What’s the best bike rack for a Subaru Outback?
Pop “Best Bike Rack For Subaru Outback” into your search engine of choice and you get over 800,000 results.
Now, I’m certain that some people will have the diligence, spare hours, and total lack-of-something-better-to-do to go through that entire list to find the rack that’s absolutely the right one for them. But, if you’re like me and don’t have time to burn, what you’re really wanting is a shortlist of the Best of the Best plus a recommendation for the best bike rack for your Outback.
Pick the rack you want. Get it shipped. Head off in your Outback with bikes securely fastened on ready to start your next big bike expedition.
So, I’ve been doing some research online for you to find the best bicycle racks available. I’ve chosen these according to their key features and benefits, and also to customer feedback. Let’s take a look now, shall we?
Quick Answer = our recommended bike racks for your Subaru Outback:
What are the options for your Subaru Outback?
There are plenty of great bicycle racks on the market and it can be difficult to choose between them. So, I’ve narrowed the many options down to a shortlist of the racks that I believe are the best. Let’s go through these now.
Best hitch bike rack for Subaru Outback
Kuat NV Base 2.0 Bike Hitch Rack
If you’ve got a hitch mount on your Outback, then I’d suggest you get this bike rack style. Let’s take a look and see why this is our pick for Subaru bike rack.
The Kuat rack carries 1 or 2 bikes – there’s also a handy extra accessory, the Kuat NV 2.0 Bike Hitch Rack Add-On, which increases the capacity of this rack so that it can carry 3 or 4 bikes on your Subaru. There are two racks available, to fit either a 1.25″ or 2″ hitch mount on your Outback.
We’ll discuss roof-mount bike racks shortly (I don’t like them!), but it’s interesting to note how trunk or hitch bike carriers compare to roof-mounted racks in terms of their fuel-efficiency. Bike racks that fit to the rear end of a car, are vastly more aerodynamic because they don’t change the dimensions of the vehicle as it goes into the headwind. On the other hand, a roof rack plus bikes can almost 2x the car size, and therefore generate a massive amount of drag. This extra drag, over the distance traveled, makes a big (negative) difference to fuel consumption.
The rack carries up to two bikes (total of 120 lbs) and secures them with arms that fit onto the wheels (handy for carbon frame bicycles). Two aspects that I really like with the rack are:
- The tilt feature
- Its low above-ground height
The foot-activated tilt is great for when you’ve got your hands full and need to lower the rack down from its upright stowed position. Simply push the button at the base of the rack with your foot and the rack gently lowers itself down ready to accept a bike. It’s very cool and it’s the kind of feature that makes you want to buy something just because it has this feature.
The low ground height the aspect of this bike rack that I really believe is the biggest benefit. If you try and lift a bike up onto a roof rack you’ll realize how hard this is and how likely it is that you’ll drop your bike before it’s safely stowed. In comparison, lifting a bicycle around a foot or so up to install onto a rack like this much easier. Plus there’s less chance of causing damage to you or the car. Which, I think, is a bonus.
Trunk mount bike rack for Subaru Outback
If you don’t have a hitch, then a trunk-mount rack like this one is a great choice for your Outback. Team it up with a Saris Bones rack lock and you’ve got a great bike carrying system that is good for 1, 2, or 3 bikes.
I like them because they’re compact to store when they’re off the car, super-easy to fit, and very strong. They get a ton of great reviews from fans.
Fitting is simple. Hold the rack onto your trunk lid (an extra pair of hands comes in handy for this). Then hook the straps into position and tighten them up. That’s it. And, because they’re so easy to fit, you’re more likely to take it off your car when you’re not using it. That might not seem like a big deal, but there are a lot of vehicles that have a damaged rear end from where the driver forgot they had a rack fitted whilst reversing towards an obstacle.
This rack takes up to 3 bikes and Saris also make a rack that holds 1 or 2 bikes.
If you’re needing to fit full-suspension mountain bikes, or women’s bikes, or low-step / step-through bikes…in fact any bike that doesn’t have a ‘standard’ horizontal crossbar, then you need to get a crossbar adaptor. Easy to use and super-simple to fit.
I include this bike rack because, well, I kinda feel I have to because it’s a Subaru rack and it’s manufactured by Thule (who are one of the top rack producers).
I have very mixed feelings about it though.
You see, on the one hand, because it’s Thule and because it’s got the blessing of Subaru, then I’m sure it’s a great product. It seems to be solidly built and will hold your bike securely and safely. It’s also easy to install.
However, there are quite a few downsides to the rack and indeed to all roof-mounted bike racks.
Firstly, you have the issue that this is just the kit that holds your bike. You also have to make sure that you have appropriate roof bars fitted to your car in order to hold the bike rack. So there’s an additional expense right there.
On that point, this is also only a single-bike carrier. If you have more than one bike then you’ll need to buy multiple bike racks. You can see how the cost is climbing rapidly.
Talking of climbing there is another downside to roof-mount racks and that’s the fact that they fit to the roof. Now, if you’re a 7 feet tall, 300 Lb, linebacker then you’ll probably have no problems in lifting up a heavy adult bike above head height and gently positioning it in just the right place on a delicate rack on your car’s roof.
Sadly, we’re not all built like that and, with a rack like this, you can end up either struggling to lift the bike or precariously balanced on the very top of a ladder. Neither option is very safe.
There’s also the issue that it makes your car much taller and this may be something that you forget about until you drive under a low ceiling for example when parking. Crunch! Ugh…doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
How to fit your bike in your car
If you’d like some convincing that you’re doing the best thing in buying a bike rack, rather than just putting your bike in your car, then check out this video. It gives a brief guide to how to fit a bike inside a car for transportation.
So, what’s the conclusion? The answer seems to be that, yes, it’s certainly possible to do. But, is it something that I’d recommend? Definitely not. There’re just too many opportunities to cause damage to your bike frame and the components. Or you could even lose important parts – if you watch right to the end you’ll see what I mean!
Best of the Best bike racks
Thanks very much for joining me to look at bicycle racks. I really hope that this quick guide has given you an understanding of the choices available to you, your bicycle and your automobile. Taking your bike away for cycle rides that are further afield can be great fun and will really expand the cycling opportunities you have, but only if you have the right kit to do so (just like any sport). Run-of-the-mill bike racks can often be okay but, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, then these ones above are, I believe, tough to beat.
Pick the right one for you. Choose ‘Buy Now’ and get out there on your bike!