Best Roof Bike Racks

The Best Bike Roof Rack

Transporting a bike by car might not always be a simple task because of insufficient space within the vehicle and potential safety hazards, such as the bike disrupting the driver’s view. Choosing the best bike roof rack maximizes the space in your car and allows for easier and safer transportation of your bike. Most bike roof racks come with a locking system that helps prevent the theft of your bike.

Fork Mount vs. Wheel Mount Bike Roof Rack

Due to everyone having their own experience and opinions, the best design for a bike roof rack is still widely debated today. Some cyclists find it easier to leave the wheel attached to the bike, and others prefer to detach their wheel before travel. Bike roof racks come in two different designs to hold a bike in place. 

Fork Mount

The first is the fork-mounted bike rack which requires you to first remove the front wheel of your bike. Once you remove the wheel, you can then place the fork through your front axle, mount the bicycle to the bike rack.


Pros of a Fork Mount:

  • Removing the front wheel will make the bike’s profile on the rack lower, therefore, reducing wind resistance while driving. 
  • The bike is easier to load onto the car roof rack as it is lighter to pick up.
  • It is a more stable way of transporting the bike. 

Cons of a Fork Mount:

  • You must put the removed front wheel of the bike in the car or on another mount.
  • The fork mount might not be compatible with the fenders or axle of the bike.
  • Make time and use tools to take off the front wheel and put it back on again. 

Wheel Mount

This wheel mount rack design allows the bicycle to stand upright in the rack with all the wheels still attached. The design typically involves a roof-mounted tray where you place the bike’s front wheel and locked into place by the front wheel hook.


Pros of a Wheel Mount:

  • Compatible with most bicycle tires.
  • You do not need to remove the front wheel before and after each use.
  • You do not need to use any tools. 
  

Cons of a Wheel Mount:

  • The roof rack will be bulkier and heavier. 
  • The bike’s profile in the rack will be relatively higher than the fork-mounted bike, increasing the space needed for clearance.
  • Much harder to load the bike onto the bike roof rack.

Bike roof racks are not always one size fits all, which could make installation tricky. Thankfully, these modern-day roof rack designs make installation efficient. Therefore, regardless of the type of vehicle you may own, such as an SUV, Hatchback, or van, there are roof racks that can be simple, easy, and practical, from installation to bike transportation.

List of the Best Roof Bike Racks

1. RhinoRack Hybrid Roof Bike Rack

Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier

The RhinoRack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier is among the recommended options for many bikes with a recognized name among cycling enthusiasts. Its versatility reinforces its position as one of the top options for bikes that can transport both kid and adult-sized bikes, including regular city bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes, or downhill bikes. 

Designed with durable materials, such as an aluminum casting tray, it makes it a lightweight solution that is easy to install with no additional help. This rack has other features, such as three built-in security locking mechanisms and a release trigger.

With an ergonomic handle with a release trigger, the rack has an expandable arm that holds the bike in place without touching the frame. It can keep the rack in a flat position with a foldable and straightforward design when not transporting bikes for better aerodynamics and underground parking access. 

This roof bike rack can hold bikes of up to 45lbs, making it one of the most capable bike transportation options, which means that cyclists can now transport heavier bikes on the roof rack. 

This rack is not only durable, but its anti-corrosive powder-coated finish allows it to travel on rainy days. They made the wheel ratchet straps from durable plastic. With three locking mechanisms on the rack, it offers a stable transportation experience and a design which can rival some of the most popular options in this category.

The rack has a universal mount mechanism, like these universal roof racks, on the roof’s crossbars. You can mount it on most modern crossbars. This process should be pretty simple to accomplish, as a single person can do it. With a capacity to hold bikes between 20” and 29” inches, this roof rack is perfect for maximum security and safe transportation for all the family member’s bikes.

Pros: 

  • Lightweight but durable design with a non-corrosive finish.
  • It has functionality for bikes of different sizes and designs.  
  • Ergonomic handle with a release trigger.
  • Total of three locking mechanisms on the rack.
  • Has a universal mount mechanism.

Cons:

  • The bikes held within the bike roof rack will drastically increase the height of your car. 

2. Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack

Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack

The Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack is one of the best choices for those looking for a secure quick-lock system for their bike. The bike rack is made with an upright arm holder, and the rack grips the bike by the frame; this means that both wheels can remain on the bike during transport.

The manufacturer ensured they made all the parts in contact with the bike from plastic to protect various bikes, such as carbon bikes or titanium bikes, from damage. The arm also functions as a safety lock mechanism, with a simple system that uses keys to protect the bike against theft. The roof rack is up to date with all the characteristics that a modern cyclist needs.

The roof rack ensures stable transport, an absolute must with various challenges, such as wind or bumpy roads. The rack comes with additional tie-down straps which lock the wheels into position and prevents a wobble or potential damage caused by high vibrations.

It is also essential to know that they made the roof rack to be installed by a single person. With a lightweight profile, it can hold bikes of up to 35lbs, and we highly recommend it for cyclists who need to install and uninstall the rack often.

For this purpose, the lockdown mechanism of the roof racks suits most modern crossbars. It even works on oval-shaped crossbars, which is recommended because of its improved aerodynamic performance.

The affordable rooftop bike rack is easy to install on the crossbars as it has two mounting points. One point is at the front crossbar, while the other locks at the rear crossbar. Of course, you can adjust the rack’s position on the roof easily. However, to avoid scratching the top of the car, they recommend installing the bike rack on either side of the car roof, instead of in the middle where cyclists might find it harder to reach. 

Of course, if cyclists need to carry multiple bikes, installing multiple bike racks is also possible. They recommend consulting the car’s weight-bearing capabilities to understand the maximum weight load of the car’s roof and the maximum load capacity of the crossbars.

As one of the most affordable bike roof racks, this bike roof rack should be one of the first choices for cyclists who want to take their bikes away with them. With a metal profile that uses aluminum, the lightweight roof rack is easy to handle and takes minutes to install or uninstall.

Pros

  • Most Affordable
  • Built-in safety lock mechanisms with keys
  • Fits most crossbars.
  • It comes bearing tie-down straps that lock the wheels into position

Cons 

  • 35lbs Maximum load capacity

3. SeaSucker Talon

SeaSucker Talon

Designed for the ultimate compact practicality, the SeaSucker Talon is the most versatile bike roof rack. This rack does not need roof rails or crossbars as it uses 6-inch vacuum cups with a pull strength of 210 lbs.

This roof rack is perfect for the occasional user who doesn’t want a permanently installed roof rack. When not in use, it requires a small amount of storage space in your garage. Cyclists with multiple cars can find significant advantages in this roof rack’s ability to quickly move between vehicles.

The vacuum cups have a pull strength of 210lbs, meaning they will remain positioned, even at higher speeds. This rooftop bike rack represents a sound design, even when compared to more permanent solutions, and can support a weight of up to 45lbs.

The installation process is straightforward, probably among the most straightforward approaches seen in the market. With 6” inch vacuum cups, the rack attaches to the car’s roof, trunk, or truck bed. With a weight of just 6lbs, a single person can perform this process, which only takes a couple of minutes.

Made with a design that requires cyclists to remove the front wheel, the rack can work with a series of specialized bikes. The rear side of the bike must be secured at the rear wheel using a strap, while the front side of the bike works with fork mounts.

The minimalist design means that it can only carry a single bike. One concern that often comes with vacuum designs is that they can lose suction; however, the SeaSucker comes with a power indicator that notifies drivers when it’s time to re-pump.

The stainless steel form of the cups is easy to remove. Made with a system that allows on-command detaching, it represents a practical way to mount and remove the bike on the car’s roof. Since it also comes with rubber and plastic bits, the rack has been UV-treated to enhance durability.

Pros:

  • Robust 6” inch vacuum mounts
  • Power indicator which notifies drivers when it’s time to re-pump.
  • You do not need to have installed roof racks or rails. 
  • Weight of just 6lbs
  • The bike mounts with fork mounts.
  • You can easily attach it to any car.

Cons

  • Not to be installed in wet conditions.
  • You might have to stop and re-pump.
  • Only carry one bike.

4. RockyMounts BrassKnuckles

RockyMounts BrassKnuckles

The bike rack is a practical solution to carry a single bike on the roof of your car. The traditional knuckle design inspires its name. The bike locks the front wheel of the bike with an easy-to-use form-fitting clamp.

In terms of versatility, cyclists can count on the bike rack to work with most of the crossbars available on the market. So if a cyclist is using Yakima, RockyMounts, or Thule crossbars, the bike rack will work with all of them. You can use crossbars for a variety of gear, such as bikes or snowboards. The ability to use the same crossbars regardless of outdoor sports gear makes this bike rack a significant addition to anyone’s transportation gear. 

Of course, those who do not have crossbars already installed on the roof of their cars can also purchase RockyMounts crossbars and parts. If you go down a beaten path with your bike roof rack, then it is recommended that you purchase additional straps from RockyMounts to keep your bikes stable during transit.

The roof rack design means no direct metal-on-metal contact with the bike’s frame. With no risk of scratches, it means that you can transport many types of bikes, including some of the most expensive custom-made products on the market. Fitting all bikes between 20” and 29” inches, the bike rack can work with different designs, from regular road bikes to mountain bikes or even fat bikes.

However, one drawback is its safety locking mechanism. It is an excellent way for cyclists to protect their bikes against theft by purchasing RockyMountain’s Lock Core Pack. 

Adaptors for fat bikes are available from the manufacturer. The kit comes with a wheel chock and ratcheting straps for proper fat bike lockdown. You could say that the BrassKnuckles roof bike rack is among the most interesting solutions in its class as it easily fits most bike designs. Even if it doesn’t come with the safety lock as standard, it provides you with an option to purchase and add a lock. It can be pretty versatile as an affordable rack and is one of the few fat bike-compatible rooftop designs.

Pros:

  • Can mount to most types of crossbars.
  • No direct metal on metal contact
  • Fitting all bikes between 20” and 29”
  • Customizable
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • No built-in security lock. Therefore, no bike security. 
  • You have to purchase adaptors to transport fat bikes

5. CyclingDeal Bike Roof Rack

CyclingDeal Bike Roof Rack

As its name suggests, the roof rack can carry a single bike. One of the main benefits of the bike roof rack is its simplicity in use and installation. You would not need to remove any wheels from your bike because of its clamping mechanism that holds the bike in place by the frame. The rack might not work with some custom bike designs as the manufacturer made it to fit standard designs.

With solid steel construction, the roof carrier is among the most exciting solutions for overnight safety. Cyclists can leave their bike secured on the rack with a lock that operates with a key. 

Installing the bike roof rack is easy. It can mount on most round and square bars that are 40mm thick. If you have installed roof bars already, you can fit the bike rack in minutes. Since it holds a single bike, you can place it at either lateral side of the car. But it works well with another Cycling Deal 1 bike carrier alongside it to transport two bikes.

If the rack is unused, you can uninstall it without a hassle and store it in the garage or around the house. Those looking to travel at higher speeds can make the most of the racks’ features and secure the wheels, with the Keeper 8’ x 1’ lashing straps, for bike stability during transport.

The frame itself is durable as it has a steel frame with a powdered coat finish, although some of the textile accessories might need to be replaced from time to time. The straps used to secure the bike could wear down over time from use and weather exposure. 

Pros:

  • Clamping mechanism which holds the bike in place by the frame
  • Secured with a lock, which operates with a key
  • A viable option for keeping your expensive bikes safe. 
  • You can easily remove the bike rack
  • Powdered coat finish and a steel frame

Cons:

  • The rack might not work with some custom bikes because the manufacturers made it to fit standard alternatives.
  •  It can mount on most round and square bars with a thickness of up to 40mm.
  • The need to replace lashing straps.

6. Thule ProRide Car Rack

Thule ProRide Car Rack

Thule has been producing some of the most exciting bike roof racks. Their products are always durable and manufactured to a high standard. It is also the case of the ProRide Car Rack. Its design is unique in many areas, and it represents a combination of innovative techniques with new and daring designs. The same can be said about the automatic bike positioning when securing a bike, primarily because of the ergonomic design of the rack’s wheel tray. 

This bike roof rack has an extended claw design; the rack has a long arm that reaches and locks the bike’s frame into position. With a protective structure, it does not impact the paint or the finishing touches of the bike. It also includes fixed wheel holders, which come with adjustable straps made with robust quick-release straps.

Another characteristic worth mentioning is the torque limiter dial, which gives the user the ability to control the force or the tension, which is typical of a roof rack. Next to the dial, you will find the built-in safety lock mechanism which protects your bike from theft. The crossbars can be locked as well, meaning the bike has an extra layer of anti-theft protection.

In terms of mounting versatility, the roof rack works with multiple solutions on the market. You can use this roof rack by combining the AeroBlade Edge and Thule’s square and round crossbars. 

This bike rack does not need tools for installation, which makes it a helpful solution in certain conditions, especially when you are looking for a bike roof rack that is quick to install.

Pros:

  • The rack has a long arm that reaches and locks the frame of the bike into position.
  • Automatic bike positioning when securing a bike due to the ergonomic design of the rack’s wheel tray. 
  • Wheel holders come with adjustable straps
  • Built-in safety lock mechanism 
  • Torque limiter dial

Cons

  • Customer reviews have stated that the rack is difficult to assemble.
  • Not compatible with some crossbars.

7. Thule UpRide Upright Bike Mount

Thule UpRide Upright Bike Mount

Thule is a known brand with a wide range of bike roof racks from which to choose. The UpRide Upright Bike Mount is innovative because of how the bike mounts on the roof rack. Without being overly complicated, the bike rack simply holds the bike’s front wheel with a secure hook. The rear wheel secures with a ratcheting wheel strap; this means that all the strap eliminates all the contact areas with the bike’s frame. 

You can use this design with carbon bikes and even premium bikes. It fits most wheels that are 20 -29 inches in diameter and up to 3 inches thick. As expected, the interface is easy to handle, allowing you to conveniently switch the carrier from one side of the car to another. You can purchase a Thule Fat Bike Adapter with your Thule Upride Bike Mount to comfortably mount a fat bike on the rack. Unfortunately, if you would like to have a locking system for security, you will have to purchase one separately. 

When it comes to fit, the roof rack works well with most crossbars regardless of their shape and brand. Round, square, oval, or even factory set crossbars can be the foundation of this roof rack. Furthermore, this bike can be an excellent option for cyclists who deal with long rides on country roads as it provides the ultimate stability for your bike. The good news is that the rack needs no tools to be installed, thus making it very easy to install no matter where you are.

Pros:

  • It has no contact with the bike frame
  • Perfect for carbon bikes, premium bikes, and bikes with unusual designs.
  • It secures the rear wheel of the bike with a ratcheting wheel strap.
  • Can accommodate tiers up to 3” inch wide.
  • Accommodates 20” – 29-inch” bicycle wheels.
  • Simple interface
  • It can mount onto most types of crossbars
  • Needs no tools for installation

Cons:

  • You will need to buy a locking system separately if you want security.
  • To accommodate a fat bike, you have to purchase a Fat Bike Adapter.

8. Thule OutRide Fork Mount Bike Carrier

Thule OutRide Fork Mount Bike Carrier

Thule offers the OutRide Fork Mount bike carrier as an impressive and versatile solution for everyday bike transport. The rack includes an axle, where you can secure the fork mount into position. 

The fork mount can fit a 9mm Quick Release axle or most disk brakes. The fork mount comes with a quick-release system; the mount allows users to quickly unmount the bike and have it ready for their next cycling adventure. A locking mechanism does not come with the rack, so you have to purchase one separately. 

The rear wheel secures with a quick-release wheel strap. With both the front and rear wheels of the bike firmly in place, the overall drive will be a safe one for you, your car, and your bike. The rack can handle air resistance with ease as it has a stylish, aerodynamic aluminum design. Even more, you can mount the bike rack on popular crossbars designs such as the Aeroblade Edge or the SquareBar. 

Pros

  • Includes an axle; however, it can fit a 9mm Quick Release axle or most disk brakes.
  • It has a quick-release system to remove the bike.
  • Both front and back wheels anchor in place.
  • Stylish Aerodynamic aluminum design.
  • It can mount on popular crossbars such as Aeroblade Edge or the Sqaurebar Designs.

Cons:

  • You must purchase the locking mechanism for security separately.
  • You need tools to mount your bike.
  • You need to remove your wheel when wanting to mount the bike again.
  • Not compatible with most crossbars.

9. SeaSucker Mini-Bomber 2 Bike Carrier

SeaSucker Mini-Bomber 2

The roof rack is versatile, easy to use, and can carry two bikes. The rack does not need to mount onto any crossbars. It comes with six vacuum mounts that have a heavy-duty suction powered by a pump-to-attach mechanism. The vacuum mounts are easy to detach at a click of a button. The mounts are made from stainless steel, ensuring they are durable and robust, even at higher speeds.

They weigh 12lbs and have a load capacity of 45lbs per bike. The rack is for those who do not need a permanent solution on the roof of their cars. When the bike roof rack is not in use, you can easily store it away.

Furthermore, the roof rack is easy to install in different positions on your car roof. Those who need to carry up to two bikes and who want the extra practicality of a fork mount can consider the product for everyday use.

Pros:

  • It uses six-strong vacuum cups instead of a crossbar to attach to the car.
  • Vacuum cups detach at a press of a button
  • Can carry up to two bikes
  • Great for everyday use.
  • Load capacity is 45lbs.
  • The roof rack weighs only 12lbs.

Cons:

  • Maybe not the wisest choice for long-distance travel as you will have to stop and pump the vacuum cups.
  • Remove the wheels before mounting your bike.
  • It has no secure locking mechanism, and it has low security against theft.

10. Venzo Car Top Bike Rack

 Venzo Car Top Bike Rack

This versatile bike carrier works with BMX bikes, road bikes, and even mountain bikes. However, it is not recommended for carbon bikes as it clamps onto the bike frame. It is made from durable materials, meaning it can easily withstand changing weather. This bike rack could be an excellent option for a permanently installed roof rack if that is what you’re looking for. 

The arm lock mechanism works as a quick lockdown mechanism to keep the bike secure. On both wheels, there is a strap added for extra stability. Anti-theft measures are lacking, so you have to purchase a security locking mechanism separately if you’re looking for added security. 

The bicycle carrier is simple to mount as it only weighs 8.13 pounds. However, it can carry a weight of 37 pounds. This rack is compatible with crossbars, such as Aeroblades or square crossbars. However, it is essential to note the maximum crossbar thickness this rack can take is 1.77 inches. 

Pros:

  • Only weighs 8.13 pounds
  • Works well with fat bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes.
  • It has a lifetime warranty
  • Has a quick arm lockdown mechanism for the bike.

Cons:

  • Not recommended for carbon bikes.
  • You must purchase security locking mechanisms separately. 

Features to Look for When Buying a Bike Roof Rack

If you are purchasing your first bike roof rack, you might be unsure where to start. Since there are a few fantastic options for you to choose from, it can be overwhelming. 

To narrow down your search a bit more, consider what type of bike you have and what kind of roof your vehicle has. After that, consider features you would need to suit you. Here is a list of some features you might deem necessary: 

Load Capacity:

An often underestimated characteristic of modern rooftop bike racks is the weight of the actual roof rack. The weight of the rack can impact the ease of installation. For example, it might be a lot more strenuous to lift the rack over your head and onto the car roof if it is heavy; this is why it is better to have a bike roof rack made of lighter materials such as aluminum and plastic. However, it is essential not to compromise the durability and stability of the rack.

Other elements such as the weight of the bike and the crossbars also need to be considered. Compare the total weight of the rack and bike against the load capacity of the car’s roof. Typically, you can find this information in the car’s owner manual. If the information is not in the manual, cyclists should contact their car manufacturers directly. Even with just one bike on the roof, the load capacity of the car’s roof could be compromised; this is why it is essential to keep in mind the total weight of the rack and bike.  

Most roof racks can hold a bike that weighs between 35 lbs and 40lbs. Consider your rack’s weight because it could impact the difficulty of mounting or removing the rack from your roof. So while the weight is less critical if it stays on the car for months, it becomes more important when the rack is handled weekly or multiple times per week. 

Those with back issues do not choose heavy racks, as lifting them above shoulder level could aggravate the condition. However, the good news is the best bike roof racks are now lightweight, and most healthy adults should be able to install and remove them with no extra help.

How Many Bikes You Want to Carry

It is rare to find a true cycling enthusiast owning a single bike. Many people prefer to cycle with a friend or with a partner. So considering the choices between a one bike carrier or two bike carriers often needs to be done in advance.

Few bike roof racks accommodate two bikes, but cyclists often use two single bike roof racks to transport two bikes. The best way to look for two single bike roof racks is to consider the added weight of the second bike and rack and how this compares against the total weight capacity of the car’s roof. Two bikes on the vehicle roof can impact air resistance differently, and drivers will need to drive even slower for safety purposes. 

The time and effort it will take to mount two racks will double. A natural alternative to this issue is the designs that need no tools for installation. Here, they stand out with their ease of installation. Thule is known for this approach in most of its products. So if you have no time to deal with complex installation systems, you can choose one of their designs to minimize the time needed until the car and bikes are ready to go on the road. 

Bike Lockdown Mechanism

The lockdown mechanism is an area on the rack that has seen the most changes in its design. Due to the racks having different lockdown mechanisms, it is important to consider what bike you have. For instance, some mechanisms would secure the bike by clamping onto the frame of a bike, which is not ideal for premium or carbon bikes as it increases the chance of your bike becoming scratched or damaged.  

It would be best to purchase a rack with an arm that can hook and lock down onto the wheel instead. However, in other cases, the rack that holds the bike by the frame is perfect for fat bikes, and mountain bikes as the racks won’t need to adjust to suit a thicker wheel.  

The most popular lockdown mechanism is the ratcheting wheel strap that allows you to tie down the bike. The ratcheting wheel strap has two components; these components would include the strap itself and the ratchet. You use the straps to tie down the bike wheel; the ratchet ensures the straps are taut and the bike is secured. This ratcheting wheel strap mechanism is one of the most straightforward mechanisms to use on a rack, as it is adjustable and simple. 

Lastly, some racks come with wheel straps for both wheels, and others come with wheel straps for only the rear wheel. These wheel straps provide extra stability and reduce vibration during transport. However, one of the main issues is the durability of these straps. Most cyclists find that these straps can loosen after a cycling season, or their quality deteriorates because of long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun—luckily, some straps include UV protection. However, not all manufacturers provide such straps. 

To protect your straps from damage, keep them away from the sun or rain. It is better to store them away inside your garage when not in use. 

Anti-Theft Protection

We can’t argue that anti-theft protection is a must-have. Sometimes, the protection is as standard as a built-in key lock. However, not all manufacturers offer roof bike racks that include this feature. Therefore, you would have to purchase one separately. The most affordable racks on the market don’t allow you to install a security lock. 

It would be wise to consider how you will use your bike rack. For example, if you stay in another place for a few days, you need to leave your bike on the car rack overnight. Therefore, consider purchasing a roof rack with a built-in lock. 

Otherwise, it would be best to purchase one separately as the integration between the lock, bike, and the rack is needed to keep the bike safe from theft. Meaning those who are planning to travel with expensive bikes need to prepare. 

Fat Bike Accessories

If your bike roof rack does not hold fat bikes or broader wheels, purchase a separate adapter for your rack to accommodate such bikes. However, the recommended roof bike rack option for fat bikes is a fork mount roof rack.

Tools vs. No Tools

Installing a bike roof rack is not what it used to be. Just a few years ago, cyclists had to deal with a complex installation that required various tools and lots of patience. Some of the best manufacturers had listened to the complaints and started introducing the no-tools designs; this includes a straightforward process that simply uses both securing straps or clamps to lock the rack to the crossbars. 

With a more straightforward process, installing and removing the roof rack off the car is convenient and simple for anyone to do. The first characteristic looked at by cyclists to determine the best bike roof rack is the convenience of mounting and removing the rack.

However, a few exceptions can apply. You will still need tools if you have to mount crossbars. Standard crossbars use nuts and bolts to be secured, which might require tools such as a screwdriver or an Allen Key. Therefore, install the crossbars at home. 

Bike Rack Size Adjustability

Often cyclists only think of transporting one bike at a time. However, families who enjoy a biking hobby together would need a rack that accommodates more than one bike and different bike sizes, such as kids’ bikes; this is why many roof racks come with an adjustable system that allows adjustability between 20 and 29 inches.  

An adjustable bike height system has an extending arm. The arm is usually placed either on the bike’s front wheel on the lower bar of the bike’s frame. Simply adjusting the height of the bar should be enough to ensure proper versatility for bikes of various sizes.

Materials Durability

Durability is often an issue with those using a bike rack often. Exposing it to hot weather or the winter’s lower temperatures is bound to harm the roof racks. Therefore manufacturers add different components to enable it to last longer. Such as the powder coating used on the metal parts for anti-corrosive purposes. RhinoRack is one manufacturer known for the durability of its anti-corrosive designs. Others apply UV protection to various minor aspects of the bike rack. 

With such an investment, cyclists should choose from various coverage policies offered by the manufacturer ranging from a 1-year warranty to a lifetime warranty; this will ensure that you have made a reliable choice. 

However, the most durable bike racks are made of steel or metal, although they have drawbacks, such as a longer installation time because of the screw, nut, and bolt crossbar locks instead of the more modern strap lockdown.

Crossbar Compatibility

Most bike racks are compatible with modern crossbars; however, exceptions apply. It is rare to find modern square crossbars, but a few manufacturers still make them. Today, most crossbars are made with a rounded oval shape to enhance aerodynamics and reduce friction. In many situations, it means that bike roof racks should be easy to install, especially with modern flattened crossbars. 

Each bike roof rack comes with its own recommended compatibility products. It is why they are often listed in the product description by the manufacturer. If cyclists own older crossbars, they need to ensure they are compatible with the new design roof rack. However, if you choose a bike rack that uses straps to lock down the bike, it considerably reduces these issues as straps work with all shapes and sizes.

Components of the Bike Roof Rack System 

Roof Rails 

Roof rails are commonly seen on modern-day vehicles, such as SUVs, meaning they are usually a standard design feature of the car. A roof-rail will run along the car roof’s length (front to back) and allow for feet or towers to attach to it. 

Feet or Towers

Feet or towers are the primary part of a roof rack system, it holds all the weight of the load. They are generally located on the strongest part of the vehicle’s roof, which is usually the corners. They are used to attach the crossbars to the roof rails. It is crucial to purchase the correct towers or feet for your specific car roof, as they are all designed for a different roof. 

Crossbars

Crossbars are two bars running the width (left to right) of the car roof. They usually attach to the roof rails and create a place to mount your activity-specific roof rack system. Crossbars allow the feet or towers to support the weight of the load instead of the roof itself. 

Ratchet Strap

Ratchet straps are also known as tie-downs. These are highly helpful pieces of a roof rack system. It enables you to tie down the wheels of your bike which makes it extra stable during transit. The ratchets on the straps allow users to keep the straps taut and the bike securely mounted.

Roof Rack System

The roof rack system is usually mounted to the crossbars and allows oversized bulky items to be transported safely without damage. Many kinds of roof rack systems enable you to carry different activity-specific objects such as the kayak roof rack system, bike roof rack system, and a cargo carrier rack system. 

Fit Kit

A fit kit is only needed if your car has a bare roof. The kit is designed according to a specific vehicle model. This allows for the necessary foot pack or roof bars to be fitted. Ultimately allowing you to have a car roof rack.

Roof Rack Buying Guide According to your Type of Roof:

Bare Roof

Older cars and some modern vehicles, like hatchbacks, usually have a roof with no points to fix feet, towers, or crossbars to. 

To mount a crossbar to your bare roof, you will need to purchase a fit kit separately. Fit kits are components that are made specifically for a car model. A fit kit ensures a perfect fit of the towers and crossbars to your bare roof. Once you have purchased the correct fit kit for your car, you can place a tower or clamp in the doorjamb. You can then clamp your crossbars onto the jammed towers; this is one of the best ways to install a roof rack system with a bare roof. 

However, some roof racks on this list use vacuum cups to mount the rack to the car. Which eliminates the need for towers, crossbars, or even fit kits. 

Raised Roof Rails

These roof rails are on modern-day vehicles such as SUV’s meaning they are usually a design feature of the car. A roof-rail will run along the car roof’s length (front to back) raised from the roof. Installing the side rail enables easy mounting of base towers or feet.

These rails are raised from the vehicle’s roof, which means a gap between the rails and the roof. Because of the way this feature is designed, some specific feet or towers fit and clip around the rail. Once the base towers or feet are attached, you can then simply attach the crossbars. 

Floating or Flush Side Roof Rails

Floating or Flush Side Rails is a factory-installed feature relatively like the raised roof rails with more modern cars. These rails sit against the roof in a sloping shape.

You will need specific towers or feet with your crossbars to use this roof rail, as it typically has pinholes or channels for you to fit the tower or feet into. There are even some options that fasten around the flush rail. 

Fixed Points Car Roof

Rubber, plastic covers, or plugs usually conceal the fixed point feature of the roof. These fixed points are also a design feature that comes with some cars, just like the raised roof rails or floating rails. 

Fixed points may differ from vehicle to vehicle; therefore, it is always wise to refer to your car’s instructions on locating them; once you have found the fixed points of your vehicle, screw in the retaining bolts that come with your crossbar. Use the provided allen key to tighten the bolt, but be cautious not to over-tighten it. 

When all the retaining bolts are correctly screwed in, then the crossbar tower or foot is applied over the point. You can fasten the foot or tower with bolts. Lastly, the crossbar is used and tightened accordingly. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Bike Roof Rack

Advantages of a Bike Roof Rack

One of the significant advantages of a bike rack is transporting the bike without scratching the car. Instead of carrying it inside the vehicle and creating a mess, transporting the bike on a roof-mounted bike rack is much easier.

As soon as you install your first roof bars or crossbars, you can transport other types of equipment this way as well; this means that the crossbars are the foundation for carrying many different loads, such as winter or water sports equipment. Other load types can include everyday household items, but consider a dedicated roof cart for such loads.

The roof of the car can usually carry up to four bikes. Of course, it will also need up to four bike roof racks installed on the crossbars. However, most cases have only two bikes on the roof. 

A roof bike rack is also very secure. If installed correctly, it will not pose a danger to either the car or to other drivers on the road. You should tighten both the rack and the bikes to have no room for wobble and various types of accidents. 

Easy to Install

Another significant advantage of the roof bike rack is that it is easy to install. It represents one of the most straightforward processes a cyclist will have to do. Modern bike roof racks come with the ability to adapt perfectly to various crossbars. Installing the bike roof rack can be done at home, following the instructions manual, with no additional help; this is not always the case with hitch-mounted racks which are larger or heavier and might require further assistance.

Lightweight

The lightweight profile of the bike roof rack also recommends it for all types of cyclists. It comes as one of the most efficient and straightforward solutions when considering the various options at hand for bike transportation. In many cases, a bike rack can come with a weight of around 2kg, which makes it easier to mount a bike rack on the roof of your car or remove it as often as you like. 

Easy to Store

Once you uninstall the bike roof rack, it is easy to store. Unlike a hitch-mounted rack which might not even fit in the garage, the roof-mounted bike roof rack is much more compact. You can store it vertically or on top of various wardrobes in the garage or the basement. Many of the modern solutions at hand are simply better when it comes to diminishing property sizes. With tools for bikes and the bikes themselves, storage might come as a premium for many cyclists. 

Practical for Various Bikes

A bike roof rack is versatile enough to accommodate various types of bikes. Meaning customers can enjoy the ease of transporting any bike, such as a BMX, road bike, mountain bike, and even a kids’ bike. With this versatility, the bike racks can replace various other methods of transportation.

Disadvantages

Forgetting Your Increased Car Height

By adding the bike rack system to your roof, you are increasing the height of your car. Meaning you can no longer go under low overhangs or pull into your garage. Considering that you cannot see the roof rack while seated in the car, it’s easy to forget you have a bike on the roof. 

Pro Tip: To help remind you of the extra height added to the car and prevent damaging your bike, grab a sticky note or piece of paper. Write a few words that will make you think of your bike roof rack. Stick the note somewhere in the car where you can easily see it, acting as a reminder that you cannot go under a low entrance, low overhang, or under low clearances as this will damage your bike and car. 

Lifting and Mounting Your Bike 

With the rack being on the roof of the car, it can be pretty awkward trying to lift the bike above your head to get it onto the rack, especially if you are on the shorter side. Not to mention the possibility of damaging your car while trying to complete this task. 

Pro Tip: Use a towel as a barrier between the bike and car to minimize the possibility of the bike taking paint off or damaging the vehicle. Another tip is to use a stool or step to give you a bit of extra height; this will make it easier to reach the roof rack with the bike. 

Conclusion

Some of the best bike roof racks are easy to use, and they represent a top solution regardless of the bikes considered for transportation. With efficient designs and shapes more aerodynamic to reduce air drag, they made modern bike roof racks to the user’s benefit.

With lighter materials and multiple designs requiring no installation tools, you can easily install a bike roof rack. Consider using additional security measures on premium bikes to ensure anti-theft protection. Such solutions often come with built-in locks that represent one of the best options for leaving the bike unattended on the car’s roof. Other modern features include various bike lockdown points, either on the front wheel or on the frame itself. Depending on the type of bike, these options can prove quite versatile to protect the bikes’ paint.

Consider that the best options for you need to be durable. You should use a metal frame with high-quality plastic accessories. In the conditions in which cyclists can practice their hobby both during the warmer and colder months of the year, the bike racks need to resist varying temperatures.

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