If you have squeezed multiple bikes into the body of a car, you have reached a creative peak. Unfortunately, this can be time-consuming and does not leave enough room for passengers. The squeeze method may work if in a pinch but is not ideal for long-term use. Investing in a bike rack that will work at any stage of minivan life is worth the price for an easy-to-use system that will make biking with the whole crew stress-free. Bike racks for minivans should be sturdy, kid accessible, and capable of carrying as many bikes as passengers.
Many people have put hitch bike racks, including ours, on their minivans. With seven seats in the car and up to seven spots for bikes, VelociRAX vertical hitch racks have been popular among minivan drivers. Although the bike rack list is long, we will focus on three of the most popular bike rack options: trunk-mounted bike racks, platform hitch bike racks (aka tray racks), and vertical hitch bike racks. Keep reading to learn about which bike rack will work for you.
Can You Put a Bike Rack On a Minivan?
The short answer is that your minivan can handle a bike rack, but some racks will work better than others. The bike rack world is large and there are many brands to choose from. This can be a good thing, but too many options can be overwhelming and result in confusion. Minivan drivers interested in purchasing a bike rack should consider all options, and we are here to help with that process.
Can You Put a Hitch On a Minivan?
If your minivan does not have a tow hitch you can purchase a tow hitch package from most dealerships, or you can get one professionally installed at auto parts stores such as UHaul, AutoZone, and O’Reilly. All VelociRAX hitch racks require a two-inch class three hitch with a tongue weight capacity of 500 lbs. A class three hitch will keep your bike rack secure and will confidentiality support a fully loaded rack, so we strongly recommend not skipping over this detail.
Is it Worth Getting a Hitch Installed?
Although you may not be interested in towing heavy loads with your minivan, having the ability to tow light loads and utilize hitch attachments can come in handy. For example, if you are not one to use your bike rack all year, you can remove it and use the hitch for outdoor storage attachments, tow a moving trailer, or take a trip with a portable camping trailer.
The best bike rack for Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, Honda Odyssey, KIA Carnival, and other minivan models will require a hitch installation. Hitch bike racks have been well-loved by knowledgeable and frequent cyclists due to the unbeatable bike security and lack of vehicle contact. Hitch bike racks are safer than non-hitch bike racks due to security features, overall safety, and long-term satisfaction.
Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks
Trunk racks are most applicable when transporting a single bike. Although some trunk racks carry up to three bikes, they are best for one or two due to potential bike interference and limited bike security. Most trunk-mounted bike racks are short-lived due to low-quality material and breakable plastic parts. There is also a risk of bikes or the bike rack scratching the exterior of a vehicle.
Trunk-mounted bike racks are typically secured to the vehicle using Nylon straps, and bikes are secured the same way or with a plastic crank system. Although the low cost is appealing, the short lifespan will need frequent replacement, which can add up quickly.
Trunk racks work for short distances and are easily portable. They can be removed from a vehicle without any lifting and are small enough that they are barely noticeable when off the car. If you are interested in transporting one or two bikes around your area, this bike rack may work for you.
- Easily portable
- Limited bike capacity
- Made with low-quality materials
- Only supports light loads
- Short-term solution
Platform Hitch Bike Racks
Platform bike racks or tray bike racks attach to a vehicle with a hitch. These are popular bike racks for hatchbacks, but the limited bike placement will not accommodate bikes for large families. Trunks can be fully accessed with the lower feature of most tray tracks, so there is access to all gear, even with the bike rack on the car.
A platform hitch rack is a significant upgrade from a trunk rack and is much more reliable. Although they are a step up from trunk racks, they can be pricey for the number of bike placements. Most tray racks come with two bike holders, but additional bike placements are available for an extra cost.
Similar to trunk-mounted bike racks, platform hitch racks often use plastic crank downs to secure tires to the rack. Plastic breakdowns can deteriorate when exposed to harsh weather and often break within a year or less of use.
- Most do not interfere with bike frames
- Does not interfere with the exterior of the vehicle
- Tilts down for trunk access
- Solid use for 1 to 3 years
- Breakable plastic parts
- Limited adjustability
- Rack movement when driving
- Rack and bike movement when driving
- Requires a 2-inch hitch
Vertical Hitch Bike Racks
Hitch racks are another bike rack option and are popular among most vehicle sizes. They are the most secure type of bike rack and keep bikes safe in tough terrain compared to other bike rack styles. After thorough testing, we have found vertical tire-mounted hitch racks to work best for us. Tire-only contact used by VelociRAX keeps bikes secure without interfering with or damaging any parts.
Our hitch bike racks are steel-built, so they can hold up in a fight. We chose to build with steel because it doesn't warp, it's strong enough to keep bikes safe for long periods, and is a material we trust to carry our bikes. Vertical-oriented bike racks are easy to load with roll-in roll-out loading and can handle the surprises a trip with many bikes entails.
Vertical hitch bike racks can be more expensive than other bike racks due to high-end and sturdy materials. We understand the price can be intimidating, but our bike racks are usually less expensive per-bike placement when compared to other hitch-mounted bike racks.
- High-quality materials
- Easy to load
- Secure on off-road terrain
- Reliable long-term use
- Best for bike safety
- Tire-only contact
- More expensive than other racks
- Can be heavy due to high-quality materials (such as steel)
- Does not accommodate 18-inch tire bikes and smaller
- Requires a 2-inch hitch
Tray Rack to a Vertical Hitch Rack Upgrade
Chris Bucci is one of many bikers who have traded their platform tray rack for a vertical hitch rack. Instead of taking four bikes out with his old tray rack, he can now invite six other people on a ride thanks to his VelociRAX 7.
He hasn't looked back after getting his VelociRAX vertical rack. He was pleased with the easy assembly process and versatility of the rack. He had a positive first impression and enjoys the sturdiness of this rack. Watch his video review about easy assembly, versatile use, and tips for using a VelociRAX 7.
Will My Kid's Bikes Fit on a VelociRAX Hitch Rack?
We have used standard tire baskets with nearly all 20-inch bikes by wrapping an extra rubber strap around the tire basket near the fork or lining it with a foam pipe from Home Depot. However, we offer small tire basket attachments, which create a flawless fit for higher-quality 20-inch bikes.
Small tire baskets are ideal for high-end 20-inch kid and BMX bikes, but with minor adjustments, standard tire baskets will likely do the trick. If you are on the fence about ordering small tire baskets, we recommend starting with the provided tire baskets and then determining whether or not an attachment would be better. If you have kids riding 20-inch tire bikes, adding temporary support to standard tire baskets will be a great short-term solution.
Here is what a small tire basket attachment looks like:
Here is what a standard tire basket with a rubber strap used for padding looks like:
Keep in mind that 18-inch tire bikes and smaller will not work with the rack because the rear tire will not reach the bottom bar. 18-inch tires or smaller bikes will be too small for a VelociRAX bike rack.
VelociRAX: Best Bikes Rack for You and Your Kids
As avid bikers with kid riders, we needed a bike rack that our kids could load and easily use. We have designed a bike rack that the whole family can enjoy.
The hardest part about taking bikes on a trip is finding the perfect fit for everyone on board. Kids grow fast, new members join the family, and spontaneous tagalongs like to join in on the fun. Getting a bike rack that works for your family and riding crew will make the riding experience more enjoyable.