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Throwing your bike into the back of your truck bed may sound like a quick and easy way to get to and from the trailhead, but honestly, it’s not a great way to treat your bike. They can get scratched, dented, or worse.
Thankfully, there are several truck bed bike rack options out there to keep your prized two wheels safe and secure. There are DIY bike racks (which you’ve probably seen in the back of some of your friend’s trucks), front fork thru axle racks that fit inside the truck bed, and heavy-duty tailgate pads that hang over the back (my personal preference).
So whether you’re looking for a permanent truck bed bike rack solution or you want something that can be easily removed, I’ve rounded up a handful of the best options.
Looking for a bike rack for your car or SUV? Head over to my post on bike rack options for cars
Best for mountain bikes, shuttling, when you need to use the truck bed
Tailgate pads are by far the most widely used mountain bike toting option for trucks, but they can be used for other bikes as well (road and gravel).
Tailgate pads can easily be removed from the tailgate when not being used and they can hold up to 7 bikes at a time, which is definitely more than any other truck bed bike rack can accommodate.
So how do they work? You simply strap the pad to the tailgate and drape the front fork and wheel over the top.
The padding protects the bike from scratching against metal and with the front fork secure over the tailgate, the rear wheel is left to stand up on its own. Most pads have velcro straps to hold the fork in place if you’re traveling long distances or driving down particularly rough roads.
Tailgate Pad Pros:
Tailgate Pad Cons
This video shows how easy and versatile tailgate bike pads are:
For more recommendations, head over to my post on the best tailgate bike pads for trucks
Fork-Mounted Truck Bed Bike Racks
Best for all types of bikes, road trips
Fork-mounted truck bed bike racks are similar in design and style to fork-mounted roof-top car racks, but they fit into the bed of a truck. Like tailgate pads, there are pros and cons:
Thru-axle Rack Pros
Thru-axle Rack Cons
>> Kuat Dirtbag Mount
Requires drilling? Yes
Number of bikes: 1 per mount
The Kuat Dirtbag Mount is one of the most popular truck bed mounts out there because it’s simple and cheap. You can mount it directly into the bed of your truck, or some people have mounted it to a secured 4×4 piece of wood.
This mount uses your bike’s front fork axle, so no need to keep track of it while you’re en route. The Dirtbag mount does come in several thru-axle sizes, so make sure you buy the right one (most new mountain bikes are either 15x110MM Boost or 15x100MM, but check the specs on your fork to make sure you order the right size.)
>> RockyMounts HotRod
Requires drilling? Yes
Number of bikes: 1 per mount
The RockyMounts HotRod is similar to the Kuat Dirtbag above, but one mount can actually fit three different axle sizes thanks to the three included interchangeable sleeves. It can accommodate 12×100, 15×100, and Boost 15×110 millimeter thru-axles.
This is a great option if you have multiple bikes with different thru-axle sizes or you ride with buddies that do.
>> RockyMounts Bolt-on Track
Requires drilling? Yes, but see note below for truck-specific models that do not require drilling
Number of bikes: 4 [47”], 5 [60”] (dependant on how handlebars fit side-by-side)
MSRP: $89.95 – $99.95
While not required to install thru-axle mounts into the bed of your truck, a bolt-on track like this RockyMounts Bolt-On truck bed rack allows you to move the mounts around to accommodate more bikes or different-sized bikes.
It comes in two lengths, 47” and 60”. You’ll still need to screw it into the bed of your truck, though. This rack is compatible with the HotRod mount above.
***RockyMounts also makes truck-specific tracks that do not require drilling because they utilize the existing tie-down holes. They have racks for Chevy Colorado, Chevy Silverado, Ford F150, Honda Ridgeline, and Ford Ranger.
Wheel-Mounted Truck Bed Racks
Best for mountain bikes, frequent shuttling
These types of racks are virtually the same as a bike rack you would find in front of a building to park your bike. They’re a good option for mountain bikes, but depending on the rack, they might not work for skinny-tire road or gravel bikes.
Wheel-mounted rack pros:
Wheel-mounted rack cons:
>> Pipeline Racks
Pipeline Racks is a small family-owned business that is making interesting truck bed bike racks that work for a wide range of bikes.
I haven’t tried them personally, but I’ve heard good things about them. Check out their truck bed bike racks here.
DIY Truck Bed Bike Racks
Riders who are handy or on a budget
Last, but not least, there are a few options for really cool and clever DIY truck bed bike racks if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to build your own.
Below are a few DIY bike racks that caught my eye, but there are a lot more great ideas out there.
DIY Truck Bed Rack Considerations:
- How much time and energy do you want to put into building your own rack? You’ll need to buy the supplies, take measurements, cut the wood or PVC, and screw/nail everything together
- Do you have the necessary tools and equipment to build your own rack?
- If bikes get damaged during transit or stolen it may be harder to get insurance claims
- As confident as you may feel with your handiwork, there’s always a chance the design won’t work or it damages your bike
Do you use a truck bed bike rack? Which one and what are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment below!