Bike Rack Series: Best Bicycle Roof Racks

The best bike racks and trays for the top of your vehicle

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The Kuat Brassknuckle has lots of great features and a cool hand grip.

Best Roof Racks

Roof racks are prized for their versatility and are an elegant way to get your bike around securely. Having your bikes on the top of your car can free up space for other accessories or precious hitch space for even more bikes. With the right accessories, a roof rack can be adapted to transport just about any outdoor toy in your arsenal, from kayak to snowboard to cargo box.  Riders appreciate their stability, their out-of-sight unobtrusiveness while driving, and ability to handle other outdoor adventures.

Wheel on – Tray Style Racks

The most convenient way to get your bicycle on the car is to load it without taking anything off. The wheel on roof rack systems allow you to do just that, keep the bike together and securely stowed on the top of your vehicle with rock steady stability. What follows are our recommendations for the best roof racks that are on the market today. 

 

Yakimas HighRoller roof rack tray accommodates everything from road to downhill bikes with zero contact on the frame.

Yakima Highroller Rooftop:

Yakima’s HighRoller roof rack tray accommodates everything from road to downhill bikes with zero contact with the frame. Perfect for preserving that killer paint job and keeping the dirt out of your car. The Highroller’s design easily accommodates disc brakes, thru axles, and full suspension bikes easily.  This rack carries your complete bike upright, with no front wheel removal necessary. The install is tool-free and straight to the point and fits Yakima round or square crossbars. The Highroller holds a single bike up to 50 lbs with a minimum of 18″ bar spread maximum of 46″.

For more info yakima.com.

Price: $209.00

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The Upride works by a utilizing a large hook piece that securely grabs the front wheel while the rear is securely fastened with a classic strap.

Thule Upride

If you prefer the no bike frame contact route in a Thule package, Thule’s Upride is worth a long look. The Upride works by utilizing a large hook piece that securely grabs the front wheel while the rear is securely fastened with a classic strap. The versatile design accommodates bikes with non-traditional frame designs, rear suspension, and bottle cages respectively. The Thule Uprude fits most 20–29” wheel bicycles with tires up to 3″ wide (up to 5” with Thule UpRide Fatbike Adapter,) and has a maximum bike weight capacity of up to 50 lbs.

For more info thule.com

Price: $230.00

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The Brass Knuckle is Rockymount’s first foray into the wheel on bike tray route and it seems to be a success.

Rockymounts Brass Knuckle

The Brass Knuckle is Rockymount’s first foray into the wheel on bike tray route and we believe it to be a success. The Upright Mount features ergonomic BrassKnuckles that easily adjust to lock the bar over your front wheel and keep your bike securely in place without ever touching the frame. The Upright Mount can also be folded down when not in use to get better gas mileage. The unique design keeps the bike rock steady so you can worry about driving and not your bike. 

For more info rockymounts.com

Price: $219.00

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SecureHook holds the bike by grabbing the front wheel – no frame contact is made. Ratcheting wheel strap quickly secures back wheel to tray.

Thule Sidearm:

A patented Thule SecureHook holds the bike by grabbing the front wheel – no frame contact is made and a ratcheting wheel strap quickly secures back wheel to tray. A corrosion resistant double-wall aluminum tray provides maximum strength and rigidity. The Thule One-Key lock cylinder locks the bike to carrier and carrier to rack and will fit most 20 to 29 inch wheel diameter bicycles with tires up to 2.6 inches. For more info thule.com

Price: $263.00

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Front Wheel off

For the more traditional style of roof rack trays, the front wheel is removed, making the bicycle more aerodynamic while creating a lower overall height for the vehicle to get in and out of garages and drive-thrus. The ‘wheel off’ style of rack overall is less costly and comes in a wide variety to fit most styles and budgets. Check out these wheel off racks that are seriously stable and stout. 

The Thule Thruride fits bikes with 12-20 mm thru-axles with no extra adapters as well as 9 mm quick-release hubs with an included non-locking adapter.

Thule Thurride

Now that nearly every bicycle boasts thru-axles, the rack industry followed suit and Thule is once again a gold standard. The Thule Thruride fits bikes with 12-20 mm thru-axles with no extra adapters as well as 9 mm quick-release hubs with an included non-locking adapter. The Thruride is easy for most bike loading – thanks to the expanding clamp that accommodates the bike’s thru-axle easily. The rack locks the bike to the bike tray and the bike rack to the roof racks with Thule One-Key lock cylinder.

For more info thule.com

Price: $230.00

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With the most aerodynamic profile on the market, the Jetline is fast and fuel efficient.

Rockymounts Jetline

The Rockymounts Jetline boasts the most aerodynamic profile on the market – fast and fuel efficient. The Jetline is slotted to accommodate – aero bars, square and round bars, and carries  20” to 29” wheeled bicycles with wheelbases from 34” and 48”. The Jetline will also accommodate up to a 2.7” mountain tire without adapters. The Jetstream comes with a locking 9mm QR for standard quick release bikes and Thru axle adapters are available aftermarket and will accommodate one bike, that weighs up to 35 lbs.

For more info rockymounts.com

Price: $140.00

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Top that off with slim line design, security system, and rugged good looks, and you have the most complete fork mount rack ever designed.

Kuat TRIO Rack

Kuat is known for innovation and classy racks and the TRIO is no different, it features a 3-way fork mount system – no adapters needed. An aerodynamic design,  built-in security system, and rugged good looks – The Kuat TRIO is sure to turn some heads at the trails. An integrated Cable Lock (locks both frame and rear wheel) will give you peace of mind. The TRIO can carry one bicycle 45 lbs. max with optional adapter kit for fat bikes. The Kuat TRIO is compatible with most factory and all aftermarket cross bars.  

For more info kuatracks.com 

Price: $190.00

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Roof Rack Base Racks and Load Bars

Yakima Jetstream Aero Mounting Bars

Gone are the days of the round Yakima bar create a lot of windows. Now riders can step up to the Jetstream Aero. Thoroughly wind tunnel tested and designed to cut down on wind chatter and gas consumption the JetStream’s JetFlow design is exceptionally cool. The all aerodynamic design is incredibly strong, lightweight, and really quiet on the move. The Jetstream is the root of a modern rack system from Yakima, plus it carries a lot and looks good doing it.

For more info yakima.com

Price: $200-300 Configuration depending

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Thule Aero Blade Edge

Strength, aerodynamics, and style are all at the forefront of the Thule AeroBlade Edges design. The Flush mount load bar is here to prove that top-shelf design is worth it. The adjustment is simple and the aero shaped tubes cut down on wind noise. The Aero Blade is compatible with most older Thule products and all newer racks and accessories.

For more info Thule.com

Price: $230-315 Configuration depending

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About the author: Jordan Villella

Jordan comes from the steep streets of Pittsburgh PA, where he learned to dodge cars and rip single track. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the cycling industry: from turning wrenches, store design, clothing production and bike park creation. Jordan spends his free time racing cross country and cyclocross around North America, though he has been know to enduro every now and then. His love of cycling is only second to his love of his family and punk rock.


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  • Olek says:

    No Thule 598 ProRide?? Seriously??
    Is it because it’s da best without any compromise?..

    • Jordan Villella says:

      I agree the 598 ProRide is a great option – I dig the Upride and Sidearm because you don’t have to attach the front wheel with a strap. For the price though, the Proride is very legit. Thanks for the suggestion!

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