What are the best cycle carriers for my Explorer?
Search online for “Ford Explorer Bike Rack” and you’ll be confronted with well over 2.5 million pages.
That’s a heck of a lot to wade through. Now, I’m sure there are a few people who are willing to work right through that list from #1 to #2,500,000, weighing up the Pros and Cons as they go, until they eventually narrow it down to the perfect one.
These people have too much time on their hands and nothing better to do with it.
What if there was a different way? How about if someone (let’s call them Ben) spent some time researching the bike racks available for Explorers. Then shortlisted those down to a concise list of the best of the best bike carriers. And, finally, wrote that shortlist up into a handy guide and published it on his website (let’s call it BicycleVolt).
Wouldn’t that be better?
Assuming you agree, let’s dive in and take a look at the elite racks I’ve found that are all perfect for your Ford Explorer.
I’ve chosen these according to two criteria:
- Does it have the features you need for your Explorer?
- Does it get a whole heap of great feedback from real buyers?
Where can bikes be carried on a Ford Explorer?
On an Explorer, there are a total of 3 areas where bicycles can be put. These are:
- Safely and conveniently stored on a hitch rack
- Dangerously high up on a roof rack
- Rammed carelessly into the trunk
Now, you might guess from the wording on that list that I’m keener on the first option than the other two. You’d be right and I’ll tell you why I dislike those so much.
In my time, I’ve done this many times and it’s never ended well. I’ve either broken bits of my bike. Or my car. Or my bike has taken up all the trunk space and there’s been no room for the bags. Not good.
The Explorer measures around 70 inches from ground to roof. If you have a roof rack added on to the top of this it means that you will need to lift your bikes up over your head height to fit them into position. Bikes generally weigh in the region of 30 pounds so it’s no mean feat to lift this over your head and onto the roof…without damaging you, or your car, or your bike.
Potential for major head trauma aside, I’ve got other reasons for disliking roof bike racks and I’ll deal with those later.
So…stashing bikes in the trunk? Hate it. Bikes on the roof? Hate that too.
Which leaves my favorite option for carrying bikes: on a hitch mount rack. Let’s take a look now at my recommended hitch racks for your Explorer.
2-Bike Hitch Rack for Ford Explorer
I’m going to give you recommendations for four different sized bike racks, ranging from 2-bike racks to 5-bike racks. This is the 2-bike hitch rack and it’s a great little cycle carrier that’s packed full with features.
It’s made by Allen Sports who produce a wide variety of amazing racks which always great incredible feedback from users.
This one fits on to both 1.25-inch and 2-inch hitches. Take a look at the Amazon page and you’ll see that there are a few different models to choose from. Of these, I’d recommend the Deluxe Locking rack. It’s only one price level up from the basic model and yet it has a great addition of a hitch lock.
The rack will take a pair of bikes totaling 70 pounds and these are fitted to the rack by hanging the crossbars over the two arms. If you have certain types of bikes that don’t have a standard horizontal crossbar, then you may have struggled with bike racks before? Well, here’s the answer. It’s a crossbar adaptor and it works by joining the handlebar stem to the seat post so that you have a temporary crossbar. It’s then a simple job to fit the bikes to hanging racks. Works great with a range of bikes including full-suspension mountain bikes, ladies’ bikes, low-step/step-through bikes, and kids’ bikes.
One of the things that I particularly like about this rack is its ability to swing the main mast down. Why is this so useful? Well, let’s assume you’re heading out on a road trip with the bikes. You’ve loaded all the luggage in the trunk, hooked on the rack, fitted all the bikes. You’re ready to lock the front door and head out onto the open road….and then someone decides that they absolutely have to get something either in or out of the trunk. AARRRGH!
But this rack just takes it in its stride. Unscrew the bolt and swing mast and bikes down and you can open the trunk. Everybody be cool…
I love the pivoting main mast for its beneficial effect on family harmony, but there’s another feature that I love even more. That’s the rack’s low height from the pavement. I mentioned this aspect earlier but hauling heavy bicycles past head height and trying to lash them to the top of your Explorer is a recipe for disaster. So much easier and safer to lift them knee-high and fit them to this carrier.
Lastly all Allen Sports bike racks have a lifetime warranty. The company has been manufacturing racks since the 60s and they’re so confident that they’ll perform that they’re happy to back them up with this. More details on the Amazon page here.
3-Bike Hitch Rack for Ford Explorer
Ideal for trips with a couple of friends or families with a youngster, this is the 3-bike hitch mount rack from Allen Sports. Same great quality as the rack above and with room for one additional bike.
It can take bikes with a total weight of 105 pounds, which averages out at 35 pounds per bike. As per the 2-bike rack, this will fit hitches with a 1.25in or 2in receiver.
The Deluxe Locking option is the one I’d go with – giving you that security of knowing your rack will stay firmly locked on to your Explorer.
Excellent feedback from purchasers, with lots talking about how simple these racks are to fit and use.
4-Bike Hitch Rack for Ford Explorer
With room for up to four bicycles on its horizontal bars, this is another great hitch carrier from Allen Sports.
Quick feature to point out with the arms is that, when they’re not supporting your bikes, they can be folded down to keep them safely tucked away.
The rack is designed for 2-inch hitch mounts and can be used to carry bikes up to a total of 140 pounds on your Explorer. My recommendation is the ‘Deluxe Locking’ as this comes with a useful benefit of a lock (and two keys) to keep it firmly fixed to your hitch.
Because you’ll always need to get something out of the trunk, or put something in, when you’ve already got the rack and bikes fitted, it has a pivoting main mast. This can be unbolted and swung down so that you can get in. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to use this particular feature!
5-Bike Hitch Rack for Ford Explorer
This is the biggest rack in the Allen Sports hitch mount range and is for people who have too many bikes, too many friends, or too many family members.
It will carry a total weight of 175 pounds of up to five bikes on your Explorer. As with the other racks above, I’d go with the Deluxe+ Locking model (which locks to the hitch mount).
If you haven’t used hitch-mount racks before then have a watch of this video. It shows how easy they are to fit and use. You probably don’t have to be sporting an Allen hat whilst you’re fitting the rack, but I guess there’s no harm in doing so.
This carrier will attach to your 2in receiver and the main mast can be swung down to get stuff into, or out of, the trunk easily. Also, the horizontal bars (for holding the bikes) can be turned downwards when they’re not in use, which keeps them out of the way.
**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore, Bicycle Volt are in no way liable**