Best Roof Bike Racks – 2021 Buyer’s Guide

Isaac
| Last Updated: February 14, 2021

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These days, we are all looking for an escape. A bike is an excellent way to accomplish that. No matter how serious of a rider you are, you may be looking to expand your horizons when it comes to taking that ride. 

What better way to do that than to be able to put the bike on the car and venture out.

 We have assembled our top roof bike racks to help you do just that.

Our Top Picks for Best Roof Bike Racks

  • Versatile rack
  • Durable materials
  • Easy to assemble
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  • Lasts long time
  • For many bikes
  • Strong construction
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  • Best for the Money
  • Keeps bike secured
  • Versatile rack
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Comparison of the Best Mini Cooper Bike Racks

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • This rack can be installed on almost any vehicle
  • It is made from strong and durable materials
  • The rack is quite easy to assemble and install
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  • Made from powder-coated steel to resist rust
  • Compatible with quick-release front wheel bikes
  • Solid steel construction for better durability
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  • Best for the Money
  • Keeps bike securely strapped down in place
  • Easily fits on most types of roof carriers
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  • Best Bike Roof Rack For Car
  • This rack can be installed on almost any vehicle
  • Made with a lightweight but durable material
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  • Best Thule Roof Bike Rack
  • Better protection with no frame contact
  • Solid steel construction for better durability
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  • Best Yakima Roof Bike Rack and Best Mountain Bike Roof Rack
  • Quick and easy loading of bike on rack
  • Ratchet wheel strap included to keep bike secured
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  • Best Roof Bike Rack For Suv
  • Rack can be easily installed on almost any vehicle
  • No bike frame contact while in use
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What to Look for When Buying a Roof Bike Rack

With so many choices, you may be wondering how to know if a roof rack is worth buying. Here are some qualities that make a great roof bike rack:

Aluminum Construction

Aluminum is much lighter than steel yet can be just as sturdy and durable. An aluminum bike rack not only means that there is less weight added to your vehicle, but it's lightweight characteristics add to its ease of use, especially important if the bike rack is frequently on and off the vehicle.

Compatible with Multiple Crossbar Styles

Not all roof rack crossbars are the same. They can be wide or narrow, thick or thin, round or square. A good bike roof rack will be compatible with whatever style of crossbar may be on your vehicle.

Warranty

A company that offers a good warranty is a company that stands behind its product. While no one anticipates having any problems with their bike roof rack, it’s essential to know that if you do, the company will be there to support you.

Photo credit: loadyourgear.com

Review of the Best Bike Roof Racks

By now, you might have a good idea of what you are looking for in a bike roof rack, so let’s get right to it and have a look at what we consider the best roof bike racks.

Swagman UPRIGHT Roof Mount Bike Rack

PROS

  • Fits multiple crossbar styles
  • The upright arm has a built-in lock
  • Takes only a few minutes to install
  • Minimalistic design means the rack does not take up much room when not in use
  • Secure strap design means wheels of bike do not have to be removed for mounting

CONS

  • Bike tends to sway when in travel
  • Narrow design may not hold bikes with wider tires

What Recent Buyers Report

The Swagman Upright Bike Rack is popular amongst users for both its ease of use and its quality construction. The bike is easy to place into the rack and is easy to move into the proper position to attach the upright arm, and the solid steel rack provides assurance that the bike is safe during transport.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you’re looking for a quality bike rack at an affordable price, the Swagman Upright Bike Right is the one for you and is the reason it topped this list. Easy to install, easy to use, strong, stable, and secure, all at a fraction of the cost of some higher-end bike racks make this a perfect choice for those on a budget but still want worry-free transportation of their bike.

Bottom Line

Checking off many of the boxes for what most people look for in a bike roof rack, the Swagman Upright Bike Rack will get your bike to where you need it to be under any condition and without worry.

CyclingDeal Steel Car Roof Bike Bicycle Carrier Rack for 1 Bike Max Load 33 lbs - SUV Rooftop Mounted

PROS

  • Simple installation and set-up
  • Lightweight sturdy construction
  • Adjustable length fits many roof sizes
  • Compatible with most manufacturers’ crossbars
  • Front fork mount and rear strap design keeps bike secure under any condition

CONS

  • Does not come with a lock 
  • Only compatible with bikes with quick release front wheel

What Recent Buyers Report

What users find impressive about the CyclingDeal Roof Bike Carrier is how stable and sturdy it is when the bike is on the rack. Buyers are also impressed with the bike rack's ease of both installation and use, leaving them with an all-around positive experience and strong recommendations to others in the market for a roof bike rack. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

CyclingDeal's solid construction is what makes it stand out to us. The frame, U-bolts, and brackets are all constructed from high-quality steel and provide stability and peace of mind security when transporting a bike. We also like the fact that it's compatible with most vehicle roof racks and crossbars and is fully adjustable, which makes installation on any vehicle a breeze.

Bottom Line

While a fork-mount bike rack may not be the easiest rack to use, the CyclingDeal does a great job of eliminating a lot of the headaches by making its construction as simple as possible. The fact that the rack does not have any type of locking security feature is outweighed by its stability and security while transporting the bike.

Best for the Money:
Swagman Standard 64710

Swagman STANDARD Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Carrier

PROS

  • Tool-free, easy assembly 
  • Easy to use, secure front fork mounting system
  • Compatible with multiple styles and sizes of roof rack crossbars
  • Easy to put on and remove from a vehicle and can be done with each use
  • Secure and stable bike rack at a fraction of the cost of some higher-end models

CONS

  • No locking security feature
  • Fork mount system means that you have to remove the front wheel of the bike

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent purchasers of the Swagman Standard are impressed with the construction quality, although some do report that the coating can scratch easily and lead to the rack starting to rust, most say that is not an issue when considering the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The price of the Swagman Standard is what makes it stand out to us. The design is simple, but this rack offers incredible stability and all-around security for an affordable price. Offering many of the same features as a higher-end roof bike rack, the Swagman Standard is the perfect option for those on a budget but still looking for a quality bike rack that meets their needs. This bike rack makes our list as the best for the money because it provides an ideal all-around experience for an equally great price.

Bottom Line

Dropping a bunch of money on something isn’t always a viable option, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality because of it. The Swagman Standard provides quality at a price that really can’t be beaten, and that’s something all of us can appreciate.

Best Bike Roof Rack For Car:
ROCKBROS Suction Cup Roof Bike Rack

ROCKBROS Sucker Bike Rack for Car Roof Suction Cup Bicycle Carrier Quick Release Aluminium Alloy Roof Rack for 1 Bike

PROS

  • No need for vehicle roof racks or crossbars
  • Suction installation makes it easy to install and remove
  • Fits any type of bike that has a quick-release front wheel
  • Rubber suction cups protect paint from scratches or damage
  • Universal suction cup design makes it compatible with most vehicles

CONS

  • On longer trips it may require user to check security more frequently
  • Fork mount is only compatible with bikes that have quick-release front wheels

What Recent Buyers Report

As is the case with any suction-cup roof bike rack, there is always a concern that the cups may lose suction during travel. But buyers agree that, when installed on the vehicle as directed, the suction cups withstood travel at highway speed without any issue. Buyers do, however, recommend frequently checking the suction just to be safe.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The versatility of the ROCKBROS Suction Cup Roof Bike Rack is second to none. There is no need for any type of roof rack or crossbars, possibly eliminating an extra expense for owners of cars that don’t come equipped with them. The suction cups can be placed anywhere on top of the vehicle, making them ideal for smaller cars, and they are easy to move around and adjust to the size of the bike.

Bottom Line

In our opinion, this rack is a great option for anyone, as it eliminates the need for any type of roof rack. Its ease of use makes it extremely versatile, meaning it can be used with multiple vehicles, be it your second car or even a friend’s car.

Best Thule Roof Bike Rack:
Thule UpRide

Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack , Black

PROS

  • Design supports nontraditional bike frames 
  • No frame contact protects bike against damage
  • Can hold any type of bike (fat bikes require an adaptor)
  • Double arm front wheel fork keeps bike stable in transport
  • Roll in track and front support fork make it easy to put bike on the rack

CONS

  • Heavier than similar roof bike racks
  • Bike lock needs to be purchased separately

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers love UpRide’s ease of installation and use. It’s simple, no-nonsense design makes it easy to install on the vehicle and makes putting the bike on the rack simple, even with one person. Although the UpRide is heavier than many other bike roof racks, its solid construction means customers have little worry about the bike when properly secured.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The UpRide’s ease of use means even those new to transporting their bike get a quality product without the worry of complexity when mounting the bikes, and in turn, not having to worry about the bike itself when transporting. Thule is a company that stands behind their product, and their customer support is outstanding. If problems do arise, Thule will be there for anything you need.

Bottom Line

With quality construction and outstanding customer support, it’s hard to go wrong with any product in Thule’s line up. Consider the UpRide to be an entry-level roof bike rack that offers anyone, no matter their biking experience, a high quality, worry-free product.

Best Yakima Roof Bike Rack and Best Mountain Bike Roof Rack:
Yakima HighRoad Upright Bike Carrier

YAKIMA - HighRoad Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier for Roof Racks, 1 Bike Capacity

PROS

  • Universal style fits any vehicle roof rack
  • No wheel removal for easy bike mounting
  • Can carry multiple sizes and styles of bikes
  • No contact with bike frame prevents damage to bike
  • TorqueRight mounting system makes it easy to secure and adjust

CONS

  • Bike lock needs to be purchase separately
  • Rack is not as easily removed and reinstalled as other options

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers praise the HighRoad’s high-quality design noting that even without having to remove the front wheel, it has the same secure hold as fork mount racks. Not coming with a bike lock included was a slight downside for many customers, but the overall quality of the HighRoad made that a minor issue.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like Thule, Yakima is another company with an outstanding reputation for building quality products, and with a lifetime warranty, Yakima stands behind that quality. While the HighRoads can carry multiple bike sizes, its wide track design is perfect for transporting wide tire mountain bikes without any adjustment.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense roof bike rack that can carry your mountain bike, take a look at the Yakima HighRoads Upright Bike Carrier. Its quality construction is backed by a limited lifetime warranty and outstanding customer service, and its ease of use means anyone can easily transport their bike.

Best Roof Bike Rack For Suv:
SeaSucker Mini Bomber

SeaSucker Mini Bomber Two Bike Rack for Cars USA Made Racks SUV, Sedan, Hatchback, RV, BMW, Honda, Tesla, Mazda and Every Other Car No Hitch Mount, Full Safety, Zero Damage, Travel Friendly Carrier

PROS

  • High pull rating of 210lbs
  • Money-back satisfaction guarantee
  • Can be mounted on rear hatches of larger SUVs
  • Compact size perfect for travel and easily stored away
  • Vacuum style suction cups mean easy installation and removal

CONS

  • Considerable wind noise when the bike is not mounted
  • May need added accessories depending on what type of bike is being mounted

What Recent Buyers Report

There is always some skepticism when it comes to suction cup bike racks, but buyers of the SeaSucker Mini Bomber are impressed with its holding abilities. While most indicate that it is always a good idea on long trips to stop and check to make sure the rack is still holding tight, the suction cups coming loose is not an issue.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The overall height of SUVs can mean that roof bike carriers are not always practical or easy to use. The SeaSucker Mini Bomber’s suction cup design eliminates the need for vehicle roof racks and crossbars. They can mount on the hatch of much larger SUVs, eliminating awkward, often cumbersome lifting of the bike onto the top of the vehicle, which often needs two people to load the bike properly. With a little care, one person can mount and secure the bike.

Bottom Line

The Seasucker Mini Bomber is a compact, easy to use bike rack. Its versatility is perfect for SUV owners that are in the market for a roof bike rack but want to eliminate a lot of the hassles associated with loading a bike onto a larger vehicle.

Best Fat Bike Roof Rack:
RockyMounts Tomahawk

RockyMounts Tomahawk upright roof bike rack

PROS

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Wheel strap extensions included to fit Fat Bikes
  • No frame contact helps avoid unnecessary damage
  • Universal design can be used with any vehicle crossbars
  • Mounting arm swings to allow installation on either side of the vehicle

CONS

  • Bike locks must be purchased separately
  • Although installation is relatively easy, the rack is not designed to be removed frequently 

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are impressed with the Tomahawk’s solid construction and compare the rack to many higher-end, more expensive roof bike racks. What impresses customers the most is that this rack is fat bike ready, as opposed to other bike racks that either may require separate attachments to do so.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Fat bikes are becoming increasingly popular, yet many roof rack companies don’t seem to be keeping up with this trend and either don’t offer options that will hold a fat bike or require additional accessory purchases to do so. The RockyMounts Tomahawk design fits fat bikes out of the box with no extra expense. Add the fact that the Tomahawk uses top-quality construction materials for reliable build quality, and there is no worry when transporting larger fat bikes.

Bottom Line

Any fat bike owner should consider the Tomahawk. It is ready out of the box to transport fat bikes, and its universal design mounts on any vehicle roof rack. Its solid construction not only ensures secure transportation but is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty, assuring us that the company stands behind its product.

When To Use a Roof Mounted Bike Rack

A roof-mounted bike rack may not be for everyone, so we'll quickly highlight when they may be of use.

When the Vehicle Does Not Have a Trailer Hitch

Many non-roof mounted bike racks require the use of a trailer hitch. If your vehicle doesn't have a hitch, then it may be quite costly to have one installed and may not be a viable option.

When the Vehicle Comes Pre-Equipped With Roof Racks

More often these days, vehicles come pre-equipped with roof racks. Whether it's an SUV, a crossover, or a small car, many come with, at the very least, factory-installed roof rails. If your vehicle is one of these that do, then the hard part is already done.

Photo credit: new.minimania.com

When Taking Bike on Long Trips

If you’re someone who takes a lot of long road trips and your bikes are always a part of those trips a roof-mounted bike rack is your best option as they tend to be a much more secure way to transport a bike.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

You need to consider a few other factors before deciding which roof rack to purchase. 

Ease of Installation

When it comes to both use and installation, not all bike roof racks are created equal. If you’re looking for a bike rack that is not going to be a permanent fixture on your car’s roof rack, then you are going to want to find something that can easily be removed and reinstalled after each use.

Ease of Use

Whether taking a trip alone or with someone else, having to lift a bike onto the roof of your vehicle can be a trying task. Look for a bike rack that makes this process as easy as possible. The last thing you want to be doing is struggling to keep the bike upright while securing it. A good rack will not only hold the bike in position while you do this, but it will also make it easy to secure.

The Rack Itself Is Lockable

While it may seem like a no brainer that you would be able to lock up the bike and protect your investment while you may be away from your vehicle, not all racks are lockable. If the bike rack does not come with a lock, check to see if there is a locking accessory that may be available to install after the fact.

Pros and Cons of a Bike Roof Rack

Every type of product has some good points and some not-so-good points. Here are some pros and cons you should be aware of before purchasing a roof rack. 

Pros

  1. If you are traveling with your bike, there is a good chance that the bike is not the only gear you will be carrying with you. A bike roof rack keeps the bikes up and out of the way, allowing full access to your vehicle’s storage area.

  2. No matter what you are transporting on or in your vehicle, safety should always be a factor. Unlike the hitch mounted bike racks, a roof mount rack will not impede your ability to see out of the back of the vehicle.

  3. The mounting versatility means that no matter what type of bike you are transporting, you can properly secure it to the rack with little to no movement. This security decreases the chance of hardware working their way loose, be it straps or bolts, and compromising the safety of the bike, you or those around you.

Cons

  1. Having a bike roof rack means having to lift the bike up and onto the roof of your vehicle, which is often an awkward job and sometimes requires more than one person.

  2. Anytime you’re carrying something on top of your vehicle, airflow is reduced, and drag increases. Bikes are no exception, and using a roof bike rack could result in increased fuel consumption.

Types of Roof Bike Racks 

There are several mounting types for roof bike racks. Here is an overview to help you decide which best fits your needs:

Fork Mount Bike Roof Rack

A fork mount bike rack installs onto existing vehicle roof racks and crossbars. To install the bike, you must remove the front wheel. Then, attach the forks of the bike directly to the bike rack itself, using either a mounting bracket or a bolt through the forks. Strap the rear wheel in place for added security

Photo credit: bikeinquire.com

Upright Mount Bike Roof Rack

Similar to the fork mount bike racks, an upright bike rack installs on the existing roof racks and crossbars and does not require you to remove the front wheel of the bike. Instead, the front and rear wheels strap onto the bike rack, and a stabilizer bar attaches to either the frame of the bike or the front wheel itself to secure the bike in place.

Vacuum Suction Cup Roof Bike Rack

Perhaps the most popular feature of a vacuum suction bike rack is that they are compatible with any vehicle and don’t need any extra roof racks or crossbars to use. The bike rack suctions to any flat surface, making it quick and easy to use while still maintaining the holding ability of traditional roof bike racks.

How Do Roof Bike Racks Compare? 

Still confused about which type you should get? Here are some helpful comparisons:

Bike Roof Rack vs Hitch

When you consider mounting a bike on a rack, a hitch rack may have a slight advantage over a roof rack simply because the hitch rack is located on the back of the vehicle and is easier to access than the roof rack. That said, a roof bike rack offers many advantages that a hitch rack may not. These advantages include full access to the trunk and cargo areas, more secure travel (when a bike is on a hitch bike rack, it tends to move around with the motion of the vehicle), and less chance of bike damage while being transported.

Photo credit: rackmaven.com

Fork Mount vs Upright Mount Roof Bike Rack

Both fork mount and upright mount bike roof racks offer a secure, worry-free way to transport your bike. Which one you choose is relative to how you want to use it. An upright bike roof rack does not require the front wheel to be removed, as a fork mount does, resulting in an often-easier mounting process. But if you’re ok removing that front wheel, many like the added bit of security that a fork-mounted rack offers.

How to Install an Upright Roof Mount Bike Rack

Installing an upright roof bike rack can be a time-consuming process depending on the bike rack, but overall, they are generally easy to install. The kits will come with all the hardware and instructions needed for installation, but you will have to provide your tools.

Most kits will require some assembly before installing on the vehicle, but this usually only consists of connecting two tack bars to make one as well as attaching the support bars. If the kit is a universal one, which most are, it will come with different U-bolts to suit your needs depending on what style of crossbars your vehicle may have.

Once you have determined which of the supplied U-bolts work best with your crossbar, you will then need to place the track on the crossbars and get it into the proper position, which may require adjusting the length of the track itself until it fits the crossbars.

When you have the track in the right spot, simply use the U-bolts and all other hardware provided to secure the rack in place. We have included a video below on this process, so feel free to follow the link for a step-by-step walkthrough.

Conclusion 

Whether you’re taking your bike on an extended road trip or simply looking to expand your riding horizons, a roof bike rack is an ideal option for transporting your bike. While a roof bike rack may need a little practice to mount the bike, having the bike on the roof leaves full access to your cargo area, making your trips much more versatile and enjoyable.

Quick Take - Best Bike Roof Racks

To sum up the review, here are our recommendations for the best bike roof racks:

  1. Swagman Upright Bike Rack
  2. CyclingDeal Roof Bike Carrier
  3. Swagman Standard 64710

People Also Ask

Buyers often have many valid questions when looking to purchase a roof bike rack. While questions will differ depending on specific needs, here are some of the most common ones that get asked.

How to Put Bikes on Roof Rack

The hardest part of mounting a bike on a roof rack is lifting up and onto the bike rack. After that, it is a matter of having the tires in the track and moving it back and forth until it is in the proper position to secure it.

How Much MPG Do You Lose With a Bike Rack on the Roof?

While the loss of fuel economy is minimal, it does occur, but this depends on the type of vehicle you are driving.  You can typically expect to see a drop anywhere from 5 to 8 mpgs.

Photo credit: backroads.com

Does it Matter Which Way the Bike Faces on the Roof Rack?

Most roof bike racks only offer one mounting direction: forward-facing. The bike will not fit otherwise. There are, however, bike racks out there on which you can mount the bike in either direction. It’s best to mount the bike how the manufacturer of the bike rack recommends.

How Much Does a Roof Mounted Bike Rack Cost?

The price of a roof bike rack can vary considerably from the very cheap to the very expensive. While there are racks on either side of this spectrum you can typically look to spend anywhere from $75 to $300.

How Many Bike Racks Can I Fit on a Roof?

The size of the vehicle plays a substantial role in how many bike racks can go on, but typically two to three bike racks would be the most.

Photo credit: crutchfield.com

How Does a Roof Mount Bike Rack Attach?

Except for vacuum suction mounted bike racks, a roof mount bike rack will attach to existing vehicle roof rack crossbars with either provided U-bolts or brackets. Before purchase, be sure your vehicle has the necessary crossbars, or be aware that you may have to purchase some.

Why Are Roof Racks So Expensive?

Roof bike racks not only have to hold the weight of the bike but must also be able to stand up to the force created by the air when traveling. To withstand this force, all components of the rack from the track the bike sits into the hardware that holds the bike rack to the vehicle must be of top quality to avoid failure.

Are Roof Mount Bike Racks Compatible With All Vehicles?

Most roof bike racks are universal, meaning that they are compatible with multiple configurations of vehicle crossbars, so if your vehicle has a roof rack and crossbars, then most bike racks will fit.

Isaac

I used to work in construction and landscaping, so I've seen my fair share of ratchet straps, winches, and similar rigging gear. I started Winch Central because I've seen some nasty accidents due to crappy rigging or poor practice. I wanted to be able to recommend good equipment that's SAFE and also provide resources for how its used. I handle the research side of things here as well as product selection for gear reviews.