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Roof racks - any recommendations anyone?(48 posts)

Roof racks - any recommendations anyone?cioccman
Oct 3, 2001 7:16 AM
Just wonderin'. Thule vs. Yakima?
They're both equally good racks...Cima Coppi
Oct 3, 2001 7:23 AM
I comes down to if you want to buy American or Swedish. I own a Thule rack that I have had since the late eighties. I've only changed out the feet to accomodate for gutterless mounting. I have really liked the modular capabilities of roof racks. Definately get a fairing, because the racks produce a lot of wind noise, esp. if you have a sunroof.

Good Luck

They're both equally good racks...cioccman
Oct 3, 2001 7:29 AM
Is the cost the same? Do you or anyone else know of better than normal deals? Thanks!
Honestly, I'm not certain of current costs...Cima Coppi
Oct 3, 2001 7:34 AM
but I'd imagine they are nearly equal. Check out, as they carry both lines, and can give accurate costs. Also, both Yakima and Thule's websites have links ot help you figure out exactly what mounts are needed to fit your vehicle.

usually don't go on saleColnagoFE
Oct 3, 2001 7:52 AM
I got 15% off a Yakima system and I think that's about as good as I';ve seen it. Yakima doesn't like retailers discounting it's product
Append...Cima Coppi
Oct 3, 2001 7:31 AM
No matter which rack you buy, get fork mounted bike mounts. They are much more stable for the bike than downtube mounts. Yeah, you have to remove the front wheel, and buy wheel mounts for them, but you'll be much happier with the secure hold it has for your bike.

Also, with any roof mount rack, avoid those parking garages and your own home garage when toting the bikes. It's sometimes easy to forget they are up there. When I have the bike on the roof of my car, I put my garage door opener in the glove compartment, so it forces me to think about why I have to it out when I come home. I have seen people destroy not only their bikes, but also the roofs on their cars not paying attention when going to the mall.

Oct 3, 2001 7:42 AM
Yes, fork mounts seem more secure. Except with fork mounts you are more likely to:

a) forget your front wheel

b) run over your front wheel (because you left it leaning against the car)

Spend an extra $20 and get the locks for the downtube carriers. As long as you lock them closed, they will be just as secure as the fork mounts. And so much easier to use, too.
c) have wheel fly off roof at 87 MPH on country road...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 3, 2001 9:46 AM
...but i still prefer the fork mount to the alternative.
Oct 3, 2001 11:16 AM
I like fork mount better. Driving home from a race on wet roads there was a wreck on the freeway about 10 cars up. I managed to stop. The minivan behind me way back didn't see it and slammed into my Pathfinder at 45+ and totalled it with a bent frame. If I had downtube carriers on that Cannondale up on the rack, you can imagine the ding! The frame and Vitus aluminum fork (this was 10 years ago, mind you!) somehow survived the impact up there and stayed secured.

Sure, this rare occurance isn't a reason to choose either mount. I just like the fork mounts and how they were easier to lift the bike off the 4WD's high roof. I stored the front wheel and spare wheels inside the cargo area anyway. Now with a pickup, I get to store bikes safely in the back, out of the wind and bugs.
Oct 3, 2001 11:36 AM
The fork-mounted bike may seem more secure than a down-tube held bike but with the fork mount you are creating a more extreme cantilever. All the stress of the bike moving laterally is being concentrated at the dropouts. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Imagine trying to hold your bike upright by only touching the wheels were they hit the ground - now imagine doing the same thing but with a third hand on the down-tube. Which is the easier way to keep the bike upright?
I completely understand your physics, but...Cima Coppi
Oct 3, 2001 12:04 PM
In the 12+ years I have owned my fork mount racks, I have never damaged a frame in the manner in which you describe. To me, that shows the strength inherent in bicycle frame construction and materials used.

Oct 3, 2001 12:37 PM
well where do you think the weight is concentrated when you ride?

The fork mounts greatly reduce the ceter of gravity of the bike and put the bike in a much more aerodynamic position.

As far as security goes, I can pop open a downtube mount with a screwdriver
Oct 3, 2001 1:16 PM
What I'm trying to say is that up on the roof at 65 mph the bike is going to be swaying from side to side, aerodynamic position or not, and all that sidewise force is hitting at the drop-out. This is not a force normally encountered while riding.

The weight of the rider is an axial or gravity load that is transferred vertically through the dropout to the wheel.
Chicken Littlegrzy
Oct 3, 2001 1:29 PM
In a general non-specific sense you're right. However, in an engineering sense your point is moot. The side to side motion of a bike in a fork mount rack has very little bending moment at the drop out and is vastly over shadowed by compression/tension of the dropout in the fork. You have to get to this before you can even think about the moment - that is how does one get enough deflection for there to be a significant moment? Also realize that a drop out is subjected to larger forces with a rider cornering hard and going over bumps in the road. What it all comes down to is understanding orders of magnitude and how things deform - a semester of statics would put a lot of this behind you. Fact of the matter is my bikes routinely get "stress tested" at speeds in excess of 85 mph. Having run into a few things I'm here to tell you that the dropouts aren't the weak link in the system.

The upright rack system where both wheels remain on the bike and the down tube is gripped is a sorry excuse for lazy people. I was damn near hit by a bike at 70 mph when one flew off a car in front of me. Yes, it could happen on ANY rack system, but I'd be a whole lot more worried about gripping the middle of some thin walled tube than the recognized "hard points". Dropouts are dewsigned to take a lot of force - thin walled tubes are not. I *never* worry about gripping the drop out too tightly.
O.K. (nm)Searcher
Oct 3, 2001 1:39 PM
a sorry excuse for lazy people?mr_spin
Oct 3, 2001 1:50 PM
That's an interesting standard of laziness--the willingness not to remove a front wheel.

My upright system has three points of contact (front wheel, rear wheel, downtube), whereas the fork mount only has two. I think that more than compensates for any perceived (but unproven) weakness in the design. In fact, I consider the wheel contacts the true connecting point, and the downtube holder more of a stabilizer for lateral movement. That puts it on par with a fork mount.
a sorry excuse for lazy people?grzy
Oct 3, 2001 2:50 PM
Guys that sell racks all day (i.e. The Sprts Rack & REI in our neck fo the woods) will tell you that they sell the upright style to people who don't want to take off the front wheel and get all messy. Getting the front wheel of a hybrid with no quick release is a pain.

Fork mount is way more stable. Anyone who's been around bikes for a while prefers the fork mount. Why would race support vehicles go to this extra effort if it didn't matter? This has been reviewed in many of the gear type mags, but you can test it for yourself. Grab a bike by the saddle mounted in an example of each type and wiggle it back and forth. You'll notice a huge difference - not exactly par.

Your statement about having another contact point compensating for the weakness of the design is an interesting one. On any number of occasions I've found that when I go to remove my bike that either the rear wheel hold down has come loose or I forgot to secure it. So I'm really running with just one solid attachment point - like in a pickup truck bed. The fact that you have three "contact points" doesn't count for much if they're all flimsy. Like I said I've seen bikes depart the roof of a car with the upright system. There aren't many things more solid on a bike than the dropouts and the BB - putting a wheel betweeen this hard point with additional degrees of freedom is counter productive.
lazy like these guys...?Dog
Oct 3, 2001 3:50 PM
lazy like these guys...?ColnagoFE
Oct 4, 2001 8:04 AM
Well that's not really a good example. I imagine the time saved by not having to mount the front wheel is worth the liability of a less secure system.
just thought it was funny, that's all :-) nmDog
Oct 4, 2001 8:18 AM
I'll give you that...was a bit funny :-) nmColnagoFE
Oct 4, 2001 9:21 AM
Oct 4, 2001 8:20 AM
...well, they are driving a Fiat. Says a lot. ;-)
Stress on the dropouts...jtolleson
Oct 3, 2001 1:09 PM
ummm, that's pretty much where it is when you ride, too. I have NEVER EVER heard (though there is always a first) that fork mounts overstress any part of the frame (in contrast to other models which can damage thin walled Al)
Saris makes a great rack too...raboboy
Oct 3, 2001 7:44 AM
and slightly less expensive, they are just harder to find than a Thule or Yakima.
Second on the SarisKurt H
Oct 3, 2001 9:36 AM
The easy installation of Saris racks without any tools by a single person is a huge bonus for me. For a while I had both an Acura Legend and a Honda Accord, while my fiance also had an Accord. I could change the rack from one car to the other, without changing clips and without any assistance, in 5 minutes or less. If we needed to change cars to take one to the shop, hurt foot (no clutch in either Accord), whatever, I could do so with minimal effort. I would seriously look at Saris before you decide to go with Thule or Yakima.
Kurt H
third. agreed, easy removal/reinstall. only problem i've had...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 3, 2001 9:50 AM
used when i bought it, the rear load bar no longer self-centers, and i haven't had the cajones to take it apart yet. called saris and they said they'd fix it by sending me a new one for $100. doh! the rubber coating has worn off parts of the door clamps and is scratching/rusting my car door threshold. just bought a friend's trunk rack for backup, so maybe it's about time for some roof rack maintenance.

good luck.
I can vouch for the Thule VeloVise, it is excellent. Check...RhodyRider
Oct 3, 2001 7:49 AM
...out for unbeatable prices. They have a deal on right now where you get free FedEx shipping with a $150+ order, too. I'm not affiliated with this company, merely providing them as a source for savings. Good Luck!
re: Roof racks - any recommendations anyone?cioccman
Oct 3, 2001 7:58 AM
Perfect. Thanks to all. Great info. The Rack Warehouse seems like the place to go. Seems as though I can be fully set for one bike around $200/$250.
consider a hitch rack?ColnagoFE
Oct 3, 2001 8:04 AM
Just got a Yakima Hitchfork rack for a Ford Explorer. A roof rack on that woulda been really high off the ground. Hard to get the bikes up there. There are plenty of other hitch racks that hold the bike by the top tube, but in my case my cabling runs down the underside of the TT on my road bike and I have a dual susp MTB so they can't easily hang by the top tube.
Oct 3, 2001 8:11 AM
If for noe reason than they look a lot better IMO. Plus if you have a car with a factory rack already, 99% of the time Yakima makes towers that would go on you car ie lockin railrider 1,2,and 3s or double crosses. Anyway these look almost factory b/c you remove all of they factory rack but the tracks.
Oct 3, 2001 1:33 PM
Unless they've changed things recently Yakima does NOT galvanize the inside of their bars. This leads to corrosion and ultimately failure in a marine environment. Look around at older cars with Yakima bars and see if you notice any that are "swelling" near the ends - rusting from the inside out then expanding the heavy plastic coating. Thule bars are galvanized on the inside and I've had bars for over 20 years around the ocean and haven't had one fail yet.
Oct 3, 2001 1:57 PM
A most excellent point. I would never have thought of corrosion as an issue.

confirm rusting on Yakima bars..dotkaye
Oct 4, 2001 8:15 AM
I have Yakima bars on a van for carrying canoes, about 10 years old, and there is significant rust in the bars. Only one of those ten years was spent near salt water, so this'll likely happen even in relatively benign climates.
re: Roof racks - any recommendations anyone?MikeC
Oct 3, 2001 8:35 AM
I have a Yakima Boa (no tray) which works great on both my wife's Yakima system and my Thule. $60.
I've got Yakima, picked mine up used...Warren128
Oct 3, 2001 9:00 AM
on Ebay and saved a couple hundred bucks. I got the complete setup in excellent condition for two bikes: two steelhead fork mount trays, two front wheel holders, 4 towers, 2 bars, locks, and a fairing.

The only things i needed to buy seperately were the specific tower clips for my car. I got those on sale at a local sporting goods store.

I'm very happy with the rack system. everything went together like it's supposed to, and the system is very secure. I found that I prefer to put my front wheels in the trunk vs. putting them on the rack.

Try agee bikes for YakimaShelley
Oct 3, 2001 9:27 AM
Try They have a system where when you buy big dollar stuff like towers and mounts, you get 20% of the purchase price credit toward smaller stuff like locks, farings and such. If a mount costs $100 then you get a credit of $20 towards accessories. Plus shipping is always free.
How about a rack for a pickup truck?E-ticket
Oct 3, 2001 9:50 AM
I just bought a 93 Toyota. I don't want to lay the bikes down in the bed. Is there a rack made to fit in the bed area? How about for the roof? I currently have Thule setup for the Jetta and it would be nice to have a Thule compatible system for the truck. Recommendations?
How about a rack for a pickup truck?Tig
Oct 3, 2001 11:25 AM
I'd post a picture of Biketite's mountable fork mount but my Norton antivirus detected the Nimda virus when I just went there!

I bolted a few Biketite mounts (very simple fork clamps for about $18-$20) to a painted 4"x4" that runs across the bed near the front. It has a 2"x4"'s at it's ends to stablize it so it won't move around. It looks like a sideways "I" from above. It is very stable, looks nice, and didn't cost much. I would avoid drilling holes into a bed to mount the Biketites though.
what about the rear of the bike? doesn't it bounce around? nmJs Haiku Shop
Oct 3, 2001 12:04 PM
Nope... nmjaybird
Oct 3, 2001 12:41 PM
The rear wheel sits in one of the lengthwise grooves...Tig
Oct 3, 2001 12:56 PM
I Use a thick rubber mat I custom fitted to the bed and attached using velcro. The lengthwise grooves are still barely present and the rear wheel just sits in one.
How about a rack for a pickup truck?4bykn
Oct 5, 2001 11:14 PM
This is probably not what you are looking for, but I just got a tonneau cover (hard fiberglass type) with a bike rack installed on it. Looks great and works nice. To look at one check out
I'll post a pic as soon as I get one.
Thule has been good for me.vanzutas
Oct 3, 2001 9:55 AM
I have had a Thule for 6 years. I have had to oil the locks a few times on the ski carrier, I have two Velo Vises and I really like them. It has been a total cost of almost $400 for the feet, load bars, ski carrier, and two velo vises. but I have been buying it in installments. I have driven at high speeds for long periods of time with my kayak and two bikes without any complaint from the rack.

The absolute word on roof racks, from the authority.Elefantino
Oct 3, 2001 11:47 AM
Do not, under any circumstances, forget to take your bike off your roof rack when you drive into your garage. This can be easily done, particularly if you are distracted by cell phones, small children, conversational wives, early onset of dementia, etc.
I know. I did it twice.
My Thule rack (Velo Vise) survived the first one. The second one munched the vise unit, which I replaced for $47 direct from Thule. They are good people.
By the way, my Trek 5200 came through with flying colors in both mishaps. Unfortunately, I munched two saddles.
Adendum - Trust me.grzy
Oct 3, 2001 1:36 PM
Do NOT under any circumstances put the bike into a rack while underneath a carport and drive out. Damaged the car port, rack, car and slight damage to the frame. It takes a special amount of obsesive focus and a snow storm to do this.
Same HereColnagoFE
Oct 4, 2001 7:08 AM
2 times...both times I stopped as soon as I heard the impact. Yakima Rack with Rockymounts tray mounts. Both broke the front part where the quick release is causing the bike to fall down on the roof scratching it pretty good. No damage to the rest of the rack though. Now I put my repair stand in the garage so I wont drive in without getting out to move the stand. So far so good.
Good Idea.grzy
Oct 4, 2001 8:22 AM
I've gone one step further and refuse to install an electric garage door opener. I have to get out of the car to open the door. I suppose I could still fly in if the door were open...
that's what happened to meColnagoFE
Oct 4, 2001 9:24 AM
I was in a hurry to get home and the wife had already opened the door. In I went...

From now on I make it a rule to put that repair stand there even if I'm in a hurry to get going. I've even gone back after getting halfway down the block to put it there because I don't want to chance it happening again.