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  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    Best Car Racks

    Haul more gear, have more fun.

    —Whitney James

  • Photo: Inga Hendrickson

    RockyMounts Brass Knuckles

    BEST FOR: Versatility

    Downhill mountain bike, dirt bike, or beach cruiser? This roof rack ($200) takes all comers. And the sleek profile makes it more aerodynamic than the competition (read: it won’t drag down your gas mileage as much). 

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    Yakima FullSwing

    BEST FOR: Ease of Use

    One bolt is all it takes to install this hanging hitch-mount rack ($499). And with the touch of a button it swings away, so you can get into the back of your car. The sacrifice for that easy access is twofold: bikes with step-through or nonstandard frames require an adaptor to carry, and even with the anti-sway cradles, bikes are more likely to get jostled or scratched than on a platform hitch like the Thule. 

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    Thule EasyFold

    BEST FOR: Strange Cargo

    If you’ve got heavy, pricey, or oddly shaped bikes, or if you’re storage-space challenged, the EasyFold ($700) is the ticket. Folded up, this platform-style hitch rack is about the size of a suitcase. The base unit is rock solid, which, combined with the wobble-free hitch mechanism, keeps bikes from knocking into one another. There’s even a removable ramp for loading and unloading heftier rigs. 

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    Küat Skinny

    BEST FOR: Fun Hogs

    Long and lean, the Skinny ($389) allows you to maximize roof space by lashing down various odds and ends—fishing poles, waterproof duffels, tents—on either side of the integrated bike rack. Smart: a table-leaf-like midsection lets you increase carrying capacity by 30 percent. Bummer: assembly is easy but not quick, and the bike mount takes standard forks only.