Reviews

Best Roof-Mounted Bike Racks: Practical and Safe Transportation

Free up some luggage space with these top three roof-mounted bike racks.

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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON February 16, 2020

There are several types of bike racks you can use to transport your bike to a specific destination. However, if you want to save storage space, a roof-mounted bike rack might be the best solution. It's a versatile and easy way to transport a bike that doesn't obscure your rear view. Also, your bike will be safe and secure during the ride, and you won't even know that it's there. Check out the best roof-mounted bike racks in our guide below.

Best Overall
YAKIMA — FrontLoader Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks
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Summary
Summary

This bike rack features high-quality construction and strength that ensures your bike stays safe in some of the harshest weather conditions. It’s a single-bike roof rack that can accommodate different bike types. 

Pros
Pros
  • This cleverly designed rack can accommodate your bike fully assembled
  • Mounts securely without touching the bike frame
  • It can accommodate a wide variety of adult and kids’ bikes 
Cons
Cons
  • Not compatible with recumbent or tandem bikes
  • It’s a little pricey, considering it’s a single-bike system
Best Overall
YAKIMA — FrontLoader Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks
Best Value
Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack
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Summary
Summary

This ultra-lightweight, yet durable roof rack is constructed from rust-resistant and sturdy aluminum that is quick and simple to mount on most oval, round, or square crossbars up to 3 inches wide.

Pros
Pros
  • This bike rack is super affordable, yet still durable
  • Can fit your bike fully assembled, without the need for removing the front wheel
  • Has an impressive 35-pound weight limit
Cons
Cons
  • This rack won’t work with tandem or recumbent bikes
  • Uses the down tube as the main anchor point, which might not be best for carbon fiber or custom paint jobs
Best Value
Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack
Honorable Mention
Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier
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Summary
Summary

This rack offers a different take on the typical roof-mounted bike rack design. It uses an ergonomically shaped adjustable handle with a trigger release and locking system to secure your front tire. 

Pros
Pros
  • This rack has a generous 45-pound weight capacity
  • Can accommodate most bikes, including fat tire bikes with the addition of a simple adapter
  • Will mount with crossbars up to 3.5 inches in width
Cons
Cons
  • Ratcheting mount on the front tire doesn’t secure to both sides of the rack, making it somewhat less stable than other models
  • Rack is on the pricier side
Honorable Mention
Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier

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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Roof-Mounted Bike Rack Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
YAKIMA — FrontLoader Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks

In terms of functionality, durability, and style, the YAKIMA — FrontLoader Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks is a great option. Its high-quality construction and strength ensures your bike stays safe in some of the harshest weather conditions. This rack is compatible with many crossbars, and its universal built-in hardware makes installation easy and tool-free.


The front-loading style of this rack allows you to mount your bike to your roof fully assembled, saving you time and frustration. It can carry bikes with 20-29 inch wheel diameters and tire widths of up to three inches, making it an excellent choice for your road bike, racing bike, or mountain bike. This rack can also easily accommodate kids’ bikes.


The setup ensures that your bike is held securely in place without any damaging frame contact, so there’s no need to worry if you have a pricey carbon fiber or a custom paint job. One thing to note: this particular model will not accommodate recumbent or tandem bikes.

Best Value
Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack

We also recommend the Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack because it's an affordable and lightweight option. It weighs only five pounds, making it one of the lightest bike racks on our list. It’s sturdily constructed from plastic and rust-resistant aluminum.


This model is simple and quick to install and will mount easily on most round, oval, or square crossbars that measure up to 3 inches wide. This roof rack allows you to mount your bike without having to remove the front wheel. It’s got an impressive maximum weight capacity of 35 pounds per bike. It can accommodate a variety of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, and children’s bikes.


While this rack does come with tie-down straps for the wheels, they could be constructed more ruggedly. This rack won’t work with tandem or recumbent bikes. If you have a custom paint job or expensive carbon fiber bike, know that this rack uses your down tube as its main anchor point.

Premium Pick
Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier

The Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier is another excellent option. The mounting system for this roof rack allows you to anchor your bike fully assembled, like many other racks on the market. It also uses an ergonomically shaped adjustable handle with a trigger release and locking system to secure your front tire. 


It features a multiple locking system that allows you to lock your rack to your carrier, lock your bike to the rack, and cable lock bikes in tandem. This rack can mount on most crossbars that are spaced up to 39 inches wide. It can also accommodate fat tire bikes with the purchase of a special fat tire adapter.


It will fit bikes with 20-29 inch wheel diameters and can safely support up to 45 pounds, making it one of the most heavy-duty racks on our list. While this rack utilizes soft-coated ratchet arms to lock the front fork and wheel in place, the arm doesn’t connect on both sides of the wheel, making it somewhat less stable than other options.

Best for One Bike
Hooke Road Universal Bike Car Carrier

The Hooke Road Universal Bike Car Carrier is a super affordable and straightforward mounting system that is designed to hold a single bicycle with a standard 100 x 9mm quick release front hub. It’s constructed from heavy-duty, corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum and can be used with crossbars mounted either to your roof or to the back of your pickup truck. 


This system is easy and quick to install without the need for any drilling. The fork clamp is very secure and will provide dependable stability for your bikes during transport. The drawback to this system is that you’re required to remove the front wheel from your bike, which can be more time consuming than racks that offer fully assembled mounting. This isn’t a great option if you’re transporting kids’ bikes with front wheels that are much more difficult to remove.


Another thing to note: this system is designed to be used with Hooke Road 2 crossbars and isn’t fully compatible with multiple other brands of crossbars, making it a less versatile option than some others on our list.

Honorable Mention
CyclingDeal Alloy Car Roof Bike Rack

If you’re always riding with a partner, you should consider the CyclingDeal Alloy Car Roof Bike Rack. Built to accommodate two bikes. It’s constructed from lightweight, strong, and rust-resistant aluminum. It is able to carry up to 66 pounds total over between two bikes.


This rack is suitable for a wide variety of bikes by mounting the bikes in opposing directions with the cranks facing out. It comes backed by an impressive lifetime warranty. It can be mounted on most aero or square crossbars with a max width of 4.3 inches. This bike rack also comes equipped with rugged and long-lasting tie-downs for your wheels.


One thing to note is that this bike rack is more difficult and takes longer to install than some depending on your crossbar setup. The anchor point for this rack is a clamp on the down tube near the crankshaft. Maneuvering it properly and securely can cause some frustrations on some bikes.

Tips

  • Pick the type of rack that is suitable for your vehicle. Some vehicles can only accommodate hitch racks, while others do better with roof rack systems.
  • Make sure that your bike can fit a particular rooftop bike rack. Check the tire size, especially the tire width, and compare it to the rack size before making a purchase. 
  • Make sure the rack is properly attached to the car's roof. Also, pay attention to the rack and bike frame and make sure your bike is safely positioned. 
  • When using a roof-mounted rack, you must lift the bike onto the top of the car. This can be quite challenging. Look for a rack that allows for easy loading and has intuitive tie-down options.

FAQs

Q: What is a roof-mounted bike rack? 

A: It's a bike carrier that attaches to the car’s crossbars. The rack either clamps around the bike's down tube or it holds the fork dropouts (which requires removing the front wheel). A roof rack is a safe and secure transportation option that works on most vehicle types. It can also accommodate almost any type of bike. 

Q: Will a roof-mounted bike rack fit on every vehicle? 

A: No, you have to have crossbars on the top of your vehicle if you want to install a roof bike rack. The good thing is that you can get and install roof bars on most types of vehicles. 

Q: Why choose a roof-mounted bike rack? 

A: Choosing between a hitch-mounted and roof type of rack is largely a matter of preference. The main benefits of a roof bike rack are free storage space, versatility, and ease of use. Unlike a hitch bike rack, a roof rack doesn't block trunk access or obscure the rearview. You can use it to transport bikes, surfboards, snowboards, kayaks, and more. 

Final Thoughts

The YAKIMA — FrontLoader Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks is hands down our top pick for the best overall roof-mounted bike rack. It features high-quality construction and strength that ensures your bike stays safe in some of the harshest weather conditions. It’s a single-bike roof rack that can accommodate different bike types.

Our favorite budget-friendly pick is the Swagman Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack. This ultra-lightweight, yet durable roof rack is constructed from rust-resistant and sturdy aluminum that is quick and simple to mount on most oval, round, or square crossbars up to 3 inches wide.