Yakima's best top loader gets an update.
For nearly five years I have opted to transport my bikes on the top of my car, after holding out for a very long time and always making them fit in the back of the car. The trouble with putting bikes inside when you’re a mountain biker is all the trail grime and dirt or mud that comes with them. And while I still don’t own a car worth more than my bikes, I do appreciate not having chainring marks on the roof of my, and dried mud caked into the interior.
After some solid service, I upgraded the Yakima FrontLoader racks on top of my Subaru Forester, which really won me over as a secure option for just about any bike. The clamp the front wheel and secure the rear, so there is no clamping of a lightweight frame, no issue with fork standards or frame shapes, and no dirty front wheel to store in the car.
While the FrontLoader is by no means out of date, the new Yakima HighRoad improves on the that model a little. The best bits remain, such as versatility for carrying just about any from a 26” wheeled bike up to a 29 Plus bike, integrated locks, and bombproof construction. The HighRoad gains tool-free attachment which makes fitting and removing the rack a cinch if you’re not a frequent user of the roof rack system. The attachment system relies on straps that operate on a cam to achieve the right hold, and once tight they don’t budge. But if you need to adjust the rack in or out a little to accommodate different bikes and handlebar width, it’s not even a 30 second job.
For me, the best change is the retention system. With the HighRoad you don’t need to adjust the front section if you change wheel sizes. While this was never a huge issue, if you’ve got a mix of bikes between you and your partner or mates, it’s nice to know that the rack is just good to go. The Torque-Right adjustment knob is also a lot better than the adjustment on the FrontLoader. It’s precise, and winds up easily and releases easily. The sprung release on the previous model never truly worked for me, but this new system is faultless.
Yakima have also moved the SKS lock equipped cable into the tray of the rack. So it doesn’t flap around and get caught on the big chainring of a cyclocross or road bike like the previous model, while still offering the security you need when leaving your bikes unattended for a post ride burger.
I’m sold on putting bikes on the roof, and I truly prefer the roof rack options that keep the front wheel on. I have also been using the new Yakima HighSpeed, which clamps your fork’s through-axle, bypassing any issues of 12mm, 15mm, 20mm or Boost spacing. And while it means a front wheel comes inside, you do end up with a lighter bike to lift onto the roof and you don’t need to lift as far – which can make a difference on many cars – you can find our review of the HighSpeed on HERE
Yakima have improved on their premium roof rack offering, making it easier to use and a little more sleek at the same time. Given the trouble-free use I’ve had from the FrontLoader, I’m looking forward to more years of the same with the HighRoad.
|- Tool free attachment||- The total system cost adds up if you don't have roofbars|
|- No clamping of the frame||- Remember the carport or garage|
|- No wheels in the car|
|- Super stable, and lockable|
Words and Photos: Mike Blewitt