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Best Roof Bike Rack

The Best Roof Bike Rack 2019

Mounting a roof bike rack to your car allows you to safely transport your bikes and it’s compatible with all vehicles with roof racks installed. Compared to the alternative racks, there is no issues with trunk access or rear visibility.

The best roof bike rack is the Yakima Frontloader, which comes fully assembled from the box and has zero contact with the frame of bike.

Most roof mounted bike racks come with long warranties and it’s highly recommended that you spend extra for the additional features. Both the Yakima and Thule bike racks are the most rated for usability and protection of your bikes.

Roof Mounted Bike Rack Comparison

Roof Bike RackCapacityTire Width
Yakima Frontloader40 LBSUp to 3 Inch
Thule ProRide44 LBSUp to 5 Inch
RockyMounts TieRod35 LBSUp to 2.7 Inch
RockyMounts Tomahawk35 LBSUp to 5 Inch
CyclingDeal33 LBSUp to 3 Inch
CyclingDeal 2 Bike66 LBSUp to 3 Inch
Kuat Trio35 LBSUp to 5 Inch
Swagman Fork Down35 LBSUp to 3 Inch

If you are planning a road trip and have a rooftop cargo box installed, you can still use both at the same time with some reshuffling. However, be sure to check the weight capacity of the roof racks before adding all the weight.

The majority of rooftop bike racks are designed to carry mountain and road bike wheels with a diameter of 20 to 29 inches. The width of the tire can sometimes be a issue but some brands sell an additional fat tire kit for those with fat tires.

Below is a list of the best roof bike racks that are lightweight and secure the bike safely without causing any damage.

The Best Roof Bike Rack


1. Yakima Frontloader Roof Bike Mount


Yakima are a reputable brand within the bike racks industry and their FrontLoader model is a highly rated option. It secures the bike by the front and rear wheels, which means there is zero contact with the frame to avoid any damage. This is a major requirement for many people that have a carbon fiber or custom painted frame.

In terms of the compatibility, this rooftop bike rack is suitable for tires with a diameter of 20 to 29 inches and a width of 3 inches.

Other features of the Yakima FrontLoader include:

  • Suitable for the majority of bikes
  • Fully assembled and ready to be used
  • Holds the bike upright whilst being secured
  • Requires a 16 and 48 inch crossbar spread
  • No frame contact
  • 2 SKS locking system
  • Holds one bike per rack

The Yakima FrontLoader is a universal bike rack that mounts to your cars roof with ease and won’t disappoint. It’s the best roof mounted bike rack that comes with a lifetime warranty and doesn’t hold bikes by the frame.

The main drawback is that it does come with a premium price tag but it’s a worthwhile investment with a long warranty for peace of mind.

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2. Thule ProRide Car Roof Bike Rack

The Thule ProRide rack is the main premium alternative to the Yakima FrontLoader. It uses a unique frame holder and wheel tray that automatically positions your bike when secured to the rack. Unlike the FrontLoader, it does connect to the frame of the bike but there is a torque limiter dial, which allows you to control the force to the frame.

As well as the torque limiter dial, this rack also uses large and soft claw pads to safely distribute the pressure to the bikes frame.

Other features of the Thule ProRide include:

  • Compatible with an array of crossbars
  • Wheel holders for additional stability
  • Tool-free installation of the rack
  • Suitable for bike that weigh up to 44 LBS
  • Extra safe mounting
  • User defined torque to the frame of the bike

The Thule ProRide is compatible with tires up to 3 inches wide but you can purchase a fat bike adapter to expand the restriction to 5 inches.

Overall, it’s a premium roof mounted bike rack that has been built to the highest of standards. The ProRide is one of many rooftop racks available by Thule and they have multiple models available that are suitable for most budgets.

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3. RockyMounts TieRod Roof Mounted Bike Rack


The RockyMounts brand provide a wide variety of roof bike racks to suit different bikes. The TieRod model is a low profile, solid metal head design that fits the majority of standard crossbars. It’s a stainless steel construction with a long throw and lockable quick release for easy bike loading and unloading.

It’s capable of carrying a single bike with tires that have a diameter between 20 to 29 inches and are less than 2.7 inches wide.

Other features of the RockyMounts TieRod include:

  • Weight capacity of 35 LBS per bike
  • Suitable for tires up to 2.7 inches wide
  • Available in black or silver
  • Locking 9 mm quick release mechanism
  • Stainless steel mounting straps
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The best part about the RockyMounts TieRod is the affordability as it’s almost half the price of the Thule and Yakima alternatives. It’s by far the best roof bike rack for the money but it may not be suitable for those with wide tires or fat bikes.

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4. RockyMounts Tomahawk Rooftop Bike Rack


The Upright Mount Tomahawk model by RockyMounts is suited to fat bikes with tires as wide as 5 inches. It’s more expensive that the alternatives but when you have to factor in buying an adapter to fit tires larger than 3 inches, it’s a more cost effective solution.

Another desirable feature of this roof bike rack is that it doesn’t come into contact with the frame. Instead, it hooks over the front wheel with a ratchet and the wheels are held down by durable straps.

Other features of the RockyMounts Tomahawk include:

  • No bike frame contact
  • Suitable for tires up to 5 inches wide
  • Easily adjusts during installation
  • Suitable for most standard crossbars
  • Wheel diameter restrictions of 20 to 29 inches
  • Additional locks available

For those with a fat bike or wide tires, the RockyMount Tomahawk is the best option. It does come with a premium price but it has been designed specifically for wide tires. Another benefit is that it doesn’t come into contact with the frame of the bike.

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5. CyclingDeal Bike Mounted Roof Rack


If you are looking for a cheap roof bike rack, then the CyclingDeal is the best option. Unlike many of the cheaper alternatives, this uses a steel powder coated construction with a lockable mechanism to ensure the bike is firmly secured whilst driving.

In terms of the compatibility, it’s suitable for tires as wide as 3 inches and it connects to most standard crossbars.

Other features of the CyclingDeal Rooftop Bike Rack include:

  • Easily secures to the bike frame
  • Heavy duty steel construction
  • Lockable mechanism with keys included
  • Tie down straps secures the wheels
  • Doesn’t require the removal of the front wheel
  • Easy to install to your vehicle
  • Includes a one year warranty

Overall, it’s an affordable rooftop bike rack that is built to last with a powder coated steel construction. It may not be as high quality when compared to the Yakima or Thule alternatives but it’s by far the best cheap option available.

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6. CyclingDeal Rooftop Mounted Bike Rack


Another rooftop bike rack by the CyclingDeal brand is their unique 2 bike capacity option. It’s constructed of a lightweight yet strong aluminum that provides an elegant finish to the rack and has an anodized finish, which prevent corrosion.

The brand state that it’s compatible with most bikes and it’ll easily fit to most aero or square crossbars with the provided crossbar clamps.

Other features of the CyclingDeal 2 Bike Rack include:

  • Aluminum construction with an anodized finish
  • Suitable for 2 bikes with a max weight capacity of 66 LBS
  • Secures the wheels with an adjustable strap
  • Frame down tube clamp that is compatible with all bike frames
  • Includes a limited lifetime warranty

When you consider that it can hold two bikes from a single rack, it actually provides excellent value for the money. The maximum loading capacity for the two bikes combined is 66 LBS, which make it more than suitable for two standard bikes.

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7. Kuat Trio Roof Bike Rack


Kuat are a premium bike rack brand that produce an array of models that vary in price. The Trio model is their most rated rack that is designed to mount to the majority of factory or aftermarket cross bars.

It uses an intuitive three way fork mount system that the brand states can handle any bike that you own for peace of mind.

Other features of the Kuat Trio Rack include:

  • Slim line design
  • Available in black and silver or gray
  • Sliding rear tire strap
  • Integrated cable lock for frame and rear wheel
  • Compatible with most crossbars
  • Optional adapter kit available for fat bikes

The Kuat Trio uses a simple yet effective design that allows you to easily load the bikes and secure them appropriately. It does come with a premium price tag but it’s backed by a reputable brand and is packed full of intuitive features.

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8. Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack


Swagman are another brand that produce a variety of roof mount bike racks. The Standard Fork Down model is their cheapest rack that secures the bike by the frame using the mounting blocks, which can be quickly released for unloading.

It will easily fit to crossbars that have a width of up to 3 inches and is capable of carrying bikes that weigh less than 35 LBS.

Other features of the Swagman Fork Down include:

  • Quick release 9 mm skewer
  • Strap with cam buckle to secure the rear wheel
  • Tool-free assembly
  • Fits square, round and oval crossbars
  • Tie down straps included

The Swagman Fork Down is an excellent all-round roof bike rack that offers the best value for the money. Although it looks fairly basic, it does a great job at securing the bike to the rack and it includes everything in the box at a low cost.

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Roof Bike Rack Buying Guide

If you have installed a roof rack system to your car, attaching a roof bike rack is fairly straight forward. The majority simply click straight onto the rack with no issues.

The best thing about this particular type of rack is that it’s the cheapest compared to the trunk bike rack and hitch bike rack alternatives.

Tire Width

Most roof mounted bike racks will be suitable for standard bikes but not everyone has a “standard” bike. Some may have unique tire sizes that are wider than the standard tire width. Bikes such as “Fat Bikes” can have tires that span at least 5 inches wide, which may be a problem.

There are some roof bike racks that specialize in wide tires such as the RockyMounts Tomahawk but Thule and Yakima do offer adapters. The only issue is that you will have to pay a premium and the overall cost of the roof bike rack can be expensive.

Frame Contact

People that own expensive bikes will be very cautious when it comes to choosing a bike rack. The main thing you should look out for is whether or not the rack secures the bike via the frame as this has the potential to cause damage.

bike rack roof

Removal of the Front Wheel

Removing the front wheel is required for a fork mounted rack but for many people, this may not be ideal. Having to dismantle your wheel every time you are transporting your bike can be a pain and especially if you are not that good with tools.

However, it is more stable than a wheel/frame holding alternative and usually much cheaper. The RockyMounts TieRod is an example of the cheapness but if you rather not take the wheel off, sticking with the standard roof mounted bike rack is ideal.

Loading and Removal of Bikes

The main disadvantage of the roof mounted bike rack is the fact that you need to lift your bike on top of your roof. If you have a heavy bike, this is quite a struggle and it’s critical that loading is made as easy as possible. This means no silly locks or awkward features that you have to tackle whilst holding your bike on top of the roof.

Many roof bike racks have cleverly designed frame holders and wheel trays that make your bike simply position itself automatically. This is a feature of the Thule ProRider and it makes loading and removal of the bikes much easier.

roof rack for bikes

Conclusion

Using a roof mounted rack to transport your bikes isn’t as popular as the alternatives. The main reasons for this include the potential height restrictions and that they are more difficult to load and unload the bikes. However, it does have benefits that include easier trunk access and no rear visibility restrictions.

All of our recommendations are suited to a range of budgets and feature both wheel or frame methods of securing the bike. We highly recommend purchasing from a reputable brand as they are built to higher standards and have spare parts readily available.

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