Bike Rack Types for Jeep Wranglers

If you love mountain biking or tour cycling, you need a good-quality bike rack for your Jeep Wrangler. Fortunately, there are many bike racks on the market for you to choose from, making it possible to choose one that’s perfect for your needs.

Bike racks for Jeep Wranglers come in 4 popular types:

  1. Roof-mounted
  2. Rear-mounted
  3. Spare-tire-mounted
  4. Hitch-mounted

Roof-mounted

Roof-mounted bike racks have been around for a long time. Some designs bolt straight onto your Jeep’s roof while others use suction cups. Those that bolt on are more difficult to install but are more stable. Those with suction cups can be easily put on or taken off, but they are not as secure.

The big advantage of roof-mounted bike racks is that they do not hinder access to your vehicle or prevent you from towing a trailer. They also don’t block the view through your rear-view mirror.

A major disadvantage of roof-mounted bike racks is that your bikes can be knocked off if you attempt to go under too low a bridge or pass through a narrow tunnel.

Roof-mounted bike racks increase the drag on your Jeep Wrangler when you drive at high speeds. With a bike rack up there, you won’t have room for a rooftop cargo carrier, which limits the amount of cargo you can carry.

And when it comes to loading your bikes, roof-mounted bike racks are the most inconvenient, especially if you are short.

Also, many Jeep Wranglers feature a soft top incompatible with roof-mounted bike racks. The crossover Jeep Renegade is compatible with some roof-mounted bike racks, but the number of bikes that you can carry in these is limited. For example, the Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack only holds one bike with a maximum weight limit of 44 lbs.

A workaround option is roof-fitting bike carriers that attach to roof bars. There are many high-quality Jeep roof racks compatible with soft top Jeep Wranglers.

And bike racks such as the Thule ProRide 598 and the Cruz Bici-rack can be bolted to such a roof rack.

Rear-mounted

If your Jeep Wrangler does not have a rear-mounted spare tire, you can attach a trunk-mounted bike rack to the rear of your Jeep Wrangler. These usually rely on straps to attach the bike rack to your Jeep using your hatch and rear bumper.

Rear-mounted bike racks are lightweight and the most affordable type of bike rack. They offer less wind resistance than roof-mounted bike racks. Trunk-mounted bike racks are easy to install and can be removed in seconds. They won’t take up much room when stored.

Rear-mounted bike racks often hold your bikes up high, so there is less chance of damage by objects thrown up from the road. This also means they won’t obscure your rear lights and license plate.

However, trunk-mounted bike racks are less secure than other types of bike rack, which means your bikes are more easily stolen. They can’t be fitted to any Jeep with a rear-mounted spare tire. When mounted, they can prevent access to your Jeep through the hatch.

The straps on rear-mounted bike racks can sometimes scratch your Jeep’s paintwork. Rear-mounted bike racks restrict your view through the rear window. This is particularly bad since this type of bike rack also protrudes from your Jeep’s rear, making reversing more problematic.

Spare tire-mounted

This type of bike rack is very similar to rear-mounted bike racks but is designed for use on Jeep Wranglers with a rear-mounted spare tire. It cannot be used on Jeep Wranglers that do not have a rear-mounted spare wheel.

A spare-tire-mounted bike rack is either bolted to your spare wheel’s mounting plate or uses straps to secure it to your spare tire. Those that are bolted on are more secure and can hold more weight, but those with straps can be more easily removed when necessary.

roof racks for jeep wrangler

Like trunk-mounted bike racks, spare-tire-mounted bike racks are lightweight and affordable. They are more aerodynamic than roof-mounted bike racks.

Spare-wheel-mounted bike racks carry your bikes high, so your license plate and rear lights are visible, and dirt thrown up from the road won’t touch them.

However, spare-tire-mounted bike racks do restrict your vision through the rearview mirror. Since they protrude from the back of your Jeep, this can cause you problems when you come to reverse. They can also make accessing your Jeep’s interior through the hatch more difficult.

Hitch-mounted

Tow-bar-mounted or hitch-mounted bike racks are typically the most expensive type of bike rack and the heaviest, but they are also the most secure. They slot into a 1¼” or 2” receiver hitch on the back of your Jeep Wrangler.

Many hitch-mounted bike racks are lockable, so they keep your bikes safe. Unlike other rear-mounted bike frames, they often feature folding arms that enable access through your hatch while the bike rack is attached (but not when bikes are loaded).

Hitch-mounted bike racks are durable and won’t increase wind resistance. They are great for off-roading because they don’t wobble around as much as other designs.

Since hitch-mounted bike racks simply slide into your Jeep’s receiver hitch, they are easy to put on and take off. Many designs fold away when not in use.

Hitch-mounted bike racks tend to carry your bikes lower than other rear-mounted bike racks, making them the easiest type of bike rack for loading and unloading bikes.

On the other hand, this also means they obscure your rear lights and license plate. In some states, it is mandatory to hang an illuminated accessory license plate on the back of a hitch-mounted bike rack.

Like other types of rear-mounted bike rack, hitch-mounted bike racks block your rearview and protrude behind your vehicle, which makes reversing a chore. Because they make use of your receiver hitch, you can’t use them in combination with a tow trailer or hitch-mounted cargo carrier.

A big disadvantage of hitch-mounted bike racks is that you can only use them if you have a receiver hitch. If your Jeep Wrangler does not already have a receiver hitch, you must install one before you can use a hitch-mounted bike rack.

Which bike rack is best for your Jeep Wrangler?

There are numerous factors to consider when deciding which type of bike rack is best for you. The most important is to ensure that the bike rack you buy is compatible with your Jeep Wrangler.

Otherwise, you must make sure that the bike rack you select can carry all your bikes, is durable enough to withstand the use you will make of it, and is priced within your budget. If tailgate access, ease of installation, and ease of storage are important to you, then you should also consider these factors.

Generally, if you love off-roading or driving to remote locations to cycle where the road quality is poor, a hitch-mounted bike rack is best. It is the sturdiest type of bike rack, there are designs that can hold many bikes, and there is less danger that your bikes will be knocked off your Jeep by a low-hanging branch.

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Robert Baker

I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the "little" things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I've worked in many different fields. I've been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However,I've never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.

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