How to Choose the Right Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack for a Subaru Crosstrek?

Bike enthusiasts who also own a Subaru Crosstrek face a unique challenge – finding the perfect hitch-mounted bike rack. A quick online search will reveal an ocean of options, but how do you know which rack is the best fit for your car and your bikes? This article is your comprehensive guide to finding a hitch-mounted bike rack that offers the best compatibility with your Subaru Crosstrek. We will delve into the major brands like Thule and Yakima, compare prices, review the top models, and even discuss the difference between roof carriers and hitch-mount racks.

Considerations for Choosing a Bike Rack

When looking for a bike rack for a Subaru Crosstrek, there are several factors to contemplate. This section will address your vehicle’s compatibility, bike capacity, accessibility, and the ease of installation of the rack.

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Vehicle Compatibility

First and foremost, the rack must fit on your Subaru Crosstrek. Subaru Crosstreks come with a standard 1.25-inch hitch receiver. This means that any hitch rack designed for this size will be compatible. Brands like Thule and Yakima have a variety of options that fit this specification.

Bike Capacity

Another primary consideration is the number of bikes the rack can carry. Standard hitch-mounted racks typically accommodate between two to four bikes. If you’re a family of cyclists or frequently travel with friends, opt for a rack that can carry more bikes.

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A hitch-mounted rack should not hinder access to the vehicle’s cargo area. Certain designs, like the swing-away style, allow the rack to swing out of the way for full cargo access even when bikes are mounted.

Ease of Installation

Lastly, the installation process should be straightforward. The majority of hitch racks are tool-free, meaning you can set them up and take them down with ease.

Thule or Yakima – Which Brand to Choose?

Thule and Yakima are two of the leading brands in bike racks. This section will provide a detailed view of both brands, their popular models, prices, and user reviews.

Thule Bike Racks

Thule is a reputable brand known for its high-quality bike racks. Models like the Thule Apex XT, known for its excellent security features, and Thule T2 Pro XT, recognized for its flexible design, are among the top picks for Subaru Crosstrek owners. These racks are known to fit perfectly on the Crosstrek’s hitch, providing secure transport for your bikes.

Thule racks, however, come at a premium price. But for many bike enthusiasts, the durability, design, and brand reputation justify the cost. User reviews praise Thule racks for their robust construction, security features, and ease of use.

Yakima Bike Racks

Yakima is another leading brand in the bike rack industry. Its popular models include the Yakima RidgeBack and Yakima Dr. Tray. These models cater to different user needs, with the RidgeBack offering a more affordable option, and Dr. Tray boasting a lightweight design and excellent bike protection features.

Yakima racks are generally more affordable than Thule. That said, they don’t compromise on quality or functionality. User reviews highlight their easy installation, sturdy construction, and the brands’ excellent customer service.

Hitch-Mounted vs Roof Carrier Bike Racks

Beyond the hitch-mounted bike racks, you may also consider roof carrier bike racks. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll explore in this section.

Hitch-mounted bike racks are straightforward to install, easy to load and unload, and do not affect the vehicle’s aerodynamics or fuel efficiency. However, they can obstruct rearview visibility, and the added length to the vehicle may impact parking and maneuvering.

Roof carrier bike racks, on the other hand, do not affect rear visibility or add length to the vehicle. They also allow for more versatility, accommodating other gear like kayaks or cargo boxes. Nevertheless, they can be challenging to load, especially for shorter people or heavier bikes, and negatively impact the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and stability at high speeds.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

The final aspect to consider before making a purchase is the cost-benefit analysis. This involves weighing the price of the rack against its features, durability, and the value it adds to your biking experience.

Thule and Yakima offer a wide range of prices, with Thule generally being the more expensive option. However, both brands often justify their price tags with durable designs, secure bike mounts, and advanced features.

Remember, a higher-priced bike rack often means better quality, longevity, and security. Therefore, investing in a good rack can save you from potential damage to both your bikes and your vehicle in the long run.

At the end of the day, the decision comes down to your personal needs, preferences, and budget. Whether you opt for a hitch-mounted or a roof carrier, Thule or Yakima, the ultimate goal is to safely transport your bikes wherever the trail may lead you. The right rack for your Subaru Crosstrek is out there, waiting for you.

Detailed Reviews of Top Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks for Subaru Crosstrek

It’s high time we deep-dived into specific bike rack models that are acclaimed for their compatibility with Subaru Crosstrek. We will be examining two hitch bike racks each from Thule and Yakima, focusing on their features, installation process, bike carrying capacity, security, and price.

Thule Apex XT Bike Rack

The Thule Apex XT is a premium hitch bike rack that stands out for its exceptional security features. This model can accommodate up to four bikes, boasting an integrated cable lock and auto-attach knob for added safety. The rack’s anti-sway cradles mitigate bike-to-bike contact, ensuring your bikes remain unscathed during transit.

Installing the Thule Apex XT is a breeze, given its tool-free installation design. The bike rack fits perfectly on the Subaru Crosstrek’s standard 1.25-inch hitch receiver, ensuring a secure fit. Despite being on the pricier side, the Thule Apex XT is often lauded in user reviews for its robust construction, longevity, and user-friendly design.

Thule T2 Pro XT Bike Rack

The Thule T2 Pro XT is another top-tier bike rack that offers a flexible design. Capable of carrying up to two bikes, this frame mount design secures the bike at the wheels, protecting the frame. Moreover, the rack features a ratcheting arm, eliminating the need for frame contact.

Like the Apex XT, the T2 Pro XT fits the standard Subaru Crosstrek trailer hitch without requiring any tools for setup. User reviews often praise the rack’s durable construction and ease of use. While it’s a premium-priced product, the quality it offers is unmatched.

Yakima RidgeBack Bike Rack

The Yakima RidgeBack is an affordable bike carrier that does not compromise on quality. It can carry up to four bikes, featuring an upper hand lever that tilts the rack down for easy vehicle access. It also comes with an anti-sway cradle design to prevent bike-to-bike contact.

The RidgeBack fits the 1.25-inch hitch receiver of Subaru Crosstrek, promising a snug fit. Users often compliment its sturdy construction, easy installation, and the brand’s excellent customer service in their reviews.

Yakima Dr. Tray Bike Rack

Lastly, the Yakima Dr. Tray is renowned for its lightweight design and excellent bike protection. This hitch bike rack can carry two bikes, with an option to expand up to three with a sold-separately add-on. Moreover, it boasts a tool-free installation process, making it a breeze to mount on your Subaru Crosstrek’s hitch.

The Dr. Tray is appreciated in user reviews for its easy setup, strong build, and excellent bike protection. While not as low-cost as the RidgeBack, it offers immense value for its price.


Choosing the right hitch-mounted bike rack for your Subaru Crosstrek boils down to several crucial factors including vehicle compatibility, bike capacity, accessibility, ease of installation, brand reputation, and of course, price. Both Thule and Yakima offer a range of durable, secure, and easy-to-use bike racks that fit the Subaru Crosstrek perfectly.

Our detailed reviews of the top models from these two brands—Thule Apex XT, Thule T2 Pro XT, Yakima RidgeBack, and Yakima Dr. Tray—should provide you with a good starting point in your search. It’s important to remember that while you might have to shell out more for a premium rack, the quality, longevity, and security it offers can save you from potential damage to both your bikes and your vehicle in the long run.

Ultimately, the right bike rack for your Subaru Crosstrek is the one that meets your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Happy biking!