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Best Roof Bike Racks|Thule Bike Rack vs Yakima Roof Rack

Updated on July 4, 2014

Questions to Ask When Buying a Bike Rack

  • How often will you use it?
  • How many bikes will you be transporting?
  • Do any of your bikes have oddly shaped frames?
  • What's your budget?
  • How important is security?
  • Can you lift a bicycle over your head? By yourself?
  • Do you engage in other sports or activities, which may make one rack type more cost-effective than another?

What to Consider When Buying a Roof Bike Rack

Buying the right kind of bike rack is an important and complicated decision. Ultimately you'll want a bike rack that will provide safety, security and one that is easy to use. You need to make sure the bike rack fits your vehicle properly.

Basically bike racks fall into 3 categories: a strap-on trunk rack, a hitch-mount rack, and a roof rack. Roof mounted carriers attach to a vehicle's existing roof rack and cross-bars. If you already have a roof rack on your vehicle, a roof mounted rack will only cost you between $50 and $200, depending on the brand you buy. Of course, both a Yakima and a Thule bike rack are top quality brands in the world of bike carriers. The two main types of roof mounted bike racks are fork-mounted and upright mounts.


Whispbar Roof Rack


The First Step: Finding a Suitable Roof Rack for Your Vehicle

Unless you already have a factory roof rack on your vehicle that you're happy with, there's no need for you to get a new roof rack. Some things you might want to consider before buying a new rood rack are:

-The noise level created by your roof rack

-How much weight can the roof rack take?

-Is the roof rack shaped and made to improve fuel economy?

According to research study performed by Consumer Reports on a 2013 Honda Accord, the mpg plummeted by a third when roof racks and cargo were added. With this in mind, it's helpful to consider ways to increase fuel economy by removing roof racks when they're not being used to carry cargo/bikes and to consider the weight/amount of bike cargo you carry on your vehicle's roof. Also, are there roof racks out there that are designed to help fuel economy? The Whispbar is a highly rated roof rack that uses up to 70% less wind drag than other roof racks. Also, it's known for being the most quiet roof rack on the market. Generally, your best bet is to purchase a Thule roof rack or a Yakima roof rack, but in this case, the Whispbar is a one of a kind item with rave reviews. Keep in mind that a Yakima or Thule bike rack, as well as most other bike rack brands should be compatible to use with the Whispbar roof rack.

Wind Tunnel Tests Whispbar against a Yakima and Thule Roof Rack

Types of Roof Bike Racks

Fork Mounted Bike Racks

A fork mounted bike rack secures the bike at the fork dropouts, which are attached to a fork block with skewer. The rear wheel is secured into a tray with a ratchet strap. People tend to like Fork mounted bike racks for the built-in security of the the fork locking mechanism, which eliminates the need for a cable lock. Also, because the front wheel is removed (which can be a hassle) the bike is lower to the vehicle and therefore more stable.

Upright Mounts

An upright mount allows you to leave both wheels on and secure the bicycle in a number of different ways:

  • An arm that clamps onto the frame
  • Grabbing the front wheel with a circular bracket or with a padded hook
  • Holding onto the crank arm (this kind was recently discontinued)

People like upright mounts because you don't need to remove any wheels which saves you time. Some bikes with elaborately shaped bike frame tubes will not fit into carriers that use jaws that clamp to the bike frame downtube.


Fork Mount vs Upright Mount

Roof Mount Bike Rack Types
Fork Mounted
Generally less expensive than upright mount bike racks.
You have to remove one of your bike wheels, which makes installing more complicated
Since the front wheel is removed from the bike frame, the bike is closer to the vehicle, removing any bike sway.
Thru-axles, Cannondale Lefty’s, and even disc brake calipers can sometimes prevent you from mounting a bike to fork mounted bike carriers. Fork adapters are available to solve this problem
Upright Mount
Without needing to remove the front wheel, loading a bike is a faster and easier .
Generally more expensive than fork mount bike racks.
Without needing to install the front wheel after unloading your bike, you can get riding sooner.
Some bikes with elaborately shaped bike frame tubes will not fit

Thule Prologue Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Carrier

Thule Bike Rack vs Yakima Bike Rack

A Thule Bike Rack

Backed by a lifetime warranty, every Thule rack is crafted using top-notch materials and superior craftsmanship ensuring it can handle anything that comes its way. People love Thule roof bike carriers because they are easy and quick to instal, highly secure and high quality. When you buy a Thule bike rack, here's what to expect:

  • Sleek and stylish designed parts
  • Innovative features
  • Expect to pay more for Thule bike racks than you would pay for Yakima bike racks.
  • Budget a bit more time to instal Thule bike racks

A Yakima Bike Rack

Yakima racks are built by outdoor enthusiasts who make certain that the racks they sell are high quality, built for the people who use them and completely versatile. When you buy a Yakima bike rack, here's what to expect:

  • Expect to pay less for a Yakima bike rack then you would pay for a Thule bike rack.
  • Generally ascetically less flashy.
  • Easier and less time consuming to instal.

To Sum it Up

Basically whether you buy a Thule or Yakima bike rack, you know you're getting a high quality bike product. Some things to keep in mind regarding what type of rooftop bike carrier that would best suit your needs are:

  • How important is a quick instalation to you? Keep in mind that most fork mount bike carriers require you to take off the front bike wheel. My husband is always in charge of installing and loading bike racks and bikes, so for me getting the bikes on easily are not really a factor.
  • What kind of bike(s) do you want to load? Do any of your bikes have oddly shaped frames? Some upright mounts won't accommodate oddly shaped frames.


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