After reviewing and testing numerous models of truck bed bike racks and doing a thorough analysis, we found Thule Insta-Gater Pro to be the best truck bed bike rack. In this article, we reviewed not only Thule Insta-Gater Pro but also other best truck bed bike racks that may be a good fit for your needs.
There are all kinds of truck bed bike racks out there and it’s important to find a model that suits your needs and your truck bed.
Thule Insta-Gater Pro is our top pick due to its convenience, efficiency and high quality. Since it’s a wheel mount rack, you don’t have to remove the front wheel every time you want to transport your bike.
It’s easy to install and easy to use. Its locking mechanism provides security while its ratcheting arm provides stability.
This article also includes information on four other truck bed bike racks we picked after our research. We hope that this article will give you a clear idea of your bike rack options and where your preference lies.
In our analysis, we relied on our own experience with bike racks, product specs, and our peer bikers’ reviews. We further explored what other users had to say about these truck bed bike racks to understand their pros and cons in depth.
If you want to learn more about the five bike racks that made the cut, keep on reading!
Our Favorite Truck Bed Bike Racks
- Best Truck Bed Bike Rack: Thule Insta-Gater Pro
- Best Truck Bed Bike Rack for Bike Capacity: Demon Tailgate Pad
- Best Fork-Mounted Bike Rack: Swagman Pickup Fork Mount Bike Rack
- Best Tailgate Pad: Yakima Gatekeeper
- Best Side Clamp Truck Bed Bike Rack: INNO RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack
Best Truck Bed Bike Rack: Thule Insta-Gater Pro
- Holds 1 bike up to 50 lbs
- Fits 20-29″ wheels; up to 5″ wide tires
- Comes with Thule’s One-Key locking mechanism
- Made of aluminum and plastic
Thule Insta-Gater Pro is our overall favorite truck bed bike rack thanks to its high quality and convenience. This is a wheel-mounted bike rack that can hold 1 bike up to 50 lbs.
Thule Insta Gater Pro is compatible with 20-29″ wheels and bike tires that are up to 5″ wide. The installation is easy and doesn’t require tools or drilling.
You simply place the mounting brackets in the space between the tailgate and the truck bed and secure the mechanism by closing the tailgate.
Thule Insta-Gater Pro’s aluminum and plastic construction is high quality and durable. Thule is a reputable brand and it seems they didn’t miss the mark with this one. It’s also quite lightweight at 11 pounds.
The rack has a padded hook that secures the front wheel of the bike without rubbing the bike frame. You just place the front wheel of your bike in the slot and secure it with the ratcheting arm, which keeps the bike stable and prevents it from rubbing off on the truck bed.
Fellow Rider Review
“I like this bike rack. It works well and is very easy to use. It’s really small and light so it takes up very little space. My truck has a 6′ bed and I still have to turn the handlebars to get my bike to fit. I have a 29″ with an xl frame which is bigger than most people. I disagree with the product description that the rack can hold 29″ tires. I haven’t had any issues with the bike moving but the tire is supposed to be fully seated in the trough. See pictures. I’m not sure how most people load their bikes but I lift mine over the side rail. I’m fairly tall and my bike is very light so it’s not a big deal. There isn’t a theft issue if you use a cable and lock it to the bed. Even if someone opens the gate or cuts the straps, they can’t steal your bike or the rack. Overall, I would recommend it.”
- Simple installation with no drilling or tools required
- Lightweight and durable construction
- Prevents bike and truck bed from rubbing off each other
- No need to remove wheel since it’s wheel-mounted
- Not exactly low profile since the entire bike remains on the truck bed, meaning less space for other things you might have to transport
Best Truck Bed Bike Rack for Bike Capacity: Demon Tailgate Pad
- Two sizes: small (54″ wide) and large (60″ wide)
- Small holds up to five bikes, large holds up to seven bikes
- 3/4” foam pad with a heavy-duty vinyl cover on the outside
Our second pick is a tailgate pad that comes in two different sizes: small (54″ wide) and large (60″ wide).
The small size fits most small to medium sized pickup trucks whereas large fits most full sized pickup trucks. The small size can hold up to 5 bikes and large can hold up to 7.
We like this tailgate pad because it comes with premium padding to protect your bike and truck and it’s also very easy to use. Not to mention the bike capacity.
The heavy-duty vinyl cover on the 3/4″ foam pad also means it can withstand bad weather conditions pretty well.
Using this tailgate pad is actually quite straightforward. You drape the pad over the tailgate and hook up the 3 straps around the tailgate. You secure it further using the web cinch straps on the pad.
You place your bike over the tailgate with the front fork and wheel just outside of the tailgate and the back of the bike resting on the truck bed.
You secure the bike to the tailgate pad by tying the adjustable hook and loop straps around the bike frame.
If you need to transport your and your pals’ bikes to go an adventure then this is a great fit and it’s also good value for your money.
- Easy to install and use
- Padding to prevent bike from coming in contact with the truck
- Heavy duty vinyl cover can withstand bad weather conditions
- Good value
- There’s a possibility the pad will cover your rear camera. So if you depend on your rear camera while driving then this pad might not be suitable for you.
Best Fork-Mounted Bike Rack: Swagman Pickup Fork Mount Bike Rack
- Holds up to two bikes
- Maximum weight capacity of 35 lbs per bike
- Made of stainless steel
Our pick for the best fork-mounted bike rack is made of stainless steel and supports up to two bikes, each weighing no more than 35 lbs.
Swagman Pickup bike rack comes with a telescoping bar that can be adjusted to fit various truck sizes. Installation is simple and requires no drilling.
As is the case with all fork mount racks, you do have to remove the front wheel of your bike in order to attach it to the bar.
The Swagman Pickup bike rack comes with fork mount blocks, which feature 9mm Quick Release skewers. These skewers secure your bike to the rack and keep it in place.
The fork mount blocks can also be moved along the main bar if you want to adjust the space between two bikes.
This truck bed bike rack is durable and it is fairly easy to use. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in your truck bed since it’s a fork mount rack, which is nice.
The stainless steel construction feels sturdy and high quality.
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Fairly easy installation
- Low profile, doesn’t take up a lot of space on your truck bed
- As with all fork mount racks, you do have to take apart the front wheel of your bike to mount it, which is not very convenient
Best Tailgate Pad: Yakima Gatekeeper
- Two sizes: Medium (53″ wide) and large (62″ wide)
- Medium holds up to five bikes, large holds up to six bikes
- Velcro cradle closure system
This tailgate bike pad is easy to install, easy to use and comes in two different sizes.
The medium size can hold up to five bikes and the large holds up to six bikes. It’s a great tailgate pad for a pickup truck in its simplicity and high quality feel.
You simply drape the pad over the tailgate and fasten the traps to secure it in place. When you want to transport bikes, you place them over the tailgate and use the velcro cradle system which wraps around the bikes’ frames to keep them secured in transit.
The padding in Yakima Gatekeeper helps prevent damage to the bike frame or truck bed that could result from friction. Meanwhile its rugged nylon outer material withstands abrasions and bad weather conditions.
Yakima Gatekeeper is a convenient easy-to-use tailgate pad when you need to transport multiple bikes in your pickup truck.
Its design is meant to be easy on the bike frames and protect your truck at the same time.
- Simple installation and easy to use
- Nylon outer material is good at withstanding abrasions and bad weather conditions
- Might block rear camera depending on the model of your pickup truck
Best Side Clamp Truck Bed Bike Rack: INNO RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack
- Holds one bike
- No drilling required
This low profile side clamp bike rack might be all you need if it’s just one bike you will be carrying. It comes with all the hardware you need and requires no drilling to install it.
This bike rack includes two clamps that attach to the side of your truck bed and one ratcheting strap for each clamp (two ratcheting straps in total).
The straps, located at the end of adjustable rods, secure your bike in place by the front fork and seat stay.
It’s a pretty efficient rack since it doesn’t take up a lot of space on your truck bed and weighs only 4 pounds. It’s also fairly easy to install and use.
- Easy installation with no drilling required
- Low profile
- Good value
- Your bike could wobble on uneven terrain even after securing both straps if you don’t secure them firmly enough. However if the grips of the straps are too tight, this could potentially result in damage to your bike’s paint over time.
Truck Bed Bike Racks: A Buyer’s Guide
Here we will talk about the most important features to pay attention to when picking the best truck bed bike rack for you.
Types of Truck Bed Bike Racks
As you can tell from our picks above, there are different types of bike racks you can use to secure your bike on your truck bed. The main decision you need to make is which type best suits your needs and your truck.
Typically there are 4 different kinds of truck racks; each has strengths and weaknesses.
Fork-Mounted Truck Bed Bike Ramp
Fork-mounted bike ramps are essentially metal rods fitted along the width of a truck bed. They come with fork attachment points and you can secure the front fork of your bike to these attachment points after removing the front wheel.
Fork mount racks are normally quite stable with little movement between bicycles. A fork mount rack is ideal for long trips and trucks with small beds because you have to take apart the front tires. However, it’s also somewhat inconvenient to use for the same reason.
Wheel-Mounted Truck Bed Bike Ramp
With wheel-mounted bike ramps, you secure the bikes by fixing the tires to the truck beds. The good thing about these ramps is that you don’t have to remove the tires to do so.
This makes them fairly convenient to use. You just place the front wheel of your bike in the mount and secure it with a locking arm.
Wheel-mounted bike racks are also easy to install. The downside is these bike racks take up quite a bit of cargo space and are therefore not ideal for shorter trailer beds. The bikes might also shift slightly from side to side in transit since they are only secured via one of their tires.
This is a pad that you lay over the tailgate of your pickup truck. It’s a pretty simple system: you position the bike over the tailgate, with the front wheel and fork just outside of the tailgate and the back of the bike resting on the truck bed.
Tailgate pads comes with velcro straps to secure the bikes and they have padding to protect your bike and your pickup truck.
While tailgate pads offer a pretty efficient and simple way to transport bikes, they are known for being less stable than other bike rack systems. So if you’re going on a bumpy ride with lots of curves and swerves, tailgate pads might not be the best options for you.
Side Clamp Truck Bed Bike Ramp
These bike ramps are fixed to one of the sidewalls of your truck bed. The bike is secured with ratchet holders that clamp unto the bike’s frame.
The good thing about a side clamp bike ramp is that it can be installed and uninstalled fairly easily. So it’s kind of like a low-commitment bike rack. The clamps can also be fixed to other objects to hold them in place.
One downside to these ramps is that most can only hold up to two bikes (but there are some exceptions that allow for 4)
Considerations when choosing the Best Bike Rack for Your Truck Bed
Make sure the maximum number of bikes your chosen bike rack can hold aligns with your capacity needs. Tailgate pads typically come with highest capacity with some able to hold up to 6 bikes.
If your truck bed space is important to you for transporting other things, you should go for a more compact bike rack such as a fork-mounted bike rack or a tailgate pad.
If you expect to go on long trips on relatively uneven terrain, the stability of chosen your bike rack will be key. Fork mounted and side clamp bike racks would be our top picks for stability.
Some bike racks are easy to install and uninstall while others require more of an effort.
If you are looking for a low commitment rack that can be removed easily to make more space on your truck bed, we’d recommend checking out side clamp bike racks.
Features to look for in a bike rack for a truck bed
Your bike rack should come with a good locking mechanism to make sure your bike doesn’t get stolen.
Wheel mounted and fork mounted bike racks are better at preventing theft. They are pretty difficult to remove from the truck bed due to the way they are installed and their lock systems secure bikes nicely.
Tailgate pads offer little protection from theft and side clamp bike racks are fairly easy to remove from the truck so these are also not the best to deter theft.
However, you can invest in a lock yourself to make these racks more secure.
A good bike rack is durable, plain and simple. Regardless of which type of bike rack you go for, make sure its made of durable, high quality materials and components.
We hope this article helps you pick the best bike rack for you and your truck. We presented you with five truck bed bike rack options we believe to be some of the best on the market.
But of course the decision comes down to your personal needs and preferences.
We believe this to be a high-quality and easy-to-use bike rack that will be good to you, your bike, and your truck.