One of the best roof bike racks we have ever tried
When it comes to transporting bikes to and from popular riding areas and parks, we prefer our bike racks Made in Europe or in the US. However, quality products are also manufactured outside of those places, and some of them are even sold in the Holy Land. Yakima, an American company established in 1979 in Yakima, Washington (not Japan), makes a wide range of transportation products for cars, including rooftop bikes racks like the one we tested here.
Most standard rooftop bike racks secure the bicycle by clamping the front wheel axle or the down tube of the frame. This works fine for most bicycles, except that axle sizes keep changing, delicate frame materials such as carbon are thin and volatile, and the suspension design doesn’t always allow for worry-free securing of the bicycle.
Yakima’s Frontloader works differently: it secures only the front wheel, which is both a robust element and also positioned the same way in all existing bicycle designs. This makes for a more secure and stable clamp – or at the least, more than frame clamps.
- Secures the bike by firmly clamping the front wheel, eliminating any contact with the frame.
- Universal attachment system suitable for all roof bars, including a lock.
- Simple method for fitting the rack to different wheel sizes.
- Fits all size bicycles, from children’s bikes to downhill rigs.
- Relatively silent while driving.
Installing the Yakima Frontloader is relatively straightforward and does not require any special skills. There’s a mild learning curve, after which it is simple and very user-friendly.
First, the user must fit the wheel size – from 24 to 29 inches – as appears on the securing arm. The front arm first positions and restrains the front wheel, and then the rear arm locks onto it by closing a large knob (which takes some time and effort, we should add). At this stage the bike is quite secure, but in order to prevent it from performing a bar spin while the car is doing 100km/h on the freeway, the rear wheel also needs to be locked down. This is done by inserting a long plastic wheel strap through the spokes and into a ratcheted buckle. The strap is long enough to handle a downhill tire, or even a plus-size, three-inch wheel.
On the road, the bike sits firmly within the Frontloader’s rail and cannot accidently fall off. In contrast with rack designs whose clamp sits on the frame, the Frontloader allows the bike very little lateral play.
Locking the bike is accomplished by a regular cable which attaches to the rack’s arm – just like tying it to a lamppost or tree. While this may be an effective means against bike thieves, it is far from elegant. Furthermore, if you leave the lock attached while driving, there is a risk of scratching the frame. Finally, despite its bulky and non-aerodynamic build, the Frontloader is relatively quiet when compared to other bike racks we previously tested.
Yakima’s Frontloader is, without a doubt, one of the best roof bike racks we have ever tried. Its securing mechanism works exceptionally well, and it’s also versatile enough to accommodate for a wide range of sizes and types of bikes. The rack is very easy to install, load, and operate, and is relatively quiet during drives. While we would have been happier with a more elegant locking mechanism, such as the one on the more-expensive HighRoller model, this is far from being a deal breaker.
For better: Stable, excellent clamping of bike, won’t damage the frame.
For worse: The locking mechanism leaves much to be desired, and the securing knob is a tad bothersome.