The cost of buying a good bicycle doesn’t just include the bike itself. There are many accessories you may need to purchase as well such as pumps, tools, gears and helmets.
And if you intend to ride your bike regularly on a specialized track or (in the case of a mountain bike) a trail, you don’t want to ride it to the location. You will want to transport it there with either a roof, trunk or hitch mount bike rack that can hold multiple bikes.
Of these three options, a hitch mount rack is the best type to get, since it rides behind your car and isn’t directly touching and lessen the risk of damaging your vehicle.
But there are many considerations you must factor into your decision before purchasing the right one. Is this rack quick and simple to install? Do the attaching mount fit snugly onto your bike when securing it to the rack?
Is it quick and easy to load and unload a variety of bike frames and sizes? How effective is it in securing your bike to the rack and does it prevent theft via a locking system?
How well does the mount’s design prevent damage to both your bike and your vehicle? And finally, how well is this rack constructed to absorb shock and vibration during transport.
A high priced model is highly likely to meet these requirements, but not everyone can spend anywhere from $ 500 to $ 700 dollars for such equipment. Let’s examine the best hitch mount bike rack under $250 to see if it meets these criteria.
The Swagman XTC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack (1.25 and 2-Inch Receiver) is one of the more affordable options available on the market and is currently rated #1 on Amazon for hitch mount bike racks under $250.
It is a platform-style bike rack that carries two bikes and comes with an adapter for use with a 2″ hitch that users on Amazon say is very sturdy.
Ease of Install
The hitch assembly is just two pieces of metal that sandwich around the rack’s 1-1/4″ shank and are secured using the bolt supplied by the manufacturer.
You won’t need the 1-1/4 hitch adapter if you have a Class I hitch and is assembled and attached to even small cars with a hitch in about 20-25 minutes. If you do need the adapter, the bolt with still fit into the mechanism.
Snug and Secure Attachment
To load your bike, users simply need to lift them into the wheel platforms, secure the wheels with the integrated wheel straps and their knobs and cradle carriers, and secure the grip arms over the frames.
Conveniently, there is no need to remove the front wheel to place your bike into the rack, which is not always the case with hitch mounts. It also has padding for the soft frame-friendly grip arms that secure your bike in place as you are loading it.
You will have to regularly check the wheel knobs as they will loosen at high speeds and uneven road if they are not sufficiently tightened.
Ease of loading and Unloading
Speaking of loading, not only does the Swagman XTC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack not require you to remove the wheels to load it also allows easy access to the rear of the vehicle with a center arm that folds down.
And when you get to your destination, all you need to do is loosen the wheel straps and unhook it from the bike grip arms. The ratcheting hook grip arm system is what makes this bike rack so easy to unload, as it adjusts to the perfect height of your bike. There are no additional adjustments to be made.
Frame and Size Versatility
Using push button ratcheting arms and sliding wheel platforms, the Swagman XTC Cross Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rackcan provide a custom fit for bikes with 20 to 29-inch wheels while still being able to accommodate multiple bike frame types. Once you adjust the hook grip arm ratchets, you can fit any size of large bike.
But it can also accommodate smaller bikes as well as women’s bikes. The only real post-assembly adjustment to be made when loading and unloading are on the wheel straps, and there are different wheel size settings that make it very flexible when it comes to the kinds of bikes you can load on it. You can even adjust the rack to hold two bikes of different sizes and both the grip arms and the carrier cradles are adjustable.
Secure Locking System
Not included in the base unit, there are also two other accessories available with this model. The first is a padlocking system. The most common one bought with this unit are dual padlocks with a 3/16″ shackle. If you get this and secure it to the wheel straps, you should be good to go. Unfortunately, there no integrated security system on this unit. Most padlock 2 packs shouldn’t cost you more than ten dollars.
This is the area where Swagman seems to have put in the extra effort. The entire rack is coated with a protective powder coating that prevents your bike from getting stretched.
This may wear off during the life of your bike rack, but it’s nothing a can of Rust-Oleum can’t fix. The padded hooks protect the frame from damage. And the rack mounts your bike sufficiently away from the body of your vehicle that any movement during transport is well away from it.
And the hitch mount rack has a shank that angles upward from the hitch receiver, allowing for extra ground clearance. This especially useful for people who have a smaller vehicle and want to protect their bikes from road damage.
Shock and Vibration Absorption
The second accessory that is not included in the 1/2 inch Swagman Anti-Wobble Threaded Hitch Pin for Universal Racks.
It does come with it’s own hitch pin, but this may not be as secure as the separately sold version. The threaded pin is adjustable much better at securing your rack to the hitch and is much more effective at preventing wobble and unnecessary shock and vibration as you travel.
When combined with the padded grip arms and adjustable wheel straps, this mount has been reported to secure bikes at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. So for under $ 250, it might feasibly qualify as the best hitch mount bike rack.
Based on the above criteria, the Swagman XTC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack (1.25 and 2-Inch Receiver) is certainly the best hitch mount bike rack for under $250!