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Best roof rack for mountain bikes

Feb. 8, 2018, 9:46 a.m.
Posts: 862
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Which roof racks are you guys using for your bikes? Seems like the Thule Sidearm is quite popular but a lot of shops I have talked to say that it's not that stable (bike rocks back and forth a lot) and they recommended the ones where you have to take your front wheel off and the fork attaches directly to the rack. I already have a tray style rack on my hitch for 2 bikes so the roof rack will probably be used as a spare when there are more than 2 people... and will probably be used for shuttling a good portion of the time. Therefore, I am thinking that it might be annoying to have to take the wheel off multiple times while shuttling. In other words... I am thinking of going with the Thule Sidearm unless you guys know of a better option?

Feb. 8, 2018, 11:12 a.m.
Posts: 1233
Joined: Feb. 17, 2009

Both my neighbour and I use the Yakima Frontloader (https://www.yakima.com/frontloader) and have so for years without issue.  I have a tall hatchback and not having to fiddle around to get the bike to stand on the rack has been very useful. It also mounts very quickly, which is a +.

Feb. 8, 2018, 11:41 a.m.
Posts: 85
Joined: June 17, 2016

I've had a Thule Sidearm for ~4 years now and I've never had any problems with it. Never had the impression that it wasn't stable. Loading/unloading the bike is super easy and fast and mounting/unmounting the rack itself is pretty straightforward too.

Feb. 8, 2018, 11:42 a.m.
Posts: 862
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Thanks - I actually came across that one right after I posted this thread and it looks solid to me... I've used the Thule sidearm before and it was definitely a bit of a pain to get the bike on there. The easy loading on the Frontloader looks like it would solve that problem and I have an SUV so that would come in really handy. I assume the Frontloader has plenty of clearance for 29inch mountain bike tires (I think you have an E29)? Also noticed that Thule seems to have recently come out with a similarly designed rack - the Thule Upride.

Feb. 8, 2018, 4:05 p.m.
Posts: 1233
Joined: Feb. 17, 2009

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

Thanks - I actually came across that one right after I posted this thread and it looks solid to me... I've used the Thule sidearm before and it was definitely a bit of a pain to get the bike on there. The easy loading on the Frontloader looks like it would solve that problem and I have an SUV so that would come in really handy. I assume the Frontloader has plenty of clearance for 29inch mountain bike tires (I think you have an E29)? Also noticed that Thule seems to have recently come out with a similarly designed rack - the Thule Upride.

I have the 2015 model and I've used it with 29" x 2.6 Specialized Butcher and 29" x 2.5 Maxxis Minion Trail Wide, both fit.

My neighbour has the 2010 model and my wheels don't fit on his.

I think that it's been revised once more since I bought mine to add clearance.

Edit: the standard rear tie down doesn't work with HV 29" tires, while they sell a longer tongue, I've been using a Race Face stash tool wrap that I lying around with much success.


 Last edited by: rnayel on Feb. 8, 2018, 4:09 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
Feb. 8, 2018, 6:35 p.m.
Posts: 1227
Joined: July 11, 2014

I dual Sidearms on my roof (old 2010 model I guess) and to fit a standard 29x2x4 tire I have to deflate the tire to squeeze the arm over. Fits my ~1250mm DH bike with 27.5x2.5 Minions no problem though.

There is some sway with the Sidearm, I don't like shuttling with it but that is mostly because the old Mazda 3 isn't great on rougher roads. 

Bolt through front axle would be better but keep in mind you will be fiddling with adapters for 15mm vs 20mm front axles, maybe boost vs non-boost? Way too much of a pain in the ass in my opinion.

Feb. 9, 2018, 9:27 a.m.
Posts: 369
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

2 thule sidearms on wifes car. work extremely well. durable and robust after being up there for years. the old one doesn't fit 29ers well, the one from a few yrs ago does with plenty of clearance. the only one i've used as a car top carrier so can't speak to others.

Feb. 9, 2018, 9:58 a.m.
Posts: 222
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Have the Yakima High rollers, super bomb proof. Super easy to use, can get the bike in and out of the rack faster than my rear platter one up rack.

Feb. 11, 2018, 9:43 a.m.
Posts: 14261
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

BTW does everyone take these things off the car at least once a season to put anti sieze on any threaded fasteners OR do you just leave them up there to sell with the car ?

Feb. 11, 2018, 9:53 a.m.
Posts: 130
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

I did. Hard to push snow off the roof with all that crap attached. I did leave it on when I lived in Vancouver though. I have seen the front wheel wiggle and walk out of the tray with the Thule. You have to get the arm close to the fork and test that the wheel is secure before motoring off.


 Last edited by: andy-eunson on Feb. 11, 2018, 9:53 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
Feb. 11, 2018, 12:14 p.m.
Posts: 551
Joined: March 18, 2017

No one using the OneUp roof tray?

I’d go with that me thinks.

Feb. 11, 2018, 4:45 p.m.
Posts: 1117
Joined: April 25, 2003

I have two that I snagged off of used Vic. I haven’t used it much yet so kinda struggle operating it at times (every rack has a learning curve IME; should be easier on the Outback than my Element) but I love how it’s all metal, easy to rebuild and robustly built. I think it can be turned into a hitch rack with the right parts and I REALLY like the design of the hitch version. Big bucks to get a new one to Canada I hear.

Feb. 11, 2018, 5 p.m.
Posts: 1117
Joined: April 25, 2003

I can also vouch for the Front Roller/High Roller Yakima trays. Very solid due to its wide base but a lot of plastic.

Feb. 13, 2018, 7:51 a.m.
Posts: 222
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: XXX_er

BTW does everyone take these things off the car at least once a season to put anti sieze on any threaded fasteners OR do you just leave them up there to sell with the car ?

Used to take them off in winter, now they just stay up there year round.

Feb. 13, 2018, 9:25 a.m.
Posts: 14261
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

Will your racks still come off?

At some point my Thule rack just became part of the car cuz the threaded bits were all Siezed

Anti-seize compound once  a year on all threads is a good thing IME

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