How to Install a Hatch-Mounted Bike Rack

April 23, 2019 by Amanda Ellis, @WanderRedFox

Editor’s Note: This walkthrough is intended to serve as a general guideline for installing and using hatch-mounted bike racks. Since most rack systems differ depending on the type of rack or brand, we recommend consulting a product-specific owner’s manual for more comprehensive install instructions.

Like the vehicles they’re attached to, bike rack systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though roof rack-mounted options tend to be the most popular, they’re not always the easiest or most effective method for hauling gear.

Racks that attach to either the hatchback door of a crossover or the pull-down gate of a truck require no permanent modification. They also mean you won’t have to climb across the vehicle to get your bike. And they’re easier to install and remove than other types of racks.

Most rack stores offer to install purchased racks onto customer’s vehicles, but if the rack is bought online or a DIY approach is preferred, this walkthrough will help get the job done.

Determine how many bikes need to be towed: As is standard with any rack system, the number of bikes that need to be hauled is a good start in determining what to buy. Some hatch-mounted racks allow for the transport of a single bike, while others are compatible with three or four.

Yakima Halfback bike rack

Yakima’s Halfback bike rack holds up to two bikes. (Photo: Yakima)

Measure the hatch: Hatch-mounted bike racks are adjustable for a wide variety of hatch sizes, but it’s important to know a trunk’s dimensions in case the rack is classified in specific sizes. It’s vital to have a correct fit as opposed to forcing the wrong size to function properly.

Install the rack: This type of rack is easy to install using a combination of support bars and straps, without the need for extra tools. First, place the rack on the partly opened hatch, resting the upper bars on top of it.

Next, hook the rack’s upper straps to the top edge of the hatch and tighten. Repeat this step for the lower and side straps, tightening each section after securing their position. The rack should now be secure.

Test the mount: We recommend testing the security of the rack by placing bikes into it and checking its fit. The bikes should be secure enough to hold a sturdy position on their own without making the rack sag or droop.

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