Towing a bike without a bike rack is a daunting task, especially when driving a sub-compact electric vehicle such as Chevrolet Bolt.
Don't get me wrong, the Chevrolet Bolt is a fantastic vehicle for environmentally-conscious drivers. But unfortunately, its design comes with several trade-offs, such as limited trunk space and virtually no towing capacity. So you can't possibly expect to fit an adult's bicycle into a Chevrolet Bolt, at least not without lowering the back seats. Even then, the chances of your bike sticking out of your car's trunk are above high — it's going to stick out.
That's where the best bike racks for Chevrolet Bolt come into play — bike towing accessories like Saris Bones EX or BV's 2-Bike Carrier Hitch Mount that allow you to transport your bikes by car without having to dismantle your bicycle or invest in a trailer.
Admittedly, bikes are among the most awkward pieces of hardware to transport via a car anyway, regardless of the vehicle's size. Since nobody wants to lose an afternoon cramming a bicycle into the trunk of their car, bike racks provide a relatively straightforward solution to the problem. However, it's worth noting that bike racks aren't one-size-fits-all types of devices.
What you need is a car rack that can fit your Chevrolet Bolt without posing any risk of damage to the bicycles or the car itself. So, we cross-referenced the information found in the Chevrolet Bolt Owner's Manual with several different bike rack models to find ones that fit the Bolt perfectly. However, before we present them, let's address bike racks offered by the Chevrolet Bolt manufacturer, General Motors.
Doesn't GM Offer Bike Racks?
Chevrolet Bolt has a zero towing rating, meaning that it can safely tow zero pounds, as per the manufacturer's specifications. I'm not saying that towing isn't possible because it is; why would the Bolt feature a hitch if it wasn't intended for towing? If you're not sure where the hitch is on a Chevrolet Bolt, it's hidden underneath the backside of your car, and you'll need a mechanic to install the hitch receiver for you.
So, why would you need a hitch receiver if you can't tow? Chevrolet added the hidden hitch so that its customers could add the receiver and use numerous accessories connected via the car's ecoHitch attachment, including hitch-mounted bike racks.
Traditionally, General Motors isn't really at the forefront when it comes to bike rack accessories for their vehicles, nor has it officially produced an in-house bike rack. In contrast, other car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi, offer their own branded bike racks intended for use on their vehicles. Even Tesla offers a roof-mounted bike rack.
GM simply doesn't. The company does sell third-party bike racks, like those manufactured by Thule, for its trucks and SUVs, which leaves subcompacts like Chevy Bolt without a bike-carrying assembly. With that said, GM announced that the 2023 version of Bolt would offer an in-house, branded, hitch-mounted bike rack. However, cycling-loving drivers of older Bolts will have to fend for themselves and purchase any of the aftermarket bike racks.
Best Car Racks for Chevrolet Bolt
Just because Chevrolet Bolt doesn't come equipped with a bike rack doesn't mean that there isn't one on the aftermarket which would suit the electrically-powered automotive thunderbolt. In fact, the market is teeming with bike racks that cater to all vehicle types and models, including sub-compact hatchbacks such as Bolt.
It's just a matter of finding the right product. There are several different bike rack types, but we left the roof-mounted and spare-tire mounts off the list just out of convenience. Truck-bed bike racks aren't even worth mentioning in the same sentence with Chevrolet Bolt. So, without further ado, here are the top picks, along with their advantages and drawbacks:
Saris Bones EX
The Saris Bones series is one of Saris' best-selling trunk-mounted car racks, and the recently debuted Saris Bones EX model is a very welcomed upgrade to the original bike mount. For those that aren't acquainted with the Saris Bones' design, the Bones EX comprises four legs, two that rest on top and two that rest on the bottom of your vehicle's rear, with two arms that carry the bikes.
The redesigned shape of its upper legs allows Saris Bones EX's construction to avoid contact with most spoilers. This design feature offers unparalleled versatility, but it also makes fitting more patience-demanding, as it will take some time to adjust the mount to your own specific vehicle. However, it also makes the Bones EX better suited for hatchback vehicles like Chevy Bolt.
Performance-wise the Saris Bones EX comes in two- or three-carry configurations. The three-bike configuration is capable of carrying three bicycles of up to 35lbs each, with a total load of 105lbs (16/48 in kilograms). That's more than enough capacity for carrying family bikes. Your bikes are secured in place with new premium lops, mounted on a ratchet clasp mechanism that is of exceptional quality and won't damage your bikes.
The downside reported by many users lies in Bones EX's feet. The model features rubberized articulated feet, which are very good at adhering to the car's body and protecting its paintwork. However, they can leave barely noticeable dents if your vehicle's outer panels are made of thin materials.
- It doesn't require a car hitch
- Provides 6.5-inch of space between bikes
- Can load up to three bikes
- Ratcheting Straps
- Tool-free installation
- Assembled out of the box
- Women's and child bikes require top tube adapters
- Bikes sit very close to your vehicle, which could hit the rear of your car
Thule Gateway Pro Trunk Bike Carrier
Thule Gateway Pro is an attractive and very versatile trunk-mounted bike rack that offers an economical and highly secure way to transport your bikes. It comes in both two- and three-bike configurations and fastens to your can using a 6-strap tightening system with padded hooks on the ends to prevent any damage to your vehicle's body or paintwork.
The installation of this rack is pretty straightforward, as it only requires you to adjust its legs according to the vehicle's shape and fasten it via the aforementioned strap system. After that, further adjustments are made via Thule's patented FitDial equipped with a Quick-Fit lever, which allows the rack to adhere to the shape of your vehicle.
Performance-wise, Thule Gateway Pro can carry three bikes of up to 35lbs each, totaling 105lbs. But what really sets it apart from other products is the use of stay-put cradles, anti-sway cages, and carefully positioned bike arms. The latter provides up to 7" of space between bikes, preventing accidental bike-to-bike contacts that could end up damaging your two-wheelers.
Stay-put cradles feature a soft-saddle material that will provide maximum protection to your bike's finish, preventing any dents, scratches, or other damage. But what about your four-wheeler? Thule thought of that too and equipped the rack with anti-sway cages, which keep your bikes securely in place, thus preventing bike-to-bike and bike-to-car contact.
- Relatively affordable
- Prevents bike-to-bike contact
- Extra padding to protect the vehicle's paintwork
- None if you're using it on Chevy Bolt
Thule VeloCompact 926/927
Unlike the Gateway Pro model, which is a trunk-mounted rack type, the VeloCompact is designed for relatively quick and easy mounting via tow ball. Unfortunately, this could pose an issue for the owners of older Chevy Bolts (pre-2022), as Chevrolet doesn't include a tow ball as standard gear — luckily, you can get one at the dealers.
Towball issues aside, the VeloCompact is actually designed to resemble modern roof bike racks, as it supports their weight from the wheels, unlike trunk-mounted types, which support the bikes by the top tube. Sure, there's a securing arm on VeloCompact, but its role is to ensure that the bikes remain in the upright position. So, you get all the benefits of the roof bike rack without actually having to lift the bikes above your head. It's actually a pretty neat concept.
This could pose a problem for other drivers involved in traffic, as the bikes would hinder the visibility of your taillights and turn signals. However, Thule thought of that, and VeloCompact doesn't only come with its own set of tail, indicator, and brake lights but also with its own license plate holder, all connected to a standard 7-pin connector — or any of the adaptors Thule sells separately.
When it comes to loading the bikes, alternating them from handlebar to saddle is the best approach. Of course, this becomes increasingly difficult the more bikes are loaded; loading three mountain bikes may cause some contact overlaps. Still, performance-wise, VeloCompact is comfortably secure and has no flex whatsoever during driving.
- Brilliant mounting mechanism
- Secure bike hold
- Works on a variety of bike styles and frame designs
- Easy bike loading
- Not-so-easy installation
- Not storage-friendly
Allen Sports Premier Bike Carrier Model S102
Weighing just 11.2 lbs, Allen S102 grants a pretty effortless installation, allowing you to save your strength for pedaling up and down the hilly terrains and long climbs. It comes pre-assembled right out of the box, so the only thing you have to do is mount it onto your car, tighten up the straps, and load your bikes. No tools are required.
Likewise, the product wasn't meant as a permanent fixture, so uninstalling and storage are also incredibly easy to perform. The S102 folds into a compact shape which, paired with its relatively low weight, allows for space-friendly storage when not in use. Its overall design fits a variety of different vehicles, including hatchbacks such as the Chevy Bolt, but you should always refer to the product's manual for specific vehicle fit information.
The arms on this model are somewhat short, measuring only 12 inches, but they can easily accommodate up to two bicycles, weighing up to 70lbs total. Attaching the bikes is as easy as attaching the rack itself. Just pop them in tie-down two-component cradles, and you're good to go. Thanks to the rack's design, I'm quite positive that the bike's body won't make contact with your vehicle.
However, we wish we could comfortably say the same about the bike's front wheel; if you don't secure it somehow, there's a possibility that it makes contact with your car's body. This could lead to potential damage, especially when it comes to sedan vehicles. There's also a good possibility that it will cover your taillights and license plates, so there's something to keep in mind.
Otherwise, we're talking about a reliable and relatively affordable rack, so everything we said about it is reflected in its price range.
- Easy to install
- Restricts rear window, tail light, and license plate visibility
Tyger Auto TG-RK1B204B Deluxe
Tyger Auto Deluxe is one of the best-selling racks for the sub-compact vehicle category — Chevrolet Bolt included. One of its main selling points is the increased weight capacity; the sturdy construction of a one-bike model allows the rack to carry up to 55lbs.
Unfortunately, weight capacity doesn't proportionally increase with the number of bikes, as the three-bike model carries only 99lbs, which is a bit substandard for trunk-mounted bike racks. Still, the rack offers additional padding on the sides, which prevent the bike from coming in direct contact with your car, or the rack's frame, which could cause damage to both the car and the bike.
All Tyger Auto Deluxe models feature specially designed cradles made of flexible soft plastics paired with ratchet buckles for easier and more secure fastening. The model also comes with an additional safety strap that doesn't seem necessary at first glance. However, Tyger advises its use — failing to comply will void the rack's limited lifetime warranty, and the company won't cover any damages.
However, the truth is somewhere in between. The additional safety strap secures the front set and the wheel and keeps it from scratching your rear bumper. This actually reveals a design flaw of the one-bike model, which holds the bike tilted but too close to the car's back end. Additionally, all three models hinder rear window visibility.
Those two downsides aside, Tyger Auto Deluxe is a solid bike rack that offers great value for money (as it's very affordable) as long as it's used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- A really simple design
- Straightforward installation
- Can restrict rear window visibility
BV Bike Carrier Hitch Rack
BV offers various racks suitable for different vehicle types and personal preferences, but the company maintains a high level of quality in all rack models it offers. For example, BV's 2-Bike Carrier Hitch Mount is a platform-design mount that rests the bikes on their wheels instead of suspending them by a top tube.
The carriers are adjustable by size, making this particular model suitable for carrying children's and women's bicycles safely and comfortably, without any risk of damage. The same adjustability applies to the height of the carrier's hands, which can be adjusted to match individual bike heights. Of course, the hands are padded to avoid any possible damage to your bikes' finish.
Installing the rack is pretty easy since it's compatible with standard receivers. However, a specific design feature separates this rack from other hitch-mounted platform types, and that's back-tilt capabilities. The looped rings will keep the front wheels and, by extension, top sets locked in place. But the back tilt feature allows you to tilt the entire rack back and access the trunk area without actually dismounting the rack.
Unlike regular bike racks, which can be a hindrance during city driving, BV Two-Bike Carrier doesn't have to be. Instead, it's designed to fold upwards when not in use, taking up considerably less space and more suitable for driving in urban areas. BV even made the rack in a way that doesn't cover your license plates when folded.
Performance-wise, each bike is secured by the three-point connection system, which prevents swaying, and doesn't allow bike-to-bike or bike-to-vehicle contact. In addition, it can carry up to two bikes, with a total capacity of 70lbs, which is in line with the industry standards.
- Made of steel
- Has back-tilt ability
- Very secure
- Driving on round terrain may cause vibrations that could damage your bike's body paint
Hollywood Racks Express
Hollywood Racks' Express model was apparently named after its installation process since it's very intuitive, straightforward, and doesn't require previous knowledge of any sort. However, it does require some adjustments in terms of tilt. Nevertheless, the rack comes pre-assembled and ready to use right out of the box.
Hollywood Racks included super-long nylon straps for fastening purposes, and we strongly advise against shortening them — it's most people's first instinct when dealing with super-long fasteners. They're attached to the car's body via rubberized hooks, which prevent damage, and though the fastening straps are borderline-unreasonably long, cut them down to size only after using the rack a couple of times. As we said, adjusting will take some time.
The Express is made of steel alloys and aluminum pars, which cut down its weight to mere 10lbs — paired with a foldable design, Express is incredibly storage-friendly. When it comes to loading your bikes, the Express comes in two options two- and three-bike carrying options (called Express 2 and Express 3, respectively). Both options feature anti-sway cradles that securely hold your bikes in place, preventing them from coming into contact with your Bolt.
The rack's maximum capacity is standard 35lbs per bike, totaling 70lbs and 105lbs, depending on the model you select. The manufacturer specifically stated that the product should be used on e-bikes, as they're usually bulkier/heavier than average pedal-powered bicycles. Additionally, kids' and ladies frames are likely to require a top tube adapter to fit on the rack.
- Quite affordable
- Incredibly simple to install and remove
- No extra padding to protect the bikes
- Can restrict rear window visibility
These seven car racks are among the highest-rated products that allow you to transport bikes by car without spending an entire afternoon cramming a bicycle in your trunk. Bolt has a limited trunk capacity, and while I'm not saying that it isn't possible to cram a bike in there, it's something I'd definitely advise against. Instead, invest in a good bike rack, and save yourself the hassle and the headache.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding