about transporting various bike sizes. The rear-wheel cradle can be easily adjusted for the right fitting.
Made with sturdy steel construction that has chip-resistant powder coat finish, it complements the look of your minivan.
Yakima HighRoad has its integrated security system where it has a TailWhip cable that you can use a SmartSlot kit (sold separately) into. This can be attached to the rear mounting clamp for worry-free bike transport.
Look at this rack’s full features through the video that Yakima posted in 2017:
- Built-in TorqueRight handle that helps prevent the wheel hoop from being over- or under-tightened
- Holder slides to adjust along tray to fit different wheelbases
- Sleek, low-profile design minimizes wind noise
- Application: Fits to round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars
- Carrying capacity: 1 bicycle
- Weight capacity: Up to 45 pounds
- Comes with limited lifetime warranty
|Integrated cable is easy to use||Lock cores are sold separately and are expensive
|Screwing mechanism is not hard to secure
|Bikes mount quickly
Vacuum-Mounted Bike Racks
This type is the unconventional way of traveling on your bike. No, there’s no need for hitch or cross bars. Just the vacuum cups to the trunk or roof of your car. They practically attach anywhere you need them to be.
|Needs no hitch or crossbars||May obstruct the rear access (depending where they are attached)|
|Flexible mounting options||Vacuum cups need occasional lubrication|
|Can be used with various cars|
Need an unusual way of bike rack to transport your bike? SeaSucker Talon can carry your bike any surface you can mount it on. Whether it is your vehicle’s roof, trunk, or glass. Its 3 vacuum cups let the rack attach to the minivan’s surface in seconds. No need for tools to install.
Constructed with high-density polyethylene thermoplastic, it comes in black color and directly complements any minivan’s finish.
Installation is effortless. All you need to do is to ensure that the mounting surface is clean and then press the pump continuously until the orange band disappears.
- Affixes to your minivan with (4) 6″ vacuum cups that won’t scratch or dent car’s surface
- Comes with HUSKE universal fork mount, 9-mm thru-axle adapter, and quick-release skewer
- Comes with 5g lube tube for maintenance, 1 spare vacuum cup, and 1 crank arm strap for pedal stability
- Application: Fits to rooftop, trunk, or back glass
- Carrying capacity: 1 bicycle
- Weight capacity: up to 45 pounds
- Comes with limited 1-year warranty
|Portable, nice to look at, and easy to install||Must open the front fork skewer all the way up|
|Push button pump is super easy to use||No way you can add safety mechanisms|
|Can withstand strong crosswinds
What to Consider When Purchasing a Bike Rack for Minivans
By now, you might have an idea which racks type to use. That’s good. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to narrow down your choices.
- How many bikes do you need to transport?
- How often will you carry bikes?
- How much are you willing to shell out?
- Any special or odd-shaped bikes?
- Does your minivan have a tow hitch or roof rack? Do you know your car’s load capacity?
Our Top Pick
The key to picking the right bike rack is precisely outlining what you need and evaluating the vehicle you will use it with. Performance should always be the top priority, but never overlook durability, ease of use, and budget as important factors too. From the careful considerations of the different types of racks as well as the questions you may want to think over, we picked one rack from the 5 that we selected to review.
The top pick is Saris Freedom 4 Bike Platform Rack. While it may come expensive, it showcases features that make it reasonable for you to shell out some extra cash. From the effortless assembly to ease of putting them away. From secured loading to worry-free driving with all the security features it has. You might just even forget they’re there.
Remember that whenever you drive at high speeds with anything outside your vehicle, potential risks are involved. Whether its trunk or hitch type rack you picked, make sure to secure your gears with extra straps of cords. Tie them down just a little more to prevent swaying and rattling.
Be extra cautious with the additional size it gives your minivan too. Make sure the bikes pass the vertical clearance before driving through that tunnel. Or, be careful in backing up when you have your bikes extendedly attached on the hitch.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What is the best way to lock bikes to rack?
A: While most racks come with integrated security mechanism, it won’t hurt to get a long cable lock. You can run it through the safety chain anchor points of your hitch and through the frames or any quick release wheels.
Q: Can a multiple bike rack be converted to lesser bike racks by removing anything from it?
A: Not without cutting them off. This is the reason it is important to find out how many bikes you need or plan to carry before getting a bike rack. Most racks are specifically designed to hold certain amounts of bikes and could be impossible to modify.
Q: What should I look for in a platform bike rack for best ground clearance?
A: Find a rack that has an angled shank which slants up soon after the shank exits the hitch opening. The bikes should also be loaded higher and higher as you get further away from the back of the vehicle.