Yakima Highroad

Yakima Highroad Bike Rack Review

Have you ever seen a car driving down the road with a bike on its roof and secretly hoped it would go under a low bridge? You’re not alone!

However, the rooftop bike carrier is a very popular choice and with good reason. It allows you to access your trunk effortlessly, leaves your tow hitch available for a trailer, and still allows you to carry a kayak or slim-line cargo box.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a cargo box it’s worth checking this one out.

The Yakima Highroad is, unsurprisingly, made by Yakima. The company have been making bike racks and associated products for 40 years and have become one of the most respected brands in the world.

That’s a great start, but how does the Yakima Highroad really stack up against racks from other brands, as well as Yakima themselves?


Here’s a quick look at what it can do for you.

  • Holds 1 bike but you can fit multiple racks on your roof
  • Handles wheels between 26” and 29”
  • Tire width up to 3.25”
  • Can be fitted to a crossbar with a spread of between 18” and 36”
  • Weight 24 pounds
  • Holds bikes weighing up to 45 pounds


There are a number of advantages to the Yakima Highroad:

  • Torque knob for secure loading

Yakima Highroad Ratchet Strap

The Yakima Highroad offers you tool-free operation. The rear wheel simply slots into the groove and a ratchet strap closes over it, click it as many times as you need to ensure your bike is secure then clip the locking pin down. It’s that simple.

The front wheel is just as easy. Lift it into position so that it slides into the front loop. Then ratchet the rear loop into place and finish by tightening the torque knob. Within a few moments, the bike is secure and you’re ready to go.

The real delight over this and where it scores points in a Yakima Highroad vs. Frontloader review is that you don’t need to make any adjustments when switching between tire sizes. That’s perfect if you have more than one bike or are carrying a friend’s.

  • No wheel or frame contact

You’ll note that the loop system slots against your tires, there is no frame or wheel contact which eliminates the risk of damage to your pride and joy.

  • Universal mounting

Yakima Highroad Fitting

The Yakima Highroad is designed to fit onto any crossbar system. It doesn’t matter if you have a factory fit, aftermarket option, or have chosen the Yakima crossbars; the rack will fit effortlessly into position.

As the rack is relatively expensive this can make a sizeable difference to the overall cost. After all, having to switch your existing crossbars for Yakima ones would seriously affect the overall price.

  • Ease of fitting

Yakima have focused their efforts on making the Yakima Highroad as easy as possible to fit.

All you need to do is lift the rack onto the roof of your vehicle, you do need to have cross bars fitted first. Slide the mounting point over your crossbar and then open the cover. You’ll be able to release the strap which then goes around the crossbar and back inside the mechanism. It is ratcheted tight in seconds to secure the rack; repeat with the other clamp.

You’ll be grateful to note that SKS locks are including, allowing you to lock the rack to your vehicle and keep it there. There is also an SKS locking cable that will ensure your bike stays attached to the rack at the front and a lock on the back mounting mechanism. This should give you security and peace of mind.

  • Accessories

The Yakima Highroad will support tires up to 3.25”. However, if you purchase a 16” long Wheelstrap you’ll find that it is capable of accommodating bikes with tires up to 4” wide.

It should be noted that this strap comes with the latest models but was an optional extra on racks made in 2017.

That’s just one of many accessories that are available from Yakima to make your bike carrying experience as simple as possible.


As always, there are a few things that should be noted, no bike rack is perfect.

  • Weight of bike

This disadvantage is the same for any roof-mounted bike rack, you need to lift the bike onto the roof in order to secure it.

If you have a heavy bike or back issues you’re going to find this hard work, even lifting a lightweight frame can be awkward as you don’t want to damage it.

  • Smaller Wheel Sizes

It’s unfortunate that the Yakima Highroad doesn’t take wheel sizes smaller than 26”. If you have children’s bikes or even a BLX you may not be able to use this premium rack, despite the fact that most of the other racks in the Yakima range do accommodate smaller wheel sizes.

  • Cost

It should be noted that the Yakima Highroad is not the cheapest option available. However, it is robust, extremely easy to use and surprisingly quiet when attached to your vehicle.

Quick Comparison: Yakima Highroad vs. Frontloader

The Frontloader is also a roof based bike rack system but, it looks significantly older than the Yakima Highroad. In fact, when comparing the Yakima Highroad vs. Frontloader you’ll notice the tray on the Highroad sits further forward which gives better hatch clearance.

It is also capable of handling larger tire sizes than the Frontloader and takes security more seriously, with a larger cable lock.

In a competition of Yakima Highroad vs. Frontloader, both racks will feature well. But, while the Frontloader is not out of date, the Yakima Highroad does improve on it just a little in every way possible.  It just makes more sense!


If you’re looking for a way to carry your bike that still allows access to the trunk and tow hitch then the Yakima Highroad is a strong contender. It is durable, stylish and incredibly easy to use.

As a bonus, it can be left attached to your roof and you’ll never notice it’s there, folded flat it provides no wind resistance and no discernable noise. This is a great option for anyone who needs to carry a bike on a regular basis and doesn’t want to damage the frame.

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