With summer now officially underway, now is a great time to start looking for a Jeep Wrangler bike rack.
Whether you want to bring a few mountain bikes on your next camping excursion or you need a new road bike hauler for that next group ride, a Jeep Wrangler bike rack is an indispensable tool for the Wrangler owner who also happens to be into cycling. Of course, using your Wrangler to transport bikes comes with one unique challenge: the tailgate-mounted spare tire. Unless you’re planning on using a roof-mounted bike rack for Jeep Wrangler, that spare is destined to get in the way, requiring that whether you get a tailgate-mounted bike rack or one that slips into your hitch receiver, it’s designed to allow for sufficient clearance.
But we prefer to look at the Jeep’s rear-mounted spare not as an obstacle, but an opportunity. There are, in fact, a number of Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack designs on the market, which secure themselves to the spare tire and make it part of the mounting solution.
Here, we’ll be taking a look at the best Jeep Wrangler bike rack options on the market, encompassing both hitch- and spare tire-mounted options, as well as the odd roof-mounted bike rack.
Lead photo courtesy bestserk/Shutterstock
Table of contents
1. Editors Choice: Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack
The Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Spare Tire Rack is everything a bike rack for Jeep Wrangler should be: strong, durable, lightweight, and supremely affordable. For less than $100, you get a steel bike carrier that tips the scale at just 10 pounds or so, with 15”-long carrying arms providing space enough to transport two bikes securely. It has a total rated weight capacity of 70 pounds – 35 pounds per bike – and its extra-wide bottom supports brace against the spare tire sidewall, not the wheel, so you can rest easy knowing you’re not risking damage to your spare. Two different versions of this Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack exist one specifically to fit the current JL Wrangler and one that fits earlier models.
2. Best Hitch Mount Bike Rack: Allen Sports Premier Locking 4-Bike Hitch Rack with Spare
Your Jeep Wrangler’s spare tire means that many hitch-mounted bike racks aren’t an option right out of the box; most such racks aren’t designed to sufficiently clear the spare. Here’s one that is: the Allen Sports Premier Locking 4-Bike Hitch Rack with Spare. This Jeep Wrangler hitch bike rack features a quick-install locking hitch insert for 2-inch receivers, tough coated steel construction, and space to fit up to four bikes with dual-compound tie-down cradles to prevent damage to your bikes. A built-in tilt-away release allows for easy tailgate access as needed, and the carrier arms are capable of folding flat with the main mast when the rack isn’t in use. It’s not quite what we would call a “cheap” Jeep Wrangler bike rack, but it’s none too expensive, either.
3. Yakima SpareRide Spare Tire Bicycle Rack
Much like the Hollywood Racks SR2 bike rack listed above, this Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack from Yakima mounts onto a universal mounting plate that sits behind the spare tire, with a simple and intuitive hand-tightened knob to affix it in place. So, why pay more for this Yakima model? Because Yakima is one of the biggest, most respected names in aftermarket vehicle cargo accessories, and the premium build quality is on full display with its attractive gray coated steel construction, its bike-saving SuperCush ZipStrip cradles, and its secure SKS locking system, which keeps your bikes safe from would-be bicycle thieves. As an added plus, it ships with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can rest assured that your precious bikes are in the best of hands.
4. Hollywood Racks SR2 Bolt-On Spare Tire Rack
If you’re looking for a brilliantly simple Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack that can be put on and taken off with ease, you’ll find it in this Hollywood Racks Bolt-On Spare Tire Rack. This rack mounts via a universal plate that installs behind the spare tire, to which the rack is fastened with a single simple knob fastener so you can uninstall and reinstall in seconds, without any tools whatsoever. Sadly, this rack design isn’t compatible with the latest JL-generation Jeep Wrangler, but for most other Wranglers, and even vehicles like the Jeep Liberty and Toyota FJ Cruiser, it’s one of the quickest, easiest ways to carry up to two bikes reliably and securely.
5. Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack
If you’ve spent much time at all shopping the Jeep Wrangler bike rack market, you’ve likely come across the name Thule at least once, but what makes this Thule bike rack for Jeep Wrangler so special? It’s the company’s keen attention to detail and outstanding build quality. The hitch-mounted Thule Apex XT delivers a total bike weight capacity of 150 pounds, with rock-solid steel construction and a durable black finish. Ratcheting cradle straps make securing your bikes a breeze, and built-in anti-sway cradles help keep them locked in place while you’re moving, while a tilt release allows for quick access to the tailgate. Note that in order to use the Apex XT on the Wrangler, you will need a hitch extender to clear the spare tire, but if you can forgive it, the Thule Apex XT is well worth the money.
What Is The Best Bike Rack For A Jeep Wrangler?
There is no one “best” bike rack for Jeep Wrangler; which unit works out best for you will depend largely on what your preferred mounting location is and how much bike weight you need it to transport. It will also depend on how many bikes you need to carry, as not everyone has a family of four to look after on their next bike outing.
That said, we’re most partial to the Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack options, like the Hollywood Racks SR2 and Yakima SpareRide listed above. These bike racks are the easiest of all to take off and put back on, thanks to their clever mounting systems, and they allow for quick and easy tailgate access. There are two potential downsides, however: 1) such bike racks tend to have a lower max. weight capacity than hitch-mounted bike racks because they are limited by the strength of the tailgate and the spare carrier, and 2) neither of these two options are compatible with the JL Wrangler and its spare-mounted rearview camera.
In general, we would say that Jeep Wrangler spare tire bike rack designs are best for those with just one or two lightweight modern bikes to transport, while Jeep Wrangler hitch bike rack options are best for those with a whole family of cyclists.
How Much Weight Can A Jeep Wrangler Bike Rack Hold?
How much weight a Jeep Wrangler bike rack can hold is primarily up to the rack, although it’s also a function of the rack’s attachment style and specifically, whether it secures to the hitch receiver, mounts to the roof rails, or clings to the spare tire or its carrier.
The hitch receiver is likely the strongest and most secure Jeep Wrangler bike rack attachment point, having a maximum tongue weight of 350 pounds or so, depending on the model. Keep in mind: that’s tongue weight, so it will be affected by the length of the shank, but even still, your Jeep should provide support well in excess of what even the most heavy-duty bike carriers are rated for. The recommended weight limit for the roof rails, meanwhile, is 150 pounds, so even that should be more than enough for even a pair of unusually heavy bikes.
Tailgate- and spare tire-mounted bike racks are the most subject to the limitations of the Wrangler itself; exact figures can be a bit hard to find, but the JK Wrangler, for example, had a tailgate weight limit of just 85 pounds under normal to light trail conditions, and the tire carrier has an even lower max. recommended weight. Granted, how much weight the tailgate can take should be higher on the road. Still, for these sorts of Jeep Wrangler bike rack options, we recommend paying special close attention to the manufacturer’s max. recommended bike weight limit is.
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