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The 3 best rear bike racks

Whether you're an advanced biker or just starting out, having somewhere to store your water, snacks, and other essentials is a must. Not only do the best rear bike racks provide you with the space you need, but they can make long rides way more enjoyable.

The key is to find a lightweight rear bike rack that won't weigh you down — especially when you fill up your bag or backpack. You want to look for a rack that weighs about 2 pounds, yet is sturdy enough to hold a variety of packs and baskets as needed.

You also want to ensure that any rack you go with has the proper mechanisms to hold whatever you want. For example, a lot of standard rear bike racks feature a "clip bar" so you can snap in a cycling pack to keep it from budging. But if you're going on an extra long ride and need to lug along tons of gear, you may want to go with a heavy duty rack that can hold 100 pounds or more.

There's a lot to consider when shopping for the best bike rack. Here are a few top-rated options to help you get on the road faster.

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1. The basic one

With more than a thousand positive reviews on Amazon, this lightweight rear bike rack is extremely sturdy, yet you won't even know it's there. It weighs in at less than 2 pounds and features a hollowed-out frame that's easy-to-install. This rack is compatible with many types of bags, but several reviewers noted that they love using it with the MTX QuickTrack bags, which includes everything from extra-large trunk bags to wire mesh baskets. Just slip your bag of choice over the tracks, snap it on with the clip, and you're good to go. This is a one-size-fits-all rack, so it should work for nearly any wheel size.

One reviewer says: "Great bike rack! Fits easily to bike and Topeak saddle bag slots in perfectly. It keeps bag securely fixed to the bike and also allows for quick release of the saddle bag when needed. Additionally very impressed with the excellent customer service I received from [the company]."

2. The budget one

This affordable rear bike rack is both sleek and easy-to-install, especially for anyone new to outdoor gear. It comes with all the equipment you need to install it onto any bike with 26- to 29-inch wheels, and all the nuts and bolts are made from stainless steel that won't rust in the rain. This rack is also compatible with a variety of bags and baskets, and it can hold up to 55 pounds. One downside: The rack itself weighs a bit more than the previous one (it's 2.2 pounds), but Amazon reviewers attested that it still doesn't weigh you down.

One reviewer says: "Awesome bike rack, super easy to assemble, and great price. Very excited to now have somewhere to secure my bag on my route to work and the gym. Highly recommend!"

3. The one for heavy loads

If you need to carry a heavier load, this heavy-duty rack is an excellent pick. Although the frame is relatively lightweight (at under 3 pounds), it's still capable of holding up to 180 pounds of additional cargo due to the sturdy support legs. The legs on this bike rack are adjustable, so they should fit nearly any bike size. This rack also features a quick-release clip to remove any bag or bungee cords around your cargo for easy access at any time.

One reviewer says: "I had more than a dozen racks and installed many more during my lifetime. This product is sturdy and built heavy duty. If it fits your bicycle, I would recommend it to everyone."

Also useful: A universal bike basket

Not only is this mesh basket extremely functional, but it's also compatible with just about any bike or rack on the market. You can install it directly onto any rear rack, or you can follow the instructions to attach it directly to the back of your bike with zip ties. It's large enough to hold your groceries or books, and it's completely waterproof to boot.

One reviewer says: "We live in Florida and ride our bikes at least 3 times a week. The basket is perfect for carrying anything from towels, groceries, drinks! and it was easy to install."