Bike Rack Options For Truck Beds: How To Safely & Easily Transport Your Bike

There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.

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Throwing your bike into the back of your truck bed may sound like a quick and easy option for getting to and from the trailhead, but honestly, it’s not a great way to treat your bike. Bikes can easily get scratched and banged up if they’re not secured properly in the truck bed, especially if you’re heading out to rough dirt roads. Thankfully, there are several truck bed bike rack options out there to keep your prized two wheels safe and secure. There are DIY racks (which you’ve probably seen in the back of some of your friend’s trucks), front fork thru axel 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.

Ready to hit the trails? Here are the best truck bed bike rack options including tailgate pads, thru-axel racks, and DIY bike racks.

(There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.)


Tailgate Pads

Tailgate pads are by far the most widely used bike toting option for trucks (at least truck bed options – if you’re looking for hitch racks, check out my post on the best hitch racks for cars and trucks). 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 Considerations:

  • By far the easiest way to transport bikes in the bed of a truck

  • Tailgate pads can easily be removed and installed

  • Can accommodate as many as 6 or 7 bikes

  • Affordable (in the grand scheme of bike rack options for trucks)

This video shows how easy and versatile tailgate bike pads are:

Shop Tailgate Bike Pads

Dakine Pick-Up Pad Deluxe
The Dakine Pick-Up Pad Deluxe is one of the most popular tailgate bike pads out there. It’s easy to install and remove, although it’s so unobtrusive that most people just leave it on their tailgate for the whole season. It comes in two sizes: the large can fit 7 bikes on larger trucks and the small can fit 5 bikes on smaller trucks. Both sizes have an enlarged access flap that works with backup cameras.

If you don’t need the backup camera feature, the original Dakine Pick-Up Pad works just as well.

  • Length: 54 in [S], 60 in [L]

  • Number of bikes: 5 [S], 7 [L]

  • Backup camera compatible?: Yes

  • MSRP: $150

 

 

 


 

Check Price: Competitive Cyclist / Backcountry / Jenson

Fox Tailgate Cover
Another popular tailgate option is the Fox Tailgate Cover. It has velcro fork straps for securing bikes on bumpy rides and it is super durable. It also comes in two sizes – the small can accommodate mid-sized trucks and five bikes while the large fits well on most full-sized pickups and can carry six bikes.

  • Length: 54 in [S], 62 in [L],

  • Number of bikes: 5 [S], 6 [L]

  • Backup camera compatible?: Depends on the truck

  • MSRP: $119.95 – $129.95

 

 

 


 

Check price: Competitive Cyclist / Backcountry / Jenson

Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad
The Race Face T2 is designed to fit any truck tailgate size and shape with their S/M and L/XL pads. The small can fit up to 5 bikes comfortably and the large can fit 6 bikes with no risk of them bumping against each other. The T2 is also compatible with backup cameras and the exterior is a mix of tough, durable nylon and soft micro-brushed fabric to protect your nice shiny bike frame.

  • Length: 57 in [S/M], 61 in [L/XL]

  • Number of bikes: 5 bikes [S/M], 6 bikes [L/XL]

  • Backup camera compatible?: Yes

  • MSRP: $171.95 – $183.95

 

 

 


 

Check price: Competitive Cyclist / Backcountry / Jenson


Fork Or wheel Mounted Truck Bed Bike Racks

Fork or front-wheel-mounted truck bed bike racks are similar in design and style to roof-top car racks, but they fit into the bed of a truck. There are basically two options when it comes to these types of truck bed bike racks:

1) Fork-mounted thru-axel racks where the front wheel is removed OR

2) Tire mounted racks where the wheel stays on

Fork-Mounted, Thru-axle Rack Considerations

  • The mount must be either bolted directly into the floor of the truck bed like the Kuat Dirtbag Mount below or a bolt-on track must be installed. Either way, you’re probably drilling into your truck bed.

  • These truck bed racks involve taking off the front wheel and securing the front fork to the rack with a thru axel. You will have to take the front wheel off each time you use the rack, which gets old real quick

  • They are very secure when bouncing along bumpy roads

  • Truck beds can usually fit two, maybe three, fork-mounted bikes side by side

  • May need different size through axels for different bikes

  • These racks don’t typically get in the way of truck bed activity, so they can be left bolted on at all times.

Shop Fork-mounted racks

Kuat Dirtbag 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.)

  • Requires drilling?: Yes

  • Number of bikes: 1 per mount

  • MSRP: $29

 

 

 


 

Check price: Competitive Cyclist / Jenson / Backcountry

RockyMounts HotRod Interchangeable 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.

  • Requires drilling?: Yes

  • Number of bikes: 1 per mount

  • MSRP: $49.95

 

Check price: Backcountry / Competitive Cyclist / REI

RockyMounts Bolt-On Track
While not required to install thru-axle mounts into the bed of your truck, a bolt-on track like this RockyMounts one 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.

  • 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

 

 

 


 

Check price: Competitive Cyclist / Backcountry / Jenson
***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’s, Chevy Silverado’s, Ford F150’s, Honda Ridgeline’s, and Ford Ranger’s.

Tire-Mounted Truck Bed Rack Considerations

These racks are actually a little hard to find probably because most riders either build their own (see DIY racks below) or opt for a tailgate pad (see above). But they are a good option if you just want to throw a bike or two into the back of your truck and quickly hit the trails.

The only one really worth looking at is the Thule Insta-Gator Pro. It doesn’t require any drilling or securing to the truck bed. Instead, you secure this rack by shutting the tailgate over two plastic anchors and the bike is kept upright by a ratcheting arm.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

Check price: Backcountry / Competitive Cyclist / Jenson


DIY Truck Bed Bike Racks

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.

The most common DIY Truck bed rack is a simple wood frame that holds the front or rear tire steady. You can fit 2-3 bikes in the bed of your truck with this DIY option. A wood frame rack works well in the garage, too!

Other options are a PVC Pipe rack and a DIY Thru Axel Rack.

Wood Frame rack -

 

Wood Frame rack

PVC Pipe rack -

 

PVC Pipe rack

Thru Axel Rack -

 

Thru Axel Rack

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?

  • How secure do you need your bikes to be? Thru-axel racks are the most secure while front/rear tire racks are much less so


Do you use a truck bed bike rack? Which one and what are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment below!

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