After spending time, money, and energy on your bike, the extra push to ensure you have a bike rack that works is an incredibly important step. Picking the best bike roof rack will allow you to feel secure as you transport your bike.
There are a range of options in terms of bike racks. Some people prefer hitch racks which stick out the back of your car, others prefer a roof rack for its minimal design that still allows you full access to the back of your car.
Roof racks come in a wide range of styles with varying prices and features to perfectly suit your needs.
If you are looking for a rack that can reliable carry your bike from point A to point B without interfering with the daily use of your car, a roof rack is likely your best choice.
One additional consideration of a roof rack is the height. Depending on your height, strength, and the height of your car, it is important to consider which type of rack will be accessible and usable to you.
Typically, the first time you use a roof rack it will feel awkward; however, most people find a system that works for them and allows them to easily secure their bike into the rack and take it back down.
Other considerations include how the rack locks. Some roof racks lock with a secure fork mount while others do not have this capability. In considering which rack will work for you, it is important to consider if you need to lock your bike to your car.
This guide will help you find the perfect bike roof rack for you by outlining the features of ten different racks and hopefully set you on track to choose the perfect rack for you.
Yakima Fork Chop – Best Bike Rack under $150
If you’re looking for a subtle design and rack that easily blends in with your roof trays, the ForkChop could be the perfect option for you. This unique rack eliminates the need for a tray and has just two small attachment pieces that attach to two roof rails.
The front attachment secures your fork while the rear attachment holds your rear wheel securely in place with a pivoting rachet. In order to use this rack, you’ll need to remove your front wheel and store it inside your car during transit.
The fork mount can accommodate a quick-release axle or a thru-axle (either 9mm or 15mm) with the Yakima adaptors. The fork mount also locks in place if you are using a quick-release axle, deterring anyone attempting to remove your bike from your car.
This rack can accommodate bikes with road tires all the way up to fat bike tires.
It is important to note that in order to use this rack you’ll need to remove the front wheel and feel comfortable lifting your bike on top of your car and securing it in the fork mount. If you are looking for a simple bike rack that can go nearly unnoticed on top of your car, this could be a great rack for you.
Thule T-Track Fork Mount Carrier– Best Thru-Axle Specific Rack
Thule’s T-Track Fork Mount Carrier is a great roof rack option for riders who primarily ride bikes with thru-axles. This roof mount is designed to accommodate thru-axles without needing adaptors.
This is particularly advantageous because many roof racks for bikes with thru-axles do not lock and require using various adaptors.
Thule’s telescoping wheel tray will allow the rack to work with a wide range of wheelbase lengths, making loading your bike into the rack a breeze. Your thru-axle will slot easily into the fork mount and the AcuTight knob will ensure your bike is snugly in place.
If you’re going to be leaving your car, one key will lock the bike to the rack and the rack to the car. This rack can also accommodate a 9mm quick release but will require a lockable adapter which is sold separately if you’d like to lock your bike with a quick release.
Unlike many racks, this rack is designed to lock bikes with thru-axles and not bikes with quick release axles. This unique feature combined with the ease of use of the Thule T-Track makes it a great rack for riders with these specific needs.
The sleek and simple design of this rack means most people feel comfortable leaving the rack on their car when it is not in use. Unlike a hitch rack, choosing an easy to use roof rack can minimize the number of times you need to either adjust or remove your rack.
If you don’t mind taking off your front wheel and you ride a bike with a thru-axle, the Thule T-Track could be a great option for you.
RockyMounts Tomahawk – Best Roof Rack
The RockyMounts Tomahawk makes loading bikes on a car a breeze. Unlike many other roof racks, this rack does not require that you remove your front wheel.
The Tomahawk has a front wheel cage that holds your bike in place in conjunction with a ratchet arm that sits firmly on your wheel just in front of your fork. There are also two smaller ratchet straps that hold both wheels firmly to the tray.
This rack can hold a wide range of bikes and sizes with easy to adjust rear attachment and a tapered front wheel support. When in place, this rack holds bikes in by the front wheel and does not cause damage to the frame because the rack cinches to the wheel and only touches the front tire.
This roof rack is slightly larger and heavier than other roof racks; fortunately, it does fold down to be almost flat, making it look relatively subtle on top of your car.
If you are looking for a roof rack that is well designed, sturdy, safe, and easy to use, the RockyMounts Tomahawk could be the perfect bike rack for you.
RockyMounts DriveShaft Locking Thru-Axle Mount– Best Truck Bed Bike Rack
The RockyMounts DriveShaft is a unique rack built specifically to connect to the existing truck beds of most popular trucks. This rack holds the thru axle in place to keep your bike upright and secure in the bed of a truck.
Unlike many thru-axle racks, the RockMounts DriveShaft has a locking mechanism to ensure your bike is safe when you are away from your vehicle.
This mount comes with multiple different attachments to accommodate different thru-axle sizes, making sure your bike will remain secure when you are in transit.
The DriveShaft utilizes a wide mount opening which makes loading and unloading a breeze. A T-Bolt adjusts to ensure a tight fit and locks in place, adding to the security of the mount.
This rack comes with all the track mounting hardware included to ensure if you choose to use a rack for the back of your truck, you’ll have everything you need.
YAKIMA HighSpeed Fork Mount Bike Carrier – Best Versatile Tray Rack
Most tray racks with fork mounts cater to either thru axles or quick release axles; however, the YAKIMA HighSpeed can do both with no need for extra adaptors.
This rack has a large knob that can cinch the fork mount around any size thru axle, giving you the option to carry virtually any bike with one rack.
The tray is streamlined and the fork mount is big enough to be easy to use and streamlined enough to not draw too much attention to itself.
Additionally, this tray can accommodate road bike tires up to five inch wide fat-bike tires due to the tapered tray style.
This lock has a TailWhip cable lock included but does require purchasing a separate lock system to secure your bike to the mount and the mount to the base rack.
If you want one tray roof rack that can easily carry almost any bike, this is could be a great option for you.
SeaSucker Talon – Best Single Bike Suction Rack
The SeaSucker Talon looks different than almost every other bike rack on the market. This rack works by utilizing suction cups to secure the rack virtually anywhere on any car.
The suction cups on this rack work through a vacuum mount with an indicator band to ensure it is as secure as possible
This rack has been used at the Tour de France, nodding to its durability, reliability, and ease of use. Each suction cup on this rack is pull rated at more than 210lbs, meaning your bike will be incredibly secure with the four suction cups holding it in place.
One of the most intriguing components of this rack is the ability to travel with it. If you are traveling and hoping to rent a car, this rack could be a great option due to its lightweight build at only six lbs and minimal size.
This rack comes ready for bike with a 9mm quick release. If you are hoping to mount a bike with a thru-axle, there are adaptors available.
Since this rack is easy to remove, it does not have a locking mechanism, meaning if you need to lock your bike to your car, a different rack might be the best option for you. Fortunately, SeaSucker does offer a cable anchor lock with can be secured to the window or the trunk.
In order to use this lock, you’ll need to use the cable only when the car is parked to ensure your bike is not damaged in transit.
If you are looking for a brilliant and innovative way to carry your bike on a car without roof rails, the SeaSucker is an awesome option.
Rock Bros Sucker Bike Rack – Best Multiple Bike Suction Rack
My first impression of suction cup bike racks was that they sound unreliable. However, these racks have proven over the years to be safe, easy to use, and impressively adaptable.
If you have a car without roof rails, this could be a great option. The Rock Bros Sucker works by utilizing a series of suction cups which are secured by a suction vacuum press.
The suction cups are firmly in place once the vacuum press is flush with the rack, signaling that the rack will not budge from where you’ve placed it.
This rack comes set up with a 9mm quick release axle compatibility and the option to add on a 15mm or 20mm adaptor.
Rock Bros has racks designed for one, two, or three bikes, adding length and additional mounts to the front attachment.
Unlike many roof racks, this rack is designed to be removed when it is not in use. It comes with protective covers for the suction cups for use when this rack is in storage.
One significant benefit of this rack is its transferability. This rack can fit on virtually any car and be easily adjusted.
If you are looking for an adaptable, removable, and innovative roof rack, this could be a great option for you.
Seasucker Hornet – Most Innovative Suction Rack
One of the most innovative racks on the market is the Seasucker Hornet.
This rack is comprised of just two suction cups that are made to mount to the back window of a hatchback car. The two mounts are set up to hold your handlebars over your grips.
With your bike upside down, the Seasucker Hornet will hold your bike in place by bars with your seat resting on the back door of your car.
As an additional safety measure, Seasucker provides a strap that connects to the back hatch of your car and onto the frame of your bike.
This unique system is a great option for traveling with your bike or using an unfamiliar car. It is incredibly easy to install and can easily fit in a carry-on bag if need be.
If you are looking for a roof rack that is small enough to travel with and also easy to use, the Seasucker Hornet could be a great choice.
YAKIMA HighRoad Wheel On Mount – Best Wheel On Rack
The YAKIMA HighRoad Mount is perfect for riders who want to toss their bike on the car as easily as possible and trust their rack will do the job to keep it safe.
This rack sports two wheel supports which only touch the front tire and reduce any risk of frame damage while in transit.
YAKIMA has made it particularly easy to install this rack without using any tools.
When you place your bike in the rack, your front wheel will stay in place from the front support, allowing you to tighten the integrated TorqueRight tightening knob which will pull the back support up to hold your front wheel securely in place as you drive.
YAKIMA has an optional lock system that you can add on to ensure your bike and rack are secure on your vehicle when you are away.
If you are looking for an easy to use, well designed, and impressively secure rack, the YAKIMA HighRoad could be a great option.
ThuleThru Axle Adapter – Best Thru Axle Adapter
The Thule Thru-Axle Adapter is a great addition to many roof racks. This adapter allows you to use a rack designed for a quick release with your thru-axle bike.
The easiest way to use the Thule Adapter is to put the adapter on your bike first, then mount your bike into the rack as you would a bike with a quick release. The adapter is available in either 15mm or 20mm, boost on non-boost spacing, and even available for lefty forks.
Fortunately, this sort of adapter will allow you to utilize most racks, even if your bike does have a thru-axle and the rack is designed for a quick release.
TOP 10 Best Bike Roof-Rack
|Yakima ForkChop||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Thule Sprint T-Track Fork Mount Carrier||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|SeaSucker Talon||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Rock Bros Suction Cup||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Seasucker Hornet||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|RockyMounts DriveShaft Track Locking Thru-Axle Mount||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|YAKIMA HighSpeed Fork Mount Bike Carrier||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|RockyMounts Tomahawk||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|YAKIMA Highroad Wheel-On Mount||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Thule Thru-Axle Adapter||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
1. Why is a roof rack better than a hitch rack?
While both hitch racks and roof racks have their perks, roof racks are significantly easier to set-and-forget. Hitch racks often interfere with the back door of a car and some are designed to be removed after use.
Alternately, roof racks are typically designed to stay in place with a low profile and minimal disruption to any other car use.
One challenge of roof racks is it can be difficult to load bikes onto the roof of a vehicle. Typically though, if you figure out a system that works for you – sometimes involving a step stool, you’ll be able to manage your rack system.
If you are planning to use your rack multiple times a week and don’t mind the hassle of moving your rack when you need to access the back of your car, perhaps you should choose a hitch rack.
However, for riders who are only going to use their racks occasionally or would rather have full access to the back of their car, a roof rack is likely the way to go.
2. Should I lock my bike while in transit?
Some bike racks come with integrated or separate cables to lock your bike when you are away from your car. Most roof racks have the option to add on a locking system.
These systems range from additional cables to locks that prevent the rack from opening.
For racks that utilize a cable lock, it is best to remove the cable while you are driving. A cable repeatedly rubbing a frame can cause damage to your bike.
However, if your rack has a lock system that keeps the ratchet arm or fork lock in place, it should not be a problem to drive with the bikes locked.
If your rack does not come with a lock, it may be a good idea to carry an extra cable lock to keep your bike secure on your car if you are away. Again, remember to remove the lock when you are driving to prevent damage to your bike.
3. How do I manage a thru-axle with a fork lock rack?
Some fork lock racks are optimized for forks with a quick release. These racks require a secondary adaptor in order to use a fork with a thru-axle.
These adaptors attach to the quick release latch, then have an additional place to hold in the thru-axle.
However, some racks, like the Thule Sprint T-Track do have new systems that are optimized for thru-axles without the use of an adaptor.
When considering a rack, account for the different fork styles on your bike or other bikes you may transport before committing to a rack style.
One option is to purchase a thru-axle adapter to use your thru-axle bike with a quick-release rack. These are easy to use but do not typically lock in place.
3. Is it worth it to buy an expensive rack?
After spending time, money, and energy picking your perfect bike, the last thing you want is to have your rack damage your bike or worse, have your bike fall off the rack while you are driving.
Bike racks are required to hold onto a variety of bike sizes while driving at high speeds, often in variable terrain, and sometimes through rain, wind, or snowstorms. It takes intentional design and high-quality materials to hold a bike onto your car in all the conditions we drive through.
Spending some extra money on a rack will ensure your bike stays safe during transport and is easy to load and unload your bike.
While it may feel tempting to cut corners on the cost of a rack, they are under considerable strain, and having a well designed rack can make a huge difference at the end of the day.
Top Pick Products
In terms of roof racks, the RockyMounts Tomahawk is an incredibly designed, easy to use, and durable rack. If you are willing to boost your bike up to sit on top of your car, this rack can stay put and be ready for use with any bike at any time.
This rack allows you to load your bike without taking off the front wheel and due to its supportive wheel cradle, it is easy to move the ratchet arm into place when you are loading your bike.
If your height and your car height can accommodate a roof rack, this is an easy, stay put option that will be a reliable bike rack for years to come.
The second rack I recommend is the Seasucker Talon. Unlike most roof racks which are likely to stay in place once they are installed, the Seasucker is intentionally designed to move around.
This rack is easy to install on virtually any vehicle and offers impressive security for your bike. If you do not have roof rails or you want to toss your rack on a variety of vehicles, the Seasucker Talon is an ideal choice.
As you continue looking for the best bike rack for your vehicle, consider how permanent the rack will be as well as what your needs are in terms of tire width, thru-axle compatibility and locking needs. With these questions in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best bike roof rack for you.