Any of these varieties will have their benefits and downfalls.
For example, a roof rack may not be ideal for someone who would have trouble lifting their bike above the car. People with limited mobility like to favor the hitch and trunk mounted racks for this reason.
Will You Be Carrying Multiple Bikes?
How many bikes do you need to carry? Would a single roof rack do the trick? Or are you more likely to carpool with people who’ll need a few extra spots?
Some Racks Are Better For Heavy Lifting
It’s a good idea to consider the weight of the bikes you’ll be carrying. Driving with a couple of light road bikes?
A simple rack with a limit of 60 pounds will hold you over fine.
If you have an electric bike, fat bike, or beach cruiser, you’ll need something sturdier.
Will Your Tires Fit?
Another thing to think about with the size of your bike: Tire size!
This isn’t an issue for the slim tires of a road bike. But, any cycle with a chunkier set of rubber will need a rack that will fit your tires.
This won’t stop you from using a trunk mounted rack that hangs a bike by its frame.
If you want a rack that cradles the wheels, you’ll need to make sure the wheel mounts are big enough to hold thicker tires.
Added Benefits of Having a Bike Rack
When you get down to it, a bike rack isn’t about saving space in your car.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to stuff my bike into hatchbacks, trunks, and back seats.
Did it get the job done?
But this isn’t to say the outcome was always awesome.
Every time I jammed my bike into a random space, something was bound to get screwed up when the drive was over.
The derailleur (the device that shifts gears) might skip. The brake pads got thrown out of place.
Not to mention, no one is ever happy to find an imprint of chain grease smeared across their seats.
A good rack can be an effective way to keep your bike and car in good shape.
The Best Bike Racks For The Subaru Outback: Top Choices
Allen Sports Premier Trunk Mounted Bike Rack
This bike rack has the quickest set up on my list. It’s designed to snap into place as soon as you take it out of the box.
I’m a fan because a lot of racks have a complex set up process that requires tools. It’s a bummer to mess around with when you’re itching to get on the road.
A common problem of the trunk-mounted style is the contact pads.
The rack rests against the back of your car and could cause damage if you aren’t careful.
Piling on the weight of a few bikes is a good way to collect dents.
This rack answers the problem with wider pads that distribute the load. Saving your bumper from any abuse.
I’m impressed with the durability of the holding straps on this product.
Other racks I looked into had issues with straps that would become brittle. Once that happens they are bad at keeping bikes in place.
This Allen Sports rack holds tight for a long time so you can embark on lengthy road trips with a calm mind.
The wider contact pads aren’t perfect. They’re made of a rough material that can put some nasty scratches in your paint job.
While this is fixed by covering the pads with tape or foam, the possible need to augment may make this rack less than ideal if you want something that functions the moment you receive it.
All in all, this rack is an appealing crossroads of functionality, reliability, and reasonable cost
Tyger Auto TG-RK3B203S Deluxe 3-Bike Trunk Mount Bike Rack
Sticking to a budget?
This affordable rack boasts a reputation for competitive quality with more expensive products, making it a strong contender as a safe investment for your first rack. I’ve many frustrated friends bemoan the failure of pricey racks that didn’t hold up.
The Tyger Auto seems to hit a sweet spot of low cost and integrity.
The padded contact points on this rack are a forgiving feature that dodges the possibility of scuffing your car’s exterior. Scraping is always a concern with trunk racks.
But, this one does the job without having to resort to modifying the pads with tape.
In combination with the fact that it’s completely assembled at purchase, the quick-install design of this rack reduces setup and makes it a breeze to get out and ride.
One shortcoming the stuck out about the Tyger Auto is the metal hardware that holds it together.
The metal isn’t galvanized, which means that it risks developing rust pretty. Especially if you live in a humid climate.
This hitch-mounted rack makes an easy task of carpooling with its ability to hold up to four bikes.
An unfortunate downside to many hitch racks is the ones worth your time are often in the higher price range.
The cost of this rack is comparable to its more affordable trunk-mounted counterparts. It’s an enticing offer for those of us who want the convenience and stability of a hitch-mounted rack without breaking the bank.
This rack also has an awesome feature that allows you to fold it inward when it’s not being used, so you won’t have to fret with uninstalling it every time you travel without a bike.
The one major shortcoming I found with the Hollywood rack is that it may not fit every bike you need it to.
Coming in at one pound, this light rack is a great consideration in enhancing fuel economy when driving a car that’s already weighed down with the rest of your stuff.
One thing that had me excited about this rack is its locking mechanism. Most of the locks I’ve seen offered with bike racks are cheap wire locks that don’t do much in the way of keeping your bike safe.
The Subaru Genuine has a keyed device that locks your forks into the racks itself, making a difficult task for anyone with the ill intention of stealing your bike. This one stands out among other roof-mounted racks as being one of the most enduring.
As you can imagine, a bike hoisted upon your roof is more vulnerable to gusts than if it were secured behind the car.
Some roof racks have an issue with holding bikes too loosely, allowing them to rattle around. This rack is known for a firm grip that eliminates extra wear and tear.
The real weak point with this rack is that it only carries a single bike. The bars on the roof of your Outback do have enough room to install two of these.
But, the cost of many racks would add up. This wouldn’t be the most affordable option if you plan on carrying more than one bike.
The Subaru Genuine is a solid option for a committed cyclist who favors solo trips check it out Amazon by clicking here.
Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack
This burly hitch-mounted rack accommodates up to 60 pounds for each individual bike. This will allow you to carry heavy models for longer treks.
It hosts a two-way folding that snuffs accessibility issues. You can either fold it when not in use or tilt it away from your car while it’s loaded so you can still pop the hatch open.
Although it’s equipped with two slots, you can buy an extension that allows you to carry an extra two bikes. It’s an awesome perk being able to drop the extra weight if you’re not riding with a big group.
This thing is downright rugged. It’s crafted with heavier materials to keep your bikes snug in place for even the most erratic voyages.
It’s no lie, though, the Thule T2 is a budget-breaker. The price is justified by its hefty construction, the cost of this beast can be off-putting.
The flimsy lock included with the T2 is a bummer. It might seem like this feature implies security.
But, slender cable locks like the one on this unit are no threat to bike thieves.
The rack is sound, but the lock shouldn’t be a selling point.
Bottom line, this rack is a serious piece of equipment and well worth the investment. It’s not my first choice for casual riders, but I would recommend it for bulkier bikes and tackling arduous terrain.
When it comes to bike racks there is a multitude of options that all offer their own perks. You can go all out with a rack built like a bomb shelter, stick to bare bones and sleek design, or anything in between. What any of these characteristics mean rests on your own preferences.
Looking back on the five racks I reviewed, I feel that the Allen Sports Premier Trunk Mounted Bike Rack has the strongest advantages across-the-board. The praise-worthy resilience for serious trips, simple design, and modest price all come together in an attractive package.
Notwithstanding a couple of isolated hiccups with the contact pads and arm length, it is vouched for by seasoned cyclists and weekend warriors alike.
The few negative experiences with this device are overshadowed by consistency and reliability in toting your bike down the coast, across the desert, and into the valley.