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Roof Bike Rack

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Roof Bike Rack

Old 06-10-20, 01:52 PM
  #1  
willk24
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Roof Bike Rack

Hi - I've just gotten back into road biking and I'm looking for a roof rack for my SUV. I see a couple different styles online, some grab the frame and others grab the front wheel, and I was wondering the pros/cons between the two (or if something else is better)? I have a Specialized Roubaix Sport bike if that makes a difference? Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-10-20, 02:25 PM
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msu2001la
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I use a Yakima fork mounted roof rack. I find it to be more secure than the ones that attach to the frame. Plus, I don't like the idea of something clamping down on my carbon frame to hold it in place. Seems like a good way to scuff it up or cause damage.

The only downside to the fork mount is that I have to take off the front wheel and either transport it inside the car, or on a separate mount on the rack (where it wobbles around a lot at highway speed).
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Old 06-10-20, 02:33 PM
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Most of the people I know use a tow-hitch mounted rack - easier to get the bike on and off, don't have to remove the front wheel etc. Bike is out of the wind - easier on the bike and easier on gas mileage, also no chance of "garage dooring" your roof-mounted bike. Downsides: depending on the car, you may or may not have to swing the rack out of the way to open the trunk, and the bike becomes your "crumple zone" if someone rear-ends you. However, that's the way I'd go if I was in the market for a rack. I currently have a two-bike rooftop with fork clamps (ie, you have to remove the front wheel) - Yakima I think. I got it cheap >15 years ago, and it's held up well, if getting a little rusty. I have an old Outback wagon, so roof access is OK, but getting a bike on and off the roof of a taller SUV could be a challenge. Both types of rack are prone to theft unless you lock the bike and the rack securely. If your vehicle has the interior height and length, you could also consider an internal fork mount attached to the floor, which gives you the best of all worlds - security, easier on the bike(s), optimal fuel economy. I've also simply laid the bike flat in the back - carried 2 with a moving blanket between them to prevent dinging the paint - that also works OK
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Old 06-10-20, 02:39 PM
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Go tow hitch rack if you can.

My wife's car has the hitch rack. I have the roof rack. Hitch is much easier to deal with, and it doesn't have a negative impact on fuel economy. I drop 1-2 mpg just having the rack on my roof, then another 1-2 mpg if I put a bike on there.
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Old 06-10-20, 03:06 PM
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I’ll piggy back on this.

I have a tow hitch rack and my old bike was aluminum and I never had any concerns about strapping it too tight.
My new bike is carbon, do I need to take any special consideration when strapping the frame to the rack. I was thinking about buying a pool noodle, and cutting to so it fits the length of my top tube. That way there would be some padding between the rack and the frame.
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Old 06-10-20, 03:13 PM
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billridesbikes
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Get a Yakima luggage rack for the roof and put the bike in the SUV.
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Old 06-10-20, 03:19 PM
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My wife's car has a receiver mount rack, mine has a Yakima roof rack-- my car is far too low to mount a receiver. If you're short, a roof rack might be an issue. I put two bikes and all of the bike-related stuff on the roof for a 1,000 mile round trip to Mammoth, had zero issues.

That said, I would still recommend a receiver rack. For what even just the bike trays cost for a roof rack, you can get a really nice receiver rack (like a Kuat.)
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Old 06-10-20, 09:39 PM
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A roof rack on an SUV might present challenges even if you're tall. I'm 6'2" and use a roof rack on a regular height sedan. If I had an SUV I would need a step stool.
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Old 06-11-20, 04:26 AM
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You have to be careful when adding a bike rack to a car. There is a real danger it will increase the total value of the car over the bike creating a rule 25 infarction.

Welcome to BF.
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Old 06-11-20, 04:28 AM
  #10  
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I've used both Yakima and Thule roof racks on a Ford Explorer. First, echoing others - if you can do a tow hitch, much better way to go. My wife ran into the overhang at a drive thru ATM and I hit the top of our garage door opening with bikes on top. No major damage either time to the bikes, but no matter what - sooner or later you will forget they are up there! I mainly used the top for carrying our kayaks and you can see those sticking out while you drive - not the same with bikes.

Back to roof rack choice: for steel bikes (what we had at the time) I preferred the grab the down tube type - much easier to get everything secured that high in the air. I never used the fork mount type - never had an issue with the wheel tray kind, held the bikes very securely.

When biking with a friend who had an aluminum bike with a massive down tube, the frame grabber jaw just barely was wide enough to grab his bike, I wouldn't trust that for big fat downtube bikes in the long run.

With carbon bikes, you are not supposed to compress the tubes, so the wheel grab way would be better.

One thing that exists now that I don't think existed when we had the SUV: little step up devices that temporarily latch on to your door latch hardware and let you reach up higher. REI has an expensive one, there are cheaper ones out there. I used to have to stand on our cooler or bring a step stool along to get the bikes on top (I'm 5'10").

I've now switched to a Kuat tow hitch rack but still use the roof racks when we need to carry more than 2 bikes or bikes plus kayaks.

Last edited by jpescatore; 06-12-20 at 03:50 AM.
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Old 06-11-20, 05:15 AM
  #11  
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had a yakima locking roof rack that got stolen during a driving rainstorm late one night. fortunately, no bike was attached. it was on there super snug but the thief/thieves was/were able
to pop it off (looks like a big flathead screwdriver was used) without setting off the car alarm. probably not their first rodeo.

the rack was super handy. i've since bought a saris bones rack that will hold 3 bikes but only use it every few years. for drive to rides these days, it's drop the back seat backing,
open the trunk and shove the bike in. works pretty well for this solo rider. about the same effort as it was to load the bike on the roof rack and throw the front wheel in the trunk.
definitely not as cool tho.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 06-11-20 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:07 AM
  #12  
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I echo what others are saying between a roof rack and a tow hitch rack.

Your bike has special considerations. You have a carbon frame and you have thu axle.

If you go with a roof rack, you DON'T want the one that grabs the frame. The pressure exerted by the clamp on the down tube can crack the frame. This leaves you with fork mount or front wheel mount.

If you buy fork mount, make sure it is for through axles. Kuat Trio is the one I would chose. I spent a lot of time researching between the different fork mount systems and which ones work the best. The bikes on this system seem to be the most secure but as someone else mentioned you have a wheel to consider. You hear horror stories about wheels being left behind, which is never a good thing.

Last the system that is held by the front wheel. I can't give an opinion one way or another. You see this system for mountain bikes but I just don't know about carbon road bikes.

I started with Rocky Mounts front fork mount system for my Rivendells because they were inexpensive but after dropping the bike while trying to line up the fork mount and denting the roof, I decided to go with the frame mount (Thule ProRide XT). Still heavy to lift the bike on my sedan but the system works well. Then I purchased carbon bikes with thru axles and and can't use the Thule ProRide. To save money I bought the thu axle adapters for my Rocky Mounts Pitchfork and I will use that. Carbon bikes are lighter so I am not as worried about the hassle of lifting them up. I am still awaiting parts to convert but it looks simple enough.

If you have a rack store, then go talk to them as they are the experts. They will tell you the pros and cons of each system. Good luck.
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Old 06-11-20, 08:41 AM
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Sounds like the overwhelming opinion is for the tow hitch rack. It'll be a bit more $ as I'll have to get the hitch but I'd rather choose the best option. Thanks for all the excellent advice!
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Old 06-11-20, 09:26 AM
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Depending on what car you have, a hitch can be as little as $100. Figure out which hitch you need at Curtmfg. Check on the instructions to see how difficult it is to install - most SUVs are pretty easy. Watch a YouTube video on it - they have them for pretty much every car out there. If you think you can do it yourself, google the hitch to figure out the cheapest place to buy it. etrailers.com and amazon are often pretty cheap for them.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:51 AM
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I have a 2019 Audi SQ5 and the Audi dealer wanted $1500 for hitch and installation. I called U-Haul and got a quote for a hitch, installation and a Thule T1 rack for $675 total. I hope I'm not missing something here, seems like too good of a deal.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by willk24 View Post
Sounds like the overwhelming opinion is for the tow hitch rack. It'll be a bit more $ as I'll have to get the hitch but I'd rather choose the best option. Thanks for all the excellent advice!
I have had the Seasucker Talon rack for about 4 years. I’ve never had an issue and had no need to buy an entire rack system for my car. I’d much rather have the bike on the roof vs the rear of the car.
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Old 06-11-20, 09:58 AM
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I've got a QX80 and I already had a Kuat Sherpa 2.0 hitch rack. Then last summer, the wife and kids (4) all got into cycling and needed additional capacity. Best solution for us; I opted for the Kuat Vagabond XL cargo basket. It has two built in fork quick-releases and I have no problems loading up my bike up there, along with either my wife's MTB or daughter's road bike.

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Old 06-11-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by willk24 View Post
I'm looking for a roof rack for my SUV.
What's wrong with inside the SUV? You don't have to worry about low trees, parking garages and having it exposed to all the road dirt.

I have a small sedan and mine fits inside with the seat folded down.
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Old 06-11-20, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by willk24 View Post
I have a 2019 Audi SQ5 and the Audi dealer wanted $1500 for hitch and installation. I called U-Haul and got a quote for a hitch, installation and a Thule T1 rack for $675 total. I hope I'm not missing something here, seems like too good of a deal.
You're not missing anything here. The dealership is charging you premium because, well because they can and most people will pay it. This is quite common in the luxury car market and you aren't the first to question this. U-Haul is good choice, they have done plenty. Make sure you get the 2" mount.
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Old 06-11-20, 10:24 AM
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willk24
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
What's wrong with inside the SUV? You don't have to worry about low trees, parking garages and having it exposed to all the road dirt.

I have a small sedan and mine fits inside with the seat folded down.
Yes, mine fits inside too but for longer trips with golf clubs, luggage, etc. I wanted more space.
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Old 06-11-20, 11:30 AM
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I suggest reading up on how a hitch mount can reduce the safety provided by your bumper in a rear-end collision.
Maybe not a deal killer, but something to be aware of.
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Old 06-11-20, 11:46 AM
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I would get a sea sucker man, just because you can use it on any type of car.

So, when you hit a mid life crisis, you can still use it with your Ferrari
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Old 06-11-20, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by willk24 View Post
Yes, mine fits inside too but for longer trips with golf clubs, luggage, etc. I wanted more space.
Put the clubs in a roof box and keep the bike protected.
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Old 06-11-20, 12:01 PM
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I have a tow hitch rack for 3 bikes, but on a short trip with few stuff to bring for us three, I decided to pack all inside.
We are short, so bikes are 50 cms. Got two hybrid and a road bike packed neatly inside the trunk.

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Old 06-11-20, 01:24 PM
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My little mini-van isn't big enough for either to be a solution, I can put 4 bikes on the roof or 4 on the back though if I put for on the back there is always paint damage and in aluminum its been fairly severe, but can't carry the 5 at a time I need. My preference is for the roof rack every time but I wouldn't put one on anything taller then my little Mazda5 since for the ones in the middle I still have to stand on the door sill, anything taller and a step stool would be required but I've seen enough people using those to know its a hazard I wouldn't want to deal with.
I also have a preference for the mounts that grabs the frame from the side, I use that with carbon, aluminum and steel and since it is closed using a dial you'd have to turn pretty hard to damage things. Was using a big mouth which they don't make any more but some of the newer frames, one carbon and an aluminum dual suspension have tubes too wide to feel comfortable using. Also have the newer version that grabs the front wheel, it works but not well due to difficulty getting between the front wheel and the frame to be able to grab the wheel. Not worth the cost to use, also never liked having to decide what to do with front wheels using a fork mount.
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