Here's a quick guide to where to put your bike when you hit the open road to head to new trails.
Put your bikes up top
This is always the primo option - bikes up on the top of the car means you have the full use of the interior of your car and you can get into the boot easily too. You do need roof bars to attach the units to, and of course the rack units themselves. This does add up so it's a premium option. With everyone moving towards SUVs of different proportions, roof top carrying might also put your bikes quite literally out of reach.
Your options for roof-racks
The big discussion for putting your bikes on the roof is usually about whether you use a rack that clamps the fork, or one that keeps the front wheel on. Taking the front wheel off to clamp the fork is a rock solid option.
But depending on your bike, your mate's bikes, and the rack you choose axle compatibility can be an issue. Is it for a QR? 12mm axle? 15? 20? A Lefty?! Or is it Boost? It's a minefield.
The new Yakima Highspeed neatly skirts all those problems, as the mount clamps down on the through-axle (or included false axle for forks that use a 9mm quick-release). You just dial up the tension and it locks in. Plus, the rack is torque limited so you can't break anything!
The rear secures your back wheel, and with two strap lengths it will accommodate anything from a skinny road bike wheel to a fat bike with 5" tyres. If that's your thing.
You might also look at the Yakima Forkchop - especially if it's not for frequent use. The Forkchop is just two pieces, one to clamp the fork, and one to clamp the rear wheel. With tool-free adaptors to suit just about any front axle standard, this is a great addition for when you have some extra bikes to haul, or just for infrequent use. The system takes about 3 or 4 minutes to put on your roof racks.
The rear cradle can adjust for wheelbase by mounting it forward or backwards, and with two strap sizes it will work for a road bike through to a fat bike.
What about your front wheel? Well that can go inside, but Yakima make a product called the Wheelhouse which is a little extra rack that can hold your front wheel.
Of course, leaving the front wheel on is often easier as it saves taking things off and putting them on, or forgetting wheels or through-axles. The Yakima HighRoad dials up a clamp onto your front wheel, so it doesn't clamp the frame which reduces any chance of any kind of damage.
The Thule ProRide 598 is an option from the Swedes, and it clamps down on the frame wheel, making it really versatile for a range of bikes with different wheel sizes.
There are lots of options for roof racks, like the above but mostly you're looking at a rack which leaves your front wheel on, or where you have to remove it.
- This is easy - you have all of the inside of your car to use
- No dirty bikes inside your car
- Still easy to reverse park
- You can lock the racks or lock them on.
- Carports, low bridges, garages and drive through meals
- Any aero gains your car has are lost
- Bug collection on big drives
- Do you drive an SUV? How are you getting up there anyway?
- Not great for heavy bikes