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How to Choose a Bike Rack That Will Clear a Rear Mounted Spare Tire or Bumper

Hitch-mounted bike rack on Toyota FJ

Many SUVs carry a spare tire on the back of the vehicle. If you want to use a hitch-mounted bike rack on such a vehicle, you have to make sure it will clear the spare. The following information can help you find a rack that will work with your vehicle and spare.

You need to know two measurements:

  1. Required clearance of vehicle - center of hitch pin hole to outer edge of spare tire
  2. Bike rack clearance - distance from center of hitch pin hole to the upright mast or the first wheel hoop, depending on the kind of rack

Vehicle Clearance

To determine the amount of clearance your vehicle requires, you need to measure. This requires a measuring tape and a straight edge, such as a dowel rod or a yardstick.

Step 1

Positioning vertical dowel rod for bike rack clearance

Hold the dowel rod or yardstick vertically against the back of your spare tire, making sure that the end of the straight edge extends lower than your hitch pin hole.

Step 2

Using tape measure to get distance from hitch pin hole to back of spare tire

Use the tape measure to find the distance from the center of the hitch pin hole to the straight edge (in inches). Be sure to form a 90-degree angle between your tape measure and your straight edge. This measurement is the minimum clearance your bike rack will need to clear your spare tire.

Bike Rack Clearance

We list the clearance for our bike racks in our product specs. If the clearance given for a particular bike rack is greater than your vehicle clearance, you're good to go. That bike rack should work on your vehicle.

Hanging-Style Bike Racks

Hanging style hitch-mounted bike rackDistance from hitch pin hole to upright mastDistance from hitch pin hole to upright mast

On this style of bike rack, the clearance is measured from the center of the hitch pin hole in the shank to the part of the upright mast that is closest to the vehicle. Usually the mast is a straight, vertical bar. However, some bike racks have parts at the top of the mast that are positioned closer to the vehicle. These parts could include a hinge that allows the support arms to be lowered or a platform that lends extra support to the arms. The clearance value usually given is the distance to the mast or to one of these other parts, whichever is closer to the vehicle.

Platform-Style Bike Racks

Platform style hitch-mounted bike rackDistance from hitch pin hole to closest edge of the first wheel hoop

The clearance on this style of rack is measured from the center of the hitch pin hole in the shank to the closest edge of the first wheel hoop.

Updated by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 7/6/18

Deanna L.


My husband has 2022 defender with spare tire. We’d like to get the kuat 2.0 for 2 bikes with existing hitch. Clearance from hitch to outside tire is 13”. Will the kuat work? If not, please let me know of an alternative setup. We have 2 electric bikes. Thanks!

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


The Kuat NV 2.0 measures 11-3/4" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the closest part of the rack when it's in the regular position. While that won't be enough to clear your spare tire, Kuat does have the Pivot 2 # PVP20B which places the hitch pin hole for your bike rack out another 12-3/16" plus it gives you the ability to swing the entire bike rack out of the way so that you can gain complete access to your rear hatch area.

Donnie P.


@JonG, I have the exact same situation. How did this setup work for you? Thanks, Donnie

Les D.


The Swagman # S63400 has 14-1/2 inches from hitch pin hole to upright bar. It will also hold two bikes weighing 35 pounds each.
See All (7) Replies to Deanna L. ∨

Marek S.


I have 2011 Toyota RAV4 (with the spare tire on the back). I'd like to install a hitch and a bike rack to carry two electric bikes weighing 65 lb each. So I'm thinking about the Hollywood Sport Rider for electric bikes (HR1500) and the hitch #C13149. Would this combination work or would the spare tire be in the way? If not, what else could I do? Note: If necessary, I can reduce the weight of each bike below 60 lb by removing the batteries.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


I'm not sure if that would be the best combo for you. When we installed the Curt # C13149 hitch on a 2011 RAV4 we measured a little over 6" from the center of the hitch pin hole to the outermost edge of the spare tire, and the Sport Rider for Electric Bikes # HLY84FR (HR1500) that you mentioned measures 7-1/2" to the closest part of the bike rack. So the bike rack will fit but I think your pedal and/or handlebar on the closer bike might have issues. If your electric bikes don't have fenders then I recommend checking out the RockyMounts MonoRail # RKY10004. Please note that you should be removing your batteries regardless of whether or note you're trying to save weight simply to help protect them from any vibrations from the road.

Marek S.


Can I use a hitch extension like Yakima StraightShot 7-1/4 " or Rocky Mounts 8" extension for 2 inch hitch between Curt Trailer Hitch #C13149 and Hollywood Sport Rider hitch for electric bikes (HR1500) on my 2011 Toyota RAV4?
Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


@MarekS You can use an extension like that, just be mindful that most bike rack manufacturers say the warranty is voided if you use an extension that they didn't make and extensions like this will reduce the weight rating of the trailer hitch by 50%. This shouldn't be an issue for your case but it's still worth knowing.
See All (4) Replies to Marek S. ∨

Carolina B.


Hi! I have a 2020 rav4 and we're planning on attaching a spare tire in the back eventually. Is there an option for a 2 bike rack, hitch mount that works now without the spare tire and that will still work once we attach the spare tire? Thanks!

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


Are you able to estimate how much clearance you think you'll need? If you are going to get one the same size as what you currently have then try adding the width of your current tire to the back door and double check for clearance. Let me know what you're looking at when it comes to that clearance measurement and I can see if we have anything that will work.

Janet K.


I have an older style Toyota RAV4 with the spare tire on the back. My vehicle clearance is 6”, or just a hair under that. I only need to carry one bike. (Or 2 bikes on rare occasions.) I am open to either style of bike rack: hanging or platform. Bonus if no tools are required to install the bike rack. I have a 2” hitch. Thanks for any help you can give me.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


We do have a selection of bike racks that fit your description. We have options as cost-effective as the Swagman Titan # S63400 but then also options that go up to the Hollywood TRS # HR3000 or even the Kuat NV 2.0 # NV22B which has the tool-free installation that you mentioned.

Joe K.


Does anyone have a picture of a Kuat Pivot Drivers side option on a Jeep Wrangler? I like the idea of bikes on the left and foot opening to the right I think but wanted to see it first as every picture I see seems to show a passenger side option.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


We don't have any videos or photos of the Driver's side Pivot 2 # PVD20B on a Wrangler but we do have a handful of photos and videos on other vehicles that you can check out.



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