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Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mount(13 posts)

Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mountdeeter
Jun 22, 2003 7:15 PM
My wife just bought me a Sportworks "Transport" hitch mounted bike rack for my 2002 Yukon. I had been looking at the Yakima or Thule roof mounted racks but like what I hear about the "Transport" by Sportworks (which is still in the box until I make my final decision). The majority of my riding is "out of the garage and onto the road" with the need for the rack being weekend group rides and vacations (as well as the occasional mtb ride). What is the opinion of the masses? Are there drawbacks to having the bike on top of the truck during the vacation ride from Texas to Colorado (vs. behind on hitch)? If I'm loading the hitch every weekend will I get tired of it and wish I had opted for the roof mount?
re: Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mountrideamountain
Jun 22, 2003 7:24 PM
Well over the years, I have owned both styles of racks and I can honestly say that I much prefer the roof mounted ones. Thule is my preference, but truthfully both Thule and Yakima make great racks.

The hitch mount racks will definitely get your bike more scratched up with use and does expose your bike to damage during a fender bender of the rear end variety. Yes, there are folks that have crunched their bikes when they forgot them on the roof and drove into the garage. But you just need to be careful and come up with a system to help you remember that the bike(s) are up there.

In the end, I believe that the roof rack holds your bike steadier and keeps it more out of harms way.

Good luck,

Roof top for me.Atombomber
Jun 22, 2003 8:28 PM
I use Thule rooftop bike carriers for my bikes on my Landcruiser. The biggest concern of rooftop carriers on SUVs is their height. One needs to be tall, have running boards or have some other way to extend one's reach. Another concern is that one needs to be aware of clearances. I have almost driven into the garage with the bikes on top, but realized it just in time. It is a good way to avoid the fastfood drive-thrus though.

The system you have will make a large vehicle even larger. Also, as with most rear carriers, access into the vehicle from the rear is compromised.
re: Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mount94Nole
Jun 23, 2003 3:49 AM
For the very reasons that the other posters cite, I much prefer the hitch mount variety.

1. Overhead clearance (I'll never peel the bikes off my rack as I drive into the garage).

2. Ease of loading/unloading the hardware.

3. Use it when you need to, take it off when you don't.

4. And finally, and certainly not least in my mind, make your wife's day by keeping and using what she bought you without returning it.

My nickel's worth.
Hitch Mountpitt83
Jun 23, 2003 4:05 AM
No removing the front wheel and finding a spot for it. My bud scratched his roof and door when he missed the fork mount.

No height restrictions

No lifting a muddy MTB over your head

Drawback: You mentioned vacation. My rack occupies the hitch, so I couldn't tow anything esle. I think they make racks which can also accomodate towing, but not mine.
I have both!STI
Jun 23, 2003 4:05 AM
I have a Thule roof mounted rack on my Subaru and a hitch mount on the Jeep Liberty. With the hitch mount, I don't need to bring workstand with me on rides. I use the rack to do any adjustments on the spot. And my wife can now use the rack. At 5' tall, she would have a problem reaching the roof of the Liberty. I have the swing away kind so I can open the back of the truck. Very convenient. On long trips, you might get a lot of road grit from the swearling behind the Yukon. Keep that in mind also. Good luck.
Keep the rubber side down.
since my wife drove in garage with the bike on topcyclopathic
Jun 23, 2003 4:44 AM
/father's day present/ I'd opt for hitch
This was my biggest fearCHRoadie
Jun 23, 2003 9:17 AM
Hence the hitch mount bike rack.
Pro/Con and another optionFez
Jun 23, 2003 5:40 AM
Hitch Pro - ease of loading
Hitch Con - bikes vulnerable at rear end crash, bikes get extremely dirty (look at how road grime gets thrown back around rear window), sometimes access to rear door is compromised.

Roof Pro - doesn't compromise vehicle access, many other options for bikes and other sports. Can also add rooftop box for long trips.
Roof Con - BEWARE PLACES WITH LOW CLEARANCE, probably need to cover handlebars to protect from bugs, probably need a portable stepstool to load if your vehicle is high, gas mileage penalty, but splitting hairs if you drive a Yukon.

OPTION 3 (cheap and secure):
Store the bike inside. With a 60/40 split seat you could mount your bike to a fork mount on a 2x4, secure the front wheel nearby and keep everything upright. By tilting the handlebars to save space, you could mount 2 bikes and only fold down one seat.

If you have a really long and tall vehicle, you could back the whole bike right in and secure it to the floor.

If you are going on vacation, putting soft goods in a lockable rooftop box while keeping your bikes inside is safer. If you are carrying lots of people, then everything has to go outside. YMMV
re: Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mountMy Dog Wally
Jun 23, 2003 6:31 AM
Over the years, I've had just about every type and brand of rack -- in a never-ending search for the perfect one. I'm still searching.

A lot of this has to do with your height, age, and strength because it's very difficult to put a bike on top of a vehicle -- especially if the bike is heavier than normal and the car is taller than normal. I tried three different roof rack systems on my Subaru Outback, and I just didn't like hoisting my wife's hybrid bike up on any of them.

Hitch racks, in my opinion, are so much easier to deal with for the reasons mentioned in other posts. I was concerned about getting road grit all over my bike's drive train, so I found a product called a Pygmy Pack that protects the rings, chain, and cogset from dirt. You can find it at This thing is worth its weight in gold.
re: Bike Racks: hitch mount or roof mountStmbtDave
Jun 23, 2003 8:26 AM
I have a slightly different situation with a pickup but my solution has been a hitch rack with a twist. Rather than buying a rack with the built in receiver, I found one that is designed to mount in place of a ball on either an existing receiver or on a bumper. My choice was to mount it on the bumper which leaves the receiver open to tow a trailer or boat. The rack folds down, with bikes attached, to allow full access to the rear with the tailgate down. The rack is a Thule but I don't know the model number.
All hitch racks aren't created equal.Spoke Wrench
Jun 23, 2003 9:08 AM
If it's the one I'm thinking about, that uses a metal hoop over the front wheel as a hold down, I think that's a good one. I also like the ones that use a roof rack style fork mount. I hate the ones that hang the bike by the top tube - too much collateral damage.

I've got a Thule roof rack system. I don't have any trouble loading my tandem by myself, but my Saturn is a pretty low car. The thing that I like least about the Thule is that I can't see the bikes while I'm driving down the road so I'm always imagining something horrible happening up there. I always stick the garage door opener in the glove compartment when I load bikes on the roof.
I like the ideaAtombomber
Jun 23, 2003 8:13 PM
of placing the garage operator in the glovebox. The problem I have with it now is that I have a carport. I just need to pay attention.

For the most part I put my bike(s) inside. It depends on how many I travel with or how many passengers are along. On one road trip, I there were 4 occupants and 10 bikes, 3 on a hitch rack, 7 on the roof. Each of us had road bikes, each had mountain bikes with myself and another bringing our freeride duallies along too.