Accessing the rear cargo area with a bike rack installed...
I'm not an owner, yet. But, I am considering a 2015 Unlimited with the stock hardtop as my next vehicle. It will be my daily driver.
I am also a pretty serious cyclist, and routinely carry up to four bikes on a platform - style rack. I'm trying to work out the best way to accomplish this with a Wrangler.
Right now, I'm leaning toward removing the stock spare & carrier from the swing gate. I like the look, and it should help a little with fuel economy, too. Since I never plan to do any serious off-roading (just gravel & dirt farm roads), I'm OK with the risk of not having a spare with me 100% of the time.
My current bike rack (and the one I'd like to transfer to the Wrangler) is a Thule T2. I believe this will work w/o a hitch extension if I remove the spare. (I don't want to use a hitch extension since it reduces the tongue capacity of the hitch by 50%.) I'm not sure if the swing gate will clear the rack (with no bikes installed), though.
Also, with the stock hardtop, can you access the cargo area w/o opening the swing gate (i.e. can you open the rear window with the gate closed)? If so, it doesn't really matter if the gate clears the rack. I can just use the window for access to the cargo area?