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Getting a roof rack for my car. How many bikes can I safely carry?

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Getting a roof rack for my car. How many bikes can I safely carry?

Old 02-29-20, 08:42 AM
  #1  
JGAN
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Getting a roof rack for my car. How many bikes can I safely carry?

I have a 2010 Nissan Altima 4 door sedan and I want to get a Yakima roof rack for it. I see they have bars as long as 70" and they advertise as many as 6 bike capacity. However, I can't find out what the weight limit of my car's roof is.

I do see in the pro tour there are often European hatchbacks carrying 4 or 6 bikes on them, but I'm going to be carrying heavier bikes like MTB and touring bikes. Does anybody have a good idea of if I can safely carry 6 bikes on my roof? Or will it likely be too heavy or subject to crosswinds?
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Old 02-29-20, 09:58 AM
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Have you checked out your car's year and model on the Yakama website yet?
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Old 02-29-20, 10:24 AM
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Auto mfgrs (in the US) typically rate the factory roof / racks / attachments at 150lbs, which more than likely includes a safety factor of 30-50% Keep in mind, the roof rack attached along the edges of the roof, over the doors, which is much more reinforced than the middle of the roof. IME, aftermarket racks like Thule and Yakima are definitely more sturdy than typical factory racks, but still hold to the 150# rating, though they're capable of more.

Weight wise, 6 bikes would be like carrying an additional passenger. Crosswinds probably won't be any worse than 3 or 4 bikes.

A bigger factor would be those 70" bars on a mid-size sedan. The typical fitment for that car would be a 50" bar, which will be roughly as wide as the roof at the top of the doors. A 70" bar would stick out an additonal 10" on each side, right at head height. Is this rack going to be used for special events, or is it going to be an all-the-time thing?

The team cars you usually see are typically wagons (SKODA Octavia / VW Golf), not hatch-backs and run up-rated suspensions and custom roof-racks to deal with all the tools, radios, mechanics, and other gear you need to put on a bike race.

WRT to the OP, you could carry 6 bikes on your car, but why would you need to carry more bikes than the number of people the car can carry?
Usually the only times one needs to do that on the regular is racing, or SAG support.


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Old 02-29-20, 04:03 PM
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I could only find the rack load capacity on Yakima's website, nothing in regards to what the max is according to Nissan.

That's a good point regarding the bars sticking out. Thankfully this will not be a full time setup, just for the cases when I need to transport lots of bikes for events.

Thanks!
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Old 02-29-20, 08:22 PM
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With respect to roof bars on a sedan, I have roof racks of different types on my Crossover and my old Neon. For the Neon, I keep meaning to cut the bars as close to the uprights as possible. I can't tell you how many times I've hit my head on these. I believe they are 48" bar. I only have 2 trays for bikes on my Neon. On my Journey (Crossover/SUV), the Yakima roundbars are 58" wide. I'm 6'1" and have come close to hitting my head a few times. I have 3 trays on the Journey.

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Old 02-29-20, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JGAN View Post
I could only find the rack load capacity on Yakima's website, nothing in regards to what the max is according to Nissan.

That's a good point regarding the bars sticking out. Thankfully this will not be a full time setup, just for the cases when I need to transport lots of bikes for events.

Thanks!
Even a 50” bar will stick out past the roof, but you can get 4 bikes on it. Typically you might alternate the direction to avoid the h-bars hitting the adjacent bike. The newer designs have a clamp for the front wheel (Yakima HighRoad as example), or less expensive is the type where you clamp the front fork and put the front wheel in the vehicle, or on a separate wheel carrier (another expense). If you have a carbon framed bike, avoid the type that has a clamp onto the downtube.

Also look on CraigsList as I see rack parts sold all the time. And if using a carrier that clamps the fork, make sure it has the part to allow a thru-axle if the bike uses that. The adapter from older quick release to thru-axle is an expensive item.
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Old 02-29-20, 09:39 PM
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Four touring bike on a Toyota Matrix with Yakima bars and racks. The bars do not have to exend past the roofline. It sure affects the gas milage
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Old 02-29-20, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
It sure affects the gas milage
Two bikes on the roof of my Neon hit my Neon's mileage pretty bad. But not as bad as a bike on a trunk rack. Not as much a mileage hit in my Journey.
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Old 03-01-20, 07:57 AM
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Four on a roof rack is not uncommon. Then you hang some on the back, and stuff a few more inside...
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Old 03-01-20, 09:30 AM
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Many years ago I carried 2 bikes and a canoe with a yakima rack on the first gen toyota van. Another two bikes on a rear rack. The canoe probably weighed 50-60 pounds.
Roof rack mounts are typically designed to rest on the roof structure, the same part that is designed to keep it from caving in if you rollover. I personally would not worry about anything that did not exceed the rack manufacturers limits.
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