I was thinking of getting a roof rack type bike rack system for my vehicles. I have a 2003 VW Passat wagon and a 2007 Honda Odyssey. I would have to get some crossrails for both roof racks and then get the needed bike holders.
My inital plan was to then transfer the bike rack system to each vehicle as needed. However, my local bike shop told me that numerous attaching and unattaching of the rack from both vehicle's roofs is not recommended and you are increasing the chances of a bike falling off. He said once you attach it, it shouldn't be removed.
Is this true? I thought it was a matter of just screwing on the cross rails each time, but maybe not. The bike shop recommended a hitch type system instead since they can easily be removed and also are better for the gas mileage of the vehicle when on the highway.
Bolting the bike holders to the crossrails is a fairly involved task made even more difficult if the crossrails are already on top of the car. If you do the mounting while off the car you have to get the spacing just right plus you have all the extra mounting and unmounting of the crossrails added to the operation.
Roof racks cut down on gas mileage even when the bikes aren't up there. An air dam on the front might mitigate that a little and will definitely cut down on the noise.
I'm going to agree with the bike shop. With a hitch on each car you can leave the one hitch rack in the garage and make last minute changes to car choice before mounting the rack and loading the bikes.
As the owner of a roof rack system I have to agree with the LBS. It's a PITA to even take it off and put it back on the same car, much less switching between cars. With the switching factor involved I'd have to agree that the hitch option is the better one. Get one that works with the hatch of the Odyssey though, not having access to the hatch because of the design of the hitch rack can be annoying also.
And the roof rack cost me 5mpg, so they're right there also.
Rans Enduro Sport, Hase Kettweisel Tandem, Merin Bear Valley beater bike
There's lots of different parts to your post.
1. You need to check on your factory roof rack rails. Some aren't attached to the car securely enough to carry bikes.
2. I assume that you're talking about installing aftermarket cross bars, like Thule, to your factory roof racks. That might be possible, but the clips to attach the crossbars might not be the same. If the clips aren't the same or if the bar spacing is different, moving the rack system from car-to-car will be a major project.
3. I used to remove the roof rack system from my Saturn in the fall and store it in the garage over the winter. I removed it whole, crossbars, clips, bike holders and wind fairing all assembled together. I could just manage to do it by myself, but it was a lot easier with a helper. It was only about a 5 minute job.
4. On my Saturn sedan, a dinky little under powered car, the gas mileage penalty with the bare rack on the highway was around 7 MPG. The penalty with bikes was about 10 MPG. I'm told the difference is much less pronoumced on bigger cars with more reserve power.