Best Swing Away Bike Racks – (2021) Round-up

Anthony
| Last Updated: June 29, 2021

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If you're big on bikes or you travel a lot and would love the option of bringing your bicycle with you, swing-away bike racks have made it easier for more people to do so.

Old-fashioned bike racks work for some people, but they take more work to mount and remove the frame when you need to get into the cargo area of your vehicle. Swing-away and tilting bike racks solve this problem by remaining mounted to the car while providing a movable arm to open up space to your trunk or tailgate.

Better yet, many swing-away bike racks are easier to deal with than a roof rack, and most prevent bikes from coming in contact with your automobile. If you want to travel with bikes, but you need something more innovative than racks of decades past, it's time to consider a swing-away.

Comparison of the Best Swing Away Bike Racks

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Anti-sway hitch ensure stability and strength
  • Holds up to 4 bikes with maximum weight of 140 lbs
  • Tilt-away design gives access to rear of vehicle
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  • Transports 2 bikes that are up to 50 lbs each
  • Convenient - gives you access to the rear of vehicle
  • Compatible with 1 ¼” and 2” hitches
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  • Easily transport 2 bikes on your hitch
  • Soft rubber straps and cradles and straps protect paint
  • Can fold bike arms away when you aren't using it
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  • Can be used to hang up to 4 bikes
  • Stable thanks to anti-sway cradles
  • Fits most bike frames and sizes perfectly
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What is a Swing Away Bike Rack and How Does it Work?

Swing-away bike racks are an innovative design that enables you to get into your truck or cargo portion of your vehicle without removing bikes from the frame. The swinging hinge allows you to move the mounted bicycles out of the way and then move them back to secure the mounting arm again.

Some of the most crucial elements for a swing-away bike rack is durability, reliable hinges, and dependable latches. You also want to pay attention to the number of bicycles you can mount and the types of hitch mount you prefer.

Top Considerations for Buying a Swing Away Bike Rack

Before looking into swing-away bike racks, consider the following features:

Weight Capacity

You'll want to know the total weight of your bikes and keep that in mind when searching for a swing-away bike rack. Many racks can hold up to 160 lbs. but not all will hold that amount.

Materials

Checking for durable construction is one of the things that can be most crucial for a swing-away bike rack. Robust materials such as stainless steel or thick aluminum (which can lessen the weight) are potentially reliable options.

Types of Mounts

Even within the hitch-mount category, you can find both platform mounts and hitch mounts. Hitch tends to work for most individuals because they are simple to install and often more affordable. Platform models can attach it to the wheelbase, making for a stable base as you swing the arm.

Weight of the Rack

The rack weight can make it tricky to decide on the material you want for the rack. Stainless steel is incredibly durable, while aluminum is lightweight but can be weaker if it's too thin. Plastic is also lightweight, can have the potential to work well if it's thick and well-built, but can crack easier and breaks down faster with excessive UV light.

Installation

In most cases, installing your swing-away bike rack will be more challenging than removing it. Look for ease-of-installation and a set that includes any uncommon tools, like a specifically-sized Allen wrench.

Review of the Best Swing Away Bike Racks

Swing-away bike racks can make traveling with your cycles simple while also freeing up tons of room in your automobile's cargo space.

We researched some of the best options for swing-away bike racks and selected our top five picks. Make sure to look over our buyer's guide of tips and comparisons below on how to pick the best swing-away rack.

Best Overall:
GUDE 4 Bike Rack for Car Hitch Mount

GUDE 4 Bike Rack for Car Hitch Mount 2'' Hitch Receiver Heavy Duty Bicycle Carrier Rack Hitch Swing Rack Hanging with Anti Sway Double Folding for Cars, SUVs, Vans, Minivans

pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Simple to install
  • Well-constructed and durable
  • Includes anti-sway tightener for hitch
  • Tilt-away mast offers a different style of swing-arm

cons

  • Difficult to fit four adult-sized bikes
  • Low-sitting base under hitch, not ideal for low vehicles

What Recent Buyers Report

While the rare customer did not like the placement of the pre-drilled holes, most users found this swinging bike rack shockingly well-made for the price. The steel construction is sturdy and robust. The customer service is also excellent to work with if you happen to encounter an issue with this bicycle rack.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Swing-arm bike racks can cost plenty of money—some upwards of $15,000. The surprising durability and ease of installation at such an affordable price-point can be challenging to find. We found this rack to install quickly, and it feels sturdy. The combination of the quality and the easy-on-the-budget price makes this our overall favorite.

Some competitor swing-arm bike racks have their specific features to offer, and some have more well-known brand names. However, if you don't want to spend several hundred dollars and want to carry a couple of adult bikes and even a child's bicycle or two, this model is an excellent option.

Bottom Line

It would be tricky to find a four-bike swing-arm bicycle rack that holds up to 140 lbs. and has this much positive feedback at such a reasonable price. If you're searching for an affordable, high-value swinging bike rack, we love this tilt-down option that hooks easily to two-inch receiver hitches.

Runner-up:
Saris Glide EX Bike Rack Hitch Mount

Saris Glide EX Bike Rack Hitch Mount, 2-5 Bicycle Carrier, Multiple Colors

pros

  • Made in America
  • Reputable bike rack brand
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Locking pin secures rack to hitch
  • Extremely stable and secure on the road

cons

  • Pricier than some competitors
  • Does not hold five bikes as listed, only four

What Recent Buyers Report

Even for smaller individuals who have trouble installing other bike racks, the Saris Glide EX is exceptionally simple to hook up to your vehicle. The hitch's locking pin gives some peace of mind, and the push-button release is simple to swing/tilt the rack down to get to your tailgate.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Saris makes quality bike racks in varying styles, and they use environmentally-friendly materials as a plus. We like this swinging bicycle rack because it's stable, very secure while driving, and even aesthetically-pleasing. It's not the lowest-priced option on our list, but this is a fantastic model if you want quality and a rack that is easy to handle.

The Saris Glide EX can also fit a wider variety of hitches than some competing racks. We like the well-balanced design, so when you lower the arm to unhook your bikes, you don't get a wobbly, unstable mechanism. This swing-arm rack is constructed of thick aluminum, making it both durable yet lightweight.

Bottom Line

If you're seeking a swing-arm bike rack from a reliable company, the Saris is one to consider. This lighter-weight, tilting rack is extra secure, sleek, and incredibly simple to install and operate.

Best for the Money/Best 5-Bike Hitch Rack Swing Away:
SportRack Ridge Hitch Mount Bike Rack

SportRack Ridge Hitch-Mount Bike Rack

pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Super sturdy and solid
  • Includes anti-rattle hitch pin
  • Generous load capacity of 200 lbs. for a five-bike receiver
  • Mix and match options to change the number of bikes it holds

cons

  • Very heavy and bulky
  • Can be challenging to assemble

What Recent Buyers Report

The SportRack bicycle rack is heavy—a somewhat universal agreement among customers. However, with the heft, you get durability and a model that can mount even heavier bikes on this tilt-away swinging bike rack. Once you get it installed, it is super sturdy and a fantastic value for the money.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like that SportRack offers a few options when it comes to your receiver hitch (1.25-inch or 2-inch), and you can also choose from a two-bike, four-bike, five-bike, or swinging four-bike model. The bike arm folds down when it's not in use, which is excellent for trips when you drop off bicycles at a vacation home or campsite but want the rack to be more compact if you need to run out to the store.

The soft rubber straps help prevent scratches on your bikes, and the anti-sway cradle stops bicycles from damaging an even more critical piece of property: your vehicle.

Bottom Line

If you're comfortable dealing with a weightier bike rack and want something durable at a reasonable price, the SportRack is worth a glance. If you're going to keep your frame on the vehicle for a while, the SportRack is excellent because the loading arm folds down when it's not in use.

Best Thule Swing Away Bike Rack:
Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack

Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack

pros

  • Tool-free installation and removal
  • Includes hitch locks and bike locks
  • Reliable name in the bike rack industry
  • Folds down compactly when not in use
  • Patented design swings-away instead of tilting down

cons

  • Pricier than some options
  • Bike straps could use improvement

What Recent Buyers Report

Some customers are unsatisfied with the bike straps, and your bikes may rub against each other in transit. However, the overall consensus is that Thule created another fantastic product with solid construction and straightforward assembly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like this swing-arm bike rack partially because we're fans of Thule products in general and because the patented design gives you another option in operation. Instead of tilting down, as many swinging bike racks do, the Thule Apex XT swings out to the side.

This design can help provide you more room to get items in and out of your vehicle's cargo area instead of needing to step over or around a lowered bike rack. This model's installation is quite simple, and we also appreciate that the Thule Apex XT has locking cables for the bikes and a lock for the hitch.

Bottom Line

Those who want a swing-arm bike rack that moves out to the side instead of tilting down will like the Thule Apex XT. The load capacity of 150 lbs. is decent, and the compact, fold-down storage is a bonus.

Best Swing Away Platform Bike Rack
RockyMounts BackStage Swing Away Platform Hitch Bicycle Rack

RockyMounts BackStage 2' Receiver Swing Away platform hitch 2 bicycle rack. Allows full access to the rear of the vehicle with bikes on or off the rack.

pros

  • Features three-axis anti-wobble system
  • Does not allow bikes to touch your vehicle
  • Exceptionally durable and can handle e-bikes
  • Swing-away design with sturdy platform mount
  • Comes mostly assembled and includes high-quality metal locks

cons

  • Can only carry two bikes
  • Not compatible with fender-equipped bicycles

What Recent Buyers Report

For most people, installing this swing-away bike rack is straightforward and doesn't take much more than 20 minutes. The heavy-duty construction feels durable and includes reliable, sturdy locks. The RockyMounts rack also works well for those who have trucks or SUVs with tailgates that fully-drop, as the swing-away arm gives you lots of room.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Unlike the Thule Apex (also a swing-away design), the RockyMounts bike rack is a platform mount instead of a hitch mount. This design provides added stability while also giving you the extra room to access your vehicle's cargo area that swing-away bike racks offer.

We love that this rack gives you the option to either tilt the arm down or swing it away to the side. Once you move the arm to the side, you can also angle the rack down to remove your bike. Another significant bonus is that the RockyMounts BackStage can hold fat-tire and e-bikes.

Bottom Line

This bicycle rack will only hold two bikes, so it's not ideal for an entire family of riders. However, the sturdy platform mount combined with the option to tilt down or swing away the arm might make this your top pick if you want a heavy-duty bike rack with various ways to get to your car or truck's cargo area.

Dos and Don'ts of Swing Away Bike Racks

Before you purchase the first swing-away bicycle rack you look at, consider the following:

Do Get a Rough Estimate of Your Total Bike Weight

Check the product listing of your current bikes, weigh them by first weighing yourself on a scale, then weigh yourself holding each cycle and subtracting your bodyweight from that number. Each bike rack has a different weight capacity, and you don't want to compromise the stability by overloading the weight.

Do Measure Your Hitch Size

Some hitch mounts claim to be universal, but that doesn't always mean they genuinely work with every hitch on every single vehicle. The most common size for bike racks is a mount that fits a two-inch hitch, although some will fit smaller sizes, too.

Do Consider What Type of Mount You Prefer

Many swing-away bike racks hook up to your hitch, but a platform mount is worth considering. Investigate what you deem to be the pros and cons of both styles with your car, truck, or SUV.

Do Pay Attention to Your Budget

While many high-end bike racks have outstanding reviews from hundreds of customers, you can still find sturdy, swing-arm bike racks that work well for a reasonable price. Don't feel that you must pay $1,000 for a bike rack.

Don't Head Out on a Long Trip Without First Testing the Rack

Regardless of how reputable the brand and how many five-star reviews any bike rack has, always test it out at slower speeds, off the freeway before you jump on the interstate, and venture out for a three-week road trip. We all can make mistakes assembling new products, and even the absolute best bike racks occasionally produce a rare lemon that rattles or comes loose.

Types of Swing Away Bike Racks

Swing-away bicycle racks are not all created the same. Here are some of the notable differences:

Tilting Mast

While tiling models are still considered a type of swing-away rack, this rack style lowers the arm down for bike removal.

Swing Away

These racks do precisely as the name implies; they swing out to the side, allowing you to get to your trunk or tailgate with more ease.

RockyMounts BackStage Swing Away 2 Bicycle Rack

Hitch Mount

These racks hook to the hitch of your vehicle and typically lock with a pin closure.

Platform Mount

Platform-mounted bike racks hook to your car's bottom platform, which can provide more stability in some cases.

Swing Away Bike Rack Comparisons

Two notable comparisons you should familiarize yourself with when researching your choice of bike rack:

Swing Away Bike Racks vs Tilt

Both swing-away and tiling bike racks technically "swing away" from your automobile. The difference comes with the direction in which they swing. Tilt racks raise and lock in place for travel and then lower for you to remove your bikes.

Swing-away bicycle racks move out to the side when it's time to take your bikes off and swing back to lock in place for transporting your cycles.

Saris vs Thule Swing Away Bike Racks

Saris only makes bike racks, and they focus on sustainably-crafted products. If you're eco-conscious and want to reduce your carbon footprint, Saris is a terrific option with environmentally-friendly materials. As another perk, they tend to offer fun colors in their products.

Thule is a significant name in outdoor gear, and the company tends to be innovative, churning out new designs for traditional equipment. If you've had Thule equipment and like their quality or want the latest innovations in bike racks, Thule might be the way to go for you.

How to Install a Swing Away Bike Rack

  1. Assemble any parts for your particular swing-away that need set-up before hooking to the vehicle.

  2. Pull back the pin and slide the rack into the receiver.

  3. Push the carrier until the auto-pin clicks into the receiver hold

  4. Tighten firmly and lock the locking-knob, which secures the rack into the receiver

  5. Pull the quick-release lever or push-button latch to lower the arm into a downward position to engage it into an upright, locked position.

  6. For swing-away models, loosen the wing bolt and lift the spring pin to move the rack away from the vehicle, and reverse the process to swing it back into place again.

Be sure to check out this video for a complete overview of installing your bike rack.

Conclusion

Swing-away bike racks can make traveling with bicycles much simpler than roof-mounted frames or trying to get into your vehicle's cargo area with a non-swinging rack. These innovative swinging options also provide extra space for loading or unloading your bicycle. 

You don't have to overspend on a decent swinging bike rack, either. Several reliable options are on the market for reasonable prices, which provides you with outstanding value to travel with your bike or your entire family's bicycles.

People Also Ask

If you've never used a swing-away bike rack, you're in good company if you have a few questions. These are some frequently asked questions we get.

How Much Do Swing Away Racks Cost?

The price of your swing-away bike rack will depend on how many bicycles it can carry, the quality of construction, and, sometimes, the brand name. On the low end, you can find racks around $80 to $90, but these are often lower-quality or only hold one or two bikes. Higher-end bike racks can cost anywhere from $450 to $1,500.

Are Swing Away Bike Racks Dangerous?

Generally, no. Bike racks can be dangerous if you buy a poor-quality model or fail to install it correctly. You don't want a cheap latch coming undone while you're on the road and ending up with your bike rack swinging back and forth. If you get a decent model and double-check that you've set it up the right way, you should be safe.  

Can You Lock a Swing Away Bike Rack?

Yes, many swing-arm bike racks lock with simple devices such as a pin in the rack's arm joint. Any decent bike rack should have a latch or locking mechanism to secure the arm while driving. Some swing-arm bike racks will include both a hitch pin and a cable lock for extra security.

How Many Bikes Can Fit in a Swing Away Bike Rack?

You can find swing-arm bike racks that can carry up to five bicycles, but you will often see frames that carry between two and four bikes. Two-bike and four-bike swing-arm racks are the most common types you will find on the market.

Anthony

"I'm Linda's husband. We got married in 2018 and are loving life together. We met in one of my many competitive races and hit it off right away. Our best dates are when we're riding down a trail enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful Colorado weather. I enjoy writing about everything pertaining to bikes. "