There are certain car accessories that you don’t want to take any chances with. One of them is bike racks. The last thing you want when purchasing a bike rack is to worry that your expensive bike is going to fall off while you’re driving down the freeway. When you purchase a rack, you need total security, not only so that your bike remains in one piece, but so that you can drive with some peace and comfort. In other words, a bike rack probably isn’t what you should be perusing the “Free” section of Craigslist for.
There are different styles of bike racks, and choosing the right style is a matter of personal preference, as well as the car you drive. The benefits of a rooftop bike rack are numerous: for starters, they don’t alter the length of your car, which means you can still fit into parking spaces, and don’t need to worry when you’re backing up (though watch out for low ceilings!). Rooftop bike racks also don’t get in the way of any of your doors, whereas most hitch-based racks keep you from utilizing your trunk. Finally, rooftop racks spread out their weight across the top of your car, rather than providing weight that pulls from behind. If those pros don’t outweigh the benefits of a hitch bike rack in your mind, then check out our list of the six best trunk bike rack mounts. But if a rooftop bike rack is right for you, then don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
1. Yakima HighRoller Rooftop Bike Rack
Yakima is one of the most trusted names in vehicle storage racks, so it’s no surprised that they made our list. We were as impressed with the HighRoller rack as we expected we would be, and that’s pretty high praise.
Perhaps the most incredible thing about the Yakima HighRoller is that it can accommodate virtually any bike. Whether it’s mountain bikes with extra-sized off road tires, or a kid’s bike, the HighRoller holds it firmly and securely. Despite this amazing ability to carry any bike, you don’t even need to remove any wheels to store your bike on the rack. Not only that, but we found the HighRoller to be one of the easiest bike rack to use; in a matter of moments, we were able to get the bikes on, straight, and secured.
You can always expect highly-detailed design with Yakima, and that’s very true with the HighRoller. This model holds bikes in place without touching, or putting any stress on the frame of the bike, and it can accommodate disc brakes, thru axels, or full suspensions.
The only catch is that the HighRoller needs to be attached to round or square roof crossbars, and many non-Yakima crossbars don’t fit. However, if you have Yakima crossbars (which are affordable), or bars that do fit the HighRoller, the installation is a breeze.
To top it all off, the HighRoller comes with a state of the art integrated lock system (though the lock is sold separately), and has a very impressive limited lifetime warranty. Add it all up, and you have a rooftop bike rack that’s nearly perfect. We weren’t disappointed, and you won’t be either.
-Accommodates almost any bike
-No touching of, or stress on the frame
-Fits limited range of bars
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2. Thule ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier
Practicality is the name of the game with the Thule ThruRide Fork Mount Carrier. This model is made to not only be secure and trustworthy, but easy and diverse as well. Installation of the ThruRide was as easy as with any model we’ve tried: no tools are required, it fits any 12-20mm thru axels, and a precision dial on the clamp makes sure that your bike is as secure as possible, without providing any excess pressure or stress on the frame. And at only 6.1 pounds, and designed to be aerodynamic, the Thule ThruRide will have no negative impact on your driving.
The ThruRide fits all Thule rack systems, but also works with most T-track and around-the-bar factory racks. No lock cylinder is included with this model, so you’ll have to purchase that separately, but even so, you can’t miss with the ThruRide. We couldn’t have been more impressed with the lack of wobble, or the way the mount holds a bike in place without causing any damage. If secure and practical is what you’re going for, this is the rooftop bike rack for you.
-Very easy installation
-Lock cylinder not included
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3. RockyMounts JetLine
Aesthetically appealing isn’t exactly the first thing that most people associate with bike racks, yet the RockyMounts JetLine is exactly that. The rack is sleek, slick, and cool, and unlike most racks, it’s available in numerous colors, so you can find the option that best matches both your vehicle, and your bike.
But don’t let the good looks fool you: the JetLine is one of the best rooftop bike racks on the market, and we were wildly impressed with how easy it was to use, and how secure it keeps bikes. The JetLine can hold tire sizes up to 2.7 inches, and is compatible with both disc brake systems, and standard brake systems, so it can be used with almost any bike. RockyMount’s innovative lockable quick release system made loading or unloading a bike quicker than we’d ever experienced.
On top of the ease of use and the good looks, the JetLine is easily installed, and works with a variety of bars: Yakima round bars, Thule square bars, and both aftermarket and factory crossbars. Trusty locks are available, both to lock your bike to the rack, and your rack to the car, though they’re sold separately. But above all else, the JetLine is exceptionally sturdy, so you can put your bike on, hit the road, and not look in the rearview mirror every five seconds to see if your bike is flying off. We completely trust this product, and think you’ll love it. And if for some reason you have a problem with the JetLine, they have a lifetime warranty to make sure that you’re always happy with the product.
-Not the sturdiest material
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4. Yakima ForkLift Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Rack
The ForkLift is Yakima’s first ever fork style rooftop bike rack, and they couldn’t have done a better job. Without touching any painted surface on the vehicle, the ForkLift provides exceptional security and sturdiness for bikes of almost any size, including most bikes with disc brakes. No matter what bike we tried, it felt like it was glued to the bike rack, with no noticeable wobbles whatsoever.
The ForkLift is also incredibly versatile, as it fits round, square, and the majority of factory crossbars. But our favorite thing about this Yakima product is how easy it is to use. The adjustable sliding wheel tray makes it incredibly easy to alter the bike rack to fit whatever bike you’re putting on top of your car. The integrated, adjustable lock knob is amazingly easy to use, even with a single hand, though you have to order the locks separately. And both the installation and the removal of the rack was so easy that we were doing it in seconds.
Long story short: the ForkLift offers just about everything you could ask for in a rooftop bike rack, and we completely adore this product. Plus, Yakima’s excellent limited lifetime guarantee doesn’t hurt!
-Easy installation and removal
-Locks ordered separately
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5. Kuat Trio Rack
The Kuat Trio is one of the more innovative, and yet simple bike racks on the market, and one that really impressed us. The fork mount system is adjustable to three settings, to fit 9, 15, and 20mm forks. The lock and cable is fully integrated, meaning that unlike almost all other rooftop bike racks, you can lock both the frame and the back wheel of your bike, without any additional purchases. Add on the fact that the rack can easily and effortlessly be attached to all aftermarket crossbars (and most factory ones), and that an adapter kit is available to accommodate fat bikes, and you have a rooftop rack that is ideal for almost any bike lover.
We especially liked how durable the Trio felt, which gave us confidence that it would be able to take proper care of a bike for many years to come. The low profile also dramatically reduced wind noise, which is a huge plus if you plan on taking this rack on long road trips.
Ultimately, Kuat went with a minimalist approach for the Trio, and they absolutely hit it out of the park.
-Integrated lock system
-Can damage roof if not careful
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6. CyclingDeal Roof Carrier Rack
If you’re looking for a great deal on a rooftop bike rack, look no further than the CyclingDeal Roof Carrier Rack, which is incredibly affordable, while still being a stellar model. At under $50, it’s tempting to think the Roof Carrier Rack would be poorly made, so we were happily shocked when we realized that wasn’t the case at all.
The CyclingDeal model – which doesn’t require you to remove your front wheel – fits any size of bicycle, and is remarkably easy to attach. Bikes are locked firmly in place, with added security from tie down straps. The steel powder coating makes for an aesthetically pleasing rooftop bike rack, and on the whole, the model feels very durable.
That said, the CyclingDeal rack is on the cheaper side for a few reasons. While we were very impressed with this rack, there was a fair amount of wobble, especially with road bikes. And the one-year warranty is a bit less enticing than with most models.
Still and all, you can’t really go wrong with the CyclingDeal Roof Carrier Rack. The price can’t be beat, and the quality is very impressive. It’s the perfect rooftop bike rack for anyone on a budget.
-Decent amount of wobble
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7. Thule Sidearm Universal Bike Mount
The Sidearm Universal Bike Mount may be the cream of the crop when it comes to rooftop bike racks. The sidearm technology allows the bike to be held with extra security, by clamping on to the top of the front wheel. The back wheel, meanwhile, is held in place by a top-quality ratcheting strap. No contact is made with the frame, yet the security is not simply from the bottom up. This creates an incredibly secure bike rack with virtually no wobbles; honestly, we don’t have a single complaint about this rack.
The Sidearm is compatible with most bicycles, as it can hold tires as wide as 2.6 inches, and fits wheel diameters from 20 to 29 inches. The One-Key lock cylinder is quite possibly the best rooftop bike rack lock (it locks both the bike to the rack, and the rack to the car), though it has to be purchased separately.
The security of this Thule model is not just in the bike, but also in the rack itself. The rack is made out of a double-walled aluminum tray, and is corrosion resistant, so it’s built to last. You can purchase this Thule product today, and chances are you’ll still be using it in 20 years.
Installing the Sidearm Universal Bike Mount isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not too difficult. Once it’s installed, securing the bike on the rack is incredibly easy (though we found it a bit more difficult to remove the bike). All things considered, this Thule rooftop bike rack is about as perfect as they come.
-State-of-the-art ratcheting strap
-Built to last
-Difficult to install
-Difficult to remove bike
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Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Rooftop Bike Rack
We loved all of the rooftop bike racks on this list, and think that they’ll make your life easier when it comes to picking one of your own. But every person’s situation is different, so there are a lot of factors to consider before landing on any of these bike racks.
First and foremost, it’s important to decide whether you really want a rooftop bike rack, or whether a trunk-mounted one would be a better fit for you. Once you’ve decided that a rooftop rack is the right choice for you, it’s important to think about what you’ll use the rack for. Are you planning on going on long adventures, off-roading, and driving for hours and hours from one exciting outdoor destination to the next? Or do you need a rack to get you a few miles to the park each week? Is ease of installation and mounting your top priority, or is security of your bike for long distances or high speeds? What kind of bike do you have? And finally, what is your budget?
There’s no one rooftop bike rack that’s right for everyone, but given how much we loved the racks in this list, we’re confident that you can find the right one in here. To help you decide which one fits what you’re looking for, here’s a table with some important information about each rooftop bike rack listed:
No matter what you’re looking for in a rooftop bike rack, you can find it on this list. Regardless of your size and style of bike, your biking habits, and your budget, you can find a terrific rooftop bike rack that takes care of you and your bike’s needs.
Just remember to always think twice before purchasing a bike rack, to make sure you get the dream one for you. And once you do get it . . .well . . . happy trails, and have fun biking!