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Take Your Bike Anywhere with the Best Roof Bike Rack

When shopping for a rack for your bike there are many things to consider. What will be compatible with your vehicle? Do you want to be able to remove it when not in use? How easy is it to use? What will work with your bike and your vehicle?Those are just a few things to consider. You may decide that you want a rack that is low profile, doesn't need to be removed when not in use, and that keeps your bikes up and out of the way when traveling with them in place. That would be where a roof rack comes into play.

Best roof bike rack in 2021 can be a convenient way to keep bikes out of your line of sight when you travel and they are barely noticeable when not in use.

Keep in mind that lifting a bike in place can take some muscle, depending upon what kind of bike you have and how much it weighs. For that reason, these racks aren't for everyone. Just like any style of rack, there are advantages and disadvantages to any rack system.

The racks on this list were chosen for there strength, ease of use, ease of installation, and versatility.

Comparing the Best Roof Bike Racks for 2021

Thule ThruRide Roof Bike Rack - Best Roof Bike Rack Overall

When you are looking for a roof rack for hauling your bike out for the next big adventure you want maximum protection with minimal effort. The Thule Sidearm gives you all that and at a great price point, under $200. A secure hook and a ratcheting hook hold your bike in place and only touch the wheels. Nothing on this rack ever touches your frame. The Sidearm is designed to fit most any style of bike, including those with disc brakes. The double walled aluminum tray is corrosion resistant and designed to be strong.

Yakima Frontloader Roof Bike Rack - Runner Up

The Yakima Frontloader is another great option for those of you that don't want to remove the front wheel of your bike. This rack can be a little tricky the first couple of times but once you have used it a few times it is a breeze. It has a very secure front wheel mount and integrated lock system to keep your bike safe when you walk away. The Frontloader will handle bikes from 20-29 inches, road to mountain. This rack will fit on most any roof rack system crossbars.

Inno Racks Fork Universal Mount Roof Bike Rack - Honorable Mention

The Inno Fork Lock III is just what the name would imply, a rack that requires you to remove the front wheel. This rack will fit most roof mounting rack systems and you can tuck your front wheel in the trunk. No tools required to mount this and it includes locks and keys. The Fork Lock III is lightweight and easy to use. I personally think it is easier to use a roof rack with my front wheel off.

Thule 516 Prologue Fork Mount Roof Bike Rack - Consider

If you are looking for simplistic design and something that gets the job done, look no further than the Thule Prologue 516. This rack has a very minimalist feel to it but will keep your bike secure for the long haul. It features a ratcheting rear wheel strap and an easy to use stainless steel skewer with an oversized handle for the fork. It is compatible with most disc brake bikes as well.

Rhino Roof Bike Rack - Best Roof Bike Rack

The Rhino-Rack Mountain Trail can be used on either side of a roof rack system. It has a rear wheel strap and front skewer for the fork. It will fit disc or standard brake style bikes. The included locks, secure the rack to both the bike and the roof rack system on your car.

Buyer's Guide

Why do you need a Roof Bike Rack?

A roof bike rack is one of the various types of bike racks available today. However, it remains the most preferred choice amongst passionate cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

As the name explains, the roof bike rack mounts on the top of your vehicle. This particular method makes it difficult to access. It also uses a strong locking mechanism to prevent the bike from swaying.

Yes, you would need a little muscle power to load and remove the bikes. But, it’s worth the high-security level offered.

The roof bike rack is highly versatile too. Unlike other types, it allows you to store much more on the rack than just bikes. Hence, you won’t have to invest in bike rack accessories.

What’s more, the roof mount clears the space around your vehicle. So, you can reach the insides and trunk of the vehicle easily. To sum it up, you should buy a roof bike rack if you want a high-security level, damage protection, and versatile usage.

Things to consider in the Best Roof Bike Rack

Be it online or offline-every marketplace has too much saturation. Thousands of products from a thousand different brands line up the shelves. And what’s more confusing is the never-ending claims to be the best.

Remember, these are baseless. No single product can be the best pick until and unless it fulfills your particular needs. Thus, you need to do your research.

For your help, we have brought together the essential-most features to consider in the perfect roof bike rack. Read more!

Installation Type

First things first, you should decide whether the roof bike rack should be a permanent or temporary installation on your vehicle.

Most people opt for a temporary one as it increases the wind resistance against the vehicle. Thus, increasing fuel consumption.

But, if you spend a major chunk of your life outdoors, then the permanent type saves a lot of hassle. The racks are available in both variants, so choose wisely.


The composition of the roof rack influences the car's performance & durability. Different roof racks comprise different materials. However, the two fundamental material types you’ll find includes:

  • Steel

Steel is your budget-friendly, long-lasting option. But, it is heavier and puts more load on the car. So, you’ll experience drag while driving, and fuel consumption will increase too.

  • Aluminum

Comparatively, aluminum is lightweight and sturdy. It has the opposite effect, reducing drag and fuel usage. But, it comes at an expensive cost.


The accommodation of the roof bike rack will affect the number of bikes you can store. Usually, you will find racks with two cradles (each cradle carries a single bike).

But, there are also three and even four cradle roof bike racks available today. The selection depends on how many cyclists travel with you and the roof size of your vehicle. Larger cradle racks are naturally larger, and vice versa. So, consider the car roof area when purchasing.


Once you’ve decided upon cradles, you need to evaluate the load capacity of the selected bike rack. A roof rack can handle a specific amount of load, after which it becomes unsteady and unstable. So, you need to look for one that can manage your bike(s) weight.


Although the roof bike rack is usually safe, it is better to examine the security mechanism thoroughly. Opt for ones that come with dedicated anti-theft locks. You can also look for additional accessories to store cargo other than bikes.

How to install a Roof Rack?

The installation method of each roof rack system varies with brand and type. If you’re a complete beginner, we recommend reaching out to the nearest automotive expert for assistance. But if you want to DIY, follow these simple steps.

Things you Need: Fit kit, crossbars, and a foot pack.


Install fit kit clips into the towers. If your car already has raised side rails, you can skip this step.

Mount the crossbars, placing them on the strongest portion.

Put the rack on top of it, and fasten it using provided clamps or drilled holes. For raised side rails, you won’t have to fasten anything. The feet will directly fit onto the crossbars.

Roof Rails VS Roof Racks-What’s the difference?

When searching for the best bike rack, you must’ve come across the term roof rails. Both roof racks and rails perform the same function, i.e., is carrying cargo on top of your car. So, what makes them different?

The difference between the two is in installation method and design.

Roof racks get attached across the car’s roof, whereas roof rails get mounted by feet, such that they run along the car roof’s lengths. Other than this, the roof racks vary from rails in terms of sturdiness and load capacity. Unlike rails, roof racks are more durable and capable of handling more load.

Best Roof Bike Rack FAQs

Can I use a roof rack without crossbars?

Yes, you can use a roof rack without crossbars. However, it is not recommended. The crossbars are an important part of the roof racks that provide much-needed stability and strength. Without it, your cargo is likely to be unsteady.

How do I increase the weight of my roof rack?

Increasing roof rack weight capacity is quite easy if you make the right calculations.

First, you need to consider the weight limit of your vehicle. Usually, cars and SUVs can handle up to 150 to 200-pounds. You can find yours in the vehicle manual.

Add crossbars to the roof rack for more weight capacity but do not exceed the car’s weight limit too much. Most people can increase the weight capacity considerably by only four crossbars.

How will roof rack affect your car performance?

Roof rack affects car performance by increasing wind resistance and weight. The heavier and the larger cargo on your car becomes, the more fuel will get consumed to move forward. Thus, making your car less power-efficient.

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