9 Best Roof Mounted Bike Racks In 2021 (The Ultimate Guide)

To get where you’re going with all your gear is a task when you have so many hobbies. The best roof bike rack aims to make this task just a little bit easier. It makes taking bikes to the trail, unloading them, and getting them back on and home safely a breeze. The right roof-mounted bike rack will secure your bikes and make sure you know they are safe before driving away from home. 

There are several different styles of bike racks but a roof-mounted bike rack is going to allow you to both leave the trunk of the vehicle accessible and protect your bikes from any kicked up mud or rocks from your car’s rear tires. These bike racks specialize in security and stability to get to your destination without a single worry. Any vehicle can sport roof-mounted bike racks, which is another great aspect of choosing this style. Another advantage of having a roof-mounted bike rack is that you can use it to carry other equipment. Here, we’ve gotten the best bike racks for the roof of any vehicle together into a single list for you to get the right rack on your vehicle today.

In this buyer’s guide we’ll help you find the right bike rack for your vehicle and for your bike. Just take a deep breath and think about your car and your bike, we have the right bike rack to fit your needs. If you are looking for hitch racks, this isn’t the right place to be. There are so many types of bike racks, so we’re going to help you narrow down the competition.

Our Top Choices

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
  • Features: Adjustable sliding wheel tray, weight capacity of 35 pounds, simple tool-free installation, no frame contact.
  • Benefits: Easy to adjust to make sure your bike fits while the frame is taken care of in transit.
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  • Features: Quick and secure mounting dial, soft claw pads for damageless frame contact, automatic positioning of frame holder and wheel tray.
  • Benefits: Take good care of your bike frame without losing any amount of stability and security.
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  • Features: Fits any car, travel friendly size, pull rated at over 210 pounds, easy and quick installation, hand-made in the USA.
  • Benefits: Bring your bike rack with you and don’t worry about if it will fit on the next vehicle, because it will.
Check Latest Price

The Yakima ForkLift Fork Mount Bike Carrier is our pick for this coming year to make sure you have the proper stability and security that you need when moving your bike from place to place. Having this bike rack on top of your vehicle makes it easy to get things on and off, even though you will need to remove the front wheel. The frame of your bike is going to be well-protected and the security will come from high-quality straps on the wheels. This is an easy pick for the top one this year. 


Best Roof Mounted Bike Racks for 2021

1. Yakima ForkLift Fork Mount – Our Top Pick

This fork mount bike rack for the roof of your vehicle is our top choice for getting out and about in the year 2021. The Yakima ForkLift Bike Rack delivers exactly as it promises. The fork mounts to the bike rack, meaning you must take the front wheel off before loading the bike onto your vehicle. This can be a drawback to some, but we see it as a positive. It essentially helps to lower the overall height of your vehicle with a bike on top of it, reducing the risk of not making a low clearance. 

While this might not be the choice for everyone, we think that it should be. The adjustable length of the sliding wheel tray means that your bike is going to fit in this rack. It can carry bikes up to 35 pounds, which will be plenty for getting to the trail. 

Another big thing you should care about is the lack of contact with the frame. If your bike is carbon fiber or has a specialty paintjob, a fork mounted roof rack for your bike may be the best option. The Yakima ForkLift is exactly this. It will take care your bike’s frame with no risk of scratching or damaging it. We think this is a great option when you don’t mind taking off the front wheel of your bike to get it on top of your vehicle. It seems a small price to pay to get the best treatment for your bike. 

Features

Adjustable sliding wheel tray, weight capacity of 35 pounds, simple tool-free installation, no frame contact, compatible with Same Key System

Pros

  • No contact with frame takes care of paint
  • Adjustable to fit most sized bikes
  • Easy to install

Cons

  •  Locking mechanism is sold separately

2. Thule ProRide – Best Value

If you’re looking for a bike rack for the roof of your vehicle that has it all, the Thule ProRide XT Roof Bike Rack is the one. The unique wheel tray and unique frame design allows you to automatically position the bike as you secure it. This means you can fit just about any bike and not have a problem doing it. Whether you’re short or tall, getting the bike on top of the vehicle is made a lot more simple with this rack. 

If you are worried about the frame of your bike because this specific rack has contact with it, forget all the fears. Thule has fixed this issue with a torque limiting dial that controls the amount of force put in to the bike frame. On top of the dial, the two huge rubber claw pads help to distribute the pressure while conforming to the shape of the bike. This essentially results in near-zero chance of damage to the frame. 

The wheel holders on this rack are designed to provide complete stability while your vehicle is moving. The diagonal quick-release straps help to secure the wheels in place and prevent side to side motion. This helps you get a smooth ride, knowing that your bike isn’t rocking back and forth along the way. 

Features

Quick and secure mounting dial, soft claw pads for damageless frame contact, automatic positioning of frame holder and wheel tray

Pros

  • Automatically positions bike as you secure it
  • Great stability with diagonal straps
  • Soflt claw pads and torque dial negate the impact to your frame

Cons

  •  Locks are sold separately

3. SeaSucker Mini Bomber – Best Versatility

When you don’t already have a roof rack installed, it can be tough to find a bike rack that is going to work with your car. The SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack works with suction cups to fit any car, any size, with no need for a roof rack to be installed and considered as most versatile roof mounted bike rack. The worries are the suction cups. But don’t worry, these have been tested to the extremes with bikes worth more than a lot of cars in pro cycling arenas. 

This is the only portable bike rack that can be thrown into a backpack easily when not in use. At a mere 6 pounds, this will hardly be noticed when you add it to your luggage. This makes travelling and biking worlds easier. This six pound little bike rack is rated to hold up to 210 pounds of direct pulling pressure. That’s surely enough to keep up to two bikes completely secure. 

These aren’t just easy to move around with you, they’re incredibly easy to use. The SeaSucker can be installed on your vehicle within seconds and be ready for a long haul trip. Your bikes will be safe and secure on cars you normally couldn’t find racks for. 

Features

Fits any car, travel friendly size, pull rated at over 210 pounds, easy and quick installation, hand-made in the USA

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Fits on any car without a roof rack needed
  • Tested thoroughly by the pros

Cons

  • Pretty expensive rack system

4. Yakima HighRoad Wheel – On Mount Upright Bike Carrier

If you’re a huge fan of Yakima, which is a great choice by the way, but you don’t want to use the fork mounted system, the Yakima HighRoad Wheel-On Mount Upright Bike Carrier is going to be your pick. This system has a lot going on to allow it to fit wheels from 26 to 29 inches and tires from 23 mm to 4 inches. This means no matter what style of riding you’re doing, this will fit the bike for it. 

This roof rack is incredibly popular and it’s for a good reason. While a roof rack is required for this rack, the installation is tool-free and universal to fit the vast majority of roof racks that you will likely have installed. There is the option for the SmarT-slot conversion kit to make it T-slot compatible on other racks. 

A TorqueRight tightening knob helps to give you precise control over the amount of security your bike has without damaging the frame. If you want to add a lock, the SKS (Same Key System) by Yakima is compatible to this rack but will need to be bought separately. 

Features

Fits 26 inch to 29 inch wheels and 23 mm to 4 inch tire, low profile tray to minimize hatch interference, no contact with frame, TorqueRight tightening knob for easy adjustments, compatible with Same Key System

Pros

  • Fits most bikes
  • Compatible with T-slot with add-on
  • TorqueRight tightening knob

Cons

  • All of the good add-ons don’t come with it

5. SeaSucker Talon

This SeaSucker is for those that don’t have the need to carry several bikes at once. The Talon is designed for single bike use, but doesn’t cut any corners from the previous SeaSucker model. 

The Talon has a 45 pound weight limit, which is more than enough to get your bike from place to place with peace of mind. 

While it is a great option, this one is also designed to be used with the front wheel removed and you will need to keep that in mind. It can be a huge drawback for some folks that don’t want to put in the extra work at the trailhead. That’s a fair complaint and there are other bike racks for that. 

This is the rack you take from place to place with you and even if you’re getting a rental car once you land in a foreign country, you know that it will be compatible with your bike rack. 

Features

Fits any car, travel friendly size, pull rated at over 210 pounds, easy and quick installation, hand-made in the USA

Pros

  • Move from place to place with your bike rack in tow
  • Fits on to any car
  • No need for a roof rack

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Fork Mounted rack isn’t for everyone

6. Swagman STANDARD

Looking at the cost of these different bike racks seems intimidating, but there are options that will deliver for a much lower price. The Swagman Standard Fork Mount Rooftop Bike Carrier is exactly that. This rack comes in with a huge price difference, but still gets your bike moved from spot to spot with stability. 

9 mm quick release skewers keep your bike anchored down to the rack while in motion, and makes it easy to get off the rack and back into your garage. It’s going to fit almost any roof rack and a huge variety of bikes, which makes it a good option for those going out for recreation. It’s hassle-free and is incredibly easy to set up without any tools and take off when you don’t need it on the roof of your vehicle. 

We consider this to be a great option when the budget is tight, but you still need to get a decent bike rack. Swagman is known to make good products and have ways to do so affordably.

Features

No tool assembly, fits most roof racks, quick release skewers on the fork mount blocks to secure bikes

Pros

  • Affordable Price
  • Fits most bikes and vehicles
  • Secured in a way that makes it easy to remove

Cons

  • Not as high quality or with as many features as more expensive brands

7. Thule Sidearm

The Thule Sidearm Roof Rack is just another prime example of the high quality products that Thule continues to put out. They are able to find a way to meet each and every need of their users, which is why we continue to include them on our lists. 

This specific rack is a perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t mind spending just a little bit more money to get the best product for their bike. It’s going to fit any bike from 20 inches to 29 inches in the frame and tires up to 2.6 inches in width. The Sidearm works by fastening the front wheel down with an innovative arm that grabs the wheel on both sides of the fork. This means there’s no contact with the frame, only security through the wheel. The back wheel is secured with a ratcheting strap that has a rubber rim adapter for additional security. 

The base of this rack is fully aluminum, meaning there isn’t going to be a quick rust-out of the Sidearm and it will last you for years to come. The aluminum base fastens to your crossbars without any tools and is incredibly simple to install. It won’t be a hassle, and there’s no complicated measures just to get a simple roof rack for your bike installed on your vehicle. 

Features

SecureHook holds bike by the front wheel, ratcheting wheel strap for back wheel, corrosion resistant double-wall aluminum tray, one-key locking sold separately, 20-29 inch wheels

Pros

  • No frame contact
  • Aluminum construction is corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to install and easy to use
  • Backed by Thule’s name brand

Cons

  • Relatively expensive when looking at other bike racks

8. CyclingDeal Car Roof Mount

The CyclingDeal Bike Car Roof Mount is an incredibly simple design that makes toting your bike around with you on top of the vehicle a breeze. This is a frame-mounted system so you may want to watch out if you are worried about paint getting scratched up or a carbon fiber frame getting ruined. It does mean that you don’t need to take the front wheel off to put the bike on the rack, which is a huge plus. 

This bike rack is build from solid alloy steel that is going to provide a huge level of strength, durability, and security on top of your vehicle. It clamps on to the frame and fits any frame with a maximum thickness of 50mm. 

This is a good choice if you want something simple and don’t want to spend a fortune on getting it. We think it’s a great budget option that’s definitely worth looking into. 

Features

Steel construction, clamps on to most roof rack crossbars, lockable with included key

Pros

  • Solid alloy steel construction
  • Affordable and simple
  • No removal of front wheel

Cons

  • Makes contact with the frame which may be a bad option for certain bikes

9. Thule Criterium

For a single bike transport that offers stability and security for a bit of a lower price, the Thule Criterium Bike Carrier offers all of the placement precision and stability that you can ask for. It truly specializes in stability with the advanced “frame hold” element and a patented C-clamp at the end of the wheel tray. With all of this technology, the Criterium takes care of your bike in transit. 

The contact with the frame isn’t a worry either. The C-clamp tech has an adjustable dial to control how much pressure it applies and won’t scratch the frame. This way, you get all of the stability that a frame mount offers, but there’s no possibility of damaging the bike. The best feature of this clamp is the quick release at the click of a button. 

The only drawback of this one is the same as most roof mounted bike racks. It increases the height of your vehicle a lot, which means you may not make it under certain trees or other spaces. You need to be aware when trying to squeeze under shorter spots. If you’re on the shorter side, these are also all a lot harder to load without an extra set of hands or a tricky step up. 

Features

Secure C-clamp clamping technology, ratcheting rear wheel strap, corrosion resistant aluminum tray, fits most roof racks 

Pros

  • High level of stability
  • C-clamp adjustable dial on frame with quick release
  • More affordable

Cons

  • Increases height profile
  • Still does touch frame

10. Thule Big Mouth

Our final bike rack on the list is the Thule Big Mouth Bike Carrier. This one uses all of the typical features of other frame mounted bike racks. It has an aluminum base, so it will last you a long time. The wheels are strapped down with secure ratchet straps and won’t be going anywhere on your ride.

What sets this one apart is the vice-like grip that the “Big Mouth” offers on the frame. This makes sure that your bike stays put exactly where you strap it in, no matter how bumpy the ride is. While this will fit most roof racks, if you want to get it on the Aeroblade or Aeroblade Edge, you will need to buy the adapter separately. 

Features

Convenient rack level bike clamping, self-adjusting jaws, one-key lock cylinder compatible, fits most roof racks

Pros

  • Vice-grip on frame
  • High level of stability
  • Fits most roof racks

Cons

  • Adapters and locks are sold separately

Buyer’s Guide

For roof mounted bike racks, there is a lot of technology that goes into making the bike rack perfect for you. Whether it attaches at the front wheel, or it comes off, if it fits on your vehicle or not, if it gets in the way of hitch racks, Thule or other roof rack systems, deciding which one is for you is tough. You need to carry your bike with one of the roof mounted bike racks, but how do you know which one is right? Another advantage of having a roof-mounted bike rack is that you can use it as well to carry other equipment like kayaks and this recent blog about kayak roof racks review may also interest you.

Location

Obviously roof mounted bike racks tend to go on the roof of your car. What can be tricky about this is if it is going to get in the way of the trunk opening, or if it will be easy to still access that storage with the roof bike rack installed.

One of the best options is to go with the SeaSucker roof bike rack because of its versatility. You’ll normally need to remove the front wheel, but then you can put it anywhere on your car. If you want to drive with your roof mounted bike rack mounted onto the hood of your car, then you can. It’s really up to you. Thule and other brands require one specific spot for the roof bike rack to go.

Install and Compatibility

The best bike roof rack is going to install easily and have a high ease of use. If you are installing roof mount racks or other roof rack systems you know that compatibility is key. A trunk rack isn’t going to fit the crossbars on your roof rack. These roof mounted bike racks are typically designed to be compatible with almost every roof rack that is out there, which makes them easy to get on the car. If your vehicle is an SUV, I highly recommend viewing our recent post about the best bike racks for SUVs.

The mounted racks typically are tool free to install and fit most factory crossbars. Mounting the rack to the vehicle and getting these rooftop bicycle racks onto the roof bars is usually is pretty easy. The loading and unloading, getting the bike onto the rack is where it can become more difficult.

Loading and Unloading

Getting four bikes onto the rack is going to be a task. If you are alone with a fat bike, road bikes, and two mountain bikes, you are going to be doing some heavy lifting. While hitch mount racks in the receiver hitch are convenient for their height and accessibility, a roof mount bike rack is going to be harder to use. When you need to remove the front wheel for a fork mount rack, the process can be even more complicated.

Cartop bike racks are naturally high up. They allow you to still have access to the trunk, but it can be tough to get them up top. Getting one bike locked into the support arm is tough enough, but for roof bike racks that hold multiple, you may want a friend.

This can be increasingly tricky for those that aren’t as tall as others. The rack holds the bike well, but you need to get it there. You want more storage space behind the car and inside, but if you can’t get it up there you may use up that storage space with a small stepstool instead of the bike. Any rack that is hard to get your bike onto should be looked at again.

Number and Type of Bikes

If you have several bikes that you want to be moving around, you may need to look into buying multiple of these racks to support your bikes, but you can get some that will carry multiple bikes at once. From two bikes to four bikes, there’s an option for everything, but know that you need to keep an eye out in the description to not end up with a single bike carrier when you have two mountain bikes that need moved.

Some of these roof bike racks don’t fit fatter tires or larger frames. You will want to make sure that you can fit the strap over your rear wheel, or accommodate your disc brakes properly to get the right rack for your bikes.

Security

If you have a cable lock then you may be in luck, but most of these types of bike racks don’t come with a lock. While a cable lock works just fine, we do wish they would provide more security for us so we can trust our bikes to be safe. You may want to store your bike in your garage and we have a separate article that will help you find a garage bike rack that will suit your needs.

The other side of security is the stability. If your rear wheel isn’t strapped in, it may be a disaster. The best roof rack will secure any type of bike from mountain bikes to road bikes, but you may still need to make sure you get everything fastened down correctly. Bikes are expensive and it’s worth taking the extra time on the best roof rack for bikes to get them safe.


FAQ

What is the best roof mounted bike rack?

We believe the Yakima ForkLift is one of the best roof mounted bike racks out there. Although, any of these racks will take care of all your bikes and do a great job. The best bike rack is going to be up to you and your personal preferences or needs.

Are bike roof racks safe?

Your bikes are precious, and they need to be taken care of. A roof-mounted bike rack is designed to give your bikes complete safety and security so you can drive with peace of mind. These roof-mounted racks protect your bikes better than a trunk rack that allows for dirt to hit your bike and potentially damage it. Another way to protect your car and your bike during the transportation is to have a spare tire bike rack instead mounted onto the spare tire of your vehicle

What is the best bike carrier for cars?

Our top pick out of all the rooftop bike racks for cars is the SeaSucker brand. This way, even if you don’t have roof bars you can get your mountain bike on the car easily without the roof rack. It’s easy to load because your car is lower, and extremely portable. It holds the bike the the car with high quality suction! Also, you might want to read our recent post and know about best rooftop cargo carriers.

Why are bike racks so expensive?

Think about your bikes and how much they cost. Bike racks are expensive because the technology that has gone into developing the best bike racks requires the proper funding. The high quality materials to create the tray also costs money. If you want to protect your bikes, then paying more is worth it.


Final Thoughts on Rooftop Bicycle Racks

If you have one bike or ten, you will want to be going from place to place with them. This list gives you a load of options to help move your bikes around that doesn’t require a hitch mounted system or even a roof rack in some cases. The right upright bike rack will give you so much more storage space in your car and make the trip a much easier and more comfortable, calm, journey. Aside from mounted bike racks, we also found the best inside car bike racks that might also be a good help in travelling with your bikes conveniently.

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
  • Features: Adjustable sliding wheel tray, weight capacity of 35 pounds, simple tool-free installation, no frame contact.
  • Benefits: Easy to adjust to make sure your bike fits while the frame is taken care of in transit.
Check Latest Price
  • Features: Quick and secure mounting dial, soft claw pads for damageless frame contact, automatic positioning of frame holder and wheel tray.
  • Benefits: Take good care of your bike frame without losing any amount of stability and security.
Check Latest Price
  • Features: Fits any car, travel friendly size, pull rated at over 210 pounds, easy and quick installation, hand-made in the USA.
  • Benefits: Bring your bike rack with you and don’t worry about if it will fit on the next vehicle, because it will.
Check Latest Price
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Austin Mills

Austin Mills in an outdoor enthusiast. He's been featured on some of the top outdoor & fitness blogs sharing his expertise in order to help others. In his free time, he likes spending time with his dogs enjoying the outdoors.

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