The Subaru Forester is one of the most popular compact SUV among passionate cyclists. This is because the Forester offers a good compromise between style, 4×4 performance, and practicality.
In addition to this, there is an excellent selection of aftermarket accessories that can be fitted onto the Subaru Forester that will make your outdoor expedition even more enjoyable. For a cyclist, one of these accessories is definitely a hitch mount bike carrier.
If you are in the market for a hitch mount rack, you will probably wonder what the best Subaru Forester bike rack is.
The bike racks that I recommend for the Subaru Forester owners are either the Allen Sports Deluxe+ Quick Release, the Thule Apex XT, or the Hollywood Racks Destination. These three models are hitch mounted bike racks suitable for high load capacity and are priced reasonably. These are great affordable options for most Subaru Forester owners to safely haul their bikes from point A to point B. As you look at the available mounted bike carrier, try to find something that will be easy to use, suitable to your bike type and the number of bikes you need to carry.
In the rest of this article, I’ll give more information on the top 3 models I recommended above.
The Allen Sports Deluxe+ Quick Release Hanging Hitch Rack
Suppose you’re looking for a solid-quality car bike rack for your Subaru Forester that won’t break the bank. In that case, the Allen Sports Deluxe+ Quick Release Hitch Rack is our favorite budget-friendly option.
The Allen Sports racks are hanging racks where the bike’s top tube or the adapter bar hangs onto the carry arms of the bike rack. Similar to other hanging racks in the market, it is smaller and lighter than platform racks, which can get up to 100 pounds.
The hanging Allen Sports rack weighs just 26 pounds and can easily take on and off the car.
The Allen Sports Deluxe+ Quick Release features a locking knob that tightens the rack to the receiver hitch for a wobble-free installation. The main mast can be quickly tilted away for easy access to the lift gate. The carry arms are also foldable when the rack is not in use.
The Allen Sports Deluxe+ can safely carry up to five 35 pound bikes, depending on which model you get. Each bike is individually tied down to a rubber padded cradle and secured using buckle straps.
One drawback of the hanging rack is that it holds the bikes more tightly together, making it a bit of a puzzle than the platform racks. The Allen Sports has between 5 and 6 inches between the cradles, so frame contact is almost inevitable.
Suppose you are do decide on the Allen Sports. In that case, I highly recommend you read my full post on how I keep my bikes from scratching and damaging one another during the transport.
Overall, at a price range between $97 to $150, the Allen Sports Deluxe+ is by far the cheapest hitch mount rack on the market. It presents a great value to those who are infrequent users and are not concerned with security or frame damage.
The Thule Apex XT Hanging Hitch Rack
The Thule Apex XT is our favorite mid-priced arm-style hitch bike rack, compatible with 1.25″ and 2″ receivers. It has many nice features that already come with it. It can hold up to a total of two bikes, but if you need to carry more, there’s also a four bike as well as a five bike version available.
At just about 35 pounds, the Apex is easy to lift on and off for just about anyone. The Apex features a tool-free installation design so you can quickly put it on and take it off the rack.
The question that we get asked all the time with the Thule Apex XT bike rack on Subaru Forester is if you’re still going to be able to have full access to your hatch. The answer is yes, the Thule Apex XT will allow you to fold it down out of the way using a lever and provides more than enough room to get just about anything we need in and out of our Subaru.
One of our favorite features of this rack is that it holds the bike in three different spots. The first two are the adjustable cradles where the bike top tube sits and is secured with ratchet straps. The third is the anti-sway cradle and straps that offer another anchor point on the seat post, so the bikes sway less when the car is moving, making the bikes less likely to hit each other.
Most hanging bike racks we’ve tested, such as the Yakima and Saris, have about five to six inches of space between each bike cradle. The Thule Apex XT offers seven inches of space between the cradles. While an inch or two might not sound like much, it does make a huge difference when you’re trying to adjust how the bike sits on the carrying arms without the handlebars interfering or the pedals getting stuck in the spokes.
In terms of the security aspect of the Apex, it comes with an integrated cable lock, so you don’t have to worry about your bike being stolen when you make a pit stop on the way to the trails.
It also comes with a built-in anti-rattle device that eliminates the play in the connection point, so you don’t have to worry about the rack wobbling or rattling while the car is in motion.
How much will the Thule Apex XT extend the Subaru Forester? The 2020 Subaru Forester has an overall length of 182.1 inches. Measuring from the hatch to the outermost end of the rack with the carrying arms up is about 28.5 inches. The carrying arms folded down is about 14.5 inches. So the overall length of your Subaru will be 210.6 inches with the carrying arms up and 196.6 inches with the carrying arms folded down.
The Hollywood Racks Destination Platform Rack
Unlike other $500+ platform bike racks, the Hollywood Racks Destination does not have all the bells and whistles. However, it does get your bikes from point A to point B safely. The Destination is super-compact and lightweight, weighs only 42 pounds!
The Destination will work with a 2 inch hitch receiver. It comes with an anti-rattle bolt to prevent movement and play during transport. And it also comes with a lock to prevent anyone from removing the bike rack from the hitch.
Each bike is anchored by three ratchet-style straps. The center one is rubber padded and holds the bike frame to the center mast. The strap is also rubber padded, so you don’t have any wear and tear.
The main feature of this frame holder is that it is adjustable 360 degrees, so it can carry any type of bike regardless of the frame style, suspension, or size of the bike.
Like the frame holder, the wheel straps are also rubber padded to avoid harm to the wheels. The wheel cradles are not adjustable along with the platform; however, you will still be able to carry bikes up to 48-inch wheelbases without any problems.
It is designed to fit a 3-inch tire, so if you have a fat bike, this bike rack will not be a fit for you.
When your rack is not in use, you can fold the center mast left or right by loosening a knob, disengage the anchor, and fold it down onto the platform and against the vehicle.
Let’s touch on bike spacing. Some bike racks make it difficult, especially when loading and unloading your bikes. It always seems like the bikes are making contact with one another during the process.
Although you still need to adjust your crank to avoid contact, this bike rack allows 7 inches of spacing from frame holder to frame holder. I’d say we’ve got some good spacing here, and we don’t have to worry about the bikes harming one another during the transport.
The most significant limitation to the Destination is that you will have limited access to the rear hatch with bikes loaded on the rack since the rack cannot be tilted down.
Next, let’s take a look at the dimensions, so it gives you some idea of how much longer it’s going to add to your Subaru Forester. With the rack down and measuring from the center of the hitch pinhole to the outermost point of the rack is about 43.25 inches. So the overall length of your Subaru will be 225.35 inches long when the rack is in use.
Now with the rack folded up against the vehicle and measuring from the center of the hitch pinhole to the outermost point of rack is about 16.5 inches. So the overall length of your Subaru will be 198.6 inches long when the rack is not in use.
Choosing Between These Three Models
All three bike racks are from very reputable manufacturers and have excellent durability ratings that you can’t go wrong. For me, I would less likely to choose a hanging bike rack as I am a big fan of the tray-style bike racks because, in my opinion, it is much easier to load the bikes, and it holds the bicycles more securely.
So if I were forced to choose between these 3 bike racks, I’d probably pick the Hollywood Racks Destination hitch mount bike rack. It’s $50 cheaper than the Thule Apex XT. It only weighs 7 more pounds than the Apex and 16 pounds more than the Allen Sports. It has the same frame holder spacing as the Apex and is 2 inches more than the Allen Sports.
Those factors would probably make me pick the Hollywood Racks Destination as my top choice.
There Are Other Great Options Available
Obviously, there are many more bike racks that you should consider for your Subaru Forester. Kuat makes some especially impressive, sleek-looking bike racks with all the bells and whistles. The problem with the Kuat bike racks is that they are simply way overpriced compared to the competition.
For example, the Kuat Transfer v2 3-bikes version starts at $549, and the Kuat NV 2.0 2-bikes starts at $849! That’s $150 to $450 more than the Hollywood Racks Destination that can carry up to 4 bikes. The Kuats are really nice bike racks, but there is no way for me to justify paying $500+ for a bike rack.
Roof mounted bike racks are also popular amongst Forester owners. The problems with the roof racks are that you are limited to carrying two to three bikes and will require you to lift the bikes overhead to load and unload.
How to securely lock a bike to your new Subaru Forester bike rack?
When on the road, it’s best to keep your bikes in sight at all times, even while it’s on the bike rack. Theft is always a possibility while you are traveling.
And depending on your bike rack, it may or may not come with an integrated cable lock to lock the bikes to the rack. If it’s not included, be sure to buy a lock since the bikes are only strapped to the bike rack, it makes your bike extremely vulnerable to grab and dash theft.
Similar to locking your bikes at public places, make sure to lock the bikes to the most immovable object available on the bike rack that cannot be lifted over. And remember, the rule of thumb is you always want to lock your bikes in order of value, generally your frame first, then back wheel, and finally the front wheel.
A popular method is to use a U-lock to capture the immovable object on the bike rack. The U-lock shackle also acts as an anchor for the double looped cable that captures the frame, rear, and front wheel.
Another way is to use a cable lock to lock the wheels and the frame to the bike rack.
Here are 5 tips on how to prevent your bikes from thieves when traveling:
Tip #1: For Subaru Forester owners with a hitch mount bike carrier, always back up your vehicle against a wall, fence, or hedge at the pitstop. This will act as a deterrent and make it harder for thieves to steal.
Tip #2: While you sit and dine, always park where you can see your car and your bikes. Fast food restaurants tend to be easier than sit-down restaurants since the parking lot will be right outside.
Tip #3: If you are traveling with someone else, take turn using the restroom while the other person stays behind to watch over the bikes.
Tip #4: At night, take the bikes inside the hotel or lock the bikes to the bike rack or an immovable object. Trust me, you don’t want to find your bikes missing when you wake up in the morning. For added protection against weather and deterrence against theft, you can cover up the bikes with a waterproof bike cover, thus adding an extra step for the thieves.
Tip #5: Make sure your hitch mounted bike carrier is securely locked to the vehicle. Do yourself a favor and get a trailer hitch receiver pin lock.
Let’s be honest, sometimes you just have bicycles that will not fit in your Subaru Forester, no matter how you adjust the seats or remove the bike wheels. Or maybe your bike can fit into the Forester just fine, but you don’t want to tear up the inside with a rugged, muddy bike.
Either way, don’t worry. The best way to safely haul your bikes with your Subaru Forester is to invest in a hitch mounted bike carrier for a few hundred bucks, which might seem like a lot, but it’s a smart investment. The three bike carriers I recommended should be able to do the job without breaking the bank.
Of the 3 recommended bike racks, I highly recommend the Hollywood Racks Destination. This super lightweight and easy-to-use platform hitch mounted rack is the ideal solution for hauling your bikes to the trails on the weekends with your Subaru Forester. And did we mention it only costs $399!?!?
I hope that this article has helped you find the perfect bike rack for your Subaru Forester that fits your needs.