Best roof bike racks for cars 2023 – Comparing the best of the integrated bike rack choice | Cyclingnews
The best roof racks are one of three options in the broadest spectrum of mounting your bike to the outside of your car, along with trunk-mounted and hitch-mounted bike racks.
Here at cyclingnews, we already have a general list covering the best bike racks for cars, but we also wanted to dig a little deeper into the specific subtypes. We’ve previously covered the best trunk bike racks, and now it’s the turn of roof racks. As cars have grown in size, the popularity of rooftop bike racks has waned somewhat, but they continue to be a quality option for some. With that in mind, we’ve taken the time to understand which systems work best in which situations.
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in our opinion, car roof racks have some specific advantages over their counterparts. one of them is how integrated they feel. Some cars have front to rear luggage rails and only require cross bars, some have channels that work the same way, some have a slippery roof, and some come with everything you need to add a roof rack. In all those situations, once you have everything installed, it will never get in your way. bars and grills stay out of your line of sight and don’t interfere with opening the hatch or trunk. If you want to remove the bike rack from the roof, they are lightweight and easy to store.
However, rooftop bike racks also have some drawbacks. the first is that they are comparatively more difficult to mount on your bike, especially if it is heavy as you will have to lift it above your head. The second is the risk of entering multi-story car parks – we’ve all heard of someone who screwed up and totaled their pride and joy. Another downside is that there are some initial setup hurdles to getting the parts you need on top of your car. Don’t despair though, Thule and Yakima make it an easy matter and you don’t need to have anything factory fitted. It adds to the initial expense, but both brands have extensive options and make it easy to get started. Adding the base bars will also add value to your car and also opens up the whole system to whatever brand of roof rack or other accessories you decide you want for years to come.
So if you’re looking for the best roof rack, read on for our suggestions, or scroll to the bottom for a quick guide on choosing the right one for you.
the best car roof racks available today
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does it make sense to describe a rooftop bike rack as beautiful? if so, then surely it will come from kuat. They are a brand with a reputation for making high end frames and the SR Piston is yet another.
to secure the bike to the rack, a pair of arms come out of each side and clamp down on the tires. Kuat didn’t invent this style, but when he brought it to market with his piston pro x hitch mounted rack, he put his own spin on it. Instead of manual operation, there’s an integrated kashima-coated piston that works with a one-touch system, where unloading your bike is as easy as pushing the button and giving the arms time to open before removing. your fully assembled bike.
this piston sr rack takes the same function and moves it from the hitch to the roof. If you have fenders, you can still make use of the SR piston with the purchase of the Fender Kit accessory. The downside to the entire system is that it’s expensive, so expect to pay twice the price of other options for ease of use. you may also want to choose something else if your plan is to regularly add and remove the shelf as it is heavier as well.
Yakima is one of two options for adding cross bars to the roof of your car. the brand will walk you through getting what you need for your car and get you ready to accept a rack. From there you have a wide range of products and multiple options that could still be on this list of the best roof racks.
If you’re shopping for yakima base handlebar parts, highroad is a great option for wheeling and if you plan on removing the rack regularly, yakima is by far the easiest. However, there is one specific challenge that luggage racks of all types face, and that is fenders/fenders. If you ride in rainy weather then you know fenders are a must, but it can be difficult to find a rack solution. Kuat has a fitting to run the SR piston but it feels a bit like a Band-Aid. If you transport a bike with fenders often, then something different might be the best option. Like me, Yakima calls the Pacific Northwest home, and like our British friends across the pond, anyone here knows what it’s like to ride a bike in the rain. When Yakima employees need a solution for transporting a bike with fenders, they turn to high speed.
The Yakima HighSpeed is a fork-mounted roof rack. that means you will have to remove the front wheel. With the wheel removed, there is a clamp that grabs the front axle and squeezes it until it clicks. it works with thru-axles and there’s an adapter for quick release bikes that essentially turns the quick release into a thru-axle. One detail on that is that you’ll need a thru-axle with a constant side-to-side width that easily stays with the frame. Some systems, like those from Mavic, may cause you to purchase an additional thru-axle. With that taken care of, the rear wheel stays on and there’s a strap that holds it securely to the rack. that strap could use some extra padding for the fancy carbon wheels, but it keeps things secure and while removing the front wheel is extra work, it keeps the bike lower when fitted and means the fenders aren’t a problem.
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thule is the other brand that makes all the basic parts you need to transform your car from factory state to ready to accept a rack. Like Yakima, Thule has a ton of options for what the horizontal bars look like and how they mount to the car. whatever you need they probably have a solution and once installed you can mount the rack of your choice.
When it comes to roof racks, the wheeled roof racks from Thule and Yakima are incredibly close. so close that one of the biggest challenges is deciding between the road from yakima and the climb from thule. Having spent time with both, there are two little things I like about the Thule that give them the thumbs up.
The main feature we mentioned above is the additional protection for the rear wheel. It’s such a small detail that many people may not care, but Thule includes a rubber strap cover for the rear wheel. although it’s unlikely to be a problem, I’m concerned that the movement of a plastic strap against a good pair of carbon wheels could cause damage given enough time. Adding a bit of rubber means you can squeeze that strap tight and never worry about scratching yourself from it.
Another small detail is the extra ease of putting the bike on the rack. Yakima uses solid rims for the front wheel, and the rear rim needs the bike set back a bit to lift it up. The system Thule uses means the back hoop can change size as you tighten or loosen it. there’s no need to back the bike up to get it clear. our only request would be that the hoops also have a lock to keep them in place without a bike for easy rack movement.
The great thing about the rockymounts tomahawk is that it’s simple. Instead of a two-rim system for the front wheel, the Tomahawk uses a single rim and a metal wheel stop. the retention system sits against the front fork and pushes down against the tire wedging it against the stop. It’s straightforward, nothing to learn, and it doesn’t matter if you’re riding a kids’ bike with a 20″ front wheel or an adult bike with 650b or 700c wheels. Thule needs adjustment for wheel size, but rockymounts just asks.to push it further down for a smaller wheel.the system also accommodates wider tires with room for a fatbike.you’ll need to add wheel strap extensions for the larger sizes but they come in the box.
What we don’t like about this system is that the retention system contacts the front fork. We discussed this in our solo monorail review, but in short, there’s a 3mm thick VC-91 durometer vinyl wrap. Rockymounts says that in most cases it won’t harm the paint on the fork, but it might cause some scratches if the bike is really dirty. They also recommend not adding padding as it allows for movement and suggest helicopter tape instead. that’s good advice anyway, but you should be aware of the problem.
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