Bike Rack Options For Truck Beds [with DIY Examples]

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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

Tailgate Pads

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.

Truck with seven mountain bikes in back. Front wheels draped over tailgate
Tailgate pads are a popular option for mountain bikers

Tailgate Pad Pros:

  • 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)

Tailgate Pad Cons

  • Don’t work as well for road and gravel bikes because there is usually less clearance between the front wheel and the frame
  • Bikes can get damaged if they’re packed side by side
  • Not a good way to transport bikes long-distance if you plan on doing big road trips
  • Certain tailgate pads might not work on certain trucks. Be sure to take measurements before you buy

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

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

  • Very secure when bouncing along bumpy roads or on long road trips
  • Truck beds can usually fit two, maybe three, fork-mounted bikes side by side
  • These racks don’t typically get in the way of truck bed activity, so they can be left bolted on at all times.

Thru-axle Rack Cons

  • The mount must be either bolted directly into the floor of the truck bed like the Kuat Dirtbag Mount or a bolt-on track must be installed. Either way, you’re probably drilling into your truck bed.
  • You have to take the front wheel off each time you use the rack, which gets old real quick
  • May need different size through axles adapters for different bikes
  • If the bolt-on mount uses its own thru-axle, you need to keep track of (ie not lose) your bike’s thru-axle

>> Kuat Dirtbag mount

Requires drilling? Yes

Number of bikes: 1 per mount

MSRP: $29

Kuat dirtbag truck bed bike rack 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

MSRP: $50

RockyMounts HotRod

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

RockyMounts Bolt-On Truck Bed Rack

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

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:

  • Don’t need to remove front wheel
  • Depending on rack, they are typically very secure
  • Don’t need to drill into the truck bed

Wheel-mounted rack cons:

  • May not work with road or gravel bikes
  • Need to remove the whole rack if you require full use of the truck bed

>> 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.

Two mountain bikes in back of truck bed secured by Pipeline bike rack
Source: Pipeline Racks

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.

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

More bike gear posts

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

Learn everything you need to know about truck bed bike racks including the best options, pros and cons, different types, and more

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